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SS "Yongala" Dive Site

Townsville, Townsville Area

The SS "Yongala" off Cape Bowling Green near Townsville, is one of the best wreck dives in the world. At 110 metres long she is one of the largest, most intact historic shipwrecks and intriguing maritime mysteries.

Sinking in 1911 with loss of all aboard, she lay undiscovered for more than half a century. An exciting dive adventure with its coral encrusted structure and incredible array of marine life, including eagle rays, turtles, giant Queensland gropers, schooling barracuda, sea snakes and much more.

Coral Sea
Townsville, Townsville Area
Queensland
Australia

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The Pinnacles

Hook Island, Whitsunday Area
Free Entry
Arguably the best dive site in the Whitsundays, with hard corals comparing favourably to those seen on the outer Great Barrier Reef. The best dive is off the western beach, adjacent to the Woodpile and swim east at a depth of seven to 15 metres. Large coral bommies dominate the terrain, reaching nearly to the surface. Acropora corals are everywhere and huge porite corals in the shape of boulders and massive towers can also be seen. Manta rays are very common in the cooler months, May to September, as are big Maori Wrasse. This dive is not for the faint-hearted as black and white tip reef sharks are frequently seen! In the shallow water, particularly off the western beach, the coral cover is nearly solid, mostly staghorn, with only a few sandy patches. Excellent snorkelling just off the western beach too. Diving depth is three to 18 metres. Diving visibility is typically three to 15 metres.

Heart Reef

Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Area
Free Entry
Heart Reef, in the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays, is a stunning composition of coral that has naturally formed into the shape of a heart. Located in Hardy Reef, Heart Reef is best experienced from the air by helicopter or seaplane, as visitors are unable to snorkel or dive there due it's protected status. Many tour companies will combine a scenic flight over Heart Reef with other breathtaking spots in the Whitsundays, including Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet. A certain highlight of any visit to the Whitsundays. Heart Reef was discovered in 1975 by one of Air Whitsunday's pilots and is now an internationally-recognised attraction of the Whitsundays and features on many postcards and brochures promoting the Whitsunday region and the Great Barrier Reef. Many an amateur photographer has been amazed by the fact that their own photos look just like the brochures! Heart Reef has been the site of many proposals and declarations of love over the years. If planning on making the ultimate romantic gesture, let your pilot know your plans and they'll be able to help you with some extra flight time over the famous icon.

Blue Pearl Bay

Hayman Island, Whitsunday Area
Free Entry
Blue Pearl Bay is located on the north-western side of Hayman Island in the Whitsundays Group. Popular with tourists and locals for snorkelling, diving and sightseeing, Blue Pearl Bay is known for its coral and fish life including a resident Maori Wrasse. Day tours and overnight boats visit Blue Pearl Bay for snorkelling and or scuba diving. Visitors typically swim directly off their vessel, or tender into the southern beach and enter the water from the coral beach. Diving depth is from three to 18 metres. Diving visibility is typically from three to 15 metres. Best coral cover to be seen in shallow water off the southern beach. Scattered bommies with silty sand bottom at five to 18 metres, dropping off to coral rubble and silty sand below 18 metres. Best dive off southern beach, near Castle Rock. Shallow coral ledge (two to three metres) dropping off as descent wall to 10 to 15 metres. Wall has narrow canyons and caves making for great exploration. Strong corals near Castle Rock have some striking gorgonian fans at eight to 15 metres as well as whip corals. The shallow waters are predominately staghorn coral. Good protection from all winds except north-westerlies.

Smalleys Beach

Cape Hillsborough, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Smalleys Beach is situated approximately 35 kilometres north of Mackay and is part of the Hibiscus Coast. This secluded beach is also located in the Cape Hillsborough National Park and offers limited camping sites. Facilities include toilets, and small secluded sites. Water must be brought with you. Camping is by self registration. A gravel road can be accessed from Cape Hillsborough Road to Smalleys Beach to camping sites. Camping sites have great access to the picturesque beach and walking trails.

