Southern Great Barrier Reef Islands

Heron Island, Qld.  Photo credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Southern Great Barrier Reef Islands

At its southern tip the Great Barrier Reef fringes islands whose beaches make the perfect nesting place for turtles. Turns out, they’re the perfect nesting place for humans too.



Heron Island
2 hours by boat or 30 minutes by helicopter: both are glorious ways of arriving on Heron Island. Both are expensive too, but boy is it worth it.

Snorkel and dive among 900 of the Barrier Reef’s 1,500 fish species and most of its coral species. Laze on the white sands and enjoy something close to the dictionary definition of a tropical paradise.

Wilson Island
Wilson Island is only accessible via a 45 minute boat journey from Heron Island.  Only 12 guests are allowed on the island at any time, and the accommodation consists of 6 permanent tents – although this camping experience hardly counts as slumming it.

Each tent houses a king size bed with duvet, pillows and bathrobes. There’s daily house/tent keeping. This is camping with a strong emphasis on luxury.

It’s a good idea to decide what you want from your trip to the island before you visit, as your experience will depend on the time of year:

  • Between November and March the wedge-tailed shearwaters and green turtles lay their eggs
  • The island is closed during February as that’s bird-nesting season
  • From January to April baby green turtles hatch and make their way to the sea

From June to September you’ll be able to see magnificent humpback whales heading to and from their winter feeding grounds

It’s an ever changing experience throughout the year so there’s always something new to see. And whenever you visit, there’s always the appeal of lazing in a hammock, enjoying the breathtaking scenery or listening to a stargazing talk while looking at the brightest, busiest night sky you’ve ever seen.

Lady Elliot Island
The southernmost coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef is famous worldwide for its green and loggerhead turtle rookery, bird nesting grounds and its resident population of 40 manta rays.

Snorkel and dive just off-shore or take a glass bottom boat tour to discover one of the world’s richest marine eco-systems. The clarity of the water is unrivalled, making swimming almost impossible to resist.

If you’re swimming underwater between June and October, when the whales are migrating, you’ll hear whale song nearly every day. And that’s about as magical an experience as it sounds.

Getting To The Islands


Heron Island: Head to Gladstone. Take the launch from Gladstone Marina or the helicopter from the HeliReef Terminal. Do book in advance.

Wilson Island: Book your travel when you book your accommodation.

Lady Elliot Island: Book your flight when you book your accommodation. Flights are from Brisbane, Bundaberg, Gold Coast and Hervey Bay. There is no ferry service.

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