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About Curtis Island

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Getting there and getting around

Curtis Island is accessible only by boat from the mainland. Popular departure points are Gladstone, The Narrows, Port Alma and Rosslyn Bay. There is a regular vehicle and passenger ferry service from Gladstone Marina to the southern end of the island. See tourism information for contact details.

Curtis Island National Park is on the east coast of the island. Access to camping areas and other areas in the national park is by 4WD, boat or by hiking.

Park features

Curtis Island has unique salt flats. Photo: J.Augusteyn, Queensland Government

Curtis Island has unique salt flats. Photo: J.Augusteyn, Queensland Government

Curtis Island is a unique part of the central Queensland coast. Coastal heath and littoral rainforest scatter the sand dunes and beach ridges, while extensive salt flats make up the large plain on the northern section of the island.

The small settlement of Southend is the entry point for your stay on the southern end of this scenic island. Driving north from here you will reach Southend Conservation Park, Curtis Island Conservation Park and Curtis Island National Park. The parks offer tranquil ocean vistas and stretches of uninhabited beaches.

The endangered Capricorn yellow chat has been recorded in remnant wetlands on Curtis Island Conservation Park to the island’s north. The threatened flatback turtle nests on the island's beaches.

Camping and accommodation


The picturesque camping areas of Curtis Island can be reached by 4WD or boat. Bush camping is available in three designated areas of the national park. All campers must be self-sufficient as there are no facilities provided.

Camping permits are required and fees apply. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your campsite.

Other accommodation

In the township of Southend, about 1km from the ferry landing, Gladstone Regional Council operates a camping area with shelter shed, gas barbecues and toilets. Camping fees apply. Lodge accommodation is also available in Southend.

Things to do

Be well prepared when walking on Curtis Island. Photo: D. Sansom, Queensland Government

Be well prepared when walking on Curtis Island. Photo: D. Sansom, Queensland Government

Capricorn yellow chat. Photo: D Shearer, Queensland Government

Capricorn yellow chat. Photo: D Shearer, Queensland Government


There are limited walking tracks, but you can spend two to three days hiking along the east coast of the island. You must be self-sufficient for this exposed and challenging hike.

Please read walking safely before you walk on Curtis Island.


Four-wheel-drive tracks wind their way north to Connors Bluff and the camping areas of Turtle Street and Joey Lees. At the former Oceanview property gate a track to the west takes you to Grahams Creek and Ship hill. All vehicles must be registered and driven by licenced drivers. Restrictions apply for conditionally registered vehicles (PDF, 113K). Queensland Transport road rules apply while driving on the island.

Please read driving safely before driving on Curtis Island.

Boating and fishing

Amazing marine life surrounds the island. Access to Curtis Island by private boat is allowed. The natural sand blow at Yellow Patch provides a sheltered anchorage for boats.

Please take care when boating.

  • Anchor with care and on sand when possible. If you cannot avoid coral, use reef picks and motor towards your anchor when hauling in.
  • Take care of wildlife. Turtles feed in the surrounding marine park waters and the islands are important turtle rookeries.

There is a range of fishing opportunities on the island, including estuarine, reef and rock fishing. Make sure you understand zoning and fishing regulations before you go.

  • Know your marine park zones and always consult a zoning map before fishing or collecting. For detailed zoning maps and information read about the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park or visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website.
  • Know your fishing regulations. Size and maximum bag limits apply to popular fish species. Queensland fisheries legislation applies in zones where fishing is permitted. See the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for further information.
  • Collecting any coral, living or dead, is not permitted anywhere. Limited collecting of shells (5 of any unprotected species) is permitted in the blue and yellow zones only.

Viewing wildlife

During your stay, you will enjoy seeing a variety of animals and plants on the island including the rare black-necked stork. Keep an eye out for the endangered Capricorn yellow chat. Recent surveys indicate that the total adult population is approximately 300 in the three localities it is known to occur, Curtis Island being one.

Curtis Island is also home to nesting flatback turtles. Visit between October and January to see this threatened species nesting high on the dunes. It is important that you do not disturb nesting turtles by following our turtle viewing guidlines.

Other things to do

Swimming and snorkelling are popular on Curtis Island. Take care on the eastern side of the island, it is exposed and subject to rough weather and strong currents. Alternatively, take a break on the bright yellow sands and enjoy wildlife sightings from the beach.

Please snorkel and swim with care.

