Lady Musgrave Tour
07 May 2019 | Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia
Last evening we watched a trivia show on tv. Then watched part of a movie with an older Tom Hanks but we didn't stay up long enough to watch the end of it. Not sure what it was called. We actually got to bed by 10 pm. So early for us! Slept okay. Up with the alarm. We had a quick breakfast and got ready for our day on the water. We left our motel just after 6 am. We actually got to see the sun rise this morning. We did not have an issues or slow downs on our drive. We spoke with someone staying at the marina to see if their restrooms were open. The boat was not yet ready for boarding, so we lined up at the entry gate. There were around 40 passengers for the very large Reef Empress. We had to take off our shoes once we boarded. There was lots of room on multi decks. We departed the dock just after 7 am. The ship traveled at 23 knots along the length of Hervey Bay. The seas were kind of rocky with a lot of boat movement. Not sure if anyone got sick as we were sitting up front in the second level. Mark could access our cell data as the ship did not provide any coverage. Then we eventually went far enough to lose all cell coverage. They used some projection screen to show some underwater videos but the sun was shining in and we didn't have much of a view. They used one other screen to show us the gps chartplotter along the way. They offered coffee, tea and water as well as fresh fruit slices and muffins and tarts. We enjoyed some of the treats, since we have stopped eating desserts. They also explained their tours. We were in the first group, which would be taken to shore after we docked. Then one of the ship's crew would lead us on a 45 minute walk about Lady Musgrave Island. Then another they would deliver the rest of the passengers to shore and then take all of us over the reefs with their glass bottom boat. We could see the rest of the islands around our destination. One of the crew identified them. Then they did a brief talk on snorkeling. Once crew member with a life ring would stay in the water watching for anyone needing assistance. They also would have a spotter up on the top deck. We walked around the different decks taking pictures. The main second floor area was a vip lounge for anyone upgrading their ticket. There may have been two people in there. This was the same floor as the captain and the bridge. We picked up their mooring ball once we cleared the anchorage. Then the tour boat was brought alongside. We boarded in the first group and it was a short ride to the island. There was a front end arm that they lowered to the sandy beach which we climbed over. Once on shore, we were given a short talk by the crew member. Lots of great information about the island and how the island was formed, plus the type of vegetation and wildlife. There were mostly just birds on the island. At times there are many thousand of them flying around. The bad part was the mosquitoes. I almost threw in some bug spray but forgot. We got eaten. Everyone was smacking them to encourage them to leave us alone or be eliminated. It was very distracting. We walked around the island to the beach and there were fewer mosquitoes there, which was great. By this time, the rest of the passengers had arrived, and we took the glass bottom boat around several areas of the reef. We saw several very large turtles sitting and swimming around the reefs. It had turned very overcast so the coral colors were not very vibrant. We saw lots of fish, some were huge. I saw one small stingray. We eventually arrived back on board. We had a lovely visit with one of the passengers who loved hearing about our sailing adventure, with many questions. Something, he said, he would love to do, but his wife was prone to seasickness and would not join him. By this time the rest of the passengers joined us. It was time for lunch. They offered a wide variety of dishes, including rice noodles, several salads, sliced ham, roast beef, chicken legs and chunks of chicken. They offered gluten free bread, which I sampled. Mark made a sandwich with one of the rolls. Then we changed into our swim suits, selected snorkel gear and headed into the water. The water was cold. They did not offer stinger suits and we didn't bring ours. They had long steps that dropped into the water which made it easy to get into the water. Mark and I stayed together following the reef line against the current. The sun tried peeking thru the clouds. We got some great views of the gigantic coral formations. We just couldn't see very many different colors. There were lots of smaller fish. However at times schools of fish passed by. We almost got to the turtle cleaning station, which was the furthest we could venture out, and Mark dove down over some coral and when he came up said he got stung by a jelly fish. He said it felt like he got electrocuted. So, we decided to swim back to the boat and get out of the water. They told us that there was no stingers this far south. I believe, they were wrong. Their suggestion was to run hot water over his arm, where he got stung. We also had some lotion that we put on the bite which seemed to reduce the inflammation. We changed out of our wet clothes as it was air conditioned and cool. They offered afternoon tea/coffee/water and fruit cake. We departed the reef lagoon around 2 pm. It was much windier and there was more cloud cover in the sky. The ship had to maneuver past a large power boat on a mooring ball close to us. There were at least a dozen sail and power boats in the lagoon. By this time it was low tide with many pieces of coral exposed above the water line. We just started picking up the pace when the ship stopped as they had dropped a buoy in the water. They turned around and did a man overboard exercise to recover it. Again, our ship sped up to 23 knots. The seas were sizable and there was even more rocking action as we headed thru Bay to Bundaberg Marina. We each took advantage of our reclining seats, to have a short nap. Around half way back, we were able to access some wifi. I downloaded some pictures to Facebook. The waves were actually splashing our windows at times. We kept our speed all the way back to the Burnett River where the Bundaberg Marina was located. We arrived at the dock just after 4 pm. We visited with a couple from Maine who were vacationing in Australia. Once off the ship, we headed towards our hotel. Stopped along the way to walk thru the Great Sandy Marine park. It was interesting that the park was called Sandy Beach, when there was no sand at all, just huge black rocks. We found a Thai restaurant close by in Bargara and did a take out on one of their veggie dishes with rice. Stopped and filled up our fuel tank as their prices were lower in this area. Then drove back to the motel. We shared the food, which actually was more than we both could eat. Watching some local tv shows. We most likely won't stay up too late as we are tired. Thanks for your emails and messages. Our plans are to head south to the Gold Coast area. I plan to email some friends and see if they can meet us for dinner tomorrow.