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About Great Sandy Marine Park
The marine park is used for a wide range of activities, from fishing and recreation to defence activities and scientific research. It covers tidal lands and marine waters that form a transition zone between tropical and temperate waters. The changing water temperature drives dynamic life cycles and influences how coral, fish, mangrove and seagrass species are distributed.
Marine and coastal environments
Great Sandy Marine Park protects a range of marine and coastal environments, including:
- rocky shores
- fringing reefs
- seagrass meadows
- sandy beaches.
These habitats provide important seasonal food sources, nesting and roosting sites, and stopovers for migratory species including:
- humpback whales
- migratory wading birds
- marine turtles.
Resident species also depend on these resources; they include:
- grey nurse sharks
- huge variety of fish, molluscs and crustaceans.
K'gari (Fraser Island)
The marine park surrounds K'gari (Fraser Island) and includes several green zones—Marine National Park Zones. These are no-take zones and one to note is around Middle Rocks on the eastern side. K'gari (Fraser Island) has several layers of conservation. It's a World Heritage Area, a national park and a recreation area. The Traditional Owners are the Butchulla people. They call the island K'gari, and the wild dingoes on it are called wongari and are protected by law.
K'gari has an extensive sand and surf beach on its eastern side, which is interspersed by rocky headlands. Surf fishing is popular, especially in tailor season, but do not swim or surf in the ocean as there are rips (strong currents), sharks and no life guards. The calmer waters of Hervey Bay lap the western shore of K'gari (Fraser Island), which is characterised by many estuaries and beaches with soft, sometimes boggy, sand.
Hervey Bay is relatively sheltered from surf and wind by K'gari (Fraser Island), resulting in shallow bays and sheltered channels, which blend into seagrass meadows, mudflats and mangroves. The bay hosts many whales, but particularly the humpback whales that stop over around July to November each year.
Read more about the nature, culture and history of Great Sandy Marine Park.
Know your zone
- Barolin Rock on the Woongarra coast is a marine national park zone (green zone). This means it is a ‘no-take zone’ right up to the shore.
- Point Vernon, in Hervey Bay, is a conservation park zone (yellow zone), where fishers are limited to one line or rod per person and one hook or lure per line.
Report incidents and breaches promptly
Contact the department for:
- breaches against the zoning plan
- crocodile sightings
- harrassment or unauthorised feeding of dolphins
- unusual marine sightings
Contact the wildlife hotline on 1300 130 372 for:
- dead or stranded marine turtles or marine mammals, note tag numbers if any.
Contact Maritime Safety Queensland for any pollution including:
- oil spills
- diesel spills
- sewage spills.
Contact Fisheries Services, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) for:
- illegal fishing activities in Queensland
- marine wildlife trapped in shark nets.
Contact Queensland Police Service, Policelink for:
- any unsafe boating practices and matters of concern.
- Don't take plastic bags if possible—transfer bait and foodstuff to reusable containers.
- Use biodegradable cleaners for hygiene.
- Take cans rather than bottles.
Use good gear
Prepare well and check your gear before you go out on the boat.
- Invest in high-quality, fishing gear as poor quality lines, nets and pots break easily and increase the chance of them being lost or abandoned.
- Bring lockable ice boxes and food boxes to secure food from wildlife.
- Take buckets or bins with secure, lockable lids to stow your rubbish, bait and catch.
- Keep berley in a sealed, lockable container to avoid attracting wildlife.
Our precious marine park 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 or before setting off from home,
- 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 bin.
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.
- Please see the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting the environment and heritage in parks.
Stow it, don't throw it!
Keep Great Sandy Marine Park beautiful.
- Leave no litter; littering in the marine park is an offence.
- Deposit no other material, without permission, in the marine park—it's also an offence.
- If you ship it in, ship it out—rubbish and waste is your responsibility.
- Don't let anything float away—marine wildlife will ingest fragments of rope, plastic bags and fishing line, causing a slow, painful death.
Always go slow and go around flocks of birds
Any close-by noise, speed and movement disturbs shorebirds. Many need to rest to revive from long migratory flights. Each time shorebirds fly needlessly, they waste energy reserves and reduce their ability to survive.
Fishing activities are allowed in the marine park, but some restrictions apply to encourage sustainable use.
- Recreational fishing is allowed in all zones except marine national park zones (green zones).
- Trolling from a vessel under power is the only form of fishing allowed in a buffer zone (olive-green zone).
- One line or rod per person and one hook or lure per line are allowed in conservation park zones (yellow zones).
- All fishing equipment must be stowed and secured prior to entering a buffer zone or a green zone.
- This does not apply to equipment used for trolling of pelagic species within buffer zones.
Relieve the pressure on fish stocks
The natural resources of Great Sandy Marine Park are coming under increasing pressure from human impacts. To help conserve fish stocks:
- Take only what you need and leave the rest for another day.
- Learn more about how best to release fish.
- If it is safe to do so, please retrieve debris when you find it.
Help save seagrasses
When gathering bait:
- always replace seagrass in an upright position
- return sediments; don't leave hollows and mounds.
