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About Fitzroy Island

Getting there and getting around

Map

Access to Fitzroy Island is by private boat or ferry services from Cairns. Ferries can be affected by weather conditions so it is best to confirm transfers 24hrs prior to departure. The trip takes about 45 mins.

There is no vehicle access on or around Fitzroy Island.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks in the national park.

Park features

Fringing reefs surround Fitzroy Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

Fringing reefs surround Fitzroy Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

Close to the North Queensland mainland, Fitzroy Island National Park features rugged, diverse landscapes of granite outcrops, open woodlands, rainforest, mangroves and coral beaches. This high continental island was connected to the mainland before sea levels rose.

Lieutenant James Cook gave the island its current name in 1770. The island became a quarantine station for Chinese people heading to the Palmer River Goldfields in 1876, and later became part of an Aboriginal mission growing fruit and vegetables.

Several lighthouses have been established there over the past 80 years, from a carbide gaslight on Little Fitzroy Island in 1923 to a wartime light built on the ridge above the old lightkeeper’s residence in 1943. The lighthouse on the main island was built in 1970, but is no longer in use. This was the last staffed lighthouse purpose-built in Australia and probably the world. Today’s automated lighthouse is located on Little Fitzroy Island.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

The camping area is managed by the Fitzroy Island Resort.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation available on the island and in Cairns. For information, see the tourism information links.

Things to do

A viewing platform overlooks a seasonal creek on the Secret Garden track. Photo: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

A viewing platform overlooks a seasonal creek on the Secret Garden track. Photo: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

Enjoy the walk through huge granite boulders to Nudey Beach. Photo: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

Enjoy the walk through huge granite boulders to Nudey Beach. Photo: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

Climb to the 269 m summit of Fitzroy Island. Photo: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

Climb to the 269 m summit of Fitzroy Island. Photo: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

Walking

Map

Fitzroy Island is a large island with rugged terrain and sometimes impenetrable vegetation. Walking tracks in the national park provide visitors with the opportunity to explore a range of vegetation communities and scenic landscapes.

There are four walks available, from 45mins return to 3hrs return.

Secret Garden track (Grade: moderate)

Distance: 1km return

Time: allow 25mins walking time 

Details: A short walk along a rocky track from the western edge of the resort follows the creek line through sheltered rainforest and around huge granite boulders. A series of signs and a viewing platform overlooking a seasonal creek provide insight to the secrets of the rainforest animals and plants.

Nudey Beach track (Grade: moderate)

Distance: 1.2km return

Time: allow 45mins walking time

Details: This walk starts at the western edge of the resort and winds through rainforest and coastal woodlands to a picturesque beach. The track is predominantly bitumen with steep stone steps and boulders in some sections. Some walkers may find these difficult to cross.

Lighthouse Road (Grade: difficult)

Distance: 3.6km return

Time: allow 2hrs walking time 

Details: A very steep service road (concrete wheel tracks) from the north-east end of the camping area climbs through rainforest towards the lighthouse. A lookout on the windy north side of the island offers views of Green Island on a clear day. From the lighthouse, spectacular views of the ocean and, in winter, an occasional migrating humpback whale make this challenging walk well worth the effort. Walkers can return the way they came or via the Summit track (see below).

Summit track (Grade: difficult)

Distance: 3.6km return (including section of the Lighthouse Road)

Time: allow 3hrs walking time

Details: Follow the Lighthouse Road (as above) for 1.6km to the signposted Summit track trail head on the right. The boulder-strewn track climbs for 600m through woodland to the summit. At the summit (269m) slabs of granite and windswept casuarina trees frame magnificent views over the island, surrounding reefs and mainland. Areas of the summit are currently closed. Please observe safety signs and fencing. From the summit, the track descends for 1.4km through woodland and open heathland with magnificent views of the island and mainland. The track exists near the camping area. The track is steep and rough with many steps and should only be undertaken by fit and healthy walkers. It can be walked in either direction.

Guided tours and talks

Commercially operated tours are available, including reef snorkelling, kayaking and scuba diving. For more information see the tourism information links.

Picnic and day-use areas

Picnic tables are located in the camping area.

Boating

Fitzroy Island provides a safe anchorage for private boats and there are eight A-class public moorings. These blue-and-white moorings have yellow pick-up tags and yellow bands on the buoys. Monohulls up to 10m long and multihulls up to 9m can use A-class moorings up to 24 knots.

The mooring specifications and conditions of use are displayed on the colour-coded band and on the mooring tag attached to the pick-up line. To ensure fair and equitable use of moorings, most moorings have a limit of 2hrs or 4hrs. If a vessel picks up a mooring on or after 3pm it may remain on the mooring overnight and is not required to vacate the mooring until 9am the next day. Read more about public moorings and anchoring.

In the marine park, please anchor only on sand and avoid shallow beach access to the island—corals are destroyed by anchors and chains dragging across the reef. Do not anchor inshore of the reef protection markers in Welcome Bay.

Disposal of garbage in the marine park is prohibited. To help maintain the environmental, health and aesthetic values of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park there are regulations in place for the discharge of vessel sewage. For more information see the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Zoning

Fitzroy Island 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.

