LARC! Tours at Bustard Head

7 places you need to see when you visit Gladstone

Gladstone has had it tough. Having to compete with far more famous neighbour the Great Barrier Reef, the region often doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. But a visit to Gladstone has plenty to offer, particularly if you count yourself a fishing and surfing fan.

Here we shine a spotlight on the best of Gladstone, and showcase some of the town’s best kept secrets.

1. Heron Island

Heron Island

Hop on a boat at the Gladstone Marina and within two hours you’ll find yourself floating on the iconic Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Base yourself at Heron Island for the day; a dreamy getaway favoured by photography enthusiasts for its ample natural beauty. Dive off the jetty, or boat a little further out to sea where you can snorkel and introduce yourself to the local population of reef sharks, stingrays and manta rays.

If you’ve timed your visit right you’ll be able to see turtles hatching too; the season runs January through March. It’s a moving experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

2. Lady Musgrave Island

Lady Musgrave Island Pontoon

Photo by @_markfitz

From 1770, climb aboard the Lady Musgrave Experience, who will whisk you away to the neighbouring oasis.

Fringed by rainbow-hued reef, Lady Musgrave Island demands you bring a camera, particularly of the underwater variety. From the island’s pontoon you’ll be able to snorkel and splash about to your heart’s content, with the lagoon here considered one of the best snorkelling spots on the greater reef.

After a day spent offshore, get a good night’s rest at one of the island’s campsites. Pitch your tent under the stars, where the sound of the surrounding waves will lull you to sleep.

3. Gladstone City

Gladstone Marina | visit Gladstone

Don’t write off Gladstone itself too quickly; this city has plenty of stories to tell.

You’d be right in thinking that the town’s strong ties to the maritime mean it’s rather plentiful in options when it comes to fishing action, both off reef and inland. Those less interested to take part, but eager to taste the fishy spoils for themselves can’t afford to miss a visit to Gladstone Seafood Markets.

Later, work off any feasting with a walk to Auckland and Round Hill lookouts, each boasting 360 degree views of the surrounding district.

4. Tannum Sands

Tannum Sands Esplanade

Head south from Gladstone CBD and you’ll come to greet Tannum Sands. A favourite for the energetic, this pretty stretch of sandy beach offers an ideal environment for swimming, made all the more inviting thanks to conveniently consistent temperatures year-round.

Those feeling a little more adventurous can also indulge in paddle-boarding among other watersports. But Tannum Sands isn’t solely aquatic; bring your bike and you can cycle the 20-kilometres of Turtleway Bikeway post-dip.

5. Agnes Water and 1770

We hope your rod and reel are packed; coastal towns Agnes Water and 1770 are already beloved by the country’s fishing enthusiasts, and considered some of the state’s best kept secrets.

The duo is also firmly on the map for surfers, with the sleepy seaside villages home to a series of breaks. But Agnes Water and 1770 are just as suited to those eager to take it easy. Laze about on the sand at Chinaman’s Beach, or explore a little further from a comfortable seat with a ride on the 1770 Larc Tour.

6. Sandstone Wilderness, Kroombit Tops National Park

Sandstone Wilderness | Kroombit Tops National Park | Visit Gladstone

Photo by @lu_lala

Armed with your four-wheel-drive, explore Kroombit Tops National Park.

Winding country roads will lead you to the Gladstone section of the Sandstone Wilderness, a district famous for its collection of unforgettable cliffs, gorges, waterfalls and creeks, populated only by wildlife including plenty of wild horses. After a day meandering the rough terrain through the forest, take a break at the Boyne Valley lookout.

7. Wilson Island

Wilson Island

Traversing the Capricornia Cays National Park by boat you’ll come across Wilson Island.

Good things really do come in small packages; the stretch may be petite, but it’s abundant in wildlife courtesy of the luscious forest throughout and reef surrounding. Wilson is also only now home to another of Queensland’s most exclusive new resorts, designed with nature lovers in mind. The adults-only destination offers plenty of privacy with accommodation for only 18 guests in nine glamping-style reef safari tents.

With no phones or television, your days will instead be spent fully immersed exploring the natural wonders around you.