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About Flinders Group

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Getting there and getting around

Owen Channel, Flinders Group. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

Owen Channel, Flinders Group. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

Maps

The Flinders Group National Park (CYPAL) is located adjacent to Princess Charlotte Bay, 25km west of Cape Melville and 11km north of Bathurst Heads, 340km north of Cairns on eastern Cape York.

Several commercial cruise vessels departing from Cairns visit the island group.

The islands can also be reached by private vessel. A popular anchorage for cruising yachts, the islands can be reached by small boat from Bathurst Heads or Cape Melville in suitable weather and tide conditions. Owen Channel near Apia Spit, a conspicuous sand spit on Flinders Island, is the most popular anchorage and is safe in all winds except for the south-west storms during the wet season.

Camping is permitted on Flinders Island and a walking track provides access to an Aboriginal art site on Stanley Island.

Access to Clack Island (Ngurromo) is prohibited (PDF, 280K) to protect cultural resources.

For more information see tourism information.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities on Flinders Group National Park (CYPAL).

Park features

Tombiembui Rock, Stanley Island. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

Tombiembui Rock, Stanley Island. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

World War II radar ruins. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

World War II radar ruins. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

The Flinders Group National Park (CYPAL) comprises seven islands—Flinders (Wurriima), Stanley (Yindayin), Blackwood, Maclear, Denham, King and Clack (Ngurromo) islands. These attractive islands feature rocky shores, rugged sandstone cliffs, hills, escarpments and sand dunes. Access to Clack Island (Ngurromo) is prohibited (PDF, 280K) to protect cultural resources.

The islands' slopes are covered in woodlands, mixed vine thickets, open heath and grasslands. Salt flats and mangrove forests occur in intertidal areas. Fringing reefs and highly diverse seagrass meadows surround the islands. The island group supports a variety of land and seabirds.

The Aboriginal Traditional Owners of the Flinders Group National Park (CYPAL), Howick Group National Park (CYPAL) and Cape Melville National Park (CYPAL) collectively identify as the Cape Melville and Flinders Island People. The cultural landscape of the island group, which has great meaning for the Traditional Owners, contains many important Aboriginal heritage sites reflecting their long occupation, in particular, rock imagery (rock art) sites associated with early European contact. The islands also have associations with early European surveyors and tangible links to World War II.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Camp on Flinders Island where a composting toilet, shelter, picnic table and water tanks are provided. Take adequate water, as water availability cannot be guaranteed.  Bring a fuel stove and rubbish bags as open fires are not allowed and bins are not provided.

Camping is not permitted on the other islands.

Camping permits are required and fees apply.

Other accommodation

Camping is available on the mainland at Cape Melville National Park (CYPAL). Camping permits are required and fees apply. Other accommodation is available in Cooktown, 180km south-east of Flinders Group National Park (CYPAL) (235km by road from Bathurst Bay). For more information see tourism information.

Things to do

Carved rock on Apia Spit, Flinders Island. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

Carved rock on Apia Spit, Flinders Island. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

White-bellied sea-eagle. Photo: Andrew McDougall, Queensland Government.

White-bellied sea-eagle. Photo: Andrew McDougall, Queensland Government.

Dugong and calf. Photo: Queensland Government.

Dugong and calf. Photo: Queensland Government.

Walking

Walking opportunities on the islands are limited to strolls around the camping area and Apia Spit on Flinders Island and a longer, more demanding walk to the Aboriginal rock art shelters on Stanley Island. Walking around the other islands is not encouraged, to protect important cultural sites.

Maps

The 'Dart' (Grade: easy)
Distance
: 300m return
Time: allow about 10mins walking time
Details: A short track on Flinders Island leads from Apia Spit to several wells and a rock carved with the words ”HMS Dart, 1899”. This carving is a legacy of the visit by a naval survey ship that collected water from the wells in 1899.

Yindayin rock shelters (Grade: moderate)
Distance
: 2.8km return
Time: allow about 1hr walking time
Details: This walk on Stanley Island begins at the Mangrove Landing in Owen Channel. The track crosses to the northern side of the island, continues along the beach and meanders through low woodland. Interpretive signs provide information on bush tucker. A boardwalk with numerous steps climbs to a rocky overhang and winds through two rock shelters, allowing viewing of the famed rock art images. A sandy track descends back to the beach. The walk then returns along the same track. Signs along the boardwalk present the story of the island's heritage. The walk requires a moderate level of fitness and it is best to walk in the cooler part of the day, avoiding the midday heat. Carry water and wear a suitable hat, sunscreen and sturdy footwear. Please stay on the boardwalks to avoid raising dust in the rock shelters—dust can obscure and harm the rock art images.

Guided tours

Commercial operators provide guided walks to the Yindayin rock shelters as part of their cruise itinerary. For more information see tourism information.

Picnic and day-use areas

A day-use area is located adjacent to the camping area on Flinders Island. A shelter with picnic tables, a toilet and a water tank are provided. The water must be treated before use. Visitors should bring their own drinking water as the water tank may be empty.

Boating

The Flinders Group offers sheltered anchorages for private and commercial vessels and are a popular destination for cruising yachts. The islands can also be accessed by small boat from Bathurst Heads or Cape Melville on the mainland, in suitable weather and tide conditions. The most popular anchorage is in Owen Channel adjacent to Apia Spit, a prominent sand spit on Flinders Island. This anchorage is safe in all winds except for the south-west storms during the wet season. Remember to be crocwise in croc country.

Fishing

Marine park zoning

Flinders Group National Park (CYPAL) 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 also apply—information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures is available from Fisheries Queensland.

