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Paradise within the Nice Barrier Reef


Australia’s Nice Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Web site since 1981, is among the Seven Wonders of the Pure World for good cause. This vibrant marine wonderland stretches nearly 1500 miles in size and hosts over 131,000 sq. miles of extremely numerous coral ecosystems. However which means that wildlife adventurers with their sights set on recognizing the Nice Eight of clownfish, large clams, manta ray, maori wrasse, potato cod, sharks, turtles and whales might possible be overwhelmed with potentialities when attempting to journey plan. Girl Elliot Island is a not-to-be-missed coral cay mendacity inside the reef’s most extremely protected Inexperienced Zone, 50 miles northeast of Bundaberg and simply to the north of Fraser Island.  For vacationers critical about marine wildlife, this island must be on the coronary heart of any Australia itinerary.

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef Austrialia

In 1816 Captain Thomas Stewart sighted and named the island whereas crusing the ‘Girl Elliot’ (named after the spouse of Hugh Elliot, the colonial governor of India on the time). The island’s historical past since consists of being mined for guano and internet hosting a herd of goats that was stored on the Island to make sure meals for shipwrecked sailors. Girl Elliot Island is now essentially the most distant however at present frequently accessed Nice Barrier Reef island.  There are solely roughly 30 individuals who presently reside on the island and they’re all employees supporting the tourism business. There are not any ferries – the one approach to arrive on the island is by a small aircraft chartered from Seair Pacific. It’s a fast 25-minute flight from the Bundaberg Airport or roughly 40 minutes from Hervey Bay/Fraser Coast.  Girl Elliot Island is the one coral cay Island with an airstrip on the Nice Barrier Reef, and the chicken’s eye view provided from the aircraft may give guests a memorable and distinct perspective on the reef. 

A turtle diving back to the reef in a shallow lagoon on Lady Elliot Island.

The coral cay is a sanctuary for over 1,500 species of tropical fish, however is legendary for being the house of the manta ray. Anyplace from 450-700 inquisitive rays congregate frequently, so even a fast snorkel is prone to embody a sighting. Between November and February, inexperienced and loggerhead turtles return to the island to nest, and humpback whales migrate northward by way of the world from June to September.  Mild reef sharks are additionally widespread offshore. The continental shelf is simply six miles to the east, so the ecosystems right here reap the advantages of the East Australian Present. The island’s reefs boast quite a few coral trout that are acknowledged as an indication of a wholesome reef.  Though it’s a premier dive website, Girl Elliot Island can be house to the second-highest range of seabirds on the barrier reef, making wildlife sightings simple each underwater and on land.  There are buff banded rails, ruddy ternstones, silvereyes, frigate birds, boobies, mutton birds at night time, and the Island is even house to a number of breeding pairs of red-tailed tropic birds.  Along with birds, the island can be house to a wholesome inexperienced frog inhabitants and a number of other species of butterflies.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef with many kinds of fishes.

The island’s sole lodging is an award-winning, family-run ecolodge targeted on reef well being and environmental sustainability. Girl Elliot Island is a personal vacation spot and permission to entry the Island is simply granted by the Girl Elliot Island Eco Resort.  The resort has held the lease to function from the Nice Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority since 2005, and since, huge strides have been made to introduce sustainable initiatives (similar to transitioning to 100% renewable vitality). They work onerous to guard vital breeding and nursery areas similar to seagrass beds, mangrove communities, deepwater shoals and reefs. In late 2021, Girl Elliot Island Eco Resort received gold for ‘ecotourism’ on the annual Queensland Tourism Awards. The resort has additionally achieved Superior Ecotourism Certification, Local weather Motion Chief Certification and Inexperienced Journey Chief standing from Ecotourism Australia.

one female scuba diver viewing large orange-colored common gorgonian sea fan and variety of colorful coral of great barrier reef, Australia

The resort presents cozy eco cabins and glamping tents proper on the water, so heading out for a snorkel may be as simple as strolling out the door to the seashore. And the snorkeling is so good, in truth, that Lonely Planet voted Girl Elliot Island #2 of the ‘7 greatest seashores for snorkeling around the globe’ in 2020. Relying on stage of expertise, company can select from Newbie, Intermediate or Superior snorkel trails.  Scuba divers can go for deeper exploration at twenty dive websites dotted across the island (lessons are additionally provided for individuals who wish to study and night time dives can be found). Friends can even find out how corals are being impacted by local weather change on a glass-bottom boat tour with native naturalists. A marine biologist is readily available for lagoon excursions inland. Different actions embody discovery walks, a go to to the historic lighthouse, birdwatching and stargazing.

Whereas locations like Girl Elliot Island Eco Resort are fortunately doing their half to assist defend Australia’s pure setting, iconic wildlife and the well being of the corals of the Nice Barrier Reef are nonetheless in danger. A visit to see Australia’s marine wildlife in all its glory could also be a as soon as on this lifetime expertise.

Concerning the writer: Cathy Brown View all posts by

Cathy grew up in Michigan and has spent the final decade exploring each continent as a journey author for Lonely Planet, CNN, Thrillist, Matador Community, and so forth. She now lives on an natural farm within the Andes of northern Patagonia and works carefully with indigenous communities within the Amazon of Brazil.




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