If you have ever wanted to know what it's really like to land and take off on an aircraft carrier then the The Lady Elliot Island Runway offers a glimpse of that dream. The 1969 foot long coral runway was built coincidentally in 1969 in only 24 hours by Don Adams who was the pioneer leaseholder of the original resort on the Island. Don brought 2 bulldozers over on a barge to do the job but on the way over from Hervey Bay the barge rolled around so much that one of the dozers fell into the water. Undeterred, Don went back and arranged another dozer and returned in calmer conditions. This time the dozers arrived safely and within 24 hours they had completed a 600m long and 50m wide runway in what was to be the first and only airstrip located on the Great Barrier Reef itself.
The runway at Lady Elliot Island runs in 17/35 direction, 10 degrees off magnetic north and is made from hard based coral with a layer of natural grass irrigated nightly by the WWTP system. The runway is only used during daylight with a portable lighting system used on rare occasions for night operations. The turf provides a great place for a game of cricket or a place to practice your golf swing and is a haven for the bird life which is accustomed to the air traffic. As in integral part of the island landscape the runway blends in and a red flashing light or an occasionally audible horn is used to caution crossing guests that a plane is approaching or about to depart. With beaches at each end of the runway there are no obstacles for pilots to consider except waves on a windy day, and the runway provides an aircraft carrier experience for each and every guest visiting the island. It is still the only true "Great Barrier Reef Airstrip" as there is only one Coral Cay on the whole 2500 km GBR that has an airstrip on a cay and will probably be the only ever in view of tight regulation.