Capricornia Cays National Park Gladstone

Photo credit: © Queensland Government

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

Mast Head Island

Discover your own Robinson Crusoe-style wilderness experience on this seemingly remote coral cay, in the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Accessible by

  • Boat

Camping area facilities

  • Anchoring allowed
  • Tent camping
  • Short walk to tent
  • Walking
  • Snorkelling and diving
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Fishing

Set up camp under the shady sheoaks that fringe the beach. At night, listen to the mournful calls of shearwaters nesting in the pisonia forest that covers most of the cay. From your camp site, step onto the stunning white sandy beach, and plunge into clear waters to explore the outstanding coral reef surrounding this small coral cay.

At low tide walk on the reef flat or spend a few enjoyable hours walking around the cay, spotting seabirds as you go. Mast Head Island has a diverse seabird population and is one of the most important nesting sites for loggerhead and green turtles.

Capricornia Cays National Park is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, famed for its superlative natural beauty, outstanding examples of reef ecosystem development, evolutionary history and amazing diversity.

Getting there and getting around

Mast Head Island camping area is in Capricornia Cays National Park, 60km north-east of Gladstone in the southern Great Barrier Reef.

  • The camping area is on the western side of the island.
  • Walk the short distance up to the camping area from your drop-off point on the beach.

Getting to the island

  • You can reach the island by private boat or commercial vessel. The nearest departure point is Gladstone.
  • The island does not have a regular charter service. You need to check with operators for timetables.
  • Access is restricted by tides. Commercial vessels (barges) will generally drop you and your gear on the beach at high tide.

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Before you visit

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) , Be pest-free! video—YouTube 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.

Opening hours

Mast Head Island camping area is open 24 hours a day. Check-in to your camp after 2pm and check-out by 11am on the day of departure.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Seasonal closures

Image showing camping area under shady casuarinas at Mast Head Island.

Camp under shady casuarinas at Mast Head Island.

Photo credit: Queensland Government

Camping area features: Self-sufficient camping under casuarina trees with lagoon views. Swim, dive and snorkel or view abundant local wildlife.

Location: 60km north-east of Gladstone.

Access: This camping area is accessible by boat only.

Number of sites: Open area without separately defined sites. Up to 50 people can camp here at any one time.

Maximum Number of Camping Nights: 21

Camp sites are suitable for: tent camping only.

Camp site surface: Sand.

Facilities: No facilities are provided.

Fires: Prohibited (open and closed). Gas or liquid fuelled stoves for cooking purposes are permitted.

Generators: Not permitted. There is no medical exemption to operate a low decibel 65dB(A) generator in the Capricornia Cays National Park’.

Essentials to bring: All food and water, first-aid kit, insect repellent, sun protection, reliable torch, sturdy rubbish bags. Portable chemical toilets are also recommended. Read more about before you visit.

Bookings: book online or learn about our camping booking options. Advance bookings are essential for school holiday periods.

Mobile phone coverage: Unreliable. Marine VHF radios and satellite phones are recommended.

Visiting safely

For more safety information see Visiting Capricornia Cays safely and camp with care.