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Camping closures

All camping areas in Queensland national parks, state forests and recreation areas are closed from 26 March 2020 until further notice. Check Park Alerts for more information.

About Wild Cattle Island

Getting there and getting around

Wild Cattle Creek dries at low tide, allowing visitors to walk across to the park. Photo: Larry Brushe.

Wild Cattle Creek dries at low tide, allowing visitors to walk across to the park. Photo: Larry Brushe.

Access is by private boat or by walking across Wild Cattle Creek at low tide.

A boat ramp is located on Wild Cattle Creek via Boat Ramp Road at Tannum Sands. Alternatively, there are two boat ramps at the Boyne River mouth 1km north of Tannum Sands, one via Wyndham Road at Bray Park and another at Alexander Street at Boyne Island. Boats may access the park at any location, dependent on tides and weather.

Wild Cattle Creek separates the park from the mainland on the parks western side. At low tide the creek dries and visitors can walk 600m across the creek to the park from Wild Cattle Creek boat ramp or the southern creek access path of Millenium Esplanade. Visitors will need to time their arrival and departure to coincide with low tides.

A small township reserve named Bangalee is located at the southern end of the park. Vehicular access to Wild Cattle Island is restricted to owners/lessees of property at Bangalee and their bona-fide guests.

There are no walking tracks or public facilities provided on Wild Cattle Island National Park.

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair accessible facilities in Wild Cattle Island National Park.

Park features

The two islands of the park are separated by mangroves and intertidal areas. Photo: Larry Brushe.

The two islands of the park are separated by mangroves and intertidal areas. Photo: Larry Brushe.

Wild Cattle Island National Park comprises two low vegetated sand islands separated by mangroves and intertidal creeks and flats. The 580ha park is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and is important habitat for endangered migratory birds and nesting sea turtles.

Visitors can enjoy a quiet camp behind the dunes, a picnic on the wide sweeping beach on the parks eastern boundary or explore the estuaries and creeks for a spot of fishing.

Read more about the nature, culture and history of Wild Cattle Island National Park.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Bush camping is permitted in the area south of the East West Track and north of the navigation lead light clearing only, as shown on the Wild Cattle Island National Park map (PDF, 223K).

All campers must be self-sufficient as there are no facilities provided.

Camping permits are required and fees apply. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

Other accommodation 

There is a range of holiday accommodation in the Gladstone area and around the townships of Boyne Island and Tannum Sands.

For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Eastern curlews migrate from Russia and north-eastern China every year from August to November. Photo: Andrew McDougall, Queensland Government

Eastern curlews migrate from Russia and north-eastern China every year from August to November. Photo: Andrew McDougall, Queensland Government

Walking

There are no formed walking tracks on the island. Visitors are welcome to explore the vine scrub, woodlands and foreshore but must be self sufficient and well prepared. Please read Staying safe before visiting the park.

Boating and fishing

Access to Wild Cattle Island by private boat is allowed. 

Boat users need to be aware of the navigation challenges of this area and are advised to carry the navigation aid book “Noel Patricks Curtis Coast” and the Official Tide Tables for Queensland.

Please take care when boating.

  • Anchor with care and on sand when possible. 
  • Go slow for those below. Turtles and dugong feed in the surrounding marine park waters.
  • Take care not to disturb roosting and feeding coastal birds.

Visitors can fish the mangrove lined Wild Cattle Creek, the inlets and tributaries at Colosseum Inlet at the southern end of the park or off the expansive stretch of Wild Cattle Beach on the parks eastern side. Barramundi, Australian salmon, whiting and crabs have all been caught in or around the park. Make sure you understand zoning and fishing regulations before you go.

Wild Cattle Island National Park and the surrounding marine waters are internationally significant and are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Zones in the two marine parks—the Great Barrier Reef Coast and Great Barrier Reef—provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreational and commercial use. Check zoning information and maps before entering or 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.

Swimming

Swimming is recommended at the main beach at Tannum Sands which is patrolled by Queensland Lifesavers during peak times. Patrol times are available on signs erected along the Millennium Esplanade by the Gladstone Regional Council.

Swimming is not allowed at the mouth of Wild Cattle Creek. Tidal currents are strong, especially on a falling tide with water flowing seaward. People have drowned here. Heed all warning signs.

Estuarine crocodiles have been sighted in the area, exercise caution when near the water. Your safety is our concern, but your responsibility. Read more about being croc wise.

Viewing wildlife

Wild Cattle Island National Park is an important area for shorebirds. With a good pair of binoculars visitors can watch resident beach stone-curlews and sooty oystercatchers or spot migratory species feeding from October to March each year. Shorebirds are easily disturbed, watch them from a distance and keep clear of their nesting areas on the sand above high-water mark.

