Capricornia Cays National Park Gladstone

North West Island shark research project

The Capricornia Cays is abundant with wildlife — including sharks. We are currently conducting research into the prevalence, movements and behaviour of sharks around North West Island. Photo credit: © Queensland Government

The exceptional beauty of the islands within Capricornia Cays National Park will leave a lasting impression. Photo credit: Collette Bagnato © Queensland Government

Be inspired: Snorkelling, seabirds and sightseeing—3 sensational reasons to visit the southern Great Barrier Reef!

The southern Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most iconic travel destinations… and little wonder why! Here you can snorkel amongst delicate corals and colourful fish, share your island ‘solitude’ with thousands of seabirds, and enjoy sightseeing on a scale second to none! Photo credit: © Tourism and Events Queensland

About Capricornia Cays

    Park features

    Capricornia Cays National Park's eight islands are part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Their biological diversity, exceptional beauty and endangered plants and animals are internationally significant.

    The stunning white beaches and outstanding coral reefs of these small, relatively untouched cays make them popular destinations. This national park offers a variety of recreation opportunities ranging from commercial resort relaxation to nature-based camping and day visit enjoyment. Unlike rocky continental islands, the Capricornia Cays were completely built by corals.

    Rich forests of Pisonia grandis, which are typically only found on coral cays, dominate the island vegetation. A fringe of tough, small trees and shrubs such as coastal she-oak, octopus bush, native grasses and pandanus surround the cays' pisonia forests. On North West Island, strangler figs and native elms are scattered through the forest, and native mulberries, sandpaper figs and lantern bushes grow in small clearings.

    Looking after the park

    Although QPWS officers visit the cays during regular marine park patrols, no rangers live on site. For this reason, campers are an important source of information for cay management. Promote minimal impact camping by following these guidelines and discussing them with other campers and friends. You can play a part in preserving the cays for future generations to enjoy by following the guidelines below.

    • Camp only within designated areas.
    • Ensure your tent and all equipment is behind the roped off revegetation areas—foredunes are important nesting habitats for seabirds and turtles.
    • Pitch your tent to either side of walking tracks, which also serve as wedge-tailed shearwater flight paths.
    • Avoid clearing plants and leaf litter when setting up camp. All vegetation—including grasses, vines, fallen timber and leaves—are part of the cay ecosystem. Remember, all plants are protected on national parks and collecting is not permitted.
    • Ensure tents and tarpaulins are freestanding. Please do not tie off tent ropes to trees. Trunks become scarred and the brittle branches are easily damaged and broken.
    • Fires: Prohibited (open and closed). Gas or liquid fuelled stoves for cooking purposes are permitted. Past traditions of lighting campfires caused unacceptable environmental damage. Trees were destroyed for firewood, multiple fire rings scarred the beachfront, and birds and turtle hatchlings were attracted to fires. Charcoal darkened some areas of sand, influencing turtle egg development.
    • Be Reef Smart Dispose of fish scraps responsibly! Only clean fish on land well above the high tide mark. Keep your fish scraps out of the water and take them with you when you leave. Offenders dumping fish scraps in a way other than this advice may be subject to penalties.
    • If you are organising a camping trip on behalf of a group, ensure each member is aware of camping guidelines and restrictions that apply. See Caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

    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, 573.6KB) 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.

    Park management

    A Capricornia Cays National Park management plan (PDF, 1.5MB) guides the management of these parks.

    Tourism information links

    Charter boat operators

    Curtis Ferry Services (Group Charter only)
    215 Alf O'Rourke Drive, Gladstone Marina
    ph (07) 4972 6990 or 0418 729 641

    Vessels travelling to Lady Musgrave Island

    Lady Musgrave Experience
    Bundaberg Port Marina, Bundaberg
    Ph 0427 00 99 22

    1770 Reef Eco Tours

    1770 Marina, Town of 1770
    Phone: 07 4972 7222

    Vessels travelling to North West and Mast Head islands

    Curtis Ferry Services
    215 Alf O'Rourke Drive, Gladstone Marina
    ph (07) 4972 6990 or 0418 729 641

    Charter plane

    Flights travelling to Lady Musgrave Island

    16 Lores Bonney Cct Gold Coast Airport Qld  4225
    Ph (07) 5599 4509 or 0412 644 497

    Flights can depart from airports at Gold Coast, Brisbane (Redcliffe) Hervey Bay or Bundaberg for camper drop offs and tourist groups.


    Security parking for North West or Mast Head island visitors

    Marina Bait & Tackle
    ph (07) 4972 7283

    General tourism information

    Gladstone Visitor Information Centre
    Marina Ferry Terminal, Bryan Jordan Drive
    Gladstone QLD 4680
    ph (07) 4972 9000

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

    Further information

    Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
    ph 1800 990 177

    Queensland Boating & Fisheries Patrol
    For information about fishing regulations: ph 13 25 23
    To report illegal fishing—Fishwatch Hotline ph 1800 017 116

    VMR 446 Volunteer Marine Rescue Gladstone
    ph (07) 4972 3333
    Marine VHF channel 82

    VMR 477 Volunteer Marine Rescue Round Hill Inc
    Lot 28 Tupia Street, Round Hill Qld 4677
    ph (07) 4974 7477
    Marine VHF channel 81