QueenslandGladstoneThe perfect access point to the Southern Great Barrier Reef - Gladstone is surrounded by secluded beaches, fishing hotspots, stunning national parks, and a plethora of adventure activities.
The Gladstone Region - Australia's best kept holiday secret - begins approximately 450 kilometres north of Brisbane. It's the gateway to the majestic Southern Great Barrier, fantastic fishing hotspots, amazing country adventures and pure national parks. Whatever you are after, you'll find it here. The region's hub is the city of Gladstone. Full of surprising and interesting experiences, this energetic regional city is known for being the 'engine room of Queensland' is also the access points for Southern Great Barrier Reef icons, Heron and Wilson Islands. Surrounding Gladstone are townships of Mount Larcom, Calliope, Benaraby, Boyne Island and Tannum Sands. This part of the region is home to one of Australia's premier freshwater fishing locations, Awoonga Dam. To the south, the natural surrounds of the Discovery Coast will beckon you to discover the burgeoning township Miriam Vale, the white secluded beaches of Agnes Water and the township of Seventeen Seventy will entice, as will the breathtaking reef adventures at Lady Musgrave Island and Fitzroy Reef Lagoon.
On a stunning part of the Gladstone Region Coastline, you will find the twin towns of Boyne Island and Tannum Sands. Year-round swimming due to pretty consistent temps makes this a water-sports paradise with stand up paddle-boarding, jet-skis, windsurfers, paragliders and more dotting the shoreline. The landscaped and lush green of the foreshore and esplanade makes this a very family-friendly area with barbecues, playground and fitness station areas dotted along nearly 20 kilometres of Turtleway Bikeway connecting all the major facilities of both Boyne Island and Tannum Sands. Excellent fishing is not too far away at the famed Lake Awoonga stocked with the elusive and big Barra and Mangrove Jack and access to offshore reefs is also near at hand. Where the forest meets the sea, you can set up for a day under the shade of the trees dotted along the shore and make the most of the great South East in this gem only 20 minutes from Gladstone.
Calliope River Historical Village
The Calliope River Historical Village is a true heritage experience which has captured and preserved some of the original buildings from around the Gladstone Region. Come and spend some time looking at unique and interesting displays, including the Calliope River Railway facility which includes a Queensland Rail coach, two camp wagons and the Yarwun station. Take a trip down memory lane in the Raglan Dance Hall, or visit the country Markets which are held on-site, with stallholders from as far away as the Gold Coast selling their wares. The museum and tours operate daily at a small cost.
Climb Mount Larcom
The prominent and distinctive peak of Mount Larcom is visible to the north-west from most points in Gladstone, with its summit 632 metres above sea level. Matthew Flinders noted it when he explored Port Curtis, naming it after Captain Larcom under whom he had served. Because of its profile, it is often called "The Lion Mountain", resembling a lion and lioness facing each other. The prominent landmark provides a good ascent of two hours or so. The reward is a 360-degree view of the Gladstone area, rural lands and the harbour. On a clear day, you will see reef islands to the east and Rockhampton northwards. Mt Larcom is of volcanic origin, and your walk takes you through light eucalypt forest and grass trees. Subject to fitness, generally 5 hours should be allowed to complete the climb. It is a challenging walk, and best climbed in the cooler months, with an early start to capture the best views. The walk and climb are steep in places and is not recommended for younger children. No toilet facilities. It is advisable to check the local weather condition on the day of your climb as the peak can be shrouded in cloud.
Tondoon Botanic Gardens
The Tondoon Botanic Gardens are home to an impressive species of plants from the Port Curtis Region and Tropical North Queensland. The gardens are set upon an 83-hectare site with a wide variety of flora and fauna. Officially opened in 1988, the gardens provide residents and visitors with a place of inspiration, recreation and relaxation and is a popular place for picnics, cultural and ceremonial events. Take a stroll around the Japanese Tea Gardens, and the numerous walking tracks throughout the gardens and discover superbly cultivated gardens nestled into Mount Biondello. Lake Tondoon situated in the centre of the gardens once provided the source of Gladstone's water supply until 1945. Today the lake provides a habitat for a variety of freshwater birds. Free guided tours of the gardens are available each week. Picnic areas with electric barbecues, tables and chairs, toilets and kids playground are all available, free of charge. Each year Tondoon Gardens play host to 'Ecofest'. Established in 1998, Ecofest is one of the Nation's biggest environmental awareness events held in June.
Snorkel at Blue Pools, Heron Island
The Blue Pools is a popular snorkelling spot at Heron Island but is also a wonderful place to dive. While snorkellers generally limited themselves to the sheltered cove in the reef, divers are free to explore the sloping coral reef and numerous gutters, ledges and caves. Going no deeper than 15 metres divers will find the Blue Pools alive with fish life, including anemonefish, triggerfish, sweetlips, snappers, butterflyfish and schools of hussars. This site also has pretty hard corals and is a good location to see whitetip reef sharks. Other species seen at Blue Pools include turtles, stingrays, mackerel and barracuda.