Help save bait species
- Look after seagreass meadows, as this helps targeted bait species recover.
- Check your fishing gear regularly and disentangle and release any trapped, non-target species before they die.
- Limited spearfishing, using snorkel only, is permitted in general use, habitat protection and conservation park zones.
- Spearfishing, with underwater breathing apparatus or using a power head, is prohibited.
- On-the-spot fines apply.
Other limits may apply
For further details refer to:
- Great Sandy Marine Park visitor guide
- Great Sandy Marine Park map MP2—Zones
- Great Sandy Marine Park map MP3—Designated Areas
- Entry and use provision table.
Also see: Fisheries Services to read more about:
- spear fishing
- fishing regulations
- bag and size limits.
Go slow for those below!
Great Sandy Marine Park has a number of go slow areas aimed at protecting turtles and dugongs from boat strike in critical feeding and resting areas, so when boating here be aware.
- It is now a legal requirement to ‘Go slow for those below’ in designated areas.
- 'Go slow' means operating your vessel in a non-planing or non-displacement mode.
Fast boat speeds can cause serious injuries and kill marine wildlife. Boaties should go slow for those below, even outside of go slow designated areas, especially when boating:
- over seagrass beds
- over shallow coral reefs
- in the channels as the tide falls.
Share the water
Any water craft can encounter whales and dolphins. For their and your safety, please know the rules for watching marine mammals.
Take care with anchors
Anchors can easily pull up seagrasses and will crush and break fragile corals.
- Always take care when anchoring.
- ‘Drift fish’ over seagrass meadows, coral reefs and the Rooney Point gastropod colonies.
- Anchor on sand and well away from fragile habitats such as seagrass meadows and coral reefs.
- Use the correct anchor for the habitat in which you are fishing.
- Motor up to your anchor, when retrieving it, to prevent dragging.
Only in open water
Sewage discharge from vessels is prohibited in certain areas of the marine park, boaties must refer to Maritime Safety Queensland's Vessel-Based Sewage Discharge Restrictions.
When diving and snorkelling:
- ensure you are properly weighted before entering the water
- practice buoyancy control, and test your gear and techniques, over sand and well away from any coral
- secure your gear, so it does not catch on coral
- never stand, lean, drag your feet over, or hold onto corals
- avoid hovering over corals when taking photographs.
Quietly observe marine wildlife and avoid interrupting their natural behaviour.
- Do not handle marine wildlife—some bite or sting.
- Never chase, grab or attempt to ride free-swimming, marine life or block their path.
If planning to dive at Wolf Rock,
- please refer to the designated area restrictions on the zoning map.
- read more about diving near grey nurse sharks.
Look but don't touch
The creatures that shelter under rocks and in tide pools are vulnerable to exposure.
- Never put your hands or fingers under crevices or rock ledges in tide pools.
- Leave shells on the shore—they are potential homes for hermit crabs.
- Always return creatures and rocks to their original position when exploring tide pools.
Leave it in the marine park
It is an offence to collect coral from the marine park without permission.
Read about limited collecting.
Let wildlife find their own food
- Never leave food, scraps or bait available or deliberately feed wildlife—it's an offence.
- It is best to secure food in lockable boxes.
- It is prohibited to feed dolphins unless specifically indicated.
Looking after the marine park from home
What goes down the stormwater drain, sink, toilet or onto your garden eventually reaches the marine park. Nutrients and fertilisers, that are washed into rivers and oceans by heavy rains, promote heavy algal growth on seagrass meadows and corals blocking sunlight, which they need to survive.
- Keep nutrients, chemicals and pollutants out of the marine park
- Use biodegradable herbicides in the garden.
- Use biodegradable cleaners.
- Mulch your garden and use less fertiliser.
- Keep plastics and other rubbish out of drains and creeks.
- Keep your local park and gardens clean.
- Pick up after your dog.
Marine park zones and designated areas
The marine park is used for a wide range of activities, from fishing and recreation to defence activities and scientific research. The marine park covers tidal lands and marine waters that are a transition zone between tropical and temperate waters, where changing water temperature drives dynamic life cycles and influences the distribution of corals, fish, mangroves and seagrass species.
Great Sandy Marine Park contributes to the conservation and reasonable use of significant marine natural resources through the Marine Parks (Great Sandy) Zoning Plan 2017.
Review of zoning plan
A review of the zoning plan for the Great Sandy Marine Park is currently underway, following consultation. Submissions on the discussion paper are being analysed to inform development of a draft revised zoning plan.
Find out more about the zoning plan review process.
Read more about the management of the marine park.
- Great Sandy Marine Park visitor guide (download and print)
- Great Sandy Marine Park map MP2—Zones
- Great Sandy Marine Park map MP3—Designated Areas
- Entry and use provisions table
Read more about permits that are required for some activities in and near Great Sandy Marine Park.
Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centre
227 Maryborough–Hervey Bay Road, Urraween, QLD 4655
ph 1800 811 728
Open: Daily 9am–5pm (except Christmas Day)
More information about K'gari (Fraser Island) is available on www.visitfrasercoast.com
For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.
- There are currently no park alerts for this park.