Capricornia Cays National Park Gladstone

Walk in the shade of the pisonia forest. Photo credit: John Augusteyn © 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

North West Island track

Delve into the fascinating history of this coral cay in the southern Great Barrier Reef as you explore a shady island track.

Journey type
1.7km one way A path where the start point is different to the finish point
Time suggested
Allow 20min walking time.
Easy (walk)

Accessible by

  • Boat

Journey facilities

  • Toilets (non-flush)
  • Wheelchair access (may require assistance)
  • Walking

Discover relics of the historic turtle factory, which produced 250,000 16-ounce cans of turtle soup between 1924 and 1928 in a process called ‘from sea to soup’. Today sea turtles are protected and, if you are here during summer, you may see them nesting and hatching on the cay’s beaches.

Reflect on the cay’s colourful past at the grave site of the infant daughter of a guano ship’s captain. Spend time reading the informative signs in the camping area to learn more about this fascinating area. Explore shady pisonia forest as you cross the cay to the southern beach and return along the beach or back through the forest.

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

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

  • The track is on the western side of the island.
  • From the North West Island camping area, head south along the beach for about 400m to the relics of the turtle factory.
  • Retrace your steps to the sign and follow the track across the island to the southern beach

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.

Wheelchair access

Wheelchair-accessible facilities are available on North West Island.

Before you visit

Opening hours

North West Island track is open 24 hours a day.

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

Visiting safely

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