Visiting Keppel Bay Islands safely
Getting there and getting around
Keppel Bay is a broad sweep of water off the central Queensland coast from Curtis Island to Corio Bay. The picturesque Capricorn Coast, with its townships of Yeppoon, Emu Park and Keppel Sands, fronts the bay.
Access to the islands is by boat only. Boat launch facilities and charters are available from Rosslyn Bay Harbour with secure parking available nearby. It is also possible to arrange transport to the national park islands from Great Keppel Island. See the tourism information links for more information.
Access to Barren and Peak islands is restricted due to their scientific values.
Flat and Perforated islands are isolated rocky islands with no practical access.
There is a wheelchair-accessible amenities building on Humpy Island.
The islands are isolated so you need to plan your camping and communication requirements carefully.
In particular please remember:
- This is a remote area and help is a long way away – Always tell others your plans, where you will be and when you are expected back.
- Strong winds, rough seas and cyclones can isolate campers. Carry emergency food, water, a broadcast radio for weather forecasts, spare batteries and medical supplies.
- Tides, currents and prevailing weather conditions can be dangerous - Never dive, snorkel or swim alone. Anchor boats securely.
- Boating can be extremely hazardous in Keppel Bay. Ensure your safety equipment is checked and maintained. File a trip sheet with the local Australian Volunteer Coastguard.
- Bring a two-way marine radio or mobile phone in case of any emergency. Some mobile phones have reception from hilltops—check coverage with your provider.
- Carry a hand-held EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or satellite phone. Register your EPIRB before departure. For further information on how to obtain and register an EPIRB or PLB contact the Australian Maritime Safety Authority on 1800 406 406 (business hours),or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. EPIRBS and satellite phones can be hired from various outlets.
- Be familiar with local procedures, navigation charts, radio frequencies and call signs.
- Protect yourself from marine stingers. These may be present at any time, but occur more frequently, between October and May. A full-body lycra suit, or equivalent, may provide some protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. See Beachsafe for the latest safety and first aid advice.
- Look but don't touch! Some marine life can deliver painful and dangerous stings. Check with an experienced guide before handling anything.
- Be aware—death adders have been seen on Middle and Miall Islands.
Local weather reports are broadcast on VHF channel 21 at 0705, 0920, 1205 and 1705 hours. You can also access weather reports by calling 1300 360 426.
In the event of a cyclone or tsunami, The department has developed a contingency plan and will work with camper transfer companies and local authorities to try to inform campers of impending cyclones, tsunamis and possible evacuation.
- The department will attempt to inform campers of impending severe weather conditions or tsunami alert and possible evacuation or other response.
- During evacuation, all camping permits will be cancelled with campers required to leave the islands. The decision to evacuate may be made well in advance of a cyclone or other threatening event, while sea conditions are still moderate.
- Commercial charter vessels involved in camper drop-offs will collect you during the evacuation. On board, a departmental officer and possibly a police officer will assist in the evacuation.
- Sea conditions may prevent the evacuation of camping equipment and private boats. In these circumstances you may be able to store equipment in toilet blocks. Where no structures are available, you will need to secure and store your equipment as best you can. No responsibility will be accepted for items or boats left on the island. You will need to negotiate directly with charter vessel operators if wishing to collect belongings left behind during the evacuation.
- When delivered to the mainland, you will be responsible for your own accommodation.
- The unpredictable nature of cyclones can mean campers are evacuated, but no cyclone eventuates. In such situations, you will need to negotiate directly with the charter vessel operator if wishing to return.
- The department will offer alternative camping or reimburse camping fees for lost days.
It is important that all members of your group understand and accept the consequences associated with camping in a remote location that are prone to extreme weather conditions.
In an emergency
- Phone: Triple Zero (000).
- Australian Volunteer Coastguard: VHF channels 16 and 21.
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
Before you visit
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
- First-aid kit.
- Sufficient fuel if boating.
- Drinking water—allow at least seven litres per person per day. There is no reliable drinking water on the park.
- Fuel stove and liquid or gas fuel—fires, generators and ash-producing fuels are not permitted - see the Fires prohibited regulatory notice .
- A container for rubbish—bins are not provided.
- Insect repellent and sun protection.
- Mobile phone and marine radio in case of emergency.
- Broadcast radio for weather forecasts.
- Spare batteries.
The islands are open 24 hours a day, all year. However, the islands may be closed and campers evacuated in an emergency or during feral animal control programs or park maintenance, and in an emergency campers evacuated. Check Park alerts for details of any closures.
Permits and fees
Camping permits are required and fees apply. School and public holidays may book out well in advance, especially Humpy Island.
- Book your campsite online.
- If you cannot book online, see camping bookings for other options.
Tour groups require a Marine Parks permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to conduct reef walking and other activities.
Commercial photography permits are required if you intend to sell any photographs taken of Queensland’s parks and forests. Organised events permits are required for organised group activities that may interfere with general public use. View permits and fees for further information.
Domestic animals are not permitted on any islands in the park.
Climate and weather
Apart from a hot summer period from December to February, temperatures are generally mild with maximum temperatures of 21-28°C. Most rain falls during summer but can occur at other times of the year. Cyclones are more likely between December and April. See the tourism information links for more information.
Fuel and supplies
You will need to be self-sufficient during your visit to Keppel Bay Islands National Park. Remember, fires and ash-producing fuels are not permitted. The nearest shop and fuel are in Rosslyn Bay.
- Visitors to Great Barrier Reef reminded to be SharkSmart 14 October 2020 to 22 August 2023