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.
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 - October).
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 England.
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.