Fishing

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

Viewing wildlife

The fringing reef just off the beach reveals the diversity of marine life found in the waters surrounding Fitzroy Island National Park. A variety of reef fish, hard and soft corals and other marine animals can be seen. See looking after the park for ways to look after the reef and marine life.

On the island catch a glimpse of brilliantly-coloured Ulysses butterflies, along with emerald doves, sulphur-crested cockatoos, orange-footed scrubfowl, ospreys and migrating birds, such as buff-breasted paradise-kingfishers and pied imperial-pigeons. One of the largest predators on the island, the 1.2 m long yellow-spotted monitor, can be seen around the resort area. At night the eastern dusky leaf-nosed bat, a small insect-eating bat, can be seen chasing insects near the lights.

See the description of the park’s natural environment for more details about Fitzroy Island’s diverse wildlife.

Other things to do

Snorkelling and diving

Snorkelling in Welcome Bay and off Nudey Beach offers the chance to explore a fringing reef supporting many species of fish and invertebrates. Snorkelling in other locations around the island may be dangerous due to strong currents. For more information on safe snorkelling, see staying safe.

Things to know before you go

There are several A-class public moorings around Fitzroy Island. Photo: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

There are several A-class public moorings around Fitzroy Island. Photo: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

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

  • sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing
  • drinking water.

Opening hours

Fitzroy Island National Park is open 24hrs a day.

Permits and fees

Permits are required for commercial or organised group activities.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted on Fitzroy Island National Park or on tidal lands adjacent to Fitzroy Island National Park within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. Tidal areas include beaches, rocks and mangroves.

Climate and weather

Two seasons occur in North Queensland, the wet and the dry. The wet season, December to April, brings high humidity and heavy rainfall. March is the wettest month, when Fitzroy Island receives an average rainfall of 502mm. During the drier months of May to October the temperatures are lower but the humidity is still relatively high. Winter rain is not uncommon. Throughout the year, average daily temperatures on Fitzroy Island range from 19°C to just over 30°C.

For more information see, the tourism information links.

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Fuel and supplies

Supplies are available from Cairns. For more information see the tourism information link.

Staying safe

Know your limitations and always snorkel with a buddy. Photo: Queensland Government.

Know your limitations and always snorkel with a buddy. Photo: Queensland Government.

Stingers occur more freqently in the warmer months. Courtesy of Jamie Seymour, James Cook University.

Stingers occur more freqently in the warmer months. Courtesy of Jamie Seymour, James Cook University.

  • Stay on the tracks. You may get lost if you leave the roads or walking tracks. Take a map if possible and follow markers and signs carefully. Let someone responsible know your route and when you plan to return.
  • Wear sturdy footwear to protect your feet.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and a long-sleeved shirt, even on cloudy days.
  • Always carry water and try to walk in the cooler part of the day. The high temperatures and humidity on the island can lead to heat exhaustion, even for fit walkers.
  • Take care around cliffs, steep slopes and rock faces along tracks and at lookouts.
  • Take care on slippery surfaces, especially when wet.
  • Know your own health limitations for safe swimming and snorkelling—do not put yourself and others at risk and always snorkel with a buddy so that help is at hand.
  • Be aware of wind, current direction and tides when snorkelling or boating.
  • Take care near boating traffic.
  • Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. A full-body lycra suit, or equivalent, may provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. Visit marine stingers for the latest safety and first aid information.
  • Be aware that estuarine crocodiles can occur in waters around the islands and cays of North Queensland. Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility—always be croc wise in croc country.

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

Looking after the park

Remember, Fitzroy Island is a national park—everything is protected.

  • Take your rubbish with you when you leave—plastic can harm wildlife if they eat it or become entangled in it.
  • Dispose of cigarette butts thoughtfully—they can kill wildlife if swallowed.
  • Stay on walking tracks; taking short cuts leads to erosion and adjacent areas may be unstable.
  • Do not feed the wildlife, including fish—it can affect their health and alter the natural population balance.
  • Do not venture onto the reef flat at low tide—marine life can be damaged by trampling.
  • Avoid touching, kicking or standing on living coral when snorkeling or wading ashore.
  • All marine life is protected—do not collect corals, clams or shells.

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 and clean out your backpack and hand, beach or camera bags and check them carefully before your visit, as pests love to hide in stored 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.

Park management

Fitzroy Island was gazetted as national park in July 1989. It is not all national park—leases are held by the resort and the Cairns Regional Council. The Cairns Port Authority manages the public jetty and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority maintains the lighthouse on Little Fitzroy Island.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services manages Fitzroy Island National Park for the purposes of nature conservation and nature-based recreation. The island is managed in accordance with the Fitzroy Island National Park and Marine management area management plan (PDF, 1.6M).

Tourism information links

Cairns and Tropical North Visitor Information Centre
www.cairnsgreatbarrierreef.org.au
51 The Esplnade, Cairns QLD 4870
phone: (07) 4051 3500
email:

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

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
28 November 2016