Lady Musgrave Island

Underwater magic in a lesser-known Queensland spot

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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.

Lady Musgrave Island is only 14 hectares in size but is surrounded by 1192 hectares of pristine coral reef. It’s an amazing Queensland island and one of the lesser-known places to visit in Queensland to experience the Great Barrier Reef. 

Lady Musgrave Island
Lady Musgrave Island. Photo: Rob Richardson

Day trip from Agnes Water

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 at Mon Repos.

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

If you’re planning a Queensland road trip you might want to check off these things to do in Agnes Waters

lady musgrave
Lady Musgrave Island. Photo: Darren Jew

The trip to Lady Musgrave Island

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

The ocean was quite rough so be prepared and 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 warm water delivered all our expectations.  

Lady Musgrave Island underwater magic

Lady Musgrave Island
Snorkelling in shallow clear waters.

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.

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

Two blue angelfish courted each other.  

We swam through schools of glassfish as we went from the sandy seafloor to the surface.

queensland island holidays
Colourful clams and staghorn coral.

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.

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.

Soft corals swayed in the gentle current.

Anemones were host to Queensland’s marine emblem, the Barrier Reef anemonefish, 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.

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.

Thousands of school fish, squirrel fish, bannerfish, long-nosed yellow butterfly fish, fox face, and rabbitfish were all over the coral, as well as large numbers of striped sergeant major damselfish.  

A banner fish appeared to almost hang in the water.

queensland island holidays
Coral Explorer glass-bottomed boat.

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 seasickness had faded into the past.

 It had been worth it!

Lady Musgrave Island
Tony Isaacson ‘at work’

More places to snorkel in 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 Musgrave Island

Lady Musgrave Island

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tony isaacson
As a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor, AWARE shark conservation specialist and adventurer, I have dived in some of the most amazing diving locations on the planet. I’ve logged over 3000 dives in more than 20 countries around the world and have explored the depths of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. I’ve documented the marine diversity in exotic locations like Komodo, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tahiti and the Galapagos Islands. I have been scuba diving since 1970 and have a Certificate IV in training and assessment. I am a registered teacher of marine studies since 1977. In 2002, I won the "Best School in Australia" for Marine Education and the BHP Science Prize for Marine Science Teaching. I was the inaugural President and a founding member of the Marine Life Society of South Australia. In 2013, I inspired Navy Clearance Diver and bull shark bite survivor, Paul de Gelder and a 60 Minutesfilm crew to dive with bull sharks at the Ultimate Shark Encounter in Fiji. I was a consultant on the making of documentaries on Leafy Seadragons (for Channel 9), The Great Barrier Reef (with Richard Fitzpatrick for the BBC) and filmed underwater footage in Indonesia and off the Queensland and New South Wales coasts for Travel2Next. Last year, I came nose-to-nose with a 4.5m tiger shark. Isolated from my diving buddy, the adult female swam directly towards me. I made sure I was vertical in the water and prepared to scream loudly, shove the camera, mounting and lights at the shark. Fortunately, I wasn’t destined to be on the menu that day! In July 2014, I will lead an international group of diving adventurers for big shark action, the sardine run and great white sharks from Durban to Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a great advocate for sharks, sustainability and ecotourism, and I regularly volunteer for Reef Check and Grey Nurse Shark Watch in Australia. Read more about my adventures on my blog DiveCareDare.