Great Barrier Reef Birthday on Lady Musgrave Island

It is my belief that to come to Australia, let alone live in Australia for any length of time, and fail to visit the Great Barrier Reef would be unthinkable. Moving from Queensland to Western Australia limited opportunities significantly, so imagine my delight when the opportunity to spend my birthday on Lady Musgrave Island presented itself. Located on the outer southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Musgrave Island is the highest point of a coral cay. The rest of the cay forms a ring around the island providing a natural lagoon filled with fish and, because the water is so sheltered, some magnificent coral. Obviously we had come to dive.

SCUBA Diving

We were a bit miffed to hear the dive boat had broken down, limiting us to diving the lagoon but we weren’t going to come all this way and not dive. Initially there was a lot of sand due to the numpties diving with us, but once we got moving that cleared and there were some great coral bommies to explore and lots of fish including some characteristically territorial clown anemonefish (Nemos). We didn’t see any big stuff but we did encounter a turtle. In all honesty I don’t think we would choose to dive the lagoon again but we would be keen to check out the outer reef.

Great Barrier Reef island walk

The daytripper boat moors at a fixed pontoon in the lagoon so we took a boat to the island to have a look around. We were transferred over in a glass bottom boat that had a thin layer of water over the glass resulting in much amusement when one tourist dropped her shoe onto the glass and believed it lost forever… (any boat with huge square holes in the hull just wouldn’t work would it?!)

Disembarking the glass bottom boat on Lady Musgrave Island, Queensland, Australia

We walked through the island’s forest and the guide told us about the Muttonbirds that inhabit the island. Somewhat bizarrely, snubbing the natural beauty of this coral island paradise, these weird birds dig burrows underground. We walked back along the beach and were shown the sea cucumbers lurking in the shallows.

Introduction to sea cucumbers, Lady Musgrave Island, Australia

It is possible to camp on the island but there are no amenities so you need to bring absolutely everything, drinking water being especially important. We wanted to take a look at the camping area because we were considering camping in the future, but were firmly told daytrippers were not allowed in the camping area.

Pontoon activities

Lunch was a buffet of cold meats, salads, bread and a yummy fruit platter. Following that we took the semi submersible tour of the lagoon. The large windows offered great views of the coral and fish that would please non-divers and nervous snorkellers. The main reason we were impressed was the lack of collisions. The semi-submersible is a fairly chunky craft! Back on the pontoon we were invited to snorkel from the swim platforms under the watchful eye of a lifeguard. I suspect she was there to preserve the life of the reef as much as those exploring it, which is a good thing really. I wasn’t a big fan of the shrill whistle-blowing method of reprimanding the snorkellers that went astray though.

Swim platform on the pontoon, Lady Musgrave, Queensland, Australia

Tea and coffee, cakes and biscuits were plentiful and there were bottles of sunscreen fixed around the pontoon. Despite slathering cream onto myself before departing, at regular intervals throughout the day and seeking refuge in the shade when I could, I still managed to acquire awkward tan lines. I was glad not to burn though so ignore the suncream at your own risk! The pontoon supplied snorkeling gear and the other activities were available if you wanted to do them or you could ignore them and spend the whole day bum-up in the lagoon. I enjoyed the freedom to make the day your own, despite being there with a boat full of other people.

Lady Musgrave Cruises boat moored alongside the pontoon, Queensland, Australia

Daytrips depart the Town of 1770 each day. Lady Musgrave Cruises also operate a bus transfer from Bundaberg and Gladstone. The boat trip to Lady Musgrave lagoon takes about an hour and a half in each direction.

For me, visiting Lady Musgrave Island was a lovely birthday treat. Have you ever been taken anywhere for your birthday? Where did you go?

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