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Gladstone Region: Islands

Leave Seventeen Seventy and Gladstone behind en route to the tropical paradise of Lady Musgrave, Heron Islands and Fitzroy Reef Lagoon, in the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

An island ‘road’ less travelled

  • Get a Great Barrier Reef education on a tour of an eco-research station on Heron Island.
  • Stare into the eyes of a mother turtle nesting her young on the sandy shores for all to see.
  • Spend your day snorkelling the untouched ecosystem of the closed ring reef of Fitzroy Reef Lagoon.

Mind. Body. Soul.

  • Camp on top of Lady Musgrave’s 3000 acres of living reef with the seabirds and turtles as your only neighbours. 
  • Start training for the annual Heron Island swim and pamper post-race weary muscles in the day spa.
  • Hire a cruiser yacht from Seventeen Seventy, drop in a line and enjoy the fruits of your labour onboard.

Heron Island Resort

Heron Island, Gladstone Area
From AU$321 - 899
Heron Island is a natural wonderland to explore on the Great Barrier Reef. A true coral cay, located right on the Southern Great Barrier Reef the island is ribboned by white sands, crystal clear waters (swimmable all year) and acres of coral with beautifully coloured marine life.

Queensland islands

Islands are dotted along Queensland’s 7,000km coastline and are scattered up to and along the Great Barrier Reef. From the world’s largest sand islands in the south east to the unspoiled paradise of the Torres Strait, you’ll find an island to fit your next family escape, couple retreat or solo adventure.

Whether you’re after soft silica sand or isolated coral cays with easy access to the reef, our islands have footprint-ready beaches that’ll entice you to throw down a towel, prep your beach umbrella or set up camp and relax.

Venture beyond the beach on most islands and you’ll find freshwater creeks, hiking trails and lush rainforests to explore. Intrepid travellers or budding photographers hungry for their next shoot location will find look outs and peaks to capture sunrises, sunsets and ocean views any time in between. 

And when you’re exhausted, retreat to your luxury resort or budget accommodation. Either way, you’ll make island memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Islands off Queensland

Take your pick of the 900 islands off Queensland’s coast, starting in the Whitsundays. Visit one of its 74 tropical islands, and be sure to stick your feet in the sand of the famous Whitehaven Beach. From Townsville, you’ll be within reach of koalas along historical hikes on Magnetic Island, pick your own private beach on Orpheus Island (after you arrive by helicopter) and make your way around the Thorsborne Trail on Jurassic-esque Hinchinbrook Island

Tropical North Queensland is where you’ll find Fitzroy Island, a balmy paradise with its own fringe coral reef system and the best beach in Australia, Nudey Beach. From Cairns you’ll also be able to heli, fly or ferry into family-friendly Green Island, and luxe couple hot spots Lizard Island and Bedarra Island.

Towards the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll find the snorkel and dive trifecta, aka Lady Elliot, Heron and Lady Musgrave Islands. Walk off the beach at these eco-islands and be surrounded by gentle manta rays, friendly turtles and the rest of the Great Eight. So, grab your fins and mask, and snorkel straight into lagoons and bays teeming with new underwater friends.

Heron Island

Heron Island, Gladstone Area
Among the music of seabirds, tracks of turtles and multi-coloured clouds of fish, the feeling that you're a guest of nature itself is inescapable at Heron Island. Reef walking, viewing underwater life from semi-submersible, watching the sun set over the ocean - you become part of a community caught up in the timeless evolution of the world's largest living thing - the Great Barrier Reef.

Heron Island Research Station

Heron Island, Gladstone Area
The University of Queensland's Heron Island Research Station is a world-class research and teaching facility. It is the largest island-based research station in the Southern Hemisphere with a rich history of research, event pre-dating its construction in 1951.


Unleash your inner Bear Grills in the secluded and serene islands off the coast of Mackay. 

Islands to visit in Mackay 

The southern-most Whitsunday Islands, Keswick Island is situated 32 kilometres from Mackay and is accessible via the water from the Mackay Marina, or by air. Most of the island is national park and sub-tropical rainforest and fringed by white sandy shorelines, with coral reefs within swimming distance, perfect for snorkelling. Or, hike within the blue gum forests of Brampton Island, keeping an eye out for koalas along the southern entrance to the Whitsunday Passage, and view flatback and green turtles nesting and hatching on nearby Carlisle Island.

Bundaberg: Islands 

 Bundaberg is the signpost signalling where the Southern Great Barrier Reef begins, including the World Heritage-listed marine park of Lady Elliot Island.

Underwater wonderland

Untouched paradise

  • Witness a real-life nature documentary on Lady Elliot Island with 57 species of birds nesting, turtle hatchlings running down the beach, and humpback whales showing off on their annual migration. 
  • Tour the reef in a glass bottomed boat, join an informative walk around the island or try to get one of the locals to let you in on their secret reef surf spots.

The Capricorn Region: Islands

Dive into untouched coral gardens and explore the Keppel Islands group of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, north of Yeppoon and Rockhampton on the Capricorn Coast.

Welcome to paradise

  • Take your pick of 17 pristine beaches and a wide range of accommodation options on Great Keppel Island – 30 minutes by ferry from Rosslyn Bay.
  • Learn to sail or steer your stand-up-paddle board to a secluded cay and snorkel with turtles and dugongs.

Naturally impressive

  • Spot cheeky dolphins in the shallow shores during the cooler months or humpback whales migrating along the coast from April to November.
  • Share the walking trails that lead to the heart of Great Keppel Island with local brushtail possums, blue-tongued lizards, goannas and over 90 species of birds.

Moreton Island

Catch a boat, ferry or barge the short 40 kilometres off the Brisbane shoreline to the oasis of Moreton Island. There, all you need to do is choose the ideal camp spot, opt for ease of a holiday home or splurge on an inclusive resort. 

Solitude & seafood

  • Snorkel or dive the island’s trail of sunken shipwrecks as you watch the flurry of marine life below.
  • Hand-feed wild dolphins, or fish off the beach and enjoy cooking your catch at one of the many designated fire pits.

Action & adrenaline

  • Did someone say sand tobogganing? Being the third largest sand island in the world, Moreton Island has plenty of dunes to ride down! 
  • Rev things up a notch further in control of a quad-bike or four-wheel drive.

Magnetic Island

It might only be a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville, but once you set foot on Magnetic Island you’ll soon be running on island time. 

How to get to Magnetic Island

From Townsville, jump on the Sealink passenger service for a 25 minute trip to the Island. For those arriving by car, Fantasea Cruising Magnetic is a 45 minute service which runs daily. 

Things to do in Magnetic Island

Work your camera and your legs on the Forts Walk, keeping an eye out for koalas, WWII military base ruins and views of the island’s 23 bays and beaches. Set out on a self-guided snorkelling tour of Geoffrey Bay then hand-feed rock wallabies once back on shore. Venture off the beaten path to some (almost) secret national park beaches including Arthur, Radical and Florence Bay. Prefer a different mode of transport? Feel the wind in your hair behind the wheel of a classic moke or topless car, or set sail on a tall ship. Saddle up for horse riding through Maggie’s best beach and bush real estate, or, get your heart racing at Horseshoe Bay with jet-skiing and sea kayaking.

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