The Treasures of Fitzroy Reef

In this fourth post in our Southern Great Barrier Reef series, we take you to Fitzroy Reef. This is a different setting again: no island but a navigable lagoon, although much more restricted than Lady Musgrave. The appeal here is the amazing underwater garden with a wide variety of hard corals, a multitude of brilliantly colored dainty fish and the fact it is deserted during the day!

We motor the short 12nm from Boult Reef in very light head winds which is probably just as well as we see quite a number of whales along the way. Sometimes it is better to be obvious to our friends the humpback whales, rather than doing the stealth thing and sneak up on them under sail! One in particular gives us an impressive display of raw energy through repeated tail lobbing. It is as if it is telling us ‘‘I know you are here, but this is my spot, mine, mine, mine.”

Humpback Whale tail lobbing

Humpback Whale tail lobbing

Tail Lobbing Whale

Tail lobbing Whale

The approach to Fitzroy Reef is similar to Boult Reef since there is no island so it is just the breaking waves that give it away as you get close. Unlike the lagoon entrance at Lady Musgrave the entrance to the Fitzroy Reef lagoon is not straight but does an S. Inside there are numerous bommies, so the triangle from the entrance to the start of the coral outcrops is where you drop the anchor or pick up one of three moorings.

Fitzroy Reef Aerial

Aerial view of Fitzroy Reef showing the entrance and our anchorage

Fitzroy Reef lagoon

Fitzroy Reef lagoon

Entrance to Fitzroy Reef

Entrance to Fitzroy Reef

Inside the lagoon you feel quite protected, both for sitting at anchor and for snorkeling. You don’t have the current to deal with as you do at Boult Reef. So you can withstand a little more wind. But beyond 20 knots it gets uncomfortable especially at high tide when you no longer get shelter from the reef wall. If not on a mooring, you still need to be very careful with setting your anchor and pulling back on it, as if you drag and end up against the numerous coral bommies and reefs, you will do terrible damage to your boat.

Serene dawn at Fitzroy Reef

Serene dawn at Ftizroy Reef

But on calm days as we had, it is very serene. Fitzroy Reef is appealing because it is a very attractive reef yet not crowded. There is only one or two other yachts during the day. At night you can get an invasion of motor cruisers taking shelter in the lagoon after a day’s fishing, but they are gone before you get up!

We spend three days at Fitzroy Reef. We had been here before and were really looking forward to the snorkeling. The coral here is sensational, with vibrant colours, different shapes like tabletops, antlers, brains, huge leaves, etc… and the fish life is abundant.

Here is a selection of underwater images to give you an idea of how beautiful this place is, first the vibrant coral then the fish and finally one odd looking beastie!


Fitzroy Reef -7170055.jpg

Lots of Damsels among the Staghorn coral

Fitzroy Reef -7160027.jpg

Black-back Butterflyfish


Humbug Damselfish

Fitzroy Reef -7160010.jpg

Scissor-tail Sergeants

Black vent Damsel with its lovely pink cheeks


Can’t use the Power Dive in 15 knots of wind! It drifts away dragging you along!


Best to just snorkel with weights on to dive down easily.

Our next stopping point is Wistari Reef. Here is that chart again!

29 thoughts on “The Treasures of Fitzroy Reef

  1. This location is bigger and safer for I can see. Maybe you can fish something there, No? What is the weather temperature there? Looks so brilliant with hardly any clouds. 🙂

    • Hi HJ yes you can fish but we have so much of it in the freezer that we just look! Temperature of the air was low to mid 20s and the water 22.5. Just perfect!

  2. Such a beautiful environment. Thank you for your wonderful pics of all the colours and creatures, even the odd ones.

    • It is really amazing, Annie… it feels like it is getting better and better! The more we snorkel, the more comfortable we feel and the better we are at spotting fish and getting our shots. We are both taking photos and there are a lot of garbled wows underwater and when we develop the pictures back onboard afterwards!

  3. We had Fitzroy to ourselves last time but there were no moorings. Good to see the government putting some extra’s in.

      • Not that we would be out there in adverse weather but we always have to be careful the weight rating. I hope they have made them substantial…

      • They have – most of them are for 18m multis and 20m monos rated as B class for 34 knots, A class are for 10m monos and 9m multis good for 24 knots (no use for us), and the C and D class are for bigger vessels 22m multis and 30m multis respectively! If interested go to and go to the Visit the Reef tab. You will get the maps for different spots and GPS locations of each mooring.

    • Yes we really are having fun and it is stunning. It feels great, Sue, and we are doing lots of physical exercise which helps get the health issues under control at last.

  4. Wow, fantastic coral. You could publish a book documenting each reef from one end to the other.

  5. How do you find the powerdive? Thinking of getting one ourselves, or maybe just getting the double deck snorkel and putting it in the tender.

    • Hi James, we used to use the Power Dive in Tassie and Furneaux Islands to catch crays when we needed to stay down longer and deeper than for just a snorkel, but we haven’t for snorkeling at the reef. It is easier to just free dive. The Power Dive with two people does not allow for much depth: 4-6m. The whole time at the reef last year it did not come out of the locker. It is quite good however for maintenance when you don’t need to go deep but don’t want to constantly surface for a breath. For instance we used it when we scrubbed the hulls and for mooring maintenance at Port Albert.

  6. Pingback: More exploration of the Capricorn & Bunker Reefs |

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