Catch some ZZZ’s on the Reef! - Bundaberg Region
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Catch some ZZZ’s on the Reef!

  Guest Blogger Bio Jess Marsellos

As if one of the seven wonders of the natural world is accessible just 30 minutes from Bundaberg!

It's  hard to believe that so many different reef experiences are just a hop, skip and splash away - from sleepovers aboard Lady Musgrave HQ to outside-your-doorstep, eco-experiences at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort and a pristine reef within reach. Get ready to dive into these amazing reef experiences on your perfect next holiday!

Lady Musgrave Island

Untouched and rich with natureLady Musgrave Island is one of the southernmost coral cays of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, home to more than 3000 acres of thriving marine life and a pristine coral-filled lagoon just waiting to be explored. No matter if you're a casual snorkeller looking to swim alongside curious turtles, or an adventure seeker wanting to explore the most remote areas of the reef, Lady Musgrave is the perfect starting point, and you can discover this slice of paradise with either a day trip or overnight stay. Now, if this sounds like your kind of holiday, here are a few tips on how to make the most out of your stay.

For the Overnighters

Dreaming of nights spent under a starlit sky only to wake to breathtaking sunrises with 360-degree views of vibrant blue waters, before diving in to a thriving eco-system rich with marine life? Nestled in the sheltered waters of Lady Musgrave Island Lagoon, this newly built three-tier pontoon offers you the perfect sleep-the-reef experience and launch point for your Southern Great Barrier Reef escape. With two different accommodation options, you can choose to sleep beneath the waterline with the true colours of the UV lit coral that until now has remained a curiosity, in the Underwater Observatory's Liveaboard Bunk Beds, perfect for a group getaway. Or if you’re wanting something a little more luxe, drift asleep to the sounds of the ocean breeze in an Upper Deck Island View Queen Glamping Bed and wake to those postcard-perfect moments you’ve been longing for. Your stay on the pontoon also includes the immersive day experience with some exclusive activities on the side.

For the Day-trippers

Situated just 50km from Bundaberg’s coastline, your escape to the reef begins onboard a luxury catamaran, the ‘Reef Empress’ with Lady Musgrave Experience. Departing from Bundaberg Port Marina, you’ll be greeted by the friendly crew before taking a seat, stretching back and relaxing while a David Attenborough documentary plays in the background, giving you a sneak peak of what’s to come. With a travel time of just over two hours, reaching the reef has never been so easy and upon your arrival prepare to be awe-struck by stunning effervescent blues. 

Throughout the day, you can enjoy a glass-bottom boat ride with a reef expert as you glide over fringing reef. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as you try to spot some of the Great 8 swimming beneath the surface. Trade your sea legs for land legs on a scenic island walk among the lush Pisonia Grandis forest that supports nesting and breeding shorebirds which is significant to the island and Southern Great Barrier Reef. Prior to diving in, enjoy a gourmet lunch on the pontoon and let your mind wander with all the new learning from the day so far. 

Once you’re full and had time to settle, it’s time to dive in! With dedicated snorkel and dive platforms hugging the pontoon you can ease your way into this underwater playground or choose to make a splash and jump on in. With more than 1,192 hectares of coral reef, you’ll find a myriad of reef fish zigzagging between your fingers and the intricate corals that form this underwater nursery. For the divers of the group, explore a little deeper with guided dive expeditions that will have you uncovering areas of untapped beauty and where giant marine life such as manta rays and whales often feed.  

With plenty of fun to be had, if you’re planning on staying more than a day you can also enjoy exclusive access to a number of additional activities like glass-bottom kayaks, romancing the evening away with a private island picnic or, if you’re staying during turtle season, witness nesting and hatching turtles from a distance at night on the island. When the time comes for you to head back to the mainland, treat yourself to some complimentary afternoon tea where drinks are also available for purchase on your journey back.

So, the only question is, what are you waiting for!


Lady Elliot Island

Famed as being home of the manta ray, Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay located at the Southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. There are over 1200 species of marine life that call the waters of Lady Elliot home and its famous for manta rays, turtles and unspoilt coral. Just a quick 30 minute flight from Bundaberg, Lady Elliot Island Eco Report is the perfect escape to paradise if you want to stay for a day or play for a while, with a variety of great accommodation options to suit all families. Glamping tents, eco cabins and units are on offer for a minimum of two nights (three in peak seasons) and trust us - it won’t feel long enough! 

A true sleep on the reef experience with the lagoon literally meters away from most accommodation options, it feels surreal waking up and walking into the underwater paradise that awaits you. Starfish, sea cucumbers, turtles, rays, reef sharks and much more can be spotted as part of your underwater adventures. 

