About Lizard Island
Lizard Island National Park comprises Lizard, Osprey, Palfrey and South islands and Seabird Islets along with Eagle Island, which is located several kilometres west of Lizard Island. It is the only continental island group close to the outer barrier reef. The stark, rugged beauty of Lizard Island, rising 359m above sea level, contrasts sharply with the sparkling blue waters and rich fringing reefs surrounding the island group.
More than half of Lizard Island is covered in grasslands. Eucalypt and acacia woodlands, heaths, paperbark swamps and mangroves are also found there. The island's best-known animal is a lizard—the yellow-spotted monitor Varanus panoptes. Lieutenant James Cook named the island for this lizard during his exploration of the east coast of Australia in 1770. More than 40 species of birds inhabit the island group. Seabird Islets and Osprey, South and Palfrey islands are important nesting sites, particularly for terns.
The islands are rich in cultural meaning for the Dingaal Aboriginal people and contain sacred sites including initiation, ceremonial and story sites. Shell middens, which provide evidence of long-ago feasting on clams, oysters, spider shells and trochus shells, are found on the islands. Lizard Island also has a rich heritage associated with the earliest European exploration of the coast and subsequent settlement. Today the islands are a popular tourism destination and the base for world-renowned tropical marine research.
- Read more about the nature, culture and history of Lizard Island National Park.
Looking after the park
- Help keep the park in a natural state. Everything in the park is protected—leave everything as you found it.
- Domestic animals are not permitted on Lizard Island National Park or on tidal lands adjacent to Lizard Island National Park within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. Tidal areas include beaches, dunes, rocks and mangroves.
- Do not feed the wildlife—it can affect the natural population balance.
- Camp only in designated camp sites—disturbance to vegetation can cause erosion and spread weeds.
- Lighting of fires is prohibited. Bring a fuel or gas stove for cooking.
- Rubbish bins are not provided. Do not bury rubbish—take it with you when you leave.
- Show consideration for other campers—do not make undue noise.
- Never use soaps or detergents in water courses as they can affect water quality.
- Do not fossick in, take from, or cause damage to cultural sites.
- Avoid kicking, standing on or touching corals as they are easily damaged and try to avoid stirring up sand with your fins as it can smother corals and other reef animals.
- Stay on the marked tracks to avoid picking up and spreading seeds.
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.
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 the environment and heritage in parks.
Lizard Island National Park is managed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) for the enjoyment of visitors and the conservation of nature.
Lizard Island was declared a national park in 1939 and the other islands in the group were added to the national park in 1987.
The reef and waters surrounding the Lizard Island group are within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The surrounding waters are within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Cairns Area Plan of Management also has provisions for the waters surrounding Lizard Island National Park.
Prior to European settlement, Aboriginal people traditionally used fire to manage their country, to provide access and prevent wildfires. Today fire is used to maintain Lizard Island's existing plant communities, particularly grasslands, which conserves plant diversity; and to protect the resort, research station and campground. All visitors are given prior notice of the intention to burn.
Tourism information links
Natures Powerhouse (Visitor Information Centre)
Cooktown Botanical Gardens, Cooktown QLD 4895
Phone: (07) 4069 6004
For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.
The natural, cultural and historical significance of Lizard Island
- There are currently no park alerts for this park.