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Low Isles

Situated 15 kilometres north-east of Port Douglas, the Low Isles comprise a four acre coral cay surrounded by 55 acres of reef. The reefs are very close to the island, which makes snorkelling an easy and enjoyable experience. The two small islands are separate but share the common reef.

The larger of the two, Woody Island, is uninhabited except for a large bird population. It is a vital habitat for many species.

The smaller of the Low Isles is a coral cay with a lighthouse that has been operating since 1878. Weather data has been gathered from the island since 1887, and scientific associations date back to 1928 when it was the base for a year-long scientific survey that examined the structure and ecology of the surrounding reef. This was the first scientific study of a coral reef anywhere in the world, and many current theories of coral reef ecology are based on the findings of this expedition.

There are 150 different species of hard corals in the waters surrounding Low Isles, although these are dominated by 15 species of soft corals. If you look closely, the feathery tentacles of soft corals can often be seen collecting tiny food particles from the water around them. Living amongst the corals is a large variety of fish, molluscs, sea cucumbers and other animals. Colourful blue, green and purple parrotfish are a common sight as well as angelfish, damselfish, anenomefish or clownfish, trevally, rabbitfish, sweetlip, moon wrasse and fusilleers, just to name a few! Plus, you might run into the resident turtles.

The lightstation (controlled by Queensland Parks and Wildlife) on the flat low lying western island, was completed and exhibited in 1878. The 18 metre tower was originally constructed on a timber frame with a galvanised sheath in the typical Queensland fashion, however Low Isles was the first to have porthole windows.

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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.

Mothar Mountain Rockpools

Gympie, Gympie Area
Free Entry
Looking for a relaxing, sheltered place to while away some hours, you can't go past the Mothar Mountain Rock Pools. Located in the Woondum National Park, about a 20 minutes, 16 kilometres drive from Gympie's Central Business District, the Mothar Mountain Rock Pools day area provides the perfect family friendly location for a barbecue or picnic. Tables, wood fire barbecue, water and public amenities are all provided for your use on site. On a hot day immerse yourself into the pools to cool off. Set amongst a mixture of tall Eucalypts and rainforest you can take the opportunity to relax and unwind to the sound of water gently flowing over ancient granite outcrops. Or if you are feeling more energetic, enjoy one of the nature walks. There is a short 500 metre (20 minute) forest walk or a rather more serious 3.5 kilometre (2 hour) walk to explore.

Dugong Sanctuary - Clairview

Clairview, Isaac Area
Free Entry
In 1997, the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council established Clairview (a small beach town approximately 1.5 hours south of Mackay) as a dugong sanctuary. Often dugongs can be spotted when they surface to breathe from the shore, or in the water, when in a kayak, boat or other recreational vessel - so keep an eye out for these majestic creatures! Be sure to slow down your vessel in areas dugongs are known to inhabit, don't litter and help us protect these magnificent animals. The fully protected dugong is a large herbivorous mammal which spends its entire life at sea. It has paddle-like forelimbs, no hind limbs or dorsal fin, and its tail is broad and horizontally flattened. Adults grow between 2.5-3.5 metres long and weight about 230-240 kilograms. For more information, visit Isaac Regional Council's web site.

Condamine Gorge '14 River Crossing'

Killarney, Southern Downs Area
Free Entry
Accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles only, the Condamine Gorge's '14 River Crossings' track is appropriately named after the 14 river crossings you have to make exploring this beautiful part of the Gorge. During normal conditions the crossings of the Condamine River are relatively shallow. However, during wet weather the river will rise rapidly making it impassable. It is advisable to check conditions with the Warwick Visitor Information Centre or Bureau of Meteorology prior to visiting. The Condamine Gorge is home to a number of endangered species, please respect this precious environment. Note that private properties either side of the track may not be fenced, so please keep to the road and creek area and observe the 'no trespassing' signs. To commence the track from Boonah, start opposite the Police Station, travel out from Boonah along Rathdowny Road and turn right at Carney's Creek Road. Travel out approximately 12 kilometres to cross Teviot Brook floodway and then turn right to The Head. The low road is Condamine Gorge. This track is only accessible when the weather is dry, take the high road when river is flowing. From Killarney, turn left into Condamine Gorge just after the abattoir.

