NATURAL BEAUTY: Journalist Ashley Clark explored the wonders of Lady Musgrave Island during the weekend.
NATURAL BEAUTY: Journalist Ashley Clark explored the wonders of Lady Musgrave Island during the weekend. Ashley Clark

No beef with our reef

WHAT MAKES OUR REEF GREAT:

- We don't have to contend with the same deadly stingers as further north

- Those pesky coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish won't be found here

- Our ideal water temperatures mean our coral has multiplied by 20% in the last couple of years

- We have better farm management practices, meaning we experience less run-off issues

- Our region has inshore coral areas, home to a diverse range of coastal and marine habitats

- We have the Bundaberg Rum Factory, which means you can relax with a nice drink after your visit to the reef

 

IF it's reef warfare they want, then that's what they'll get.

In what is shaping up to be a "battle of the reefs", our northern counterparts have taken a swipe at Bundaberg, labelling our tourism operators as cheeky and misguided for selling our section of the Great Barrier Reef as better than the rest because of a lack of coral bleaching.

In an article plastered over the front page of Tuesday's Cairns Post, Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators chief executive Col McKenzie said bleaching off Port Douglas was not visible to the naked eye and was yet to leave visitors disappointed.

He also went on to say our region was incapable of accommodating the tourism numbers of places like Cairns because of a lack of infrastructure.

"The reality and the truth of it is that Port Douglas isn't bleached to the extent that any tourist could tell unless they had a degree in marine biology," he told the Cairns Post.

"What they have to offer in the south is excellent, but they don't have the infrastructure to handle the thousands of tourists that we take out on the Reef every day."

Bundaberg and tourism advocates have rejected these claims, instead offering even more reasons why our reef is second to none.

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett has long been an advocate for our reef and laughs off suggestions that the north has it better.

"Unlike our friends up north, we don't have to share our reef with a plague of deadly stingers, lurking crocodiles, or the pesky coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, which we all know poses one of the most significant threats to our Great Barrier Reef," he said.

 

Stephen Bennett captured this shot of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
Stephen Bennett captured this shot of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Contributed

Further to this, Lady Elliot Island, Mr Bennett says, is ranked in the top five destinations in the world for diving with manta rays and our tour operators are award-winning.

"Given just six operators access the reef, this only adds to our argument that we can offer a more personal and unique experience. In contrast to our friends up north, our region offers more affordable options for accommodation and access to the reef," he said.

Mayor Jack Dempsey also jumped on board to support our reef, saying "the Bundaberg region is known as the southern gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, where tropical encounters and alluring islands like Lady Musgrave and Lady Elliot await".

If it's one thing our representatives can agree on, it's the beauty of our reef.

"Naturally the Southern Great Barrier Reef is better, from the climate, which is less humid, to the magnificent Mon Repos Turtle Hatchery right on our doorstep," Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson said.

Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism general manager Katherine Mergard knows where tourists would rather be.

"Africa has the Big Five. Well the Southern Great Barrier Reef is happy to boast having the 'Great Eight'. Eight iconic residents of the Great Barrier Reef all frequent the Southern Great Barrier Reef waters. Tick these off your bucket list: whales, manta rays, clown fish, turtles, potato cod, giant clams, maori wrasse and sharks," she said.

There's a few things to think about Cairns.

 

Ashley Clark swimming at Lady Musgrave.
Ashley Clark swimming at Lady Musgrave. Ashley Clark


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