Deepwater National Park
Discover the magic of Deepwater National Park—an unspoilt coastal landscape with long sandy beaches, freshwater creeks and great fishing spots. Jump in your four-wheel-drive and take a scenic drive through eucalypt woodlands looking for the residents including wallabies, emus and a myriad of other birdlife. You can enjoy a picnic, explore the rock pools or try a spot of fishing on the beach near the Wreck Rock and Flat Rock day-use areas. Feeling more adventurous? Go for a paddle in your kayak and see what marine life you can spot or take a relaxing beach walk, soaking in the sea air. Sleep under the stars at Wreck Rock or Middle Rock camping areas—both just a short walk from the protected waters of the Great Barrier Reef. If you are lucky, you might witness one of nature’s most fascinating spectacles as the beaches from Wreck Rock to Agnes Waters are the only places (on Australia’s mainland) where the endangered leatherback turtle returns each year to nest. Look for nesting turtles on the beach from October to February and hatchlings making their perilous journey to the sea from January to April. Much of the park is accessible by four-wheel-drive only.
Familiarise yourself with the region at Round Hill Lookout
Overlooking Gladstone, Tannum Sands and the Hinterland, Round Hill Lookout offers stunning 360-degree views, especially at sunset. This is a popular viewing platform for Gladstone's Industry, City Centre and the Islands of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Round Hill Lookout is just a quick 10-minute drive from the City Centre. Easy parking available at the lookout.
Camp in Eurimbula National Park
Discover Eurimbula National Park's unique blend of landscapes—mangrove-fringed estuaries, freshwater paperbark swamps, lowland eucalypt woodlands, and tall rainforest with towering hoop pines. The park is a paradise for bushwalkers, boaties and anglers. Stroll along wide, sandy island beaches with rugged boulders and delicate rock pools or wander through colourful wildflowers in spring, looking for red-tailed black-cockatoos and brolgas in the woodlands. The 360-metre walking track to Ganoonga Noonga lookout offers spectacular views over the coastal lowlands. At high tide, explore Eurimbula Creek by boat or canoe. Paddle along tranquil coastal waterways and creeks on the Eurimbula sea trail, where cormorants and white-bellied sea-eagles are often spotted along the shore. Spend a night on your island paradise, choosing from one of five serene beach camps. Cast a line from the nearby beaches or creeks to catch your dinner, then recline beneath the starry sky and enjoy true peace. Camping permits are required and fees apply.
Take a short drive south from Gladstone to the picturesque coastal communities of Boyne Island and Tannum Sands and you will experience a relaxed coastal lifestyle centred on attractive beaches, riverside walkways, parklands and recreational activities. With a population of close to 12,000, these 'twin' communities are linked by a bridge across the beautiful Boyne River. Boyne Island - the island you can drive to - offers a quality mix of residential, business, shopping, industry and environment where foreshore parks overlook boats, outrigger crews and fishing on the calm river waters. The island is also home to Australia's largest Aluminium Smelter - the State's largest user of electricity. It employs 1,300 people to produce up to 558,000 tonnes of Aluminium per year. You are welcome to learn more about this fascinating facility at the Smelter Visitor Centre. With only a small variation in seasonal water temperatures, the waters of Tannum Sands and Boyne Island are perfect for year-round swimming. The area is a popular stopover for the winter 'migration' from the south! Boyne has more than 15 kilometres of walks known as The Turtle Way, winding beside the river through bushland, dunes and parks.
Say and explore on Curtis Island
This is rugged exploration at its best - Four Wheel Drive tracks to remote and secret fishing spots, back to basics bush camping, beaches, sparkling ocean, wilderness and wetlands. Curtis Island is accessible by private boat or by a regular ferry service; although once on the island and camping, you will need a Four Wheel Drive to get around. Camping is permitted halfway up the east coast at the sand blow at Yellow Patch, not far from the Cape Capricorn lighthouse. More accessible for campers (just one kilometre from the barge landing point) is the grassy campground on the outskirts of the community of Southend. Southend has some accommodation and eating options available for day trips or longer stays. Birders will be in spotting heaven with jabirus, rainbow lorikeet parrots, cockatoos, herons, brolgas, sea eagles, wood ducks, black swans, and the rare yellow chat all inhabiting the island. The aptly named Turtle Beach is home to the third-largest flatback turtle rookery in Queensland so if you are visiting between October to March you may see nesting and hatching on the shore. This island has seen many changes in its years, from a working cattle station, current liquefied natural gas hub and with plans to develop a luxury resort on the island in the future, it could just be the Gladstone region's best-kept secret.
