Orpheus is a heavenly 1300-hectare island 80km north of Townsville, with a protected national park and surrounding ocean that is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Its dry sclerophyll forest is a geographical anomaly this far north, where bandicoots, green tree frogs, echidnas, ospreys and a peculiar number of goats roam free, the latter as part of a madcap 19th-century scheme to provide food for potential shipwreck survivors. Visitors gravitate towards the eucalypt-scented hiking trails and crystal-clear snorkelling.
Part of the Palm Islands group, Orpheus is surrounded by magnificent fringing reef that’s home to a mind-blowing collection of fish (1100 species) and a mammoth variety of both hard and soft corals. While the island is great for snorkellers and divers year-round (pack a stinger suit in summer), seasonal treats such as manta-ray migration (August to November) and coral spawning (mid-November) make the trip out here all the more worthwhile.