About Barnard Islands
Known as high continental islands, the forested slopes of the Barnard islands rise steeply from the sea. Heights of the islands vary from 19–95 m. The Barnard islands have a fascinating geological history dating back 420 million years. The older North Barnard islands are metamorphic rock outcrops while the younger South Barnard islands are layers of well-preserved volcanic tuff with steeply dipping basalt dykes cut through these layers.
The rocky slopes of the Barnard islands are densely cloaked in rainforest, with diversity increasing with the size of the island. Mangroves fringe parts of the islands and coastal plants border the shores. The South Barnard islands (Sister and Stephens islands) are an important breeding site for seabirds. Six species of terns have been recorded nesting there, mainly in the dense vegetation next to the shore. Twenty-three species of woodland birds have also been recorded on and around the Barnard islands.
The Barnard Island Group National Park is part of the 'sea country' of the Mandubarra Traditional Owners.
In the late 1800s, a bech-de-mer fishing settlement was built on Sisters Island. Six boats and a large Aboriginal workforce occupied the island until the settlement was lost in a cyclone in 1890. A small lighthouse was built on Kent Island in 1897. It was staffed until a cyclone in 1918 forced the evacuation of the lighthouse keeper and his family, after which the lighthouse was automated. Jessie, Bresnahan, Hutchinson, Sisters and Stephens islands have been protected as national park since 1936. Kent and Lindquist islands are Commonwealth islands.
- Read more about the nature, culture and history of Barnard Island Group National Park.
- Everything in the park, living or dead, is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.
- Camp only in designated camp sites and use the tarp poles provided—disturbance to vegetation can cause erosion and spread weeds.
- Do not feed wildlife including birds and fish—it is harmful to their health.
- Leave your pets at home. Domestic animals are not permitted in the Barnard Island Group National Park or on tidal lands adjacent to the national park within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. Tidal areas include beaches, rocks and mangroves.
- Use fuel stoves only—fires are not allowed.
- Rubbish bins are not provided. Do not bury rubbish—take it with you when you leave.
- Avoid kicking, standing on or touching corals as they are easily damaged and try to avoid stirring up sand with your fins as it can smother corals and other reef animals.
- Please note cultural heritage sites are protected and must not be disturbed.
- Please avoid disturbing nesting seabirds and respect restricted access areas on Sisters and Stephens islands.
Our precious Great Barrier Reef World Heritage islands are among the most pest-free islands in the world. They need your help to stay this way. Please Be pest-free! before your visit.
Before you visit, please check that your boat, clothing, footwear and gear are free of soil, seeds, parts of plants, eggs, ants and insects (and their eggs), spiders, lizards, toads, rats and mice.
Be sure to:
- Unpack your camping gear and equipment and check it carefully as pests love to hide in stored camping gear.
- Clean soil from footwear and gear as invisible killers such as viruses, bacteria and fungi are carried in soil.
- Check for seeds in pockets, cuffs and hook and loop fastening strips, such as Velcro.
While you are on the islands, remove soil, weeds, seeds and pests from your boat, gear and clothes before moving to a new site. Wrap seeds and plant material, and place them in your rubbish.
Everyone in Queensland has a General Biosecurity Obligation to minimise the biosecurity risk posed by their activities. This includes the risk of introducing and spreading weeds and pests to island national parks.
See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.
The Barnard Island Group National Park is managed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) for the enjoyment of visitors and the conservation of nature.
The national park is managed in accordance with the Barnard Island Group National Park Management Plan .
Kent Island is a Commonwealth island. It is managed in a complementary manner with the national park islands of the Barnard Island Group National Park under agreement with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Lindquist Island is Commonwealth defence reserve and is managed under Commonwealth legislation.
Rainforest and Reef Information Centre
142 Victoria Street
Cardwell QLD 4849
ph: (07) 4066 8601
A partnership between QPWS and the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, managed by Great Green Way Tourism Incorporated.
For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.
The natural, cultural and historical significance of Barnard Islands
- Taylor Cay seasonal closure 5 January to 31 March 2023