Whale Watching on Keswick Island

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Humpback Whales can be frequently seen around Keswick Island during their annual migration through the Whitsundays between the months of July to September. Seeing the whales frolicking nearby, or guiding a newborn calf through the protected waters of Egremont Passage, is a truly magical experience. There are many spots on Keswick from which you can watch the whales - be it from the deck of the Keswick Kiosk, from Basil Bay beach or from any of the prominent headlands. If you are watching whales from your boat, be sure to comply with the Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Watching.

South Cumberland Islands National Park

St Bees Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
South Cumberland Islands National Park encompasses nine islands. Rocky, rugged, hoop pine-dominated headlands stand out from open eucalypt woodland and extensive grasslands of the wind-exposed slopes. Protected coves shelter long, sandy beaches, while deep gullies hide remnants of dry rainforest. Ringed by fringing reefs, many of the islands are important rookeries for flatback and green turtles. Camp at Scawfell, St Bees, Cockermouth, Keswick or Penrith islands. Scawfell Island has basic facilities. Camping fees apply and bookings are essential. Book in advance for school holidays. Take water and a fuel stove. Check restrictions on activities such as spearfishing, anchoring, fishing and collecting.

Cathu State Forest

Yalboroo, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Along the rugged Clarke Range behind the Whitsunday coast is Cathu State Forest. Forests and woodlands range from distinctive poplar gum Eucalyptus alba woodlands and exotic Caribbean pine plantations on the creek flats to dense rainforest, hoop pine plantations and tall wet eucalypt forest along the range. The rainforests were selectively logged during the 1960s and 70s. Cathu is west of the Bruce Highway, 72km or one hour north of Mackay or 51km south of Proserpine. Jaxut camping area is 12km off the highway. Registered vehicles, including motor cycles, trail bikes and bicycles may be driven or ridden on roads in this forest. This is a quiet retreat for people who like to relax and enjoy the bush. Go wildlife watching. See Ulysses butterflies, whiptail and agile wallabies and northern quolls. Take your binoculars and go birdwatching. More than 100 species of birds have been seen in the forest. Go for a scenic drive beyond the camping area. Enjoy spectacular views over the beautiful Whitsunday coast from the Clarke Range Lookout, 7km from the camping area. From Windy Point, you can see Eungella National Park to the south. Mountain bike riding and horse riding is allowed in the forest.

Crediton State Forest

Dalrymple Heights, Mackay Area
Free Entry
In Crediton State Forest, dry eucalypt forests contrast with lush pockets of rainforest and dramatic views. Tall, ancient rose gums continue to survive and discover scattered relics from gold mining in the 1800s or take a scenic drive along Cockies Creek Road. Camping is permitted at Crediton Hall, Denham Range, or enjoy bush camping on grassy flats at The Diggings. Camping permits are required prior to arrival and can be obtained by calling or book online. Ensure you observe all safety signs and have detailed maps of the area to ensure the safety of yourself and all company. Experienced walkers can grab a backpack and journey through the changing landscape of the 56 kilometre Mackay Highlands Great Walk (three to five days - April to September usually offering the best weather).

Bees on Keswick Island

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Keswick Island is home to thriving hives of purebred Caucasian bees. Unlike bees on the Australian mainland, these bees are free of many other diseases and are sometimes used as breeding stock for the mainland colonies. The bees were brought to the island in 1986. The bees are supported by aparists, John and Des Covey and Keswick Developments encourages this operation as a means of preserving a valuable part of the natural ecosystem. The Bee Hives can be found on the walking trails towards Langton Point and Connie Bay. Keswick Island honey is available to purchase at the Keswick Island Kiosk, the Mackay Visitor Information Centre and at other stores stocking local produce around the Mackay Region.

Mia Mia State Forest

Eungella, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Nestled in the foothills of the Clarke Range, 20 kilometres from Pinnacle west of Mackay, the Mia Mia State Forest is mostly open eucalypt forest. Bush camping and swimming is available at Captain Crossings on Teemburra Creek. Vehicular access is by four wheel drive only. Remember that roads may be closed during wet weather or high fire danger.
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