Barnard Island Group National Park Sea Country of the Mandubarra Tropical North Queensland

Things to do

    This scenic island group is suited to visitors seeking nature-based experiences such as birdwatching and snorkelling.

    Camping and accommodation

    Camping is permitted on Stephens and Kent islands only. Campers must be self-sufficient.

    Camping permits are required and fees apply for Stephens Island. Kent Island is a Commonwealth island and no camping fees apply. To protect nesting seabirds, access to Stephens Island (PDF, 124.7KB) is restricted to the sand spit and camping area on the western side of the island from 1 September to 31 March.

    Other accommodation

    There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Mourilyan, Kurrimine Beach, Mission Beach and Innisfail. For more information see tourism information links.


    There are no walking tracks on the Barnard Island Group National Park. Short walks are possible on the few small access tracks around the camping areas and along the beaches.

    Access to Sisters (PDF, 103.3KB) and Stephens (PDF, 124.7KB) islands is restricted from 1 September to 31 March each year to protect nesting seabirds.

    Lindquist Island is a Commonwealth defence reserve and access is not permitted.

    Guided tours and talks

    Several commercial operators provide tours, mainly sea kayaking, to Hutchinson, Jessie, Kent, Sisters and Stephens islands. For further information see tourism information links.

    Picnic and day use areas

    There are picnic tables at the camp sites on Stephens Island, but no other picnic facilities on any of the islands.


    There are no public moorings in the waters around the islands of the Barnard Island Group National Park. If you must anchor around these islands please follow these guidelines:

    • Anchor only on sand and away from coral reefs—corals are fragile and easily destroyed by anchors and chains dragging across the reef.
    • Use a reef pick if anchoring in coral is unavoidable. When hauling in, motor toward the anchor to prevent damage.
    • Do not throw rubbish overboard, especially when you are in anchorage.

    Read more about public moorings and anchoring.

    There are strict regulations regarding the discharge of waste in the marine park. For current regulations see GBRMPA.

    Access to Sisters (PDF, 103.3KB) and Stephens (PDF, 124.7KB) islands is restricted during the period 1 September to 31 March each year to protect nesting seabirds.

    Motorised watersports

    Motorised watersports, such as jet skiing, are prohibited around the Barnard islands.


    Island parks and the surrounding marine waters are internationally significant and are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Zones in the two marine parks—the Great Barrier Reef Coast and Great Barrier Reef—provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreational and commercial use. Check zoning information and maps before entering or conducting any activities in the marine parks.

    Fisheries regulations apply—information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures is available from Fisheries Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

    The Australian Government Department of Defence sometimes conducts non-live fire exercises in the vicinity of the Barnard islands.

    Viewing wildlife

    The Barnard islands are excellent for birdwatching. Twenty-two species of seabirds and 23 species of woodland birds have been recorded on and around the island group.

    Seabirds nest on the ground, on rocky outcrops and in vegetation. Please avoid disturbing nesting seabirds. Chicks and eggs are easily destroyed by heat, cold and predators if left unprotected. Access to Sisters (PDF, 103.3KB) and Stephens (PDF, 124.7KB) islands is restricted from 1 September to 31 March each year to protect nesting seabirds.

    See natural environment for more details about the Barnard islands' diverse wildlife.

    Swimming and snorkelling

    The extensive reefs connecting Sisters and Stephens islands in the South Barnard islands and fringing reefs surrounding the North Barnard islands provide opportunities for snorkelling. Composed of both coral and rock, these reefs provide habitat for a variety of fish and invertebrates. Turtles and dugongs are also seen occasionally. Water visibility may be reduced due to sediments from Mourilyan Harbour and nearby creeks.

    Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. A full-body lycra suit or equivalent may provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. Visit marine stingers for the latest safety and first-aid information.

    Snorkel safely at all times. See staying safe for more information.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.