David has found a slice of Queensland paradise for as little as 4 dollars a night!
There are seven islands in the Cumberland Group which are easily reached from Mackay St Bees, Keswick, Aspatria, Scawfell, Calder, Wigton and Cockermouth. The islands are protected inside the Great Barrier Reef.
We put ourselves in the hands of Therese and James Marrs who run Mackay Water Taxis. Their small, family-run company specialises in day, overnight and reef trips and twilight cruises. If it's not already on their agenda, they can tailor something special, with all equipment included.
They run an 11.3m aluminium mono hull with twin Perkins diesels. Average cruising speed is 15 knots. There are four bunks in front and two fold down bunks on the rear deck. There is a toilet, shower, galley and cooking facilities. Deck space is generous and the large ice box keeps refreshments cool. The rear of the boat folds into the water, making it easy to board and a glass bottomed inflatable is attached for easy transfer to beaches.
St Bees is a quiet, volcanic island fringed with reefs, rainforests, eucalypt woodlands and dense grasslands. It became part of the national park in 2002 and is accessible 24 hours a day, with no entry fee.
You can relax on your own tropical beach under the palms, and tides permitting, snorkel the reefs or fish in the lagoon. It is an excellent day trip for a family and backpackers on a budget as it offers the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef without the resort price tag.
Camping is permitted and there are basic amenities, and there is a share accommodation cottage with solar-powered showers, toilets and lots of peace and solitude.
St Bees is the research point for two Queensland universities who are investigating its population of wild koalas which has evolved its own colony equilibrium and over-populating the habitat. Trained volunteers capture and track the koalas.
Off the coast of Mackay in Queensland
Mackay Water Taxi and Adventures fishing day trips are $170 per person. Snorkelling day trips are $140 per person. Gear, meals and drinks are included.
Camping costs $4 a night. There are no facilities, tracks or allocated camping areas. Permits are required.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.
Mackay Water Taxi and Adventures
24a Evans Avenue
Ph: 0417 073 969www.mackaywatertaxi.com
Queensland Parks and Wildlife, Mackay: Ph: (07) 4944 7800
Qantas: 13 13 13