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About Molle Islands

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Getting there and getting around

South Molle Island Photo: Justin Heitman, Queensland Government

South Molle Island Photo: Justin Heitman, Queensland Government

Molle Islands National Park is just east of Shute Harbour. Access is by private or commercial boat from Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour. Some commercial transfer companies drop off and collect campers, bushwalkers and mountain bike riders. Arrange your passage before booking your camp site. See tourism information links or visit local tourism agents for more information on island transfers.

If travelling by private vessel, getting to the park can present navigational challenges. Always take the weather and tidal influences into account when boating in the Whitsundays. Ensure you read Planning your trip to the Whitsundays and Getting there and getting around the Whitsundays before your departure.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities at Molle Islands National Park.

Park features

Open eucalypt forests clothe the hillsides, rainforest grows in sheltered gullies and grasslands cover the more exposed slopes. The Ngaro Aboriginal people lived on and visited these islands for thousands of years. They used fire to flush out game and maintain the natural grasslands. A stone quarry for making tools and weapons remains on South Molle Island.

Once used for grazing, South Molle Island later became a national park and a resort was established in 1937. The islands and surrounding waters are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Bush camp at Sandy or Paddle bays on South Molle. You can also camp on North Molle, Long, Tancred, Planton and Denman islands. Cockatoo Beach (North Molle), Sandy Bay (Long Island) and the South Molle camping areas have picnic tables and toilets.

Things to do

Mountain biking on the Sandy Bay track, South Molle Island. Photo: Darren Larcombe, Queensland Government

Mountain biking on the Sandy Bay track, South Molle Island. Photo: Darren Larcombe, Queensland Government

Walking and mountain biking

Walking tracks on South Molle Island and Long Island offer outstanding views across Whitsunday's famous islands and fringing reef. In addition, South Molle Island provides a great mountain biking experience for beginner and intermediate riders. All tracks are classified according to level of difficulty. Please ride safely.

The tracks and beaches allow you to explore the fringes of these rugged, densely vegetated islands. If you don’t have a boat, you can access the islands and their tracks either on day tours with a variety of tour operators or by ferry transfer to island resorts. See tourism information links or visit local tourism agents for further information.

Key to trail standards

The classification system is based on Australian Standards. Please note that while each trail is classified according to its most difficult section, other sections may be of an easier level.

Australian Walking Track Classification System
Grade Description
Grade 2 walking trackClass 2 No bushwalking experience required. The track is a compacted surface and may have a gentle hill section/s and occasional steps.
Grade 3 walking trackClass 3 Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections and a rough surface.
International Mountain Bicycling Association, Australia
Grade Description

Easy grade mountain bike track 

Easy

Wide trail with gentle gradient and smooth surface. Some obstacles such as roots, logs and rocks. Suitable for beginner mountain bikers with basic mountain bike skills and off-road bikes.
Intermediate grade mountain bike trackIntermediate A trail with moderate gradients, variable surface and obstacles. May include steep sections. Suitable for skilled mountain bikers with a good standard of fitness and basic off-road riding skills.

South Molle Island

Enjoy stunning views along South Molle’s shared tracks (walking and mountain bike riding) with a variety of vegetation, wildlife and spectacular destinations on offer.

The tracks can be accessed from Bauer Bay (follow the track from the Bauer Bay jetty to the back of the golf course) or from Sandy Bay camping area. Access from Paddle Bay is walking only.

See the South Molle Island map (PDF, 200K) for further track information.

