The Barrier Reef is still Great!

My face is encrusted with sea spray and my lips are salty and swollen in what can only be described as botox beauty. People pay big bucks for this, I think, smiling slyly to myself as we surf the waves back from Great Keppel Island, my hair all messy and full of mischief. A sneaky south-easterly, east coast Australia’s archetypal trade wind, has whipped right up the coastline, swirling all the way north to Capricorn. It’s a bit of a bumpy ride. But on this fair day out on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, if the Keppel kiss is my only problem, I reckon I’m doing OK.

I’ve launched my day at the Keppel Bay Marina feasting on a heart-starting Cowboy’s Benedict including Banana Station beef at The Waterline Restaurant . Turns out, it’s one of the best brekkies I’ve ever had. Then, it’s a wild catamaran ride out to the island and a glass-bottom boat tour of the reef. One little girl on the boat claims she can see Frozen’s Elsa lazing along the Great Barrier Reef. Her older sister loudly proclaims that “sand is boring” as we cruise to the reef drop off, through this tiramisu ocean, spotting staghorn coral and giant clams. There’s few fish today in this windy weather but it doesn’t matter. Great Keppel Island is a bold beauty.

I’d arrived in Rockhampton, and the northern point of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, the previous day, engulfed in a flurry of interviews and activities. So much up here has changed. There’s a new riverfront precinct in town, the Yeppoon Lagoon is set to open, and there’s craft breweries and uber cool cafes galore. Like a character out of an Enid Blyton novel I do something I haven’t done in 40 years…sit in the crook of a tree, where I just happen to admire some street art. There’s plenty of that here too.

Late on my first afternoon I wander Yeppoon Main Beach, in a bid to catch the dying shards of sunlight and some feet-in-the-sand spirituality. Time to catch my breath, gather my thoughts, and admire the intricate Aboriginal art-like patterns the soldier crabs have crafted in the sand. There’s a lone jogger, a couple of fishermen, sea debris, shells and driftwood. It all smells sublime.


This is an extract from an article written by Christine Retschlag, who visited the Southern Great Barrier Reef as a guest of Capricorn Enterprise.

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