Visiting Family Islands safely
Getting there and getting around
Family Islands National Park map Check Great Barrier Reef zoning information and maps before entering or conducting any activities in the marine parks surrounding these islands.
Visit Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for zoning information.
The Family Islands are off the North Queensland coast, between Tully Heads and Mission Beach. Dunk Island, 4.5km east of Mission Beach, is the largest and most northerly of the group. Access to Dunk Island is by either private vessel, water taxi from Wongaling and South Mission beaches (travel time approximately 10 minutes) or commercial charter boat. Most of the island is protected as national park and the remainder of the island is freehold (Dunk Island Resort and farm) and council esplanade.
Wheeler (Toolgbar), Coombe, Smith (Kurrumbah), Bowden (Budg-Joo), Hudson (Coolah), Mung Um Gnackum, Kumboola and Mound (Purtaboi) islands are also part of the Family Islands National Park. These islands are accessible by sea kayak, private boat or charter vessel from Mission Beach.
Access to Mound (Purtaboi) Island is prohibited during the seabird breeding season from 1 October to 31 March.
For details of transport operators to the islands, see the tourism information links.
Some islands in the group are not national park. Thorpe (Timana) and Richards (Bedarra) islands are privately-owned and tiny Woln-Garin Island is unallocated State land.
Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.
There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities in the Family Islands National Park.
To enjoy a safe visit to the Family Islands, please:
- Take care on loose, slippery and uneven walking track surfaces, particularly in wet conditions.
- For your safety, walk in daylight hours only.
- Always carry water, wear hats and sturdy footwear and try to walk in the cooler part of the day.
- As you walk, rest often in the shade as heat exhaustion can affect all walkers.
- Access to the resort's airstrip is strictly prohibited—do not enter this area.
- The resort’s lease area, including buildings, are private property and access is not allowed due to safety concerns associated with Cyclone Yasi.
- Wear sunscreen and cover up when you are swimming or snorkelling.
- Be aware of wind, current direction and tides.
- Dangerous stinging jellyfish ('marine stingers') may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. A full body lycra suit or equivalent can provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. Visit marine stingers for the latest safety information and first aid.
- Be aware that crocodiles can turn up anywhere in croc country, including tidal reaches of rivers, along beaches, on offshore islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, and in freshwater lagoons, rivers, and swamps. Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal.
- Know your own health limitations for safe snorkelling—do not put yourself and others at risk and always snorkel with a buddy so that help is at hand.
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
Before you visit
Be prepared for your visit to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time:
- Essentials to bring
- Opening hours
- Permits and fees
- Climate and weather
- Fuel and supplies
- Staying safe
- Looking after the park
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! before your visit.
Essentials to bring
Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit to Family Islands National Park. Make sure you bring:
- protective clothing, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun
- suitable shoes for walking on rough surfaces
- insect repellent to avoid mosquito and sandfly bites
- sufficient drinking water.
Family Islands National Park is open 24 hours a day, all year round except for the seabird closure on Mound (Purtaboi) Island .
Permits and fees
Camping permits are required for all areas in the Family Islands National Park and fees apply. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.
- Book your camp site for Coombe and Wheeler islands online.
- If you cannot book online, see camping bookings for other options
- Book your Dunk Island camp site through the resort at www.dunk-island.com
Special permits are required for commercial or organised events within the park. View permits and fees for further information.
Domestic animals are not permitted on Family Islands National Park or on tidal lands adjacent to Family Islands National Park within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. Tidal areas include beaches, rocks and mangroves.
Climate and weather
Family Islands National Park has a tropical climate. In summer, the daytime temperatures average 30 °C with high humidity and rainfall. From April to September, the days are cooler and less humid and, despite the steady south-easterly trade winds, are usually the best times to visit. For more information see the tourism information links.
Visitors should check weather conditions before setting out. The islands may be inaccessible to all boats if there are strong wind warnings, gales or cyclonic activity. Commercial tour companies cease operating ferry, water taxi and air services at these times. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.
Fuel and supplies
Fuel and supplies are available at Mission Beach on the mainland. For more information see the tourism information links.
- Taylor Cay seasonal closure 5 January to 31 March 2023