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Great Barrier Reef III

Thursday, July 31, 2008
Last week, Getaway presented a choice of Great Barrier Reef islands covering all budgets and holiday wishes. This week it's all stops north of Townsville.

Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island is a 25-minute ferry trip from Townsville. About 2500 people live there and for visitors there are hotels, motels, backpackers and holiday parks. You'll find accommodation to suit all budgets, from affordable family homes to luxury retreats.

Tariff: Base Backpackers at Nelly Bay dormitory rooms are $26 a night, bed only. Arcadia Hotel dormitory rooms are $22 a night. Peppers Blue on Blue Resort is $179 a night in a one-bedroom apartment with a minimum two nights' stay. Breakfast for two is included. Beachside Apartments at Nelly Bay are $245 a night in a two-bedroom apartment with spa. There is a minimum of two nights' stay. Holiday homes and apartments range from around $110 to $600 a night.

Orpheus Island

If you are looking for a romantic and secluded Great Barrier Reef holiday, Orpheus is for you. It all begins with a 30-minute sea plane flight from Townsville and is paradise for those wanting peace and luxury. There are no phones, televisions nor daytrippers, and children under 15 years of age are not catered for. It only has 21 rooms, complete with outdoor showers and never-ending views, private beaches and pristine national park.

Dining is sublime — from breakfast to alfresco lunches served in the courtyard, to seven-course degustation dinners. Activities are plentiful. Enjoy a picnic on your private beach, snorkel, take day trips to dive the outer reef, or take a motorised dinghy to explore secluded bays.

Tariff: Orpheus accommodation starts at $1450 a double a night.

Hinchinbrook Island

Hinchinbrook, Australia's largest island national park, is an ecotourist's paradise. A scenic 50-minute catamaran ride from Cardwell, midway between Townsville and Cairns, Hinchinbrook is the meeting point of two World Heritage areas — the Great Barrier Reef and the wet tropics.

Hinchinbrook Wilderness Lodge and Resort on Orchid Beach is the only development on the island. There are 15 tree houses, connected by a boardwalk designed to not interfere with wildlife habitat. For those who prefer something greener, there are campsites available.

The island offers loads of activities. Snorkelling, walking through virgin rainforest to isolated beaches, sport fishing and day cruises through the mangrove everglades are all there for you. Meals are served in the main dining room and the Wilderness Lodge bar is open between 10am and midnight with a selection of beer, Australian wines, spirits, cocktails and soft drinks.

Tariff: Orpheus accommodation starts at $245 per night.

Bedarra Island

If you want five-star secluded luxury, Bedarra Island offers both. It's 10km off the coast from Mission Beach and a 20-minute boat ride from Dunk Island.

Bedarra has only 15 villas, and it is a child-free zone. Villas are hidden under a canopy of rainforest and have separate living areas, king beds and superb views that can be soaked up from a swaying hammock. Two Pavilions, with an open plan layout and featuring extensive use of timber and glass, overlook Wedgerock Bay. Sleeping areas overlook rainforest and the huge bathrooms have deep tubs and separate showers.

Activities include paddle-skiing, fishing, snorkelling and diving trips to the Great Barrier Reef. Motorised dinghies are provided for exploring beaches, and after a long day, therapeutic massage is available. An open terrace restaurant overlooking the pool is the setting for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Gourmet hampers are available and meals, drinks and transfers are included in the tariff.

Tariff: Bedarra accommodation starts at $1444 per person a night with a minimum stay of two nights. All meals and a selected range of beverages are included.

Dunk Island

Dunk Island is family-friendly with something for everyone. Heaps of activities for children mean parents are able to have some holiday time to themselves. Dunk is the largest island in the Family Islands National Park and has around 800 hectares of World Heritage rainforest. It's a short ferry ride from Mission Beach.

Choose the accommodation that suits you best — Beachfront Suites, Beachfront Rooms and Garden Rooms. A wonderful way to start the day is a rainforest walk, taking in the vista from Mt Kootaloo's summit. Then you may like to snorkel the magical waters at Muggy Muggy Beach. There's skiing, tennis, kayaking and squash, not to mention a trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

Don't forget the beach horse riding, fishing and a visit to the artists' colony. After all the activity, a treatment at the Spa of Peace and Plenty is well-deserved. That could just put you in the mood for a sunset cruise along with some wine and cheese before dinner.

Tariff: Dunk Island accommodation starts at $166 per person twin share per night. Buffet breakfast and some activities are included. Children under 12 stay and eat free. Conditions apply.


Off the Queensland coast.


Virgin Blue has flights to the Whitsundays.

One-way fares from:

  • Brisbane $95
  • Sydney $118
  • Melbourne $205
  • Adelaide $285
  • Perth $345

Prices are correct at July 31, 2008.

For further information

Magnetic Island
Base Backpackers Nelly Bay
Ph: (07) 4778 5777

Arcadia Hotel Alma Bay
Ph: 1800 663 666

Peppers Blue Nelly Bay
Ph: (07) 4758 2400

Beachside Apartments
Ph: (07) 4778 5877

Holiday Homes and Apartments
Magnetic Island First National
Ph: (07) 4778 5877

Orpheus Island
Ph: (07) 4777 7377

Hinchinbrook Island
Ph: (07) 4066 8270

Bedarra Island
Ph: 1300 384 417

East Bedarra
Ph: (07) 40 675 311

Dunk Island
Dunk Island Reservations
Ph: 1300 384 403

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789

Check out our celebrity Getaway blog or our photo gallery for more Getaway adventure pics.

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