The island’s beach is also a nesting habitat for the endangered loggerhead and vulnerable flatback and green turtles. Turtles usually nest at night, if you see one, remember to give plenty of distance and keep torches and lights turned off. Lights can disorientate adult turtles and entice hatchlings to linger near the shore near major predators.

See the description of the park’s natural environment for more details about Wild Cattle Island National Park’s wildlife.

Things to know before you go

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.

Essentials to bring

Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit.  Make sure you bring:

  • adequate drinking water—no water is available on park
  • first aid kit
  • sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and clothing for protection against the sun
  • insect repellent
  • rubbish bags
  • fuel stove for cooking
  • boating safety equipment—Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), radio or satellite communications.

Permits and Fees

Camping permit

Camping permits are required and fees apply. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

Other permits

Various activities conducted in Wild Cattle Island National Park may require permits. Such activities include commercial tours, organised group visits, school excursions, scientific research, and sale of photographs or vision of Wild Cattle Island National Park. Contact us for further information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted on Wild Cattle Island National Park.

Climate and weather

Wild Cattle Island National Park and the Gladstone area have a subtropical climate. Temperatures can reach 35 degrees Celsius in summer and 10 degrees Celsius in winter. The average annual rainfall is 880mm.

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

For more information see the tourism information links.

Fuel and supplies

Supplies are available at the nearby townships of Boyne Island and Tannum Sands. Fuel is available at Boyne Island. For more information see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

General safety

  • Do not swim at the mouth of Wild Cattle Creek. Tidal currents are strong. People have drowned here.
  • Carry plenty of drinking water. On hot days, rest often and avoid the heat of the midday sun.
  • Wear suitable footwear and protect yourself from the sun. Wear sun-safe clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.
  • Never walk alone and tell a responsible person where you are going and when you expect to return. Stay with your children at all times.
  • Sightings of estuarine crocodiles have occurred in Wild Cattle Creek and on Wild Cattle Beach. Please remember to be croc wise in croc country.
  • Be prepared for emergencies.

In case of emergency

  • In an emergency, if network coverage is available, dial Triple Zero (000) or 112 from your mobile phone.
  • Alternatively, contact the Volunteer Marine Rescue Association Queensland (VMRAQ) on ph (07) 4972 3333 or 0408 864 317 or use marine radio on VHF channel 82 (call sign VMR446).

For more information, please read the general guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

At low tide, beach stone-curlews feed on invertebrates along the intertidal flats. Photo: Andrew McDougall, Queensland Government

At low tide, beach stone-curlews feed on invertebrates along the intertidal flats. Photo: Andrew McDougall, Queensland Government

Parks and forests protect Queensland's wonderful natural diversity and scenery. Help keep these places special by following these guidelines.

  • Take no pets. Leave domestic animals at home. Pets disturb native wildlife and other campers.
  • Take rubbish with you. Bins are not provided. Please help by collecting rubbish left by others.
  • Avoid clearing plants and leaf litter when setting up camp. All vegetation—including grasses, vines, fallen timber and leaves—are part of the natural ecosystem. Remember, all plants are protected on national parks and collecting is not permitted.
  • Open campfires are prohibited. Use a fuel stove to protect the native vegetation and turtle nesting sites from the impacts of open camp fires. Light from beach campfires can disorientate nesting turtles.
  • Bury human waste at least 15-20cm deep and at least 100m from any watercourse. Take nappies and sanitary products home with you for disposal.
  • Shorebirds are easily disturbed, watch them from a distance and keep clear of their nesting areas on the sand above high-water mark.

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.

Park management

Wild Cattle Island National Park was gazetted on 16 December 1992 based on its important migratory bird wetlands and turtle rookery. The island is managed primarily to conserve its natural and cultural values.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) is responsible for managing Wild Cattle Island National Park and adjoining State waters in accordance with the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and Marine Parks Act 2004. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is jointly managed by QPWS and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park zoning plan has been introduced to manage the waters and coastline not covered under Commonwealth legislation. Where fishing is permitted, Queensland fisheries legislation applies.

Tourism information links

Tannum Sands Visitor Information Centre
www.gladstoneregion.info
Ocean Street
Tannum Sands QLD 4680
ph (07) 4973 8062
email

Gladstone Visitor Information Centre
www.gladstoneregion.info
Marina Ferry Terminal, Bryan Jordan Drive
Gladstone QLD 4680
ph (07) 4972 9000
fax (07) 4972 5006
email

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Last reviewed
28 June 2019
Last updated
28 November 2016