Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef

Town of 1770 – Lady Musgrave Island – Agnes Water

Beth had been wanting to go on another trip with us since the trip to St George in 2020 so we arranged that she and another friend Sandra join us for a few days at Agnes Water/1770, one of our favourite destinations. This time there’d be the special attraction of a day trip out to Lady Musgrave Island in the southern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef. It would give us the opportunity to snorkel amongst the coral and the turtles and other fish. Originally we had planned to depart at a reasonable hour on the morning of Saturday March 27 and had booked a boat trip to lady Musgrave on Sunday but two days before they cancelled the Sunday boat trip to Lady Musgrave so we had to get the boat on Saturday instead. This meant being up at 4 in the morning, taking off from Redcliffe at 6:30 and making it into Agnes at 8am to catch the trip.

Despite the early start we made the rendezvous and Beth delivered us to Redcliffe nice and early. After a quick preflight and passenger briefing it was all aboard for Agnes Water.

Taking off we were treated to an amazing view of the Sunshine Coast and its hinterland as the sun rose in the east.

Sunshine Coast hinterland

I never get tired of flying over this part of Queensland. It is really quite beautiful, especially first thing in the morning.

We tracked on up over Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, flying over some sugar cane fields on the way.

After about 80 minutes’ flying we rounded the head at 1770…

and were soon touching down on the Agnes Water airstrip.

Our taxi arrived shortly afterwards and took us the 5 minute trip to the 1770 marina where we boarded the boat.

Ninety minutes later we were at the island, ideal for snorkelling.

Lady Musgrave Island is the southern-most island in the Capricorn Cay, formed entirely of coral and covered by pisonia trees.  Its only inhabitants are a variety of breeding bird species, including Black Noddy Terns, known for their voluminous pooping behaviour.  Perilous to the unsuspecting walkers! This island sanctuary is surrounded by an 8 km turquoise lagoon with an abundance of sea life. 

First up, struggling with our flippers (fins for the experts), was snorkelling, delighting in the coral, beautiful fish and turtles!  Magic!  Beth’s go pro came into its own capturing the extensive marine life and certain ungainly fellow snokellers!

Next, the glass bottomed boat ride to the Island afforded us great images, including some very curious turtles.

Our guide’s enthusiasm and knowledge of the marine world below was just amazing.  Upon arrival, we had a guided walk to learn about the Island formation and bird life.  Interestingly, there are no predators for the birds such as snakes or lizards.

All of us left Lady Musgrave Island with a new appreciation for the pristine beauty of this stunning area.  We finished with a cooling lager at the newly opened wine bar at 1770 marina to watch the brilliant orange hues of the sunset over Bustard Bay. 

A perfect end to a perfect day.

On day 2 of our reef trip Sandra, Sigi and I were eager for a swim (where was Beth?) first up and met Beth for breakfast at Holidays Café with its fabulous beach views. Beth and Sandra left Sigi and me and took a taxi to the Paper Bark Forest. 

That was another highlight for them.  Only 400m long but a beautiful walk along planks and stepping stumps enjoying the paper bark tea trees, dappled sunshine, somewhat elusive butterflies and birds.  Some of the path was underwater due to recent heavy rains but was easily traversed in bare feet! Faced with a long walk back, their feet were saved, by yet another wonderful local who offered them a lift to our morning tea destination at the Getaway Garden Café to meet up with Sigi and me.

Now for the much awaited vanilla slice, which, we have been told, is one of the best in QLD.  Of course, we had to sample. Having tasted with great gusto it could well be true!

Our walk back to the motel took us via Discovery Trail Lookout with fabulous views. 

Sandra enjoyed another swim (where was Beth?) then they were off to the LARC (Lighter Amphibian Replenish Cargo) tour. 

The LARC tour, 1 hour across sand and water with a couple of exciting splashdowns, was great fun with a humorous and knowledgeable guide.  They then walked along the beach to the Captain Cook Monument – a cairn commemorating the first landing of the Endeavour 24/5/1770.  It stands near Bustard Bay, which was named after the crew shot a bird for dinner claiming it was the best meal since leaving England in 1768!

Meanwhile, Sigi and I, having done the LARC tour on our last trip to 1770, relaxed at Agnes Water and enjoyed the beach.

That evening, we enjoyed bubbles and nibbles at the beach, watching the sunset and the moonrise. We were joined by fellow Cirrus pilot Brett and his wife Sharon who happened to be staying at Sharon’s sister’s new beach house just up the road!

I began day 3 of our reef and beach trip with breakfast at the beach cafe then a short drive out to the airstrip with Stefan, Brett and Jodie. They’d asked whether they could have an early morning flight out to Lady Musgrave so who was I to quibble? I did the aircraft preflighting while Brett and Jodie chased a couple of kangaroos off the airstrip then we were all aboard for departure over the water to Lady Musgrave, about 20 miles out to sea. We had a great view of the 1770 cape as we departed.

Ten minutes later we were over Lady Musgrave and its turquoise lagoon.

Flying north, we followed a chain of reefs and islets until we reached Heron Island about 20 miles away.

From there it was a quick trip back to Agnes via Round Hill Head at 1770.

Round Hill Head

Meanwhile, Sigi, Beth and Sandra had begun their final day in paradise with a beach visit, breakfast at Codie’s Place, then a quick taxi ride to the airstrip to meet us for our return. We swapped crews and took off at 0930.  Following the coast we tracked to Bundaberg to top up the fuel tanks.

Short final at Bundaberg

From Bundaberg we headed for home. Knowing that there would be some cloud along the way I planned IFR and sure enough we encountered some friendly cumulus that caused a few minor bumps and some instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) at times. 

Despite this, we had some great views as we flew past Woodgate, Fraser Island, Maryborough and the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

Hinterland

Shortly after we were passing over Redcliffe airport.

And then final for RWY07.

Landing smoothly we taxied to the hangar to put MSF to bed. Beth summed things up well – it was a “truly magical trip”. 

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