I am an Organiser of the Group Hiking South East Qld and More on Meetup. Visit the website at https://www.meetup.com/HikingInSEQLDandMore/ is free to join all the activities posted on the hiking group.
Published December 22nd 2021
This remarkable coral cay belongs to all of us. Experience this island by learning about the history, marine creatures, turtles and birds and how to protect the marine environment for the future.
Lady Elliot Island is nestled in a protected area within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Its waters teem with spectacular marine life and the island is home to nesting seabirds and turtles. The island has been revegetated with Pisonia trees and many other native island trees.
Lady Elliot Island seen from the plane approaching the island. Photo by Author.
Learn about the guano mining, destruction of the vegetation and resetting of the island thanks to the pioneering work of Don Adams.
The sun sets spectacularly on the west side of the island, where there's a lighthouse that has a unique heritage and played an important role in the area's history. Lady Elliot Island has many free guided tours running during the day to educate people about the island and how to preserve the environment for the future.
1. Bird Watching Tour 2. Island Ecology and Revegetation Tour 3. Snorkel Lessons 4. Island Discovery Tour 5. Fish Feeding Tour
6. Manta Ray Presentation 7. Questions & Answers Sessions with a Master Reef Guide. 8. Behind the Scene Tour
9. Historical Tour
10. Surviving Course on a Remote Island
11. The Ocean Plastic Crisis
12. Turtle Update
13. Turtle nesting presentation
14. Sunset Drinks
15. Night Explorer
1. Bird watching tour
Lady Elliot Island boasts the second highest diversity of bird species on the Great Barrier Reef. Some of the sea birds that visit the island are only found on a few islands on the East Coast of Australia. The bird watching tour aims to help you spot and learn about the fascinating birds of Lady Elliot Island.
It is an informative tour to learn about and look for sea birds, shorebirds and land birds. Some of the birds are residents, are on the island to breed or come all the way from the Northern Hemisphere for food and sunshine. You need to bring water, walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen and possible binoculars.
Red tailed tropic bird with its chick. Photo by Author.
Lady Elliot Island was mined for guano in the 1860s. The topsoil was also removed and all the trees were cut down. The goats ate all the vegetation, leaving the island a barren coral cay.
Lady Elliot Island has now an active revegetation program to return the coral cay back to its natural vegetation state. You'll learn about how the island's history has affected native and introduced vegetation with a visit to the island nursery. This tour takes you from the Educational Centre to the nursery, you need to bring some water, walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen.
The nursery with plants to revegetate the island. Photo by Author.
Learn from qualified guides how to correctly wear your snorkelling equipment, troubleshoot problems and receive advice about where to snorkel and how to get in and out of quay ways. Bring fins, mask, snorkel, swimming clothes and a towel.
Learn to snorkel at the swimming pool. Photo by Author.
This tour starts at the Education Centre, continues down to the lagoon and for a short walk through the resort. You learn about the formation of a coral cay, the vegetation, birds and some resort history. This tour finishes at the fish pool for the fish feeding. Bring some water, walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen and reef shoes.
Standing either on the beach or in the shallow of the sea, in the 'fish pool', and watch the expert guide feed and identify the colourful reef fish. There are many fish that come very close and it is easy to identify them. Bring reef walking shoes if you are going into the water, a hat, sunscreen and bring your underwater camera.
Take a seat in the Education Centre for an informative talk on the manta rays of Lady Elliot Island. Learn about how great it is to have them at Lady Elliot Island all year round, where to see them, their colouration and more information.
7. Questions & Answers Sessions with a Master Reef Guide.
Bring along photos to identify what you've seen out on the reef or come along with simply a curious mind. Lady Elliot Island marine biologists have several years of experience working on The Great Barrier Reef and are very happy to answer any questions you might have. From the health of the reef, to species or even how the resort functions on an isolated island.
Learn from one of Lady Elliot Island team members what exactly goes on behind the scenes and what it takes to run an Eco resort. On this short walking tour, you gain an understanding of the water desalination plant of the island, solar power station and composting process. Bring some water, a hat, walking shoes and sunscreen.
This is a slightly longer walking tour from the Eastern side of the island, finishing at the historic lighthouse. Learn about the fascinating history of the island from 10,000 years ago to today, including mining, lighthouse keepers, the revegetation and the coming back of the birds. This tour includes a visit inside the lighthouse.
What can you do when you are shipwrecked on a remote island?
Learn about edible plants on an island of the coral reef, how to collect water and gather food. The tour includes a walk of the island to discover the plants useful for surviving. Bring shoes, a hat, some water and sunscreen.
Some plants on the Great Barrier Reef are edible. Photo by Author.
Each year, from November to March, Green and Loggerhead female turtles lay their eggs on the beaches of Lady Elliot Island. Many of the turtles are return visitors. It normally takes them approximately 3 hours to crawl up the beach, dig a body pit, lay the eggs, fill in the pit and return to the ocean.
The eggs hatch after approximately 7 weeks, between January and May and the little turtles all pip their eggs within a few hours of each other.
The clutch of turtle hatchlings slowly make their way to just below the surface of the ground in two-four days and wait until the sand temperature cools. Then they emerge as a group and make a mad dash towards the bright ocean horizon to start their life's journey.
Turtle after lying the eggs waiting for the high tide. Photo by courtesy of Joe Gurdon.
An esky with a selection of beverages is available as well as some snacks. You can also choose to pre-order at the bar your favourite drinks to ensure your preference. Walk to the Lighthouse Beach for relaxing sunset drinks and nibbles as the sun sets over the water. The sunsets are just beautiful to enjoy before dinner.
This tour takes you on a short walk to explore the island at night. Learn about some incredible nocturnal animals. Birds like the shearwater arrive on the island after the sunset to return to their burrows. Tree frogs and hermit crabs, are a few examples of the creatures you can encounter in the night. Then the tour continues walking to the airstrip stargazing and learning about the planets and the stars.
Strawberry Hermit Crabs can be seen in the night walking towards the sea to collect seawater and feeding. Photo by Author.