BeeBear Flies to Lady Elliot Island on The Great Barrier Reef

Lady Elliot Island is a coral quay on the south end of The Great Barrier Reef. The tiny island has featured on an episode of David Attenborough’s TV series, Great Barrier Reef  not only because of the bird life, turtles and manta rays there but also because it is a conservation success story.

Some time ago (when BeeBears could still travel on holidays) our BeeBear spent two amazing days and nights there. Naturally, she is bursting to talk all about it to the birds of Mawson’s house and to Tammy Turtle and to YOU.

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Where is Lady Elliot Island? Zoom in on a map of Australia. Find Queensland. On the east coast of Queensland, you can see a large island, Fraser Island  which is the largest sand island in the world. Lady Elliot Island lies north of Fraser Island. Just to get there was an adventure. First, BeeBear (and her people) flew ALL DAY from Perth in Western Australia to Brisbane in Queensland in Boeing 737 (comfort and movies) then on a turbo prop aircraft to Hervey Bay (lots of shaking and rattling. Sandwiches). Then the planes got even smaller. We hoped none would shrink too small to carry a small bear.

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We flew out on a Beechcraft B 200 from Hervey Bay and returned on a Cesna 210 Centurion.  As an experienced aviator herself, Beebear helped to oversee the control thingygums. 

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Our flight from the coastal town of  Hervey Bay to Lady Elliot Island took 80 minutes. We headed out over the sea and then northerly between the mainland and Fraser Island, the big one in the distance (below). If you zoom in on the photo above you can see the navigating thingygum. It shows our position and the red line shows our flight path. 

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Beyond Fraser Island is The Pacific Ocean where the turtles roam for years on the currents after laying their eggs on Lady Elliot and many other islands of The Reef. 

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The colours and swirls and patterns of coastal seas are just too blue for words. And these pics were taken through slightly fuzzy perspex windows so in fact they looked even bluer. We flew past Fraser Island and had a good view of the little islands and sand banks too.

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See that little island in the foreground of the picture above? Imagine an island like that all for oneself.  Our BeeBear thought it just about the right size for a a small-winged bear to settle down on. She would just sit there in the shade by the sand all day simply being  stunned by the colours of the sea. Cyclones could be a bother though.

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Thar she blows! Lady Elliot Island hoves into sight (above). You can see the main coral reef  where the deep dark blue ocean is breaking to white tops (and you can compare with the picture on the brochure at the top of the post). Within the reef lies the lagoon. You can do reef walks at low tide and snorkel there at high tide. You see green turtles and reef sharks and all kinds of starfish and fish and lots of coral. The island is so small that, as you can see, the airstrip goes right across the middle, one side to the other.

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If you look through the blur of the propellor (above) you can see two bands of blue at the end of the landing strip? That’s the lagoon, and after the lagoon the dark deep blue of the Pacific Ocean.  We were to see turtles right there where the  runway strip ends. 

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And there is the Eco Resort on Lady Elliot Island. It’s deliberately low key and low impact. The staff are very involved in caring for the island. They plant trees and count the birds nests and the turtle nests and inform visitors about the wonders of the island.  

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The island was actually a conservation disaster until some decades ago, and since then it has been restored tree by tree. More about Lady Elliot Island in the next post when we go for a walk and enjoy the Slow Life.

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Mark is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears. Of Mawson’s first book, ‘It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In’, a reviewer said, ‘Reading this book is like receiving a great big hug of reassurance and a huge hot chocolate with fluffy marshmallows.’

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