Centre of the Southern Reef – The Gladstone Region is a unique area of Queensland – a region where opportunity awaits. This dynamic city basks in a sub-tropical climate with islands, waterways and beaches on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef. So many landscapes, variety and so much sunshine provide the visitor with endless opportunities.
At the heart of the region, the city of Gladstone overlooks its natural deep water harbour. To the south lie the shires of Calliope and Miriam Vale with idyllic, secluded beaches and scenic National Parks. 1770 is the first place in Queensland that Captain James Cook stepped ashore. Boyne Island is renowned for its beautiful foreshore parks, while its sister city of Tannum Sands offers long sandy beaches for safe coastal recreation.
The reef islands within the Gladstone Region are true coral cays, and day trips are on offer to Lady Musgrave Island and Fitzroy Lagoon where visitors can enjoy diving, snorkelling, fishing, reef walking or exploring the flora and fauna
The region has several impressive National Parks which add camping and 4 wheel driving to the adventures you can experience in the area. The spectacular cliffs of the Kroombit Tops are cloaked in diverse flora and fauna. Mount Castletower National Park lies at the base of Lake Awoonga with its impressive, yet rugged terrain. Deepwater and Eurimbula National Parks provide the contrast of open eucalypt and paperback forests with lush rainforests and quiet beaches.
Gladstone’s Tondoon Botanic Gardens are one of Australia’s few totally native botanic gardens. The display areas specialise in the plants of the surrounding and Tropical North Queensland regions. The Gladstone Entertainment Centre, forms the focal point of the city’s cultural activities. The Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum is a colonial Georgian structure which houses three exhibition areas.
Southern Great Barrier Reef Islands
Great Keppel Island, accessible from Yeppoon, has a huge range of accommodation and activity choices, popular with young, outgoing travellers. Most of the island is natural bushland and is surrounded by 17 pristine white sandy beaches, coves and pockets of fringing reef. From snorkelling, diving and an array of water sports to bushwalking and camel treks, Great Keppel Island has something for everyone. Great Keppel Island, it’s a tropical paradise waiting for you to explore.
Heron Island, off the coast of Gladstone, is a major turtle nesting site and diving destination. Rated as one of the best diving locations on earth, the reef is practically at your doorstep. The island is also a sanctuary for thirty species of birds including 100,000 Black Noddy Terns and Reef Herons. 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. Reef walking, snorkelling, diving, viewing underwater life from the coral submarine, 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.
Lady Musgrave Island is an uninhabited coral island where you can camp overnight. Scuba divers may come face to face with manta rays or moray eels, and snorkellers will discover giant rainbow coloured fish or coral trout. Swimming and snorkelling inside the lagoon offers calm, crystal clear water – like swimming in a giant aquarium! In summer, turtles come ashore to lay their eggs and thousands of seabirds nest in rookeries on the uninhabited island.
Lady Elliot Island is the most southerly island within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It lies 85 kilometres north-east of Bundaberg and is a coral cay, which is actually part of the reef. Formed over a three thousand year period, you can learn all about the marine wonderland that is Lady Elliot Island on a guided reef walk. The diving here is fantastic with 19 dive sites with excellent visibility ranging from 15 to 40 metres.
Bird watchers also flock here to observe 57 species of birds. More than 50,000 birds nest here during summer. Sea turtles including the endangered Loggerhead Turtle also nest on Lady Elliot during the summer month from late afternoon through until early morning from November to January. Lady Elliot Island Resort is a casual and relaxed paradise surrounded by shallow reefs and warm pale turquoise seas.
Easy access to islands
The Great Barrier Reef, a network of 2,900 coral reefs and more than 1000 islands stretches for 2000 kilometres off the coast of north Queensland. As well as being a World Heritage listed treasure, its islands topped with pristine rainforest, white beaches and fringed with coral gardens create a pleasure playground. People often marvel that the attractions of the islands can be so diverse: simply, there seems to be an island to suit every interest! And they are readily accessible from so many mainland points.
Heron Island, off Gladstone is a nature-lovers retreat, rich in bird life. Rather than take a day trip from the island to a coral reef, you can step right off the sand into coral gardens. Its fragile marine ecology means it is not an island for day trippers; you just have to stay there!
Beautiful Dunk Island is quickly accessible, just seven kilometres from Mission Beach, which lies between Townsville and Cairns. Fitzroy Island is readily accessible from Cairns – just a 45 minute catamaran trip. Exclusive Double Island is also a quick zip over the waves from Cairns, while magnificent Green Island is a slightly longer 45 minute catamaran trip from Cairns. Then there’s Magnetic Island – an easy eight kilometres off the coast of Townsville.
The Bundaberg region marks the southern start of the Great Barrier Reef region and provides access points for Lady Elliott island, 80 kilometres from the mainland. Lady Elliott has a rich eco-system and is renowned as one of the world’s best scuba-diving spots.
- Caravan and Camping
- Food and Wine
- National Park
- State: Queensland
- Region: Gladstone
Accommodation In Gladstone
Discover some of the accommodation in and around Gladstone