A broad area of isolated reefs, coral cays and inshore islands between Townshend Island in the south, Swain Reefs to the east and Prudhoe Island in the north, few commercial vessels bring visitors to this area. It’s predominantly the domain of scientists, particularly Swain Reefs, which are mostly Preservation Zones, cruising voyagers or station lessees living and working on remote island outposts.
The Percy Islands, 130km southeast of Mackay, are known worldwide among cruising sailors for isolated anchorages amid heavily forested islands. The A-frame hut at West Beach on Middle Percy has long been a congregation point beneath the coconut palms. Over the years sailors have added boat name plaques, creating an eclectic collection of flotsam and jetsam.
Nominated for heritage listing by the Friends of Percy, Middle Percy was recently the subject of a protracted legal dispute, now settled, over the lease ownership between an ambitious yachty and an eccentric English aristocrat known as “the hermit of Middle Percy”.
Ambitious adventurers who desire their own island archipelago (with a cool $11m to spend) might want to visit the private Duke Islands of Marble, Hunter and Tynemouth Islands, around 135km southeast of Mackay. Marble Island is home to a cattle and deer station, as well as homestead buildings and tennis court, along with an airstrip complete with a light plane. Included is a permit for further guest accommodation, which you’ll need to house your mates once they realise you’ve plopped yourself among the type of offshore fishing grounds that make a fisherman’s heart race.
Getting There: Private vessel or light plane.