Farewell Lady Elliot

Last day.

Our fifth & last day has arrived and we are keeping our fingers crossed for some fine weather.

It started out cloudy and a little drizzly so after breakfast we braved the conditions and did a reef walk with Jacinta.

She’s a marine biologist and has lived here for 3 years. She was able to fill us in on all we could spot on the calf high water of the lagoon.

We handled a sea cucumber – lovely and slimy and not as prickly as they look.

We headed over the runway to the light house and made our way along the beach to enter at the coral garden. The wind has changed and it’s a little windy at the lighthouse ended today.

I’m writing this sitting in a white moulded deck chair. I had the loveliest snorkel in the coral garden. Aptly named it’s a real garden of blue tipped coral with so many beautiful fish.

We haven’t spotted a manta ray except through the glass bottom boat. But not while snorkelling. The fish life more than made up for it.

The sky is blue and the sun is out. Perfect for our last day.

We stay at coral gardens until at least 2.30. We skip lunch each day having had a great breakfast but today I’m feeling hungry. We eat some cheese then still dresses in my wetsuit Steve & I head to the lagoon out the front of our cabin.

It’s been very windy there all week but Jacinta, our guide this morning, convinced us it would be worth snorkeling at high tide.

In we went. It was windy but underwater was another world. It’s just deep enough to kick along so you are very close to the reef.

We spotted and swam with three big turtles and a black tipped shark. Lots of colourful fish. An octopus…….

Such a great way to finish.

Dinner tonight: salmon, potato bake, salad and fresh vegetables!

Another night of 500.

I’m hooked!

Farewell Lady Elliot. I think we’ll be back

Thursday on LEI

Weather plays a big part of your enjoyment of an island.

We’re lucky we’ve had lovely warm mornings but unfortunately we have had rainy afternoons which really limits what you can do.

There was a little drama today and a lady on the snorkel tour had to be assisted. She swallowed water. Next thing the RACQ care flight was there and she was airlifted to Maryborough.

Fortunately we like to read. Steve has been gifted the Gin puzzle by Frances and made a great start. And this afternoon he finished!

I went wandering between rain showers. There is a games room which is underwhelming. Quite a few books are available but not many games. Unless the other holiday makers have them out.

Card players have an option! I think the staff could offer a few wet weather screenings of videos about the reef or sea life.

By late afternoon we headed over to the lighthouse for drinks and were happy the rain stayed away.

With our pre dinner G& T we broke open the pack of cards. I’ve never been much of a card player but I’m keen to learn. Ralph & Frances patiently explained the rules of 500 and we had a few games before dinner.

The meals have been good. Several choices each night. Tonight: roast pork, chickpea tagine, beef stroganoff and lots of fresh vegetables.

Then a short movie on the way plastic fragments are found in our oceans. Music & narration by Jack Johnson. I’ve been a big JJ fan so that made it easy to watch.

We had a ‘late’ night tonight playing 500 and I’m keen to try again tomorrow. Rain is predicted so I’m sure I’ll get a chance.

Quiet rainy day

I can’t complain.

About the rain!

We looked out this morning and though windy on the SE side the skies were only slightly cloudy.

Following breakfast we set off in an anticlockwise way to walk around the island. That’s not as easy as it sounds. The beach is a combination of sand, shells, rocks and rock pools. It’s rocky on the ankles but so full of things to look at.

By the time we’d almost done the circuit it had started to rain. Hard and heavy.

So it was back to the cabin to change, have coffee and settle into some reading.

Our friend Frances had brought a puzzle. 500 pieces – all about Gin!

We moved at around 1.30 to go on a walking tour but again it started raining! So into the bar for a G&T

Then at 3.30 we took the Historical walking tour with Mary our enthusiastic guide. She was very engaging as she told us about the history behind Lady Elliot.

It was named – as many islands and places in Australia are , after the English who may have sailed past or landed…… disregarding any indigenous occupation.

So Lady Elliot is the wife of the captain of the boat also named LE.

It’s was mined for guano in its early days before a tourism lease was granted in the 1960’s with a guarantee it was replanted and an airstrip established. The airstrip was completed in 24 hr. The tree planting and growing took a little longer

Originally just for camping it would have been a hot spot without shady trees! to read a little about the history …..


We visited the graveyard with two graves. Both women. One the daughter of the lighthouse keeper. She died in 1896 of a cold that developed into pneumonia. Built in 1866 the lighthouse would have been a lonely place with a ship arriving only every 4 months. The 30 year old died before anyone could help.

The other was Suzanna, in 1907. She was the lighthouse keepers wife. They say after her 4 sons left the island for boarding schools she was so lonely she walked into the sea and drowned. Not great stories.

Our walking tour finished at the lighthouse and the tiny museum.

Perfect timing. We arrived for sunset drinks.

Snorkeling Wonderland on LEI

We’ve adjusted to ‘island’ time. Nothing happens quickly and in our case early!

Although, Steve and our travelling mate Frances went on the bird watching tour at 7.15. I’m still coughing so opted for more bedtime.

Breakfast was at 8.30, when the bird watchers returned. They were full of information about the birds on the island and were sprouting all kinds of facts about the various birds we had already seen.

Breakfast was buffet style with enough options to make us happy and ‘real’ coffee was able to be ordered from the bar. That made the coffee drinkers very happy.

