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About Brook Islands

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Getting there and getting around

North Island, Brook Islands National Park. Photo: J. Jones, Commonwealth of Australia (GBRMPA)

North Island, Brook Islands National Park. Photo: J. Jones, Commonwealth of Australia (GBRMPA)

The Brook Islands lie off the North Queensland coast, about 8km north-east of Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island and about 30km north-east of the nearest mainland town of Cardwell.

Three of the four islands in the group lie within Brook Islands National Park. Access to these islands—North (PDF, 185K)Tween (PDF, 155K) and Middle (PDF, 153K) islands—is prohibited to protect nesting and roosting seabirds and shorebirds and their habitats. There are no roads, walking tracks or facilities on the islands.

The fourth island—South Island is a Commonwealth island jointly managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). Access to this island is prohibited from 1 October to 31 March each year to protect breeding birds.

The fringing reefs are accessible by boat or sea kayak from Cardwell, Mission Beach or Lucinda.

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Park features

Brook Islands are covered in lush vegetation bordered by rocky shores. Photo: Justine Douglas, Queensland Government.

Brook Islands are covered in lush vegetation bordered by rocky shores. Photo: Justine Douglas, Queensland Government.

Lying within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the Brook Islands and the Family Islands to the north, form an arc enclosing the semi-sheltered waters of Rockingham Bay.

The islands are covered in lush, tropical vegetation. The eastern shores are rocky while the western shores have a few beaches of coarse, coral rubble. The islands support a breeding colony of more than 40,000 pied imperial-pigeons, and significant breeding colonies of terns. Vulnerable beach stone-curlews also breed on the islands.

These national park islands are one of only a few island groups between the Whitsundays and Cairns with minimal evidence of human disturbance.

Camping and accommodation

Camping is not permitted in Brook Islands National Park. The nearest island-based camping is available on Hinchinbrook, Goold and Family islands national parks. In the Family Islands National Park, camping is permitted on Dunk, Coombe and Wheeler islands. Camping is also possible nearby at Garden Island (managed by the Cassowary Coast Regional Council).

Other accommodation

A range of accommodation, including motels, campgrounds and caravan parks, is available at Cardwell, Mission Beach, Dungeness, Lucinda and Ingham. For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Reef protection markers show the no-anchoring zone. Photo: Queensland Government.

Reef protection markers show the no-anchoring zone. Photo: Queensland Government.

Boating

Boating is a popular activity around the Brook Islands. The Brook Islands Location (PDF) is designated as a low use setting under the Hinchinbrook Plan of Management and special rules apply:

  • Motorised watersports are prohibited.
  • Maximum vessel speed is 6kn within 200m of North, Middle and Tween islands.
  • Maximum vessel speed is 6kn within 200m of South Island between 1 October and 31 March.
  • Vessels over 35 are not permitted in the location.
  • Vessels are not permitted to anchor in the no-anchoring area along the west side of North, Tween and Middle islands. Reef protection markers identify the no-anchoring area.

There are public moorings in the waters around Brook Islands National Park. Moorings reduce coral damage from anchors and provide safe and sustainable access to popular reefs and islands. They suit a variety of vessel sizes and are accessed on a first-come-first-served basis. Time limits may apply during the day, but all mooring are available overnight between 3pm and 9am. Learn more about moorings and responsible anchoring and see maps and mooring locations.

Anchor with care outside reef protection markers

Please ensure you follow best environmental practices when anchoring:

  • Carry enough chain, or chain and line, for the water depth.
  • Anchor in sand away from corals and seagrass beds.
  • Motor towards the anchor while retrieving it. If the anchor is stuck, motor the vessel above and slightly ahead of the anchor before retrieval.
  • Anchor far enough outside the line of reef protection markers to ensure that all parts of the anchor chain and rope remain outside the line of markers, should the vessel swing.

Fishing

Brook Islands National Park 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.

A Marine National Park (Green) Zone encompasses the reef and waters surrounding Brook Islands National Park. These ‘no-take’ areas prohibit extractive activities like fishing or collecting.

Be aware that crocodiles can turn up anywhere in croc country, including tidal reaches of rivers, along beaches, on offshore islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait and in freshwater lagoons, rivers and swamps. Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal.

Swimming and snorkelling

Swimming and snorkelling is popular around the Brook Islands, especially on the western side of the islands. Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. If you do enter the water, a full-body lycra suit, or equivalent, may provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. Remember to be crocwise in croc country. Visit marine stingers for the latest safety and first-aid information.