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.

Ex-HMAS Brisbane Conservation Park

Mudjimba, Sunshine Coast Area
From AU$15 - 25
Dive the Brisbane and experience this historical treasure and budding environmental wonder. The ex-HMAS Brisbane Conservation Park is an artificial reef and dive site off the Sunshine Coast, and is set to become one of Australia's premier dive attractions. This is the only former Navy dive wreck in Australia offering divers the unique opportunity to explore both the forward engine room and the boiler room. A former missile destroyer, the HMAS Brisbane, was scuttled 2.8 nautical miles east of Mudjimba Island on 31 July 2005 to begin its new life as the 'anchor' attraction for dive tourism in Southern Queensland. Divers can explore the 133 metre former warship and view different areas of the ship. Access holes allow passage into the ship's interior, where divers can swim through living and sleeping quarters used by the crew during the ship’s service from 1967 to 2001.

Mount Fox

Ingham, Hinchinbrook Area
Free Entry
Located south-west of Ingham, Mount Fox was created by a violent volcanic explosion about 100000 years ago. In the explosion, a lava flow 10 metres thick spewed from the southern end of the crater and chunks of molten magma were thrown out of the volcano's vent. Today, the well formed crater, about 10 metres deep, is covered with sparse grasses and stunted trees amongst the eucalypt woodland environment. The pink and long-fruited bloodwoods are common in this area and vine thicket is found in a steep gully on the southern slopes. Mount Fox's tussock grass slopes shelter a number of small animals. On a cool day in the winter months, skinks and other reptiles can be seen basking on the volcanic bombs. During the hot summer months, the grasses provide protection from the sun and are ideal nesting places for ground-dwelling birds like the little button quail. After sunset, rufous bettongs (small wallaby-type mammals) emerge to feed on herbs and grasses. The large wing span of a wedge-tailed eagle can also be seen, as this bird of prey soars above the Mount Fox crater.

Whitehaven Beach

Whitsundays, Whitsunday Area
Free Entry
Whitehaven Beach is a pristine, award winning beach on Whitsunday Island, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. Whitehaven Beach stretches over seven kilometres and boasts brilliant white silica sand that is among the purest in the world. Sink your feet into the sand and wade into the warm waves that gently lap the shore and you'll soon realise why people come here from all over the world. At the northern end of Whitehaven Beach is Hill Inlet, a stunning inlet where the tide shifts the sand and water to create a beautiful fusion of colours. Many people claim Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach are the most beautiful places they've ever seen. The lookout at Tongue Point is the best spot from which to view the swirling sands of Hill Inlet, so if you don't mind a short bushwalk, book your Whitehaven tour with an operator that visits the lookout. Whitehaven Beach can be experienced in several ways. If you're interested in a day trip there are ferries, yachts, power boats and luxury cruising yachts that depart from Airlie Beach. A variety of sailing companies also offer multi-day charters that include a memorable visit to Whitehaven Beach.

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.

Minerva Hills National Park

Springsure, Central Highlands Area
Free Entry
A relatively small National Park near Springsure in Central Queensland, Minerva Hills is dominated by Mount Boorambool, rising 600 metres above sea level, and the larger cliff fringed Mount Zamia (560 metres), which offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Named after the Minerva Hills Volcanics, these mountains are some of the oldest in a line of volcanoes across the eastern Australian continent - dating back some 20 million years. The rich variety of plants provide habitat for much wildlife. Look for eastern grey kangaroos, wallaroos and several different wallabies throughout the park. Spotlighting at night may reward with a sighting of the elusive sugar-glider or the larger greater-glider. The park is also home to the locally rare fawn-footed melomies and the little known pebble-mound mouse. Fred Gorge picnic area has wood barbecues, toilets, limited drinking water and shelter sheds. Picnic tables are provided at the Springsure and Eclipse lookouts. Camping is not permitted.
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