Straddling the Tropic of Capricorn just north of Gladstone, Curtis Island has 27km of beaches on the east coast, while the west coast is a maze of tidal mangrove-lined creeks known collectively as the Narrows. Monte Christo Station has been here since the 1860s, with station hands walking cattle across the Narrows mudflats at low tide, ever vigilant for lurking saltwater crocs (Curtis is roughly the southern limit for the beasts). At high tide, Ramsay Crossing reverts to a navigable waterway for boating traffic taking the inshore scenic route.
Monte Christo Station has been in Tim Reigel’s family for generations and is one of the few island cattle stations bordering the Marine Park. Tim is developing beachfront Turtle Street Resort (www.turtlestreet.com.au) on Curtis, with earthworks now underway and the first guests expected mid-2010.
“It’s taken 32 years to get all the approvals in place. It’s a bit like giving birth to an elephant, and we’re now in the labour stage,” Tim laughs down the phone, alluding to the long list of permits required to develop his family’s land. Future plans include a luxury tent erected on the marine plain as a day facility, a sort of luxury safari, where cuisine and champagne combine with cattle and kangaroos.
Camping is permitted halfway up the east coast at the sand blow at Yellow Patch, not far from the Cape Capricorn lighthouse. More accessible for campers (just one km from the barge landing point) is the grassy campground on the outskirts of the community of Southend.
Getting There: Curtis Ferry Services (www.curtisferryservices.com.au) run regular vehicular and passenger barges from Gladstone to Southend.