A line of horizontal cloud sits low to the west, over a blue strip of pale sky sandwiched above a wine dark sea. A waning orange sun is sinking and 2-yachts bob just offshore, their masts bouncing to and fro.

We are here for 3-days on this tiny island, another of Australia's 19-World Heritage listings, having left the truck at Bundaberg Aerodrome and flown for 45min to this most southerly tip of The Great Barrier Reef.

Distant surf roars away to the east - the far side of the island - the early evening air here awash with the clatter of white-capped noddies tussling for evening roosts on wispy branches of bulloak and within jungle clumps of octopus bush, pandanus and pisonia. Waves burst like champagne bubbles at our wet sandaled feet, on banks of pure coral sand as white as snow, the smell of rain sweet on black clouds overhead.

Later we circumnavigate this tiny but lush tropical island on foot and in the dark, hoping to glimpse the last of this seasons turtle hatchlings and their newborn dash for the water... on an island once denuded of all topsoil, including almost every stick of vegetation in the destructive quest for fertilizer left by generations of seabirds, that like the turtles, return to breed here year after year.

Our days are spent snorkeling with turtles, sharks, eagle rays... and a myriad of fish. Out by Lighthouse Bommie the water is clear, 15m deep and warm at 23degC. We can't believe our luck and are treated to quite a show: giant dancing manta rays, the gentle giants with black, bat-like wings 3m across, and weighing in at 1-tonne each. They wheel and turn, roll, rise and fall - magic worthy of the Bolshoi Ballet.

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