For the Overnighters

Sustainable and eco-driven initiatives are king on Lady Elliot Island - the whole place is set up to minimise impact and enhance the natural environment. You will truly be immersed in nature without the distractions of everyday life. The overnight price includes a whole heap of extras like full buffet dinner and breakfast, use of snorkel equipment and lesson if required, glass bottom boat and guided snorkel tour and a range of guided tours and activities like reef walks, bird watching, night tours and many more. You can check out a list of what is on offer here. 

If you're trying to choose where you snooze, there are two-bedroom beachfront units (literally on the beach - you might even spot a turtle nesting at your doorstep), garden units (20-30 meters from lagoon), reef units (10 meters from the lagoon) and eco cabins that suit families of up to four best. 

Kids just love the adventure of Lady Elliot Island, as it truly is natures playground at its best! Even if the kids are tuckered out after their water and walking adventures, there is lots to see and do elsewhere on the island. The reef rangers program runs every Queensland and New South Wales school holidays for kids between 5-12 years where they get to conduct indoor and outdoor education activities with a focus on conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. 

They even have you covered for a cheeky island style date night, with a babysitting service offered on the island for up to two children.

For the Day-trippers

Want to wake up in your own bed, tick a must do off your bucket list and then cosy up under your own sheets? Then the Lady Elliot Island day trip might just be for you, including return flights from Bundaberg Airport, island orientation tour, glass bottom boat tour, snorkel equipment hire, hot and cold buffet lunch, island shoes/sunscreen and use of day guest facilities – what more could you ask for?! There are 2 snorkelling trails, 20 dive sites and 2 dives per day to explore. Take it easy and explore the island at your leisure - whether on land or in the water. There are many island tours you can participate in - fish feeding, behind the scenes, bird watching, historical tour or water adventures to be had like advanced snorkel safari, reef walking and many more. 

Kids are catered for here - with the lagoon side available at high tide not too deep and very accessible via walking off the beach. A noodle under the arms and snorkel makes it easy to discover a whole new world, under the surface, with abundant fish life, turtles, rays and even the odd reef shark! The ocean-side is for more advanced swimmers, but a line of buoys leads from one section of the beach creating an entry and exit of sorts and deep caverns and deeper water lends itself to a wide variety of marine life like manta rays, groupers, dolphins, and turtles in abundance. It is truly a life changing experience swimming with turtles - they are the ancient mariners of our seas and watching them navigate these waters is something special to behold. 

Reef Within Reach

If you haven’t got time to squeeze in a trip to the Southern Great Barrier Reef but you still want a reef experience, then we’ve got you covered. Here in the Bundaberg region we are very fortunate to have abundant choice when it comes to immersing ourselves amongst the colourful and diverse marine environment in our natural area. Go rock hopping with the kids and discover crabs, soft corals, fish, sea cucumbers or snorkel off Barolin Rocks or simply feed the fish at the basin (perfect for families with little ones still learning to paddle and swim). 

Barolin Rocks, Barolin Esplanade, Woongarra Marine Park, Bargara. 

Pack your snacks, water, sunscreen, snorkel and fins and adventure over the rocks (which look a bit hard to navigate to begin with but are actually OK) to the waters edge. Fringing corals, fish and other creatures such as turtles, dugongs, nudibranch, sea snakes and more have been sighted here and it makes for a nice meander along a coral fringe. Best enjoyed on a very calm day for perfect visibility. 

Feed the fish at The Basin

The Basin is a safe and secure swimming area located at the Northern end of Kelly's Beach by Christensen Park in Bargara. It's a family friendly sheltered swimming area that is best enjoyed at high tide where you can find many varieties of fish seeking out their next bready snack! Hermit crabs and other life live in there too - the odd spotted ray has been sighted from time to time shovelling into the sand a bit further out toward sea. Take goggles or snorkel and a bit of bread to attract the fish. There are lots of cafes and eating options close by or you can pack a BBQ and use one of the areas provided. 

Rockpool rambling - Elliott Heads, Oaks Beach, Mon Repos

Head to any of these beach locations at medium to low tide for some truly awesome rock pool hopping and wildlife spotting. The warmth of the black rocks under your feet makes you feel like you're at a hot rock day spa, while exploring, turning and investigating our local beaches and the truly diverse and interesting wildlife that calls these rocks home. Rock pools are a microcosm of the fascinating world on the deeper rocky seabed. Often spotted along our shores are speckled sand crabs, swimmer crabs, soldier crabs, sea cucumbers, hermit crabs, green anemones, soft and hard corals, sea snails, worms and much more. While rock hopping you might enjoy a dip in one of the many patrolled beaches and enjoy the abundant bird life that dots the skies try to spot the rainbow honeyeater at Mon Repos and Ospreys and sand pipers at Elliott Heads. 

Get the fam in the car, you’re off to Bundy!
Dive into our Reef within Reach - Your 3-Day Itine...

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