HOP AROUND THE REEF
A fast guide to the Southern Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is some 2300km long and consists of many islands and atolls. But, with a little imagination, you can explore the Southern Great Barrier Reef, between Rockhampton and Bundaberg, in less time than you think.
Forget about “getting wrecked”. These days, Great Keppel Island is all about relaxation. The island, which was notorious back in the ’80s for its parties, has wound it back a notch or two. Catch an early-morning flight from Brisbane and you can be in Rockhampton by 7.30am. A transfer service will take you right through to Great Keppel Island, via Keppel Bay Marina, and with Freedom Fast Cats you can be on the island faster than you can say glass-bottom boat tour.
Gawk and snorkel before you check into your accommodation, with a total of 300 back-to-basics beds here.
Great Keppel Island Hideaway boasts 48 rooms from self-contained beach cabins to motel-style rooms. Next door, Great Keppel Island Holiday Village is a 2.5 star “oldworld” holiday experience offering two-bedroom cottages, cabins and tents with beds. GREATKEPPELISLANDHIDEAWAY.COM.AU; GKIHOLIDAYVILLAGE.COM.AU
There are no pumpkins on Pumpkin Island. What you will find is an island shaped like a pumpkin (not a Halloween-type pumpkin but a Butternut pumpkin). And plenty of peace. Catch a water taxi from Great Keppel Island and you can be on Pumpkin Island 20 minutes later.
Home to five cottages and two bungalows, you can rent this entire island for $2220 a night which, if you care to share this paradise with 25 other friends, breaks it down to a mere $85 a night. If that’s not enough to tempt you, the fact it’s the Great Barrier Reef ’s only resort which is completely off the grid, may.
Measuring just 450m long and 150m wide, this is an idyllic island to explore. Done with the land, grab a snorkel and navigate the pristine coral off the island where you’ll swim with fabulous fish and turtles. PUMPKINISLAND.COM.AU
If catching a boat called the Pumpkin Express back to the mainland doesn’t scream Southern Great Barrier Reef, how about a fire truck-red helicopter over blue ribbons of reef ? This is one case when the trip from Gladstone, a two-hour drive from Rockhampton, is as delicious as the destination itself.
Marine Helicopters will take you
Relax, explore and learn about magical marine life.