Visiting Great Sandy Marine Park safely
Bundaberg, a city on the Burnett River in Central Queensland, offers access into northern areas of the Great Sandy Marine Park.
- Head north from Bundaberg to get to the Kolan River, and, from there, onto Littabella Creek and Baffle Creek.
- Explore the Woongarra Coast's fringing reefs from Bargara, a coastal town about 13km east of Bundaberg.
- Head south to the Elliot River, or stay a while in Woodgate, or camp near the Burrum River.
Hervey Bay city is 40km east off the Bruce Highway, via Maryborough. It's a popular holiday destination with a variety of accommodation from camping to resort-style stays. Urangan boat harbour is Hervey Bay's major boat harbour and it offers:
- a marina
- departures for whale-watching trips, fishing charters and other water tours.
River Heads barge landing site is about 18km south of Urangan. This is where you can catch a vehicle and passenger barge over to Kingfisher Bay or Wanggoolba Creek barge landing site, both on the western side of K'gari (Fraser Island).
Great Sandy Strait, a magnificent stretch of calmer water between the mainland and K'gari (Fraser Island), is accessed from the coastal towns of Maaroom, Boonooroo, Poona and Tinnanbar.
Tin Can Bay, about 50km east of Gympie, is a coastal town from which you can boat into the marine park to explore Tin Can Inlet.
Rainbow Beach is about 70km east, off the Bruce Highway, via Gympie, and offers a good range of accommodation, 4WD hire outlets, food and fuel. Camp in the nearby Cooloola or Inskip recreation areas, but book ahead.
Inskip Peninsula, about 13km north of Rainbow Beach, where you can catch a passenger and vehicle barge to K'gari (Fraser Island), and, for boaties, get access to Tin Can Inlet—the southern end of Great Sandy Strait—and Kauri Creek estuary, both providing protected waters for boating.
Some of the barge landings, boat ramps and commercially operated tours are wheelchair accessible. Contact the local tourism information centres for more information.
Plan your boating trips
Know the risks, know your equipment, know your responsibilities and know your boat.
- Check tide times and weather forecasts, available from the Bureau of Meteorology.
- Check Maritime Safety Queensland's Weather Service.
- Register your EPIRB if not already done.
- Log your boat trip with your local volunteer rescue station.
- Seek local advice about strong currents and tidal influences.
- Know the safe distances to stay from whales and dolphins.
- Also see: Marine stinger warning notice .
In a case of an accident or emergency
On a marine radio transmit a Distress or Urgency call on VHF Ch16.
On a phone, phone Triple Zero (000).
- Advise the location and nature of the emergency.
- Stay on the phone until you are told to hang up.
Deploy emergency apparatus like flares, a V sheet or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).
Be croc wise and report crocodile sightings
Estaurine (saltwater) crocodiles are a native animal and protected by law in Queensland.
The accepted habitat range of the estuarine crocodile in Queensland extends from Torres Strait south to the Boyne River, just south of Gladstone. However there have been records of estuarine crocodiles as far south as the Logan River, Brisbane (circa 1902).
- The department has received credible reports of estuarine crocodile sightings in the Great Sandy Strait and western coastline of K'gari (Fraser Island).
- If a crocodile is sighted, please report the crocodile sighting immediately.
- For your safety, stay alert at all times.
Be croc wise!
- Do not approach crocodiles.
- Stay well away from crocodile slides—obvious areas where crocodiles slide into the water.
- Never feed, provoke, harass or interfere with a crocodile.
- Take care when launching or retrieving your boat.
- Avoid entering the water.
- When fishing, stand at least a few metres back from the water’s edge.
- Never clean fish or discard fish and food scraps near the water’s edge, in camp sites or around boat ramps.
- Camp at least 50m from the water's edge.
Crocodiles are only one of the dangerous marine animals, including sharks, which may be found in this region. Be croc-wise and use commonsense to reduce the risk of contact with crocodiles.
- Read more about safety in parks and forests.
Great Sandy Marine Park incorporates five zones and nine designated areas. Different activities are permitted in different areas or zones.
Essentials to bring
Make sure you have:
- Great Sandy Marine Park visitor guide (download and print)
- first-aid kit
- GPS device and/or compass
- sufficient fuel
- drinking water
- torch or headlamp
- raincoat and suitable footwear
- insect repellent
- sun protection.
- You will need a permit before you camp.
- Generators may not be permitted in some camping areas.
- Please bring a fuel stove (and fuel) for cooking, as fires are not permitted in some camp sites around the marine park.
The park is open 24 hours a day.
Marine park permits are important for the management of the Great Sandy Marine Park. Through the permit process the department can place conditions on certain activities, separate conflicting activities, limit the impacts on high-use and sensitive areas, collect data and encourage responsible behavior. The zoning plan states activities that can occur without specific permission and those that require a permit. Marine park permits are required for most commercial or high impact activities including:
- commercial tourism
- collecting restricted marine plants or animals
- works considered consistent with the object of the zone
- constructing or installing a jetty, boat ramp or revetment wall
- dredging, material extraction and disposal
- aquaculture operations (not including the addition of feed)
- non-accredited research and educational activities
- vessel charter operations
- operation of a hovercraft.
Before undertaking any activity in the marine park check the zoning plan to determine whether a marine park permit is required. Issuing a permit is not automatic, each application is considered on its merits. You must be issued with a permit before you can begin your activity.
If in any doubt about whether a permit is required, contact Queensland Parks for assistance.
Pets in Great Sandy Marine Park
Leave your pets at home or keep them aboard your boat.
Domestic animals are permitted:
- on vessels in the marine park
- in Inskip Peninsula Recreation Area and Tuan State Forest, but must be on a leash and in control.
Domestic animals are prohibited:
- in the Mon Repos designated area from 15 October each year to 30 April the following year
- at all times in the Cooloola Recreation Area to the low water mark, even if traversing in a vehicle, except in a dog-friendly beach zone south of the village of Teewah to the 1st cutting on the Noosa North Shore
- in all other recreation areas, national parks and conservation parks.
Can I take a dog into shorebird roosting and feeding designated areas?
Dog owners must not take a dog into the shorebird roosting and feeding designated area, unless the dog is controlled or restrained in a way that prevents the dog from causing excessive disturbance to shorebirds in the area.
Climate and weather
Great Sandy Marine Park has a subtropical climate.
- The average coastal temperatures range from 22–28°C in December and 14–21°C in July.
- For more information see the tourism information links.
- Weather forecasts are always available online from the Bureau of Meteorology.
Fuel and supplies
Fuel and supplies are available in the major centres of:
- Hervey Bay
- Tin Can Bay
- Rainbow Beach.
Some of the smaller townships of the Great Sandy Strait have fuel and some supplies, but check first.
- For more information see the tourism information links.
- There are currently no park alerts for this park.