There is really no bad time to visit the Great Barrier Reef (though cyclone season can be a bit tricky) but right now is the perfect time to visit one of the southern-most islands of the national park, Lady Elliot. This is because of tens of thousands of other visitors are also there. Now, I would not usually suggest this as a desirable thing, but when the other residents are seabirds and turtles coming to breed, then that changes things a bit.
It is a classic coral cay (a sand island sitting on a coral reef).
|Lady Elliot island from the air; the surrounding reef is clearly visible.|
Lady Elliot - named for a ship which visited in the early 19th century - is just outside the tropics; the nearest city on the mainland is Bundaberg. It is less than 50 hectares in area, some of which is occupied by a small resort, though even here humans must fit in with the original inhabitants.
|Bridled Terns feeding chick on the walkway connecting the basic cabins with the dining area.|
|Black Noddy colony; some of these colonies, in Coastal Casuarinas, Casuarina equisetifolia, |
are immediately adjacent to the cabins.
|Black Noddies with chick.|
|Common, or Brown, Noddy; unlike Black Noddies these mostly nest on the ground.|
|Roseate Terns with chick.|
|Red-tailed Tropicbird and chick; this nest was just metres from cabins.|
|Brown Booby; these tropical gannets are very imposing birds.|
|Buff-banded Rail; shy and elusive in most mainland sites, they forage under - and on - tables on Lady Elliot.|
|Capricorn White-eyes are equally relaxed about humans; they have been|
described as a separate species from the mainland Silvereye, though that is not now generally accepted.
And when it all gets a bit much, you can just contemplate the sunsets.