Mackay Islands National Parks Mackay

Things to do

    The national park islands off the coast of Mackay offer diverse experiences for visitors. Check each park’s page for specific information.

    Camping and accommodation


    The islands provide a range of camping opportunities including sites with limited facilities and bush camp areas with no facilities. Camper numbers are limited to ensure a quality experience for all visitors. Some camping areas accommodate multiple group bookings while others allow for a single group booking only. You must be self-sufficient and bring all supplies with you from the mainland. Generators and domestic animals are prohibited.

    Camping permits are required and fees apply.

    Other accommodation

    There is a range of accommodation in and around Mackay. See tourism information for more information.


    Walking tracks and beaches allow you to explore the fringes of these rugged islands.

    When walking:

    • Keep to the track. The islands are rugged and not places to explore off-track. Also, new tracks erode easily, damaging the landscape and the reef as increased sediment run-off smothers coral.
    • Respect sign directions. Access to some areas is restricted and some walking tracks may be closed due to maintenance, fires, cyclone damage or other safety reasons. Signs are there for your safety.
    • Wear suitable footwear. Sturdy boots or shoes will ensure you have a safe and comfortable walk.
    • Take water and wear a hat and sunscreen.

    Picnic and day-use areas

    Some of the national park islands offer picnic areas near a beach. Facilities vary but may include picnic tables and toilets. For more information, visit each park’s web page.

    Boating and fishing

    The waters off the coast of Mackay are internationally significant and protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Marine park zones surround the islands and provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreation and commercial use. Some activities, like fishing or collecting, are not permitted in some zones and penalties apply. Check zoning information and maps before conducting any activities in the marine parks.

    Fisheries regulations apply—information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures is available from Fisheries Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

    • Marine Conservation Parks (yellow) zones place some restrictions on activities. Yellow zones are common around the national park islands so always refer to your zoning map for the locations and permitted activities.
    • Obtain and consult your marine park zoning map. Maps are available from many department offices and bait and tackle outlets.
    • Fishing is not permitted in Marine National Park (green) zones. These zones include, but are not limited to, locations such as Acacia, Rocky, Mausoleum, Brampton, Carlisle and Scawfell islands.
    • Go slow when boating. Turtles and dugong often bask at the surface and can be struck by boats. The increasing number of high-speed vessels operating in reef waters increases the likelihood of such collisions.
    • Report marine strandings. If you find a sick or dead turtle, dugong, dolphin or whale please contact us and report it.
    • Don’t collect coral or shells. Keeping a memento of your visit can involve taking an animal’s home, or worse, taking an animal away from its habitat. Limited collecting is allowed in some areas. Generally, not more than five of any one species can be taken at a time and no coral or clams (alive or dead) can be taken without a permit. Refer to your marine park zoning map for further information.
    • Remember—everything is protected in a national park.

    Viewing wildlife

    The Mackay Island's animals reflect the diverse vegetation and landscapes particular to each island. Brushtail possums, fawn-footed melomys and northern brown bandicoots inhabit Newry’s Islands' forest and grasslands. Pockets of Queensland blue gums support small populations of koalas on Newry, Brampton and St Bees Islands. Lace monitors and sand goannas occur on some islands.

    There is plenty of birdlife for you to discover. White-bellied sea-eagles, brahminy kites and ospreys soar overhead, while pied oyster-catchers, eastern reef egrets and beach stone-curlews feed along the shorelines. Small flocks of striking black and white pied imperial-pigeons may be seen during their breeding migration. On forest flats behind the dunes, orange-footed scrubfowl build their nesting mounds.

    The beaches are important rookeries for flatback and green turtles. Take care, especially during the summer nesting season (mid October to April). If disturbed, nesting turtles are likely to return to the sea without laying and lights can disorientate hatchlings.

    Please follow these guidelines:

    • Ensure lights are not visible from nesting areas. Cook early and shield camp and boat lights.
    • Use small torches only (3 volts or less). Avoid using them whenever you can.
    • Never shine lights on turtles. Turtles leaving the water, moving up the beach or digging nesting chambers are easily disturbed.
    • Approach and observe turtles quietly from behind. Wait until after egg-laying begins — usually 10 minutes after they stop moving sand.

    Snorkelling and diving

    Fringing coral reefs have formed around the islands over the past 500 years. Go snorkelling and discover many coral and fish species. Isolated seagrass patches occur in shallow water and you may see the occasional dugong or sea turtle foraging for food.

    Caring for reefs

    Queensland’s marine parks are great places to explore. If snorkeling or diving, please follow these guidelines to ensure our reefs can be enjoyed for generations to come.

    • Avoid stepping on live corals. They are easily damaged and will cause nasty cuts.
    • Be careful with your fins. Careless kicking can damage coral.
    • Look but don’t touch. Avoid touching corals and marine animals — they can deliver painful stings.
    • Avoid stirring up sand and sediment. Murky water stresses plants and animals.
    • Return overturned coral boulders to their original position. Many animals and plants shelter on the undersides of boulders and will soon die if exposed.
    • Be aware of collecting restrictions. Obtain marine park zoning maps for more information.
    • Spearfishing while using scuba gear is prohibited.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.