Lady Musgrave Experience not to be missed


The Lady Musgrave experience from the Port of Bundaberg to the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef is a world-class adventure that's not to be missed.

After just two hours of sailing aboard the luxury Reef Empress, guests are transported to a natural wonderland of turquoise water, stunning coral and amazing wildlife.

Activities include a walk on the island, sightseeing on a glass-bottom boat and snorkelling. It's an action-packed day trip that etches lasting memories.

The friendly, knowledgeable crew and tour guides add to the experience and leave a warm impression.

The day starts with boarding the Reef Empress at 7am and finishes around 5pm.

The luxury vessel is comfortable and surprisingly large; it can hold more than 200 passengers.

Lady Musgrave Island beach
White sand on the beach at Lady Musgrave Island.

Skipper Darryl Henderson said the 35-metre catamaran previously operated out of Strahan in Tasmania.

He guides the vessel skilfully and effortlessly over 50 nautical miles at a cruising speed of around 24 knots.

Whales are commonly seen on the voyage in spring and several were spotted during our journey.

Morning tea comprised muffins, scones and fruit, with excellent barista-style coffee.

Walking around the boat is easy, but passengers are advised to hold the rails in case of sudden bumps.

There were about 60 people aboard for our midweek voyage, most from overseas.

Heard the birds while tour guide Natalie Lobartolo leads a group through the forest on Lady Musgrave Island.

Passengers were split into two groups for activities on arrival at Lady Musgrave Island. While one group does a guided walk on the island the other sees the reef from a glass-bottom boat.

The island is 14ha of coral cay with dense forest and an abundance of bird life. Tour guide Natalie said up to 20,000 noddy terns call the island home during summer.

Guano mining occurred in the 19th century and goats were introduced at that time. They were eradicated in 1974, allowing the vegetation to recover.

Turtles swim close to shore, closely followed by reef sharks looking for their next meal.

Turtles swim close to Lady Musgrave Island, closely followed by reef sharks looking for a meal.

The island is popular with day trippers and campers, and from next year visitors will be able to stay in an underwater observatory with sleeping quarters.

After a short walk on the island we saw the reef through glass while tour guide Danny entertained with his commentary. Turtles, groper and coral were highlights of the marine life.

Back aboard the Reef Empress we donned wetsuits and went snorkelling. Forget about getting sand in your fins and waddling like a duck from the shore. This activity involved descending a few steps and easing into the water.

Lady Musgrave Island coral
The coral reef is healthy at Lady Musgrave Island.

The reef was absolutely stunning, with contrasting colours and abundant fish. Guides keep an eye on everyone and quickly attend if anyone gets into difficulty. They recommend heading towards a buoy where turtles are known to rest on a bommie reef.

Unfortunately we didn't see any turtles while snorkelling but a mating pair performed in the distance after we returned to the boat.

A buffet lunch was hungrily devoured following the exercise with a tasty choice of salads and meats.

A short time remained to sunbake on the top deck before the homeward voyage.

Gliding up the Burnett River offered great views of Burnett Heads and the marina, where Captain Henderson deftly returned his passengers who all enjoyed the Lady Musgrave Experience.

Adult bookings start at $210 which includes snorkelling, guided walk, the glass-bottom boat tour, morning tea and lunch.

If you can upgrade to the premium fare, this includes exclusive access to the Captain's Lounge with super comfortable chairs, unlimited coffee, a cheese board and drink in the afternoon and a private toilet.

Concessions, family and group bookings are available.

The Reef Empress sails most days, but check online to confirm. Cancellation may occur depending on weather and numbers.

This amazing day trip from Bundaberg is an experience not to be missed.

Lady Musgrave Experience
Lady Musgrave Island