Viewing wildlife

During the summer months, more than 40,000 pied imperial-pigeons breed on the islands, providing a spectacle as they return to their nests each evening after foraging for food on the mainland. There are also significant breeding colonies of bridled terns, black-naped terns, little terns and roseate terns. Beach stone-curlews, listed as vulnerable, are also present and are believed to breed on North Island beaches.

To prevent disturbance to the colonies, bird viewing should occur only from boats. Access to the national park—North (PDF, 185K)Tween (PDF, 155K) and Middle (PDF, 153K) islands—is prohibited to protect nesting and roosting seabirds and shorebirds and their habitats. Nesting birds are easily alarmed and will leave their nests if disturbed. Eggs and chicks are then vulnerable to heat, cold and predators and can die quickly.

Remember, access to South Island is also prohibited from 1 October to 31 March.

Things to know before you go

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, 574K) before your visit.

Essentials to bring

Remember to pack:

  • sunscreen, hat and suitable clothing
  • drinking water
  • rubbish bags to take your rubbish away with you
  • insect repellent.

Opening hours

Access to North (PDF, 185K)Tween (PDF, 155K) and Middle (PDF, 153K) islands, Brook Islands National Park is prohibited, but the surrounding marine park waters are accessible by boat.

Remember access to South Island—a Commonwealth Island—is also prohibited from 1 October to 31 March.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted on Brook Islands National Park or on tidal lands adjacent to Brook Islands National Park within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. Tidal areas include beaches, rocks and dunes.

Climate and weather

The Brook Islands have a tropical climate. Summer can be very hot and humid with maximum temperatures reaching over 35ºC. During the wetter months, from December to April, there are frequent, heavy downpours. The cooler, drier months from May to September are the best time to visit. The weather is pleasantly warm, with reduced humidity, and with steady south-easterly trade winds. Daytime temperatures are around 20ºC, while overnight temperatures can drop to 10ºC.

For more information see the tourism information links. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available at Cardwell, Lucinda, Tully and Mission Beach. For more information see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

Box jellyfish ('stingers) may be found in the waters surrounding Brook Islands National Park. Photo: Jamie Seymour, James Cook University.

Box jellyfish ('stingers) may be found in the waters surrounding Brook Islands National Park. Photo: Jamie Seymour, James Cook University.

To enjoy a visit to the Brook Islands:

  • Wear sunscreen and cover up when you are swimming or snorkelling.
  • Be aware that crocodiles can turn up anywhere in croc country, including tidal reaches of rivers, along beaches, on offshore islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait and in freshwater lagoons, rivers and swamps. Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal.
  • 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.
  • Know your own health limitations for safe snorkelling—do not put yourself and others at risk and always snorkel with a buddy so that help is at hand.
  • Carry drinking water and wear a hat.
  • Bring insect repellent.

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

Looking after the park

  • To prevent disturbance to the colonies, bird viewing should occur only from boats. Access to the national park—North (PDF, 185K)Tween (PDF, 155K) and Middle (PDF, 153K) islands—is prohibited to protect nesting and roosting seabirds and shorebirds and their habitats.
  • When boating, go slowly over seagrass beds—dugongs feed in the area between Cardwell and the Brook Islands.
  • Anchor in sand or mud away from coral. A no-anchoring area extends along the west side of North, Tween and Middle islands.
  • Feeding wildlife is not allowed as it can affect their health and alter the natural population balance.
  • Domestic animals are not allowed as they can harm native wildlife.
  • Please take your rubbish with you when you leave.
  • Everything in the park, living or dead, is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.

Be pest-free!

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, 574K) 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 and clean out your backpack and hand, beach or camera bags and check them carefully before your visit, as pests love to hide in stored 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.

Park management

The Brook Islands National Park, gazetted in 1936, 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 Brook Islands National Park and Goold Island National Park Management Plan (PDF, 238K).

The Brook Islands are within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The surrounding waters are within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Hinchinbrook Plan of Management also has provisions for the waters surrounding some of the Brook Islands.

South Island—a Commonwealth island—is managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Tourism information links

Rainforest and Reef Information Centre
www.greatgreenwaytourism.com
142 Victoria Street, Cardwell
PO Box 74, Cardwell Qld 4849
Phone: (07) 4066 8601
Email:  
A partnership between QPWS and the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, managed by Great Green Way Tourism Incorporated.

Mission Beach Visitor Information Centre
www.missionbeachtourism.com
Porters Promenade, Mission Beach Qld 4852
Phone: (07) 4068 7099
Email:

Tully Visitor and Heritage Centre
Bruce Highway, Tully Qld 4854
Phone: (07) 4068 2288
Email:

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
24 January 2018