South Molle Island tracks at a glance
Track name Distance Duration Classification
Balancing Rock 2km return from Bauer Bay 1hr walking time Grade 3 walking trackBicycles prohibited
Paddle Bay 2.2km return from Bauer Bay beach 1hr walking time Grade 2 walking trackBicycles prohibited
Spion Kop

4.2km one-way from Sandy Bay

2.35 km one-way from Bauer Bay

2hrs walking time from Sandy Bay

1 hr walking time from Bauer Bay

Easy grade mountain bike trackGrade 3 walking track
Mount Jeffreys

4km one-way from Sandy Bay

3km one-way from Bauer Bay

2hrs walking time from Sandy Bay

1 - 1.5hrs walking time from Bauer Bay

Easy grade mountain bike trackGrade 3 walking track
Sandy Bay 4.2km one-way from Bauer Bay 2hrs walking time from Bauer Bay Easy grade mountain bike trackGrade 3 walking track
Lamond Hill

4.4km one-way from Sandy Bay

3.3km one-way from Bauer Bay

2hrs walking time one-way

1 - 1.5hrs walking time from Bauer Bay

Easy grade mountain bike trackGrade 3 walking track
Walking tracks
Balancing Rock Grade 3 walking trackBicycles prohibited

Distance: 2km return from Bauer Bay

Duration: Allow 1hr

Details: Perched in eucalypt forest, Balancing Rock provides views across the parchwork of South Molle's vegetation communities. Take care when climbing the rock; traversing up it's rocky crevices can be difficult and dangerous, particularly when wet.

Paddle Bay Grade 2 walking trackBicycles prohibited

Distance: 2.2km return from Bauer Bay beach

Duration: Allow 1hr

Details: The track winds down to a beach of coral fragments and continues along the beach away from the resort. A picnic area overlooks Daydream, Mid and North Molle islands. At low tide you can walk to Mid Molle Island— access is trestricted to the two-hour period before and after low tide. Check tides before setting out.

Shared tracks
Spion Kop Easy grade mountain bike trackGrade 3 walking track

Distance:
4.2km one-way from Sandy Bay (Tracks 1 and 3 on map)
2.35km one-way from Bauer Bay (Tracks 7 and 3 on map)

Duration:
2hrs walking time from Sandy Bay
1hr walking time from Bauer Bay

Details: Offering spectacular views, this track traverses rainforest, grassland and open eucalypt fores to lookouts over the resort and Whitsunday Passage. This track also passes an ancient Ngaro stone quarry, an area of shattered rock high on the hillside and spilling toward the sea.

The track is relatively flat and easy, and generally smooth. Note: the track is 'walkers only' from the set of stairs leading to Spion Kop.

Mount Jeffreys Easy grade mountain bike trackGrade 3 walking track

Distance:

4km one-way from Sandy Bay (Tracks 1 and 2 on map)
3km one-way from Bauer Bay (Tracks 7 and 2 on map)

Duration:
2hrs walking time from Sandy Bay
1 - 1.5hrs walking time from Bauer Bay

Details: If seeking incredible views, this track is a must. It winds up a gradual slope to South Molle Island's highest point, Mount Jeffreys. Once there, you will enjoy a sensational 360° view of the Whitsunday islands and mainland.

The track has a moderate climb, but is generally easy and smooth.

Sandy Bay Easy grade mountain bike trackGrade 3 walking track

Distance: 4.2km one-way from Bauer Bay (Tracks 7 and 1 on map)

Duration: 2hrs walking time from Bauer Bay

Details: Rainforest, open eucalypt forest, and patches of native grasslands studded with grasstrees feature on this track. Approaching the beach, the vegetation becomes sparse and the beach margins are lined with coastal she-oaks.

The track is relatively easy and smooth. At Sandy Bay there is a long moderate climb and some tight switch-backs.

Lamond Hill Easy grade mountain bike trackGrade 3 walking track

Distance:
4.4km one-way from Sandy Bay (Tracks 1, 4 and 5 on map)
3.3km one-way from Bauer Bay (Tracks 7, 4 and 5 on map)

Duration:
2hrs walking time one-way from Sandy Bay
1 - 1.5hrs walking time from Bauer Bay

Details: Climbing through open eucalypt forest to Lamond Hill, this track overlooks the resort with a view to distant mainland ranges.

The track is relatively easy with a generally smooth surface, however includes some moderate climbs and one switch-back turn towards the end of the climb. Note: one set of stairs near the water tanks.