Following breakfast I decided to walk at least half the island along the shore and check out the best swimming area. We were booked for the afternoon snorkel trip so thought a morning swim might be good.

I headed off leaving the others to read and in Frances’ case – do a puzzle she had brought.

I wandered along the shoreline. It was fascinating to see all the shells, corals, fossilised rocks, driftwood all along the waterline.

I watched a plane take off and arrived at the lighthouse beach to see the snorkel boat dropping off the first passengers of the day.

Conditions were beautiful. So beautiful, I walked back to our cabin and changed for a swim. The others came with me and we swam in the shallows and managed to get a deck chair for lounging under the trees reading. a tough morning.

We had decided to opt out of lunch – though there is a cafe offering the usual lunch options. We had a piece of fruit and some cheese and crackers that I had brought with me.

The day slipped away and suddenly we were getting our snorkel gear on for the glass bottom boat trip. Taken by Jacinta we were told there was a friendly 3 metre shark around the area and not to worry !

Through the glass we saw some manta rays, turtles and hundred of different types of fish. no shark.

Then it was into the water and away we went. The area is called the ‘coral garden’ – for good reason. It’s a paradise.

It’s fun watching the different holiday makers reaction to being underwater. Some are not too experienced and were nervous, others ecstatic. By 4.15 we were getting back on the boat feeling the chill.

Warm showers, warm clothes and another wine watching the sunset was a perfect way to end the day.

Tonight’s dinner menu: duck, potato bake, fresh vegetables, grilled fish , tofu!

And another early night.

Welcome to Lady Elliot Island – LEI

Flying north over the Pacific Ocean the blue of the water was exhilarating.

We flew along side of Fraser island – that waste sand island. Coming to Lady Elliot we could take it all in in one glimpse. A spec in the ocean surrounded by lagoons of coral filled with colourful fish and manta rays – even able to be seen by air.

We landed on the grassy airstrip which divides the island. The resort is one side and the large lagoon the other.

We were greeted not with an island style flower lei but with a big grin and a ‘welcome all’ by Mary a staff member.

She gave us a quick orientation talk / tour then allowed us to check in , to go to the dive shop and be kitted out with fins, snorkel-even a wet suit if needed.

I was pleased I’d brought my $10 Aldi wetsuit bought two years ago and never worn. It’s quite windy on the island and with temperatures dropping to 23 it could be cool getting in and out of the water.

There is only one resort here and people come for the snorkeling, diving , birdwatching, and reef walking. It’s not a glamour resort. No resort wear needed.

People are wearing shorts or jeans, and the ‘hoodie’ a fleece lined jumper. It’s not freezing just a little cool. Tomorrow should be warmer.

We settled into our rooms which though small are well suited for a relaxed 5 nights. There is a good sized verandah, somewhere to hang wet gear , comfortable chairs for reading and a beautiful view towards the lagoon just beyond our cabin.

At 2 o’clock we headed across to the lighthouse lagoon crossing the grassy airfield.

We wore our reef shoes into the water carrying our fins and snorkels. About 50 metres out there is a tall pole with a basket to store your reef shoes as you don the fins and swim out.

We were able to immediately enter the coral garden and start watching the colourful fish darting every which way along the ocean floor. Magical.

We swam along the roped off area where every 100 metre there’s a little platform you could stop and hold on and chat with your companions.

We’re traveling with Ralph and Frances, friends who love swimming and had come to our past trip to Vanuatu ( check out that blog post if you haven’t read it already)

We swam around for an hour or so and though the water temperature was nice I was happy to be wearing my wetsuit as the wind was cool as we left the water.

It’s hard going walking out. Lots of rocks and uneven surfaces makes you feel very clumsy!!!

Back to our cabin for a warm shower and afternoon cuppa before heading over the island for our sunset drinks.

What a sunset. Absolutely gorgeous.

You’ll find is here each evening!!

Dinner in the dining room is a simple but satisfying meal. Carrot soup followed by lamb shanks, beef ribs , fresh vegetables, polenta and a lentil dish. All very tasty. With a nice glass of red we were ready for bed by 8.30.

We’re on island time already!

Lady Elliot Island, here we come.

We’re off overseas today.

Yes you read that correctly. Australians going Overseas.

To an island 40 minutes off the Australian coast.

Yesterday we drove to beautiful little Hervey Bay about 3.5 hrs from Brisbane. It’s a jumping off point for a light plane to Lady Elliot an eco style island in the southern most area of the Great Barrier Reef.


We stayed at the Tower Court Motel.

This morning we walked along the Esplanade and found a great little cafe for breakfast. ‘Eat’owned by Dan & Steff of MKR fame.

Fabulous breakfast

We’re now at the Hervey Bay airport. Check-in is simple – 15 kg of bag, which is as much as I take on an overseas holiday. But I do have my wetsuit ready for the beautiful snorkeling I’ll be doing.

Lady Elliot Island-LEI, is renowned for its pristine waters. It’s manta rays, fish, turtles – an under water paradise.

The resort is an eco style -with emphasis on the environment. It’s comfortable but not a resort where you dress for evening cocktails. It’s for observing the environment, enjoying the sunsets and the ocean.

Let the holiday begin.

Our little light plane for the 40 min trip