Capricornia Cays National Park Gladstone

Camp on your own coral cay within the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. Photo credit: Collette Bagnato © 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

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

North West Island

Set up camp surrounded by pisonia forest on the largest of the Capricornia cays, in the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Accessible by

  • Boat

Camping area facilities

  • Anchoring allowed
  • Toilets (non-flush)
  • Tent camping
  • Short walk to tent
  • Walking
  • Snorkelling and diving
  • Cultural and historic sites
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Fishing

Sleep listening to the noddies rustling in the pisonia trees, the shearwaters howling from their burrows and waves lapping the shoreline. Refreshed, grab your snorkel, swim or walk to the reef's edge, and plunge in to discover an underwater treasure trove of corals and other spectacular marine life.

Back on dry land, cross the island on the North West Island track and check out the evidence of the island’s industrial past. Wildlife abounds here! At various times of the year you’ll see nesting and hatching sea turtles, breeding seabirds and migrating humpback whales.

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

North West Island camping area is in Capricornia Cays National Park, 75km north-east of Gladstone in the southern Great Barrier Reef.

  • The camping area is on the north-western side of North West Island.
  • From the drop-off point, walk up the beach into the camping area.

Getting to the island

  • You can reach the island by private boat or commercial vessel. The nearest departure points are Gladstone, and Yepoon.
  • 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.

Staying safe

Be SharkSmart. Sharks are present at all times of the year in open ocean.

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

North West 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

  • North West Island camping areas is open from the first day of the Queensland Easter school holidays until the day after the Australia Day long weekend (or the day after the Australia Day public holiday, if the holiday falls midweek).
  • The camping area is closed at all other times, but you can visit the island during the day.
Image showing camping area on the largest island in the Capricornia Cays.

Camp on the largest island in the Capricornia Cays.

Photo credit: Queensland Government

Camping area features: Nestled in pisonia forest with access to island walking track. Snorkel and dive in surrounding waters or reef walk at low tide.

Location: 75km north-east of Gladstone.

Access: The camping area can be reached by boat only.

Number of sites: Open area without separately defined sites. Up to 150 people can camp here at any one time. Camp only in the designated area inland of rope barriers.

Maximum Number of camping nights: 21

Camp sites are suitable for: tent camping only.

Camp site surface: Sand.

Facilities: Composting toilets, fuel storage and compressor bunker.

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 drinking water, sturdy rubbish bags, insect repellent, sun protection, first-aid kit, reliable torch. 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 radios and satellite phones are recommended.

Visiting safely

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