The ideal weather in the Southern Great Barrier Reef is achieved by low rainfall and average temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius. May to October represent the peak season for charter guests, with the first month of the Australian “Winter” starting in June. The sea temperature is approximately 23 degrees and the average wind speed is 8 knots. There are approximately 11 hours of sunlight per day.
The wet season in Queensland runs from November to April: when the heavens frequently open releasing warm tropical rain, and the days and nights are warmer. It is also a popular time to cruise tand spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve in exceptional surroundings.
A sensational stretch of the Queensland Coast - Fraser Island, Hervey Bay, Bundaberg and the Southern Great Barrier Reef - has long been "under the radar" for explorers.
Located slightly north of the Sunshine Coast, and a few hours drive from state capital Brisbane, these pleasant cruising waters are best-known for the world’s largest sand island, and as an amazing post-natal playground for humpback whales and their young calves. Here too is Mon Repos, an important Pacific breeding site for endangered loggerhead turtles, plus flatbacks, greens and leatherbacks. Park rangers allow small groups to watch eggs being laid, and later hatched. Recently the Florida-based International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) reported an extraordinary spot where anglers can cast for marlin and sailfish, in Platypus Bay on Fraser Island. Tuna, mackerel and trevally abound, as do wild barramundi, threadfin salmon and mangrove jack in the Great Sandy Straits. Rarer species include huge herrings, Mary River cod and giant Gataker prawns.
Driving 4WDs along a vast 120 kms ocean beach, seeing enormous satinay trees growing in sand, encountering the last pure packs of Australia’s wild dingoes, and learning a little of the indigenous Butchulla people are some other options on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.
Lady Elliot Island
Guests can fly in to the gorgeous airport located on Lady Elliot Island, transferred from Brisbane's International Airport (80 min flight), Hervey Bay/Fraser Coast (40 min flight), Bundaberg (30 min flight) or directly with a private jet charter.
Named in 1816 by the Master of a cargo vessel, Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay located at the southern tip of Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef (north of Fraser Island). The island is regarded as one of the best snorkelling and diving destinations in Australia (it is host to no less than 20 dive sites), and is famous for its unspoilt coral reef and amazing array of spectacular marine life!
Lady Elliot is known the world over as the home of the majestic manta ray and to date researchers have identified more than 700 individual rays living and thriving in the surrounding waters. Snorkelling and glass bottom kayak adventures are highly recommended.The island is home to nesting turtles, manta rays, migrating whales, resident and visiting bird populations among the natural and abundant reef life. Brilliantly coloured fish, starfish, sea cucumbers, crabs, anemones, urchins and turtles grazing on outcrops are all unveiled in an instant as you pop your face down into the exceptionally clear lagoon.
Lady Elliot Island has the second highest diversity of bird species on the Great Barrier Reef and there are 105 different species of seabirds, land birds and shorebirds who choose this island to nest. Since 2010, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort also offers complimentary nursery tours for guests. To protect the environment, the island was the first island to ban plastic water bottles on its premises.
Afternoon, travel to Lady Musgrave Island, and anchor in the lagoon.
Lady Musgrave Lagoon
Explore the massive Lady Musgrave Lagoon, with excellent diving both inside and outside of the protected waters. It is a unique island among the Great Barrier Reef. Set on 3,000 acres of living reef with a protected lagoon, it makes it a perfect spot for snorkelling. Lady Musgrave Island is referred to as "Wallaginji" by the local Aboriginal community, which means "beautiful reef".
An underwater oasis is waiting to be discovered as you pop on your snorkel and mask to reveal one of the Great Barrier Reef's biggest swimming pools. The protected lagoon is truly unique and has formed this coral cay island home to a rich underwater wildlife. Keep an eye out for leopard and whitetip reef sharks that play in the waters surrounding the island - these are friendly animals only feeding on reef fishes and crustaceans!
Stroll ashore for an island walk and take in the abundant flora and fauna unique to this location. Play castaway among its aviary and rookery character all in one. This afternoon, let your guide take you to a very special dive site
Waking up to admire the least-travelled and least-spoilt part of the GBR. Take the size of 18-times Sydney, or the whole of Central Park in New York, fill it with water six to ten metres deep, wall the whole lot with superb coral and sea life and you have 838 acres forming Fitzroy Reef lagoon!
Fitzroy Reef is close to the southernmost part of the Reef, off the coast from the seaside towns of Agnes Water and 1770, and its beauty resides in the protection it offers, to superyachts and to marine life.
The only naturally formed, all tidal entrance Lagoon on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, it boasts a diverse range of spectacular corals and bommies - perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving. Marine life that call Fitzroy Reef Lagoon home include Manta rays, Bull rays, Eagle rays, the Lagoon ray with its iridescent blue spots and also the black blotched stingray, Dolphins (bottlenose, common and spinner), Turtles (Loggerhead, Green and Hawksbill) and up to 1,000 different species of small colourful fish. Guests can expect to see nearly one million individual fish while snorkelling the bommies of Fitzroy!
Buried within the depths of the casuarina and pandanus palms that blanket the island, you’ll find sulphur-crested cockatoos, kingfisher birds, and emerald doves. Beyond birds, wildlife warriors should tour the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, a volunteer-operated organisation on the island dedicated to recuperating sick and injured turtles.
At this World Heritage-listed Marine National Park all flora and fauna is protected, so the island is a nature lover's paradise, where the emphasis is on enjoying natural beauty. Stress is replaced by adventure, and your time is filled with discovery. World famous for its fantastic scuba diving and snorkelling, experience some of Australia's best dive spots - more than 20 dive sites are available, only minutes from the beach.
Heron Island offers many activities such as guided island and reef walks, research station tours, semi-submersible cruises and star gazing. An amazing array of animal and bird life can be discovered throughout the year, such as the delightful Green and Loggerhead Turtles that nest on the island between October and March, with hatchlings emerging between December to April.
The University of Queensland's Heron Island Research Station is a world-class research and teaching facility: the largest island-based research station in the Southern Hemisphere with a rich history pre-dating its construction in 1951. The facility is utilised by over 60 institutions, domestic and international, as part of educational programs, workshops and of course as a base from which to conduct ground-breaking discoveries. Private tours are run daily by station staff, providing detailed insight into operations and projects.
Hervey Bay & Fraser Island
Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and stretches for 123km and spans 166,000 hectares. Follow in the footsteps of the royals and visit Fraser Island to be dwarfed by the ancient, gravity defying rainforests growing out of only sand and to explore the freshwater lakes and spectaculars and formations of one of the most incredible islands on earth. World Heritage-listed Fraser Island has the absolute best that one island can offer – cool towering rainforests to walk through; over 100 freshwater lakes to swim including the iconic Lake McKenzie huge sand blows to climb, and an amazing 120km beach highway which you can 4WDriving by yourself if you want to.
The Lake Mackenzie It is a ‘perched’ lake, which means it contains only rainwater, no groundwater, is not fed by streams and does not flow to the ocean. The sand and organic matter at the base of the lake form an impervious layer, preventing rainwater from draining away.
There is no place like Hervey Bay for breathtaking, up close and personal encounter with majestic humpback whales. The stunning intimacy of a moment with these gentle giants will leave you with amazing memories you won't capture anywhere else.
Return to drop off at Hervey Bay late afternoon