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Capricorn Coast & the Southern Reef Islands

This less-heralded stretch of Queensland's coast straddles the Tropic of Capricorn, and comprises the southernmost islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Here, local families seek escape from the inland heat of centres such as beef capital Rockhampton among dreamy beaches, mangroves and reef-fringed islands, while the less-accessible coast and hinterland hold some of the state's most arrestingly beautiful national parks. School holidays can be busy in the main cooling-off spots, but for most of the year you needn’t travel far to find a deserted beach.

The beachy-dreamy twin towns of Agnes Water and 1770 naturally capture traveller interest, with hostels straight from a European backpacker's fantasy, connections to the southern reef islands, and perfect fishing, surfing and kayaking. Visitors with more time won't regret exploring less-frequented coastal attractions such as Yeppoon and the Eurimbula and Deepwater national parks, or heading inland to wander the ancient gorges of Carnarvon National Park.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Capricorn Coast & the Southern Reef Islands.