Lady Musgrave Island | Great Barrier Reef

Underwater magic in a lesser-known Queensland spot

Lady Musgrave Island | Great Barrier Reef

- This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

lady musgrave
Lady Musgrave Island. Photo: Rob Richardson

If you live or are staying in the south or south east of Queensland, then the Great Barrier Reef is not out of your reach, even for a day trip. Lady Musgrave Island is one of many coral cays on our Great Barrier Reef. It is only 14 hectares in size but is surrounded by 1192 hectares of pristine coral reef.

Lady Musgrave Island
Lady Musgrave Island. Photo: Rob Richardson

Joseph Banks Conservation Park and 1770

Lady Musgrave is reasonably close to the central Queensland coast and can be experienced by a day trip from the Town of Seventeen Seventy (1770) or Bundaberg.

Bundaberg is one of the best places in Australia to see turtles lay their eggs on the beach.

The Town of 1770 is near Agnes Waters, only 59kms from the island.

lady musgrave
Lady Musgrave Island. Photo: Darren Jew

After a five-hour drive from the Sunshine Coast we arrived and set out from 1770, with Lady Musgrave Cruises.

The trip to Lady Musgrave Island

The ocean was quite rough so be prepared.

Bring quells, ginger lozenges or anti-sickness patches, just in case.

One of the bonuses leaving from 1770 is it’s a 90-minute boat ride instead of a 2½ hour trip from Bundaberg.

lady musgrave
Lady Musgrave Island. Photo: Rob Richardson

We moored inside the lagoon.  The dives were shallow to 8m and with the bright sunlight, visibility was very good.  

Two snorkel dives in the clear warn water delivered all our expectations.  

Lady Musgrave Island underwater magic

Lady Musgrave Island
Snorkelling in shallow clear waters. Photo: Tony Isaacson

A swim through a narrow coral and rock tunnel gave a glimpse of two harlequin tusk fish as they hurried away.

Lady Musgrave Island
Happy snorkellers. Photo: Tony Isaacson

Hundreds of blue chromis [damsel fish] and parrot fish hugged the coral near the surface.

Two blue angel fish courted each other.  

We swam through schools of glass fish as we went from the sandy sea floor to the surface.

queensland island holidays
Colourful clams and staghorn coral. Photo: Tony Isaacson

Oysters and colourful clams were scattered around the reef which included mushroom, staghorn, branching, plate, foliose and stony coral.

Lady Musgrave Island
Long nosed yellow trumpet fish. Photo: Tony Isaacson

A rather stunning yellow trumpet fish hid in a shallow cave under a big plate coral.

Finding Nemo

queensland island holidays
Anemone with clownfish – spot the lionfish. Photo: Tony Isaacson

Soft corals swayed in the gentle current.

Anemones were host to Queensland’s marine emblem, the Barrier Reef anemone fish, also known as clownfish or Nemo.  

An iridescent blue sea star caught our eye on the coral sand.

Lady Musgrave Island
Green turtle feeding on algae. Photo: Tony Isaacson

Green turtles were actively feeding on algae growing between branching corals.

Their activity was irresistible to moon wrasses and other opportunists.

One turtle even had to use its front flipper to brush a very determined fish away.

Sea cucumbers were everywhere, in many colours and different patterns. Some were feeding on the organic content in the sand.

Lady Musgrave Island
Yellow butterfly fish on coral plates. Photo: Tony Isaacson

Thousands of school fish, squirrel fish, banner fish, long nosed yellow butterfly fish, fox face, and rabbit fish were all over the coral, as well as large numbers of striped sergeant major damsel fish.  

A banner fish appeared to almost hang in the water.

queensland island holidays
Coral Explorer glass bottomed boat. Photo: Tony Isaacson

For those who wanted to go to the island, the Coral Explorer, a glass bottom boat was used for transfers.

There is something about fresh air and physical activity that creates a healthy appetite!  

We gratefully devoured a delicious seafood and chicken smorgasbord lunch along with plenty of snacks.

Everyone was happy but very tired on the return journey to 1770.  

Many fell asleep as a good day had been had by all.  

The memory of sea sickness had faded into the past.  It had been worth it!

Lady Musgrave Island
Tony Isaacson ‘at work’

Photos and video by Tony Isaacson unless otherwise indicated.

Discover Queensland

Queensland is a nirvana for divers and snorkelers. The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage wonder and an experience for your bucket list.

Two other fabulous Queensland islands for underwater experiences are swimming with the turtles at Lady Elliot Island and Heron Island’s underwater adventures.

In the south, you can also swim with manta rays at Stradbroke Island.  

Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, is a vibrant city with a huge choice of cafes and plenty of restaurants too. 

Capricorn Caves is a lesser-known Queensland gem that’s worth visiting.

Looking for more Queensland experiences? Here are some things to do in Hervey Bay and things to do in Townsville. Townsville to Magnetic Island is a short ferry ride away.

lady mustgrave island