Back on the mainland but for a few short hours. We were heading into Hervey Bay for breakfast but not after a comedy episode with our first sight of creatures that bounce across the landscape. So excited was I to see my first kangaroo that I grabbed the camera from the boot. Unfortunately, not only had they bounced away by then I also drove away without closing the boot and some of our luggage fell out the back and onto the road – most embarrassing!
Nothing damaged other than my poise and calm persona and after a feast of food and a bit more roadside packing we were back at Fraser Coast airport for our flight to Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
No airliners here, just a small plane for the 40 minute hop across to the reef.
The flight was amazing, over the edge of Platypus Bay where we’d seen the whales a few days before, with Fraser Island in the distance. I was lucky enough to sit up front next to the pilot. I faithfully promised not to touch anything, just as well it wasn’t my mate GM who just loves pushing buttons in someone else’s vehicle the little tinker
And then we saw our destination in the distance, a small tree covered island with the airstrip down the middle surrounded by its own reef. It looked stunning from above. The pilot takes the plane on a full circuit of the island to maximise the views
Then it’s time line up with runway and bounce down onto the grass. What a way to arrive at your destination.
After a brief guided tour and lunch we were shown to our little beach cabin. The island is an eco-resort where the emphasis is on nature and simplicity rather than luxury. The rooms are simple and basic but clean and have everything you need (you can read my TripAdvisor review here).
But its outside where the real pleasures lie. A few steps from our verandah was the coral beach and the islands lagoon reef and it’s just stunning. Crystal clear water just teeming with fish.
We watched the daily fish feeding session at the fish pool, a large gap in the coral where the fish gather and you can paddle right amongst them while they brush against your feet and swim between your legs.
The island is so laid back and easy-going that you just slip into a happy routine of beach strolls, bird watching, reef walking and snorkelling.
The beach is not sand but rough coral and sharp on the feet. This is how a coral island should be I’m told rather than pure sand. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Maldives with its talcum powder sand and I was left wondering how “manufactured” the beaches might be. Doesn’t matter as the feeling of isolation in the middle of a vast ocean is the same and walking around the island is just heaven, watching the waves crash around the reef edge, birds soaring overhead and trees waving in the breeze
Day trippers as well as overnight visitors ensure a regular to and fro of planes
The island is known for its birdlife and they were everywhere. They seem to be completely oblivious to our presence and you can pretty much reach out and touch them while they are roosting. They make a hell of a lot of noise and often swoop right in front of your face. There must have been several thousand on the island but this is the bird low season. In summer they number almost 100,000 which is astonishing. Apparently every single branch and twig that can support a bird has one. The resort provides ear plugs to cope with the night-time chatter. What they can’t prevent is the smell which is pretty bad so I’ve heard and Lady Elliot Island “Tattoos” are common 🙂
This is a White Cap Noddy
And this is Brown Noddy
They get their name from the way they nod their heads to drain the saltwater out of their beaks
I’m not sure what this one was but it was nesting a few inches from the path right next to someones verandah
This is a Common Rail, often seen in the dining room scrounging for food and stealing toast from the table while you pop off to get a cup of tea (with the kids watching no less!)
There are also a wide variety of Gulls and Oyster Catchers. In short the Island is teeming with life both above and below the water.
Being on an island you get the benefit of superb sunsets and sunrises. I got up at 6am each morning to see the sunrise and they are majestic.
Even TBF who loves her bed in the morning was persuaded to join me once although she did a great job of looking very cold, which in truth it was (it was windy for most of the time we were there).
For me, life is pretty good when you can draw back the curtains of your cosy little room and see the sun rising through the palm trees over a warm tropical reef and ocean. Wandering aimlessly around the island before most other people are about and just savoring the solitude and beauty is a memory I will treasure forever.
The sunsets weren’t too shabby either. On our last evening we spent a couple of hours just sat on the beach watching the colours change as the sun descended.
Just as the sun sets the birds fly out and swarm and swoop over your head. I’m pretty pleased with some of the shots of the sun with the birds silhouetted against.
As the sun went down the moon came up, lighting up the sky once more and laying its silvery trail across the lagoon. I even managed some pretty good close-up shots of the moon – not bad for a handheld telephoto shot
We only spent two full days on the island but the place really gets under your skin. Almost immediately it feels like home and everything feels so familiar and comfortable. The staff of the island are warm, friendly and knowledgeable. It has the feel of a research station that allows guests in. I wonder if they have any jobs?
It was a sad moment when we realised we had to pack up and leave and continue our journey. It was a common feeling we had everywhere we went on the trip, the consolation that there was another great place to come but it never helped that sense that you needed more time. Even though the island is small there is so much to do and even doing nothing is a delight. It must be a wonder to see the island in the summer when the turtles come ashore and lay eggs and thatch their young or when the birds arrive in their thousands to breed.
A little slice of tropical paradise and yet another to add to the “I must go back and stay longer” category. This one was one gorgeous lady!