Be aware that estuarine crocodiles can turn up anywhere in croc country, including tidal reaches of rivers, along beaches, on offshore islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, and in freshwater lagoons, rivers, and swamps. Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal. Always be crocwise in croc country.

Viewing wildlife

The national park offers opportunities for watching seabirds. Many species can be seen around the shores, including the eastern reef egret, eastern osprey, white-bellied sea-eagle, Australian pied oystercatcher, beach stone-curlew, silver gull, Caspian tern, bridled tern, sooty tern, crested tern, lesser crested tern and common noddy. Woodland birds include the bar-shouldered dove, pied imperial-pigeon, varied honeyeater, olive-backed sunbird, mistletoebird, nankeen kestrel and Torresian crow.

Along the walking tracks and around the camping area, visitors may also glimpse geckos, sand monitors and native rodents. Bats may be seen under rock overhangs and colonies of black flying-foxes inhabit the overhangs.

A diversity of fish, crustaceans and molluscs can be found along the shores and in the shallow waters around the islands along with several species of marine turtles and dugongs.

  • See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about the islands' diverse wildlife.

Things to know before you go

Visitors need to be prepared for very hot conditions. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

Visitors need to be prepared for very hot conditions. Photo: Julie Swartz, 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

  • Food, water and first-aid supplies.
  • Water containers and water treatment equipment.
  • Sunscreen, hat, suitable clothing and sturdy footwear.
  • A screened tent or mosquito nets for protection from insects at night.
  • Rubbish bags to take your rubbish away with you—bins are not provided.

Opening hours

The Flinders Group National Park (CYPAL) is open 24 hours a day.

Access to Clack Island (Ngurromo) is prohibited (PDF, 280K) to protect cultural resources.

Permits and fees

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

Permits are required for commercial or organised group activities.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted on Flinders Group National Park (CYPAL) or on tidal lands adjacent to the park within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. Tidal areas include beaches, rocks, salt pans and dunes.

Climate and weather

The Flinders Group has a tropical climate with a wet season usually between December and April, when maximum temperatures can soar above 30°C. The best time to visit the island group is between May and October when rain is unlikely and temperatures are cooler, as the islands' vegetation does not provide much shade. For more information see tourism information.

Fuel and supplies

The nearest fuel and supplies are available from Cooktown, 180km south-east of the Flinders Group National Park (CYPAL). For more information see tourism information.

Staying safe

Box jellyfish. Photo: Jamie Seymour, James Cook University.

Box jellyfish. Photo: Jamie Seymour, James Cook University.

Estuarine crocodile. Photo: Queensland Government.

Estuarine crocodile. Photo: Queensland Government.

  • Keep to the walking tracks at all times to avoid unsafe terrain and take note of the safety information on trailhead signs.
  • Carry water, wear hats and sturdy footwear and walk in the cooler part of the day.
  • When walking, rest often in the shade as heat exhaustion can affect even the fit and healthy.
  • Stay clear of cliffs and steep rock faces and take care on uneven slippery track surfaces and the boardwalk, especially when wet
  • Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. If you do enter the water, 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 turn up anywhere in croc country, including tidal reaches of rivers, along beaches, on offshore islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, and in freshwater lagoons, rivers, and swamps. Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal. Always be croc wise in croc country.

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

Looking after the park

  • Access to Clack Island (Ngurromo) is prohibited (PDF, 280K) to protect cultural resources.
  • Domestic animals are prohibited in the national park and on adjacent beaches between low and high water—leave all pets at home.
  • Camp only in the designated camping area.
  • Lighting of fires is prohibited. Bring a fuel or gas stove for cooking.
  • Rubbish bins are not provided—take rubbish with you when you leave.
  • Do not remove plant material, living or dead.
  • Do not feed wildlife including birds and fish—it is harmful to their health.
  • Minimise your use of soaps and detergents as they can affect water quality.
  • Respect Indigenous culture. Rock art and other cultural sites in the park represent thousands of years of living culture with special significance to Indigenous people. These sites are easily damaged and are irreplaceable. Look at them, enjoy them but please do not touch or damage these sites.
  • Keep on the walking tracks and boardwalk to avoid kicking up dust, which can harm the rock art.
  • Please respect culturally sensitive sites.

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

Castle Peaks, Stanley Island. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

Castle Peaks, Stanley Island. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

The Flinders Group National Park comprises seven islands (Flinders, Stanley, Blackwood, Maclear, Denham, King and Clack islands), with a total area greater than 3000ha. On the basis of the Cape Melville and Flinders Island peoples' traditional affiliations, the Flinders Group has been successfully claimed under the Aboriginal Land Act (Qld) 1991.

The national park became Flinders Group National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land) on 9 November 2013 and is jointly managed by the Cape Melville, Flinders & Howick Islands Aboriginal Corporation and the Queensland Government in accordance with an Indigenous Management Agreement and other land management arrangements. Read more about the joint management of Cape York Peninsula national parks.

The islands also lie within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the surrounding waters and reef are protected as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park.

Fire management

Aboriginal people traditionally used fire to manage their country—to provide access and prevent wildfires. Fire is used today to maintain the islands' existing plant communities, particularly grasslands and sclerophyll communities, thereby conserving plant diversity and protecting cultural sites and the camping area.

Prior notice of the intention to burn is provided as a park alert.

Tourism information links

Cairns and Tropical North Visitor Information Centre
www.tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au
51 The Esplanade, Cairns Qld 4870
Phone: 07 4051 3588
Email:

Cooktown and Cape York Peninsula Information Centre
www.cooktownandcapeyork.com
Cooktown Botanic Gardens
Walker Street, Cooktown Qld 4895
Phone: (07) 4069 5763
email:

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

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
2 March 2018