Great Sandy Marine Park Bundaberg | Fraser Coast | Sunshine Coast

Great Sandy Marine Park Zoning Plan Review

The review of the zoning plan for the Great Sandy Marine Park has been completed. The outcomes of the review result in a range of zoning and management changes that will be included in the final zoning plan. Photo credit: © Queensland Museum

Photo credit: © Ben Edmonds Photography

Great Sandy Marine Park Regional Profile: Southern Great Sandy Strait

    Image of vessels anchored, Great Sandy Strait.

    Image of vessels anchored, Great Sandy Strait.

    Photo credit: © Nicola Udy

    Map showing Southern Great Sandy Strait region of the Great Sandy Marine Park.

    Map showing Southern Great Sandy Strait region of the Great Sandy Marine Park.

    The Southern Great Sandy Strait region of the marine park extends from Tinnanbar in the north to the southern extent of Tin Can Inlet and east to the Wide Bay Bar. Tin Can Bay and Cooloola Cove are the major townships adjoining this region.

    Environmental values

    A number of small creeks flow into the region, with the largest of these being Kauri Creek, Teebar Creek and Snapper Creek. These creeks all have relatively small catchment areas and, therefore, the freshwater flows that they generate tend to result in relatively localised, short-term effects on this region.

    The estuary processes within the Southern Great Sandy Strait region are predominantly influenced by tides that enter the region via the passage between Inskip Point and the southern end of K’gari (Fraser Island). This passage then links to a deep and wide channel that extends to the north into the Great Sandy Strait and to a similar channel, albeit narrower and shallower, that extends south into Tin Can Inlet. Broad intertidal flats surround these main channels.

    In addition to providing a corridor for major tidal exchange, the passage between Inskip Point and K’gari (Fraser Island) is a critical pathway for the movement of flora, fauna and nutrients between inshore habitats within this region (and the Great Sandy Strait more broadly) and offshore waters.

    The region is well protected from ocean swells and wave energy. Kauri Creek and the tributary waterways feeding into Tin Can Inlet all contain extensive mangrove communities. Areas of saltmarsh and saltpans are also present around their upper intertidal fringes. Tin Can Inlet is recognised as the southern limit for Club Mangrove, Cannonball Mangrove and Myrtle Mangrove1. Seagrass meadows extend over many of the large intertidal flats. Coffee rock ledges and rock bars in the region, which support localised rocky reef flora and fauna communities, fringe parts of the main Tin Can Inlet channel and are present within some of the tributary creeks. Coffee rock was formed when sand grains were cemented together by organic matter, and is a remnant of a time of lower sea level when the sand masses of K’gari (Fraser Island) and Cooloola extended further east. During that time period, the currently exposed coffee rock was further inland and part of the sand mass soil layers.

    A diverse and abundant marine fauna community inhabits the region, and the area is broadly recognised as a key nursery habitat for a range of fish and crustacean species. The region is important for migratory shorebirds with a number of recognised roosting and feeding sites distributed throughout the area. Counts of over 6,000 shorebirds at a time have occurred within one of these roosting sites at the western end of Inskip Point2.

    Turtles, dugong and dolphins also inhabit large parts of the region. The intertidal flats at the mouth of Kauri Creek are a high use area for feeding dugong herds. A community of around 75 vulnerable Australian humpback dolphin have a home range that is predominantly contained within this region3.

    The vulnerable water mouse has also been recorded in a number of upper intertidal locations in the region including Tin Can Inlet, Kauri Creek5 and Seary’s Creek.


    This region of the marine park is subject to relatively high levels of human use. The northern shoreline of Inskip Point and the southern shoreline of K’gari (Fraser Island) are heavily used by four wheel drive vehicles accessing the vehicular barges that service K’gari (Fraser Island). These shoreline areas are also popular locations for beach fishing and general recreation, particularly during holiday periods. Pelican Bay, located to the south of Inskip Point, is adjacent to a popular camping area and is a high use beach and nearshore recreation area.

    Tin Can Bay and its adjacent waters are home to a large fleet of commercial and recreational vessels (including commercial fishing boats and commercial houseboats). This fleet, combined with vessels launched from the boat ramps at Carlo Point and Bullock Point and those entering the region from offshore, mean the waterways in the region are subject to a high level of boating activity. These pristine, protected and accessible waterways are also extensively used for commercial and recreational fishing, and are also utilised by a number of nature- based tourism operators.

    Recreational and commercial fishing

    Commercial netting for mullet, whiting, garfish, flathead, threadfin, tailor and mackerel is undertaken throughout this region, as is commercial potting for mud and sand crabs. Recreational fishers target species such as whiting, flathead, bream, trevally, tailor and mud crabs. The upper reaches of the tributary creeks (outside the marine national park zones) are popular areas for specialist anglers to seek out mangrove jack, threadfin salmon and barramundi. The areas of rock ledge habitat present along the edge of some of the deeper channels are used by recreational fishers targeting squire, sweetlip, parrot, Moses perch and cod. Mackerel also enter the region during the summer months and are actively targeted.