  • Be careful with your fins—careless kicking can damage coral.
  • Try not to stir up sediment—murky waters stress plants and animals.
  • Beware of marine stingers between October and May. It is advisable to wear protective clothing if swimming or snorkelling during the marine stinger season.

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

Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit. Make sure you bring:

  • drinking water, rubbish bags and fuel stoves for cooking
  • a comprehensive first-aid kit
  • protective clothing, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun
  • suitable footwear for walking or hiking
  • insect repellent.

Opening hours

Curtis Island National Park and Conservation Park are open 24 hours a day. For your safety, drive and walk in daylight hours only.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

Camping permits are required for camping in the national park and fees apply. Visitor numbers are limited to ensure a quality experience. You will need to book your site and purchase your permit in advance. Display your camping tag prominently on your tent—there are fines for camping without it.

Other permits

Commercial photography permits are required if you intend to sell any photographs taken of the national park or conservation park. Organised event permits are required for organised group activities that may interfere with general public use. Commercial activity permits are required for any commercial activities. Contact us for further information.


Domestic animals are prohibited in the national and conservation parks.

Climate and weather

The region has a sub-tropical climate with an average daytime temperature of 27°C. Beware of cyclones during warmer months.

Fuel and supplies

Southend township has a general store where supplies can be purchased, it is advised that visitors bring their own fuel to the island.

Staying safe

General safety

  • Carry drinking water. On hot days, drink plenty of water and stay in the shade if possible.
  • Wear suitable footwear.
  • Take precautions to avoid sunburn. Wear sun-safe clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.
  • Never walk alone. Tell friends or family where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Never dive or snorkel alone. Be very careful of tides and currents.
  • Be prepared for emergencies. Carry emergency food, water, AM/FM radio, spare batteries and medical supplies. Mobile phone reception is unreliable.

Driving safely

The 4WD tracks in Curtis Island National Park and Conservation Park are rough and easily affected by wet weather. You must carry all of your own recovery equipment as there will often be no one around to help if you get into trouble. There are no vehicle repair or recovery services on the island.

Walking safely

  • Stay with your children at all times.
  • Stay on formed walking tracks and do not shortcut.
  • Wear sturdy footwear, not thongs.
  • Walk in groups.
  • Avoid walking in the hottest part of the day.
  • Carry sufficient drinking water.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.
  • Look for and observe all signs.

Walking over sandblows or up steep sections of tracks can be very tiring. On hot days, some people have suffered fatigue and heat exhaustion.

Long distance walking

Long distance walkers should take a map, compass, personal locator beacon (EPIRB), food, drinking water, appropriate clothing and first-aid kit.

Plan for your own safety. Advise a reliable friend or family member of the itinerary. Be aware that, this person (not rangers) is responsible for alerting police if things go wrong. Work out a contingency plan. Always check conditions just before you start and observe any closures or signs.

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

Looking after the park

  • Read and obey signs. Some areas of the park are closed and access is prohibited to visitors. Please read all signs and avoid entering restricted or protected areas.
  • Keep wildlife wild. Do not feed or interfere with native animals. All plants, animals and natural features are protected. Disturb nothing.
  • Take rubbish with you. Bins are not provided. Please help and collect rubbish left by others. A council rubbish transfer station is located north of Southend.
  • Avoid clearing plants and leaf litter when setting up camp. All vegetation—including grasses, vines, fallen timber and leaves—are part of the natural ecosystem. Remember, all plants are protected on national parks and collecting is not permitted.
  • Cook without campfires. Fires are prohibited in the park, please use a gas or fuel stove for cooking. Open fires are also prohibited on tidal land (beaches).
  • Avoid contaminating the camping area. Bring a shovel or portable toilet.

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 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.

Park management

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) manage Curtis Island National Park and ConservationPark for the enjoyment of visitors and the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage. Work is currently being undertaken to manage feral animals—pigs, foxes and cats—to conserve biodiversity on the island. Signs will be in place when pest control activities are being undertaken. Please comply with sign directions for your own safety.

Tourism information links

Gladstone Information Centre 
Marina Ferry Terminal
Bryan Jordan Drive
Gladstone QLD 4680
Phone: (07) 4972 9000

Curtis Ferry Services
215 Alf O'Rourke Drive
Gladstone QLD 4680
Phone: (07) 4972 6990

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


Further information

Contact us

Last updated
29 May 2017