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About Goold Island

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Getting there and getting around

The island is about 17 kilometres offshore from the township of Cardwell, approximately 160 kilometres north of Townsville and 180 kilometres south of Cairns.

A ferry service is available from Cardwell and times and services may vary. Advance bookings are required. For further information and bookings contact Rainforest and Reef Information Centre or Absolute North Charters.

For people with private boats there are three boat ramps in Cardwell, two of which are accessible only at high tide. The other is three kilometres south of Cardwell and is accessible on most tides.

Wheelchair accessibility

Goold Island is rugged and there are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks on the island.

Park features

The tall, forested hill of Goold Island, in the centre of Rockingham Bay, is an impressive feature when approached from any direction. Granite outcrops and sandy beaches are features of the island. Eucalypt woodland covers most of the island but patches of lush rainforest grow in sheltered gullies. This 830 hectare national park is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

South and west of Goold Island, near Garden Island, dugongs and turtles may be seen surfacing as they feed on the extensive seagrass beds in the shallow waters.

Camping and accommodation


Goold Island National Park has designated camping areas at the Spit (Western Beach) with facilities, and camping without facilities at Wilderness Cove and Southern Beach. Camping is not allowed elsewhere. You will need to bring water, rubbish bags and a fuel stove (open fires are prohibited).

Camping permits are required and must be obtained before you arrive on the island, and fees apply. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your campsite. The island is extremely popular during the winter months and may book out well in advance.

Other accommodation

There is no alternative accommodation on Goold Island. A range of holiday accommodation is available in and around Cardwell, including motels, backpackers' hostels and caravan parks. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Things to do


Goold Island National Park has two walking tracks. Always wear a hat and sunscreen and carry drinking water with you, as there is little shade.

Western Beach walk—4km return (1hr) Grade: moderate

This walk through open woodland starts at the campground at Western Beach and finishes at the southern end of the beach.

Island coast walk—13km loop (5hrs) Grade: moderate

Rock-hop and beach walk around the coastline of Goold Island. This walk is only possible at low tide.

Picnic and day-use areas

Picnic tables, a shelter shed, a gas barbecue and toilets are provided at the campground at Western Beach.


Boating is a popular activity in the marine park waters surrounding the island. Yachts, motorised boats, jet skis, canoes and kayaks are all regularly seen. Due to the presence of estuarine crocodiles, please read the guidelines on Crocodiles—Be croc wise.

The Hinchinbrook Plan of Management sets guidelines for access to the park by large vessels and for motorised water sports. People using the marine park should consult the plan to find out where various activities and vessels are allowed.

Zoning rules apply for the waters that surround the island. For detailed zoning maps and information for the area, see the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website.

The Southern Beach camping area is accessible only to sea kayakers.


Fishing is not permitted in the freshwater creeks on the island.

Zoning rules apply for the marine park waters that surround the island. For detailed zoning maps and information see the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website.

For details of fish size and bag limits for popular fish species, see Queensland Fisheries.

Viewing wildlife

There are many species of birds on the island. Sulphur-crested cockatoos, with their loud raucous screeching, are a common sight on the island. Pied-imperial pigeons migrate from New Guinea yearly, to breed and raise their young. They can be seen flying in flocks from the mainland to the nearby Brook Islands from September to April. Noisy pittas and orange-footed scrubfowls are commonly seen around the camping area.

At low tide, among the mangrove forest, a cacophony of slurps, pops and clicks emanates from the glistening blue-grey mud. Snapping shrimps, crabs and mudskippers warn intruders or signal amorous intentions. Mangroves use sunlight, water and nutrients from the mud. Fallen leaves, both live and decaying provide many of inhabitants with important nutrients—the first step in the perpetual cycling of nutrients between marine and coastal ecosystems.

Goold Island is surrounded by diverse marine habitats such as mangroves, fringing reef and seagrass beds. These habitats provide food and shelter to animals including dolphins, dugongs, turtles and estuarine crocodiles.

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

Pack the right equipment including:

  • drinking water
  • warm and waterproof clothing
  • sturdy, reliable footwear
  • hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • basic first-aid kit including space blanket
  • compass
  • Lucinda tide times (PDF)
  • gas or liquid fuel stove with spare fuel
  • cooking utensils and equipment
  • torch or headlamp
  • quality lightweight and waterproof tent
  • insect repellent and clothing to avoid insect bites
  • biodegradable toilet paper
  • hand trowel for digging a hole where toilets are not provided
  • waterproof clothes bag
  • strong rubbish bag
  • food.

There is a water tank on the island, but it is recommended that you bring your own drinking water.

Opening hours

Goold Island National Park is open 24 hours a day. Camping areas may be closed in extreme weather conditions or when prescribed burns are in progress.

Permits and fees

Camping permits are required and fees apply.

Permits are required for all commercial and group activities within the park.


Domestic animals are not permitted in Goold Island National Park.

Climate and weather

Goold Island National Park has a tropical climate. In summer, daytime temperatures can exceed 35 degrees Celsius. The cooler months of the year, from April to September, are the best times to visit.

Daytime temperatures and humidity can be high at any time of the year and nights can be cool. Please carry suitable clothing to accommodate all temperature extremes.

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Fuel and supplies

Goold Island is remote and isolated. Visitors should be well prepared and self-sufficient before setting off from the mainland. Fuel and supplies are available at Cardwell, Tully and Lucinda. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Staying safe

  • For your safety, leave your itinerary with a friend or relative and advise them when you return.
  • Always carry water, wear a hat and sturdy footwear, and try to walk in the cooler part of the day.
  • There is a water tank present, but it is recommended that you bring your own drinking water. Treat all water before drinking.
  • Creek beds and rock surfaces can be slippery. Care is required when traversing these surfaces.
  • During the warmer months, dangerous stinging jellyfish may be present in the waters around Goold Island. During this time it is not advisable to swim. Wear protective clothing if you must enter the water.
  • Avoid bites from sandflies and mosquitoes by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Be aware that estuarine crocodiles can occur in the waters around island national parks. Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility—always be croc wise in croc country.

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

Looking after the park

  • Where no toilets are provided, bury human waste at least 15 centimetres deep and well away from watercourses.
  • Avoid using soap, shampoo, toothpaste or detergent in or near creeks.
  • Use fuel stoves only—campfires are prohibited.
  • Everything in the park, living or dead, is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.
  • Feeding wildlife is prohibited—it is harmful to their health.
  • Please take rubbish with you when you leave the park and help by picking up rubbish left by others.

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

Goold Island is managed to preserve, to the greatest possible extent, the area's natural, cultural and scenic values, and to provide for sustainable recreational use. Only self-reliant, nature-based and ecologically sustainable recreation is permitted.

Goold Island National Park is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service manages the park on a day-to-day basis. Management of the World Heritage area is co-ordinated through a partnership between the Commonwealth and Queensland governments and the Traditional Owners.

The national park is managed in accordance with the Brook Islands National Park and Goold Island National Park Management Plan (PDF, 238K).

Tourism information links

Rainforest and Reef Information Centre
142 Victoria Street, Cardwell
PO Box 74, Cardwell Qld 4849
ph (07) 4066 8601
fax (07) 4066 8116
A partnership between QPWS and the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, managed by Great Green Way Tourism Incorporated.

Tyto Wetlands Information Centre
Bruce Highway, Ingham Qld 4850
ph (07) 4776 4792
fax (07) 4776 3039

Tully Visitor and Heritage Centre
Bruce Highway , Tully Qld 4854
ph 07 4068 2288
fax (07) 4068 2858

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

Further information

Contact us

Last reviewed
28 June 2019
Last updated
28 November 2016