Barnard Island Group National Park Tropical North Queensland

Visiting Barnard Islands safely

    Getting there and getting around

    The Barnard Island Group comprises seven continental islands—Bresnahan, Hutchinson, Jessie, Kent and Lindquist (North Barnard islands) and Sisters and Stephens (South Barnard islands). The islands lie 5–10km offshore from Kurrimine Beach, which is approximately 130km south of Cairns and 240km north of Townsville. The islands can be reached by private boat or sea kayak from Mourilyan Harbour and Kurrimine Beach. To reach Mourilyan Harbour turn off the Bruce Highway at Mourilyan into Mourilyan Harbour Road (signposted to Etty Bay). To reach Kurrimine Beach turn off the Bruce Highway near Silkwood into Murdering Point Road.

    Lindquist Island is a Commonwealth defence reserve. Access to the island is not permitted.

    To protect nesting seabirds, access to Stephens and Sisters islands is restricted from 1 September to 31 March each year. During this time, access to Sisters Island (PDF, 103.3KB) is totally prohibited and access to Stephens Island (PDF, 124.7KB) is limited to the sand spit and camping area on the western side of the island.

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

    Wheelchair accessibility

    There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks in the Barnard Island Group National Park.

    Staying safe

    Walking

    • Take care on loose and uneven surfaces, particularly in wet conditions.
    • Always carry water, wear a hat and sturdy footwear and walk in the cooler part of the day.
    • Be aware of tidal movements on the beach and take care on slippery rocks.
    • Carry a comprehensive first-aid kit.

    Swimming and snorkelling

    • Wear sunscreen and adequate clothing. Always cover up to avoid sunburn as you float above the coral reefs.
    • Know your own health limitations for safe swimming and snorkelling—do not put yourself or others at risk and always snorkel with a buddy so help is at hand.
    • Be aware of wind, current direction and tides.
    • 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.
    • Avoid touching coral or other animals as they may inflict a painful sting or bite.
    • Be aware that crocodiles can occur in waters around islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Crocodiles are potentially dangerous and attacks can be fatal. Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility — always be croc wise in croc country .

    For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

    Before you visit

    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! (PDF, 573.6KB) before your visit.

    Essentials to bring

    Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit. Make sure that you bring:

    • food, water and first-aid supplies
    • rubbish bags to take your rubbish away with you—bins are not provided
    • sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, suitable clothing and sturdy footwear
    • insect repellent, a screened tent or mosquito nets for protection from insects
    • fuel stoves for cooking
    • a tarpaulin as there will be limited shade in the camping areas until the canopy recovers from the effects of Cyclone Yasi. Poles are provided for erecting tarpaulins.

    Opening hours

    The Barnard Island Group is open 24hrs a day all year round, except for the restrictions on Sisters and Stephens islands from 1 September to 31 March. To protect nesting seabirds, access to all of Sisters Island (PDF, 103.3KB) is prohibited during this time and access to Stephens Island (PDF, 124.7KB) is limited to the sand spit and camping area on the western side of the island.

    Visitors should check weather conditions and obtain updated forecasts before venturing out in recreational vessels. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

    Permits and fees

    Camping is only permitted on Stephens and Kent islands. Camping permits are required and a camping tag must be displayed at your camp site. Fees apply on Stephens Island. Kent Island is a Commonwealth island and no camping fees apply.

    • Book your Kent Island and Stephens Island camp site online.
    • If you cannot book online, see camping bookings for other options.

    Permits are required for commercial or organised events. Contact us for further information.

    Pets

    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.

    Climate and weather

    The Barnard Island Group National Park has a tropical climate. In summer, the daytime temperatures average 30°C with high humidity and rainfall. From April to September the days are cooler and less humid. Despite the steady south-easterly trade winds, this is usually the best time to visit. For more information see tourism information links.

    Visitors should check weather conditions and obtain updated forecasts before venturing out in recreational vessels. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

    Fuel and supplies

    Fuel and supplies are not available in the Barnard Island Group National Park but can be obtained from Kurrimine, Mourilyan, Mission Beach and Innisfail before departure. For more information see tourism information links.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.