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The Southern Reef


Sand carried north up the coast by ocean currents is swept out to sea by Fraser Island’s massive outwards-leaning edge, eventually being deposited 80km offshore as a cluster of tiny, coral-fringed sand islands – cays – that mark the southernmost tip of Queensland’s mighty Great Barrier Reef. The coastal settlements of Bundaberg, 1770 and Gladstone each offer access to a cay, either on day-trips or for an overnight stay in a resort; either way, there’s the chance to do some excellent scuba diving. Bundaberg – along with the nearby hamlet of Childers – also lies at the heart of a rich sugar-cane, fruit and vegetable farming area, and both are popular places to find short-term crop-picking work. Though badly affected by the severe floods of the summer of 2010–11, the region recovered reasonably quickly.

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