Kroombit Tops National Park, Tablelands
Standing above surrounding farmlands the sandstone escarpments, gorges, creeks and waterfalls of Kroombit Tops National Park provide a cool retreat. Explore intriguing natural and cultural wonders hidden among a mosaic of woodlands, rainforests and scrublands. Take a bushwalk and explore forests on four-wheel-drive roads. Open forests dominated by Sydney blue gum, pink bloodwood and rough-barked apple trees flourish on the park’s eastern slopes. See the remains of a WWII Liberator bomber that crashed at Kroombit Tops in 1945 and remained hidden in the forest until it was discovered nearly 50 years later. This is the domain of the hardened all-terrain traveller who thrives on a challenge and isn’t afraid to take on the rough stuff. Only suitable in dry conditions, traversing the park via the Razorback Track and Loop Road will take you across rivers and deep ravines to the heights of wild country. These tracks less travelled are best left to experienced drivers with high clearance vehicles. Tackle some self-sufficient camping at one of several camping areas where you can find a cool grassy spot close to a creek.
Swim with turtles on Lady Musgrave Island
An underwater oasis is waiting to be discovered as you pop on your snorkel and mask to reveal one of the Great Barrier Reef's biggest swimming pools at Lady Musgrave Island. The protected lagoon is truly unique on this coral cay island, where you can play castaway on a bare-bones camping adventure or hop aboard a luxury vessel and visit in star-worthy style. This is truly unspoilt, authentic island living at its best and with a maximum of 40 people allowed to camp at any one time, you will have an uncrowded Barrier Reef adventure to boot. If you choose to day trip instead, you can view the reef by glass bottom boat, go diving, snorkelling, take island walks and discover the amazing and pristine reef habitat many marine and land animals call home. Get up close with 'flying' manta rays, view turtles smoothly swimming through the ocean, try to pick out what reef fish you know from the abundant life under the sea. If you are lucky enough to be visiting between November to March you might see turtles carefully laying their clutches of eggs (November to January) or babies sprouting forth for their first dip in the big blue yonder (January to March). Take an island walk and take in the abundant flora and fauna unique to this island. You can spend as little as one day or weeks playing castaway and discovering this uninhabited reef island - nature's aquarium, aviary and rookery all in one.
Explore North West Island
Situated approximately 75 kilometres from Gladstone, North West Island is the largest Coral Cay in the area and forms part of the Capricorn Cays National Park. North West Island offers opportunities for bushwalking, nature study, reef walking, diving and snorkelling. Being a large coral cay it has longer walking opportunities through the island and around its beaches. Fishing is also quite popular on the island. Visitors are requested to limit their fishing and you must only fish in the authorised zones. Please obtain zoning maps from QPWS Gladstone or a Visitor Information Centre. Bookings are necessary before camping on the Island and permits apply. To obtain a permit, or for further information contact the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing (NPSR). Transfers to the Island are available through Curtis Ferry Services. Composting toilets are available on the Island for the convenience of campers only. Self-sufficient camping is available however, visitors are required to take their water and a fuel stove. Also, be sure to pack sturdy bags to take rubbish away with you.
Lake Awoonga, Benaraby
Whether you're looking for a place to splash, fish or relax Lake Awoonga is a nature lover's paradise. The Lake is stocked with Barra, Saratoga and Sea Mullet. If you happen to reel in a Mangrove Jack consider yourself lucky as they're a rare find. There are a range of ways to experience this environmental gem just 30 kilometres from Gladstone, bring your boat, or hire a boat or Kayak from Lake Awoonga Boating and Leisure Hire, day cruise or just make the most of the natural surrounds by taking a walk, a dip or lazing under the shade of the trees. Spectacular lake and mountain views, picturesque waterfalls, walking paths, barbecue area and playground are all part of what's on offer. Ornithologists, twitchers and birders can look out for the Southern Squatter Pigeon and the Red Goshawk (listed as having conservation significance) and is one of the largest and important near-coast bird refuges in South East Queensland. This area is home to a thriving array of native animals, both by day and night like the Whiptail or pretty-face wallaby, Yellow-Bellied Glider or Grey-headed Flying Fox. You might even spot a Koala so look up!
Discover more in Queensland
- Atherton Tablelands
- Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
- Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park
- Cape York
- Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park
- Fraser Coast
- Gold Coast
- Great Barrier Reef
- Hervey Bay
- Magnetic Island
- Mission Beach
- Outback Queensland
- Port Douglas
- Seventeen Seventy
- Southern Queensland County
- Sunshine Coast
- The Whitsundays
- Thursday Island
- Tropical North Queensland