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Bundaberg: Gateway to Lady Elliot Island

384 km (238 miles) N of Brisbane; 1,439 km (892 miles) S of Cairns

The small sugar town of Bundaberg is the closest to the southernmost point of the Great Barrier Reef. If you visit the area between November and March, allow an evening to visit the Mon Repos Turtle Rookery. Divers may want to take in some of Australias best shore diving right off Bundabergs beaches. The southern reefs of the Great Barrier Reef are just as prolific, varied, and colorful as the reefs farther north off Cairns. However, because this part of the coast is less accessible by visitors and the reefs farther offshore, fewer snorkel and dive boats visit them.

There are two islands to be visited in this area, both part of the Bunker Group, which are around 80 km (50 miles) due north of Bundaberg. The islands are due east of Gladstone and closer to that town, but only live-aboard boats visit them from there. The only one visited by snorkelers and divers on a daily basis is pretty Lady Musgrave Island, a vegetated 14-hectare (35-acre) national-park coral cay, 52 nautical miles off the coast. It is surrounded by a lagoon 8km (5 miles) in circumference, filled with hundreds of corals and some 1,200 of the 1,500 species of fish and other marine creatures found on the Great Barrier Reef. The other is Lady Elliot Island, which is accessed by air and has a resort on it.