Visiting Mackay Islands safely
Getting there and getting around
There are four island national parks off the coast of Mackay: Brampton Islands National Park, Newry Islands National Park, Smith Islands National Park and South Cumberland Islands National Park. All are part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. A comfortable cruise from the coast, the islands are popular with day visitors and campers. Brampton and Carlisle Islands are situated 32km north of Mackay, while the Newry Islands are very close to the mainland and just 5km from the Victor Creek boat ramp near Seaforth.
You must arrange your own transport. Boat ramps to launch private vessels are located at Seaforth, Mackay Marina, Sarina Inlet and Airlie Beach. For further information on commercial charters or island transfers see tourism information links.
There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities in the Mackay Islands National Parks'.
The islands are isolated. To enjoy a safe visit, remember these simple steps.
- Be prepared for an extended stay. Rough weather can occur unexpectedly. The cyclone season is typically from November to March but can be longer.
- Keep a close check on the weather forecast. Forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.
- Beware of marine stingers (dangerous stinging jellyfish). Dangerous stingers may be present all year round. Visit Beachsafe for the latest safety advice.
- Be croc wise in croc country. Estuarine crocodiles inhabit mainland estuaries. Heed safety signs and never swim where crocodiles might be present.
- Protect yourself from the elements. Remember to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, protective clothing and insect repellent.
- Consider using a satellite phone. Mobile phones are useful but not reliable on the islands.
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests
Before you visit
Essentials to bring
Although rangers undertake regular marine park patrols, generally there are none on site. You must be responsible for your own safety.
Remember to bring:
- Sufficient food and water, plus extra in case of emergency. None of the islands have fresh water. Ensure you have enough water for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing. Allow at least five litres per person per day.
- A gas or fuel stove for cooking. Fires are not permitted.
- A first aid kit including, vinegar and advice on recognising and treating stings from marine stingers.
- Reliable equipment such as torches, AM/FM radio and VHF radio.
- Dehydrated food and minimal packaging.
- Sturdy food containers and rubbish bags.
- Camping gear cleaned of seeds, insects and vermin.
- Tarpaulin, sunscreen and insect repellent.
The Mackay Islands National Park are open 24 hours a day, all year. However, parks may be closed temporarily in the event of bad weather.
Permits and fees
Camping permits are required and fees apply. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.
- Book your campsite online. If you cannot book online, see camping bookings for other options.
Leave dogs, cats and other animals at home. Domestic animals are not permitted in national parks.
Dogs are not permitted on beaches and intertidal areas within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and adjacent to an island national park, or areas prohibited under a regulatory notice.
Climate and weather
Pleasant conditions occur throughout the year. January to April is the wet season though showers may fall in any month. Visitors should check weather conditions before setting out. The islands may be inaccessible to all boats if there are strong wind warnings, gales or cyclone activity. Cyclones are more likely between November and March. See the Bureau of Meteorology for further information.
Fuel and supplies
The nearest fuel and supplies can be found in Mackay, Sarina and Seaforth. See Tourism information links for further information.
- There are currently no park alerts for this park.