Long Island

All Long Island’s walking tracks are through dry rainforest and vine thicket and are of a gentle to moderately steep grade. Walks can be accessed from either Happy or Palm bays.

Long Island Circuit Grade 3 walking track

Distance: 3.5km return

Duration: Allow 1.5hours

Details: Accessed from Happy Bay, this is the only Long Island track with spectacular viewpoints to other islands.

Round Hill Circuit Grade 3 walking track

Distance: 1.5km return

Duration: Allow 30mins

Details: Start at Happy Bay or Palm Bay. This track passes through vine thicket and remnant eucalypt forest.

Pandanus Bay Grade 3 walking track

Distance: 900m return from Palm Bay; 1.5km return from Happy Bay

Duration: Allow 30mins from Palm Bay; allow 1hr from Happy Bay

Details: Walk across the narrow island neck to a pandanus-lined rocky beach.

Humpy Point Grade 3 walking track

Distance: 1.2km return from Happy Bay; 2.6km return from Palm Bay.

Duration: Allow 30mins from Happy Bay; allow 1hr from Palm Bay

Details: Travel in the shade through dry rainforest thicket. The track has no views to neighbouring islands.

Sandy Bay Grade 3 walking track

Distance: 5.8km return from Palm Bay; 8.2 km return from Happy Bay

Duration: Allow 3hrs from Palm Bay; allow 4hrs from Happy Bay

Details: A gently climbing track which then descends to a small secluded beach lined with mangroves.

Read more about walking in national parks of the Whitsundays.

Guided tours and talks

Many commercial operators offer tours which include Molle Islands National Park. See tourism information links or visit local tourism agents for more information.

Picnic and day-use areas

Cockatoo Beach (North Molle), Sandy Bay (Long Island) and both the South Molle camping areas have picnic tables and toilets. For a complete list check the Whitsunday visitor facilities and activities summary (PDF, 1.9M). Open fires and ash-producing stoves are not permitted on national park islands or intertidal lands adjacent to national park islands. Use gas or fuel stoves for cooking.

Boating and fishing

This area has been described as a boating paradise with deep blue waters, tropical weather and secluded islands to explore.

Visit the Whitsunday national park islands web page for vital information on boating and fishing.

Viewing wildlife

You can spend a few idyllic hours or a week exploring this beautiful park. Look for tiny jewel and orb weaver spiders along the walking tracks.

Go birdwatching. Look out for sooty oystercatchers, white-faced herons and reef egrets on the shoreline and around rocks. You might also see brahminy kites and white-bellied sea-eagles soaring above or perched high in the tree tops.

Walk along beaches and walking tracks to see local animals. As the tide recedes oysters and snails seal their shells and worms retire to their burrows. Rock crabs dart for the nearest crevices as the shadow of a soaring brahminy kite skirts the rugged shoreline. Inevitably some crabs are surprised and fall prey to these impressive chestnut and white birds.

Birds are plentiful, particularly from October to March when thousands of waders migrate here to nest. Some restrictions to activity apply during this period—see Take care of nesting birds for further information.

Swimming and snorkelling

Snorkel at South Molle Island’s Sandy and Paddle bays. In late spring witness the annual spawning of coral. While water is usually clearer at the northern ends of the outer islands, snorkelling over the reef flat at high tide can still be rewarding. Read more vital information about swimming and snorkelling in the Whitsundays.

Things to know before you go

Ensure you read things to know before you go to national parks of the Whitsundays.

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! (PDF, 574K) before your visit.

Staying safe

Parts of Molle Islands National Park can be quite isolated. To enjoy a safe visit, read more about staying safe in national parks of the Whitsundays.

Looking after the park

Be pest-free!

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! (PDF, 574K) 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 our environment and heritage in parks.

Please also read Looking after national parks of the Whitsundays.

Park management

Read about Managing national parks of the Whitsundays.

Tourism information links

See Tourism information links for national parks of the Whitsundays.

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
30 July 2018