    Coastal development

    With the exception of areas of development at Tin Can Bay, Cooloola Village and Carlo Point, this region of the marine park is largely surrounded by undeveloped land. The region is adjoined by the Wide Bay Military Reserve (located between Tin Can Bay and Kauri Creek), and extensive areas of unallocated state land (on the western side of Inskip Peninsula).

    Instream structures present in this region are also generally confined to the area surrounding these development nodes, particularly Tin Can Bay. While most of the major maritime infrastructure at Tin Can Bay (e.g. wharves, jetties and marinas) is located within the Snapper Creek Boat Harbour which is excluded from the marine park, there is still a range of erosion protection walls, drain outlets, and buoy moorings within the marine park in this location. Also excluded from the marine park is a major public boat ramp facility at Carlo Point, with a small marina and a number of buoy moorings also in this area. A public boat ramp has recently been constructed at Bullock Point, located at the northern end of the Inskip Peninsula. A small number of moorings and a jetty are also present at this location. The adjacent land tenure, combined with the marine park zoning and declared Fish Habitat Area, significantly limits the further development of structures within this region.

    Marine park zoning

    The marine park management in this region utilises two zone categories. The majority of the region is within a conservation park zone which reflects the high conservation values present across this region. Six marine national park zones (MNP) are also present within the region, all of which are focused on protecting a range of representative intertidal creek habitats in the following locations: the upper reaches of Kauri Creek (MNP 23), the mid and upper reaches of Myers Creek (MNP24), the entire area of Seary’s Creek (MNP25), the mid and upper reaches of Cooloola Creek (MNP26), the entire area of Carland Creek (MNP27), and the entire area of Griffin Creek (MNP28). To complement the zoning arrangements, the entire region is a designated shorebird roosting and feeding area, aiming to protect shorebirds within the area from unnecessary disturbances.

    The designated Great Sandy Area extends over the conservation park zone, allowing for the continuation of some fishing practices within this area that would normally be prohibited or limited within this zone category. Specifically, commercial net fishing is allowed to continue when a conservation park zone usually prohibits commercial netting other than bait netting. Recreational fishers are allowed to use up to three lines or rods per person when they would usually be limited to one line or rod per person.

    Other management arrangements

    The Southern Great Sandy Strait region is overlaid and/or complemented by additional management initiatives including:

    • the Great Sandy Ramsar site, which recognises the area as an internationally important wetland and a Matter of National Environmental Significance under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
    • the Kauri Creek, Tin Can Inlet and Fraser Island declared Fish Habitat Areas which recognise the fish habitat values of the area and protect these habitats from development-related disturbance.
    • a Zone A Dugong Protection Area (DPA) under the Fisheries Act 1994 that extends over that part of the region to the north of Teebar Creek. The DPA recognises the area as a key dugong habitat and restricts the type of commercial fishing nets that can be used in the area, requiring these nets is to be constantly monitored while they are in the water.
    • vessel go slow areas are designated within Kauri Creek and over the flats adjacent to its mouth, to protect turtle and dugong from boat strike and disturbance.
    • a range of fisheries and fish habitat management arrangements under the Fisheries Act 1994 (e.g. size limits, possession limits, gear restrictions, etc) that aim to sustainably manage fish stocks and fish passage, and protect marine plants from disturbance.
    • protection of threatened species listed under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.
    • adjacent national parks under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, located on the north eastern side of the region, Great Sandy National Park on K’gari (Fraser Island), and the southeastern side of Tin Can Inlet, Great Sandy National Park, Cooloola.
    • the Fraser Island World Heritage area, inscribed on the list in 1992 in recognition of its outstanding international values.
    • a suite of state legislation that delivers: coastal management, environment protection, vegetation and water management, management of maritime activities, and provides a framework for land use planning and development regulation.
    • local government planning schemes, regional plans, natural resource management plans.


    1. J. Mackenzie and N. Duke, “State of the mangroves report: Burnett Mary Region. A descriptive account and condition assessment of estuaries, tidal wetlands and mangroves. Final report to the Burnett Mary Regional Group,” University of Queensland, Centre for Marine Studies, Brisbane, Queensland, 2009.
    2. S. Harding, D. Milton and L. Cross, “Great Sandy Strait shorebird roost mapping project - Final report,” Queensland Wader Study Group, Unpublished data, Queensland, Australia, 2005.
    3. D. Cagnazzi, P. Harrison, G. Ross and P. Lynch, “Abundance and site fidelity of Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins in the Great Sandy Strait, Queensland, Australia,” Marine Mammal Science, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 255-281, 2011.
    4. NPSR, “Declared Fish Habitat Area summary,” Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing, 2012. Available: [Accessed 30 07 2018].
    5. J. Kaluza. Great Sandy Strait water mouse survey and monitoring project 2014-2018. Internal report, University of Queensland, 2018.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.