Lady Musgrave Island is a 14 hectares coral cay, and the second
island in the Great Barrier Reef chain of islands (with the first being
Lady Elliot Island). With a 1,192 hectares (2,950 acres) surrounding
reef, the island is most easily reached from the town of 1770, located
on approximately 5 hours north of Brisbane.
Lady Musgrave Island is the most intensively used of the camping
islands within the Capricorn Bunker group, due to its protected
anchorage within a semi-enclosed lagoon and a regular ferry service.
Tour operators also offer fully guided tours of the reef and give you
the opportunity to slip into the warm tropical waters – perfect
any time of the year for diving, swimming and snorkelling. Lady
Musgrave Island cruises are one of the best ways to pack in as much
action as possible into a day trip to the island. Cruise boats moor
alongside a floating pontoon known as ‘Reef Sanctuary’, a
stone’s throw from the island. Cruises include such great
activities as snorkelling in the lagoon, glass-bottom boat trips,
guided walks, turtle and manta ray discovery, reef fishing and much
More than 10,000 day-visitors are brought to the island by commercial
tourism operators each year. In addition, around 1,400 campers visit
the island each year with an estimated 5840 visitors arriving via
recreational boats from the mainland.
Lady Musgrave Island is the only shingle cay situated on the leeward
reef flat. Vegetation consists of Pisonia grandis, Tournefortia
argentea, Casuarina equisetifolia, and Pandanus tectorius. The
vegetation is less dense than that of the larger sand cays of the
Capricorn Group. A small pond of brackish water is located towards the
southern end of the cay. The island has no fresh water supply, so
visitors need to bring all fresh drinking water. A composting toilet is
available on the island.
From a boating prospective, Lady Musgrave is particularly attractive as
you can enter the lagoon on the southern end via a deep water channel.
It is not known whether the channel into the lagoon is a naturally
occurring phenomena, or was cut by Japanese fisherman or, as legend has
it, was widened by guano miners many years ago although it is recorded
by 1938 and in 1966 surveys.
There are an enormous number of birds on the island. White-capped
Noddy Terns nest in abundance in the Pisonia trees whilst Bridled
Terns, Black-naped Terns and Silver Gulls nest on the ground in more
open areas nearer the beach. From December to May, migratory
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, colloquially known as 'mutton birds', nest in
burrows in the interior of the island and their mournful wails can be
heard at night.
The island is a nesting place for Green and Loggerhead turtles, and
there is usually a turtle-research representative camping on the island
during nesting and hatching times. Green and leatherback turtles can be
spotted resting on coral bommies, and the coral lagoon is a haven for a
multitude of fish and coral species, and a spectacular destination for
anyone interested in snorkelling. Small Whitetip reef sharks and
Leopard sharks can often be found hunting in the shallows around the
island. These species are not dangerous to humans, and are fascinating
to watch. Whales pass by the island during the migration season (June -
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Lady Musgrave Island is named for Lady Jeannie Lucinda Musgrave, the
second wife of Sir Anthony Musgrave, a colonial governor of Queensland
(July 1883-88). Lucindale, a town in South Australia, is also named
after Lady Musgrave where he was governor, 1873-1877. Lucindale was
proclaimed in 1877, a few months before they returned to the Caribbean
to begin Sir Anthony's second term as governor of Jamaica.
American-born Jeannie Lucinda Field was the daughter of American
lawyer and law reformer David Dudley Field II of New York. She married
Sir Anthony in San Francisco in 1864 and was his second wife,
succeeding Christiana Elizabeth Byam (daughter of Sir William Byam of
Antigua), whom he had married in 1853, and who had died in 1858. Sir
Anthony died in 1888 and Lady Musgrave died on the 12th August, 1920 in
How to get there
Lady Musgrave Island can be reached by excursion boat from the Town
of 1770. The island has many visits by both passing vessels cruising
the Queensland coast and day trippers arriving in fast jet catamarans,
mainly from the mainland town of 1770.