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About Orpheus Island

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Getting there and getting around

Orpheus Island lies off the north Queensland coast, 110 kilometres north of Townsville and 45 kilometres east of Ingham. Access is by charter or private boat. The closest boat ramp is at Taylors Beach, 25 kilometres from Ingham. There is also a boat ramp at Lucinda, but it is a little further from the island. Charter boat access is from Dungeness (Lucinda), 23 kilometres to the north-west. There are no roads or formal walking tracks on the island.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities on Orpheus Island National Park.

Park features

Part of the Palm group of islands and within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Orpheus Island offers secluded, sheltered bays, spectacular fringing reefs and interesting geology.

Orpheus Island is about 12 kilometres long and varies from one kilometre to 2.5 kilometres wide. It is hilly, has rocky headlands and sandy beaches and covers an area of 1300 hectares.

The island is composed of volcanic rocks that formed around 280 million years ago. Molten rock intruded into cracks in the granite bedrock, forming distinctive ring dykes. A spider web pattern of dykes is seen on the headlands and rocky shores.

Dry woodlands of Moreton Bay ash and acacias (wattles) dominate the island. Scattered rainforest grows in gullies and sheltered bays, featuring figs and macaranga trees with their large distinctive heart-shaped leaves. Grasslands also occur in small irregular bands across the island.

Several mammals and reptiles are found on the island. Many species of birds can also be seen, including terrestrial birds such as the orange-footed scrubfowl, and seabirds such as ospreys and egrets.

Fringing reefs surround the island and are part of the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Camping is permitted at Yanks Jetty, South Beach and Pioneer Bay. Campers must be self-sufficient.

Camping permits are required and fees apply.

Other accommodation

Luxury accommodation is available at Orpheus Island Resort, overlooking Hazard Bay. Resort facilities are not available for non-guests.

Things to do

Picnic and day-use areas

Picnic tables and toilets are provided at the bush camping sites at Yanks Jetty and Pioneer Bay. A shelter with a gas barbecue is also provided at Yanks Jetty, although gas or fuel stoves are recommended as the availability of the barbecue cannot be guaranteed. Fires are not allowed.

Boating and fishing

The reefs and waters surrounding Orpheus Island National Park are protected within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Boating is popular around Orpheus Island National Park. Abide by the ‘no anchoring’ markers in Pioneer Bay and Yanks Jetty to protect coral from anchor damage. Access to the beach and anchoring in sand adjacent to the beach is permitted in these areas. Public moorings are available at Pioneer Bay.

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, provides a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. See marine stingers for the latest safety advice.

Fishing is not allowed in the Marine National Park (Green) Zone that extends from Pioneer Bay north to Iris Point and the entire eastern side of the island. Limited line fishing using one line or rod per person and one hook per line is allowed in the Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone on the western side of the island from Pioneer Bay to Harrier Point, including Yanks Jetty. Please note that fishing is not allowed within a 100 metre exclusion zone around the jetty—see Queensland Fisheries. Spearfishing is not allowed in the Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone as it is declared a ‘public appreciation area’.

The pontoon at Yanks Jetty is available for public and commercial vessel use and is managed by the Hinchinbrook Shire Council. The jetty at the Orpheus Island Resort in Hazard Bay is available for emergency use only.

For detailed zoning maps and information see Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

For details of fish size and bag limits for popular fish species, see Queensland Fisheries.

Viewing wildlife

Look for wildlife in the rainforest and along the shore. Many native mammals are nocturnal but you might see an echidna foraging in the forest. Reptiles including brown tree snakes, spotted and carpet pythons, and various skinks and geckoes, can often be seen in the rainforest and woodland areas.

A range of birds can be seen or heard throughout the forests. Orange-footed scrubfowl can sometimes be heard scratching among the rainforest litter. These birds build mounds of vegetation in which they incubate their eggs. Ospreys and brahminy kites can often be seen soaring above, while eastern reef egrets wade in the mangroves and inter tidal areas.

Other things to do

Tours of the James Cook University Orpheus Island Research Station at Pioneer Bay can be arranged—telephone (07) 4777 7336.

Visit the ruins of the historic Shepherd’s Hut at Little Pioneer Bay. The building is a reminder from the days of early European settlement. A short walk leads to the building, which can be viewed from outside the walls.

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

  • Bring adequate food and water.
  • Pack first-aid equipment.
  • Bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and clothes for protection from the sun.
  • For protection against biting mosquitoes and sandflies or midges bring insect repellent and protective clothing.
  • Lighting of fires is prohibited. Bring a fuel or gas stove for cooking. Do not rely on the barbecue at Yanks Jetty.
  • Bring rubbish bags to remove all rubbish from the island.

Opening hours

Orpheus Island National Park is open 24 hours a day. There is no Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service office at the park.

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 not required for day-visits to the island. Permits are required for all commercial and organised events within the park.

Pets

Please leave your pets at home—domestic animals are not allowed on Orpheus Island National Park. It is also an offence to introduce domestic animals into the National Park and Scientific Research zones of the marine park including the area between low and high tides on the beach.

Climate and weather

Orpheus Island National Park has a tropical climate. Summer can be very hot and humid with maximum temperatures reaching over 35 degrees Celsius. During the wet season, from December to April, there are heavy, frequent downpours. During the cooler, drier months from May to September when south-easterly winds normally blow, the weather is pleasantly warm, with reduced humidity. Overnight temperatures can drop to 10 degrees Celsius at times. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology

Fuel and supplies

The nearest fuel and supplies are available at Lucinda and Ingham. For more information see tourism information links below.

Staying safe

Be croc wise

Be aware that estuarine crocodiles may be encountered in waters surrounding continental islands and cays in north Queensland. Estuarine crocodiles are potentially dangerous. Never take unnecessary risks in crocodile habitat. You are responsible for your own safety, so please follow these guidelines and be croc wise in croc country.

  • Stay alert at all times. If you see a crocodile stay well away.
  • Never swim in water where crocodiles may live even if there is no warning sign present.
  • Never provoke, harass or interfere with crocodiles, even small ones.
  • Never dangle your arms or legs over the side of a boat. If you fall out of the boat, get out of the water as quickly as possible.
  • Be more aware of crocodiles at night and during the breeding season, September to April.

Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility—always be croc wise in croc country.

General safety tips

To enjoy a safe visit in this area, please take these precautions.

  • Avoid the sun in the middle of the day to prevent sunburn and heat exhaustion. Use sunscreen and wear a hat.
  • 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, provides a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. See www.beachsafe.org.au for the latest safety information.
  • During summer months mosquitoes and midges can be a problem. Remember to bring insect repellent and to wear protective clothing.
  • Ensure you carry plenty of drinking water.

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

Looking after the park

  • Everything in the park, living or dead, is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.
  • Feeding wildlife is prohibited—it can affect their health and alter the natural population.
  • Domestic animals are prohibited in national parks as they can disturb and harm native wildlife.
  • Lighting of fires is prohibited. Bring a fuel or gas stove for cooking.
  • Please take rubbish with you when you leave the park.
  • Do not collect shells or coral. All animals and plants, living or dead, are protected in the Marine National Park (Green) Zone and on the national park. When boating, go slowly over seagrass beds—dugongs feed here.
  • Anchor only on sand—corals are fragile and easily damaged.
  • In areas where toilets are not provided, bury human waste at least 15 centimetres deep and 100 metres from a campsite. Take all sanitary items, including disposable nappies, with you as they do not decompose.
  • Do not fossick in, take from, or cause damage to cultural 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

Orpheus Island National Park is managed by the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing for recreation and to protect the area’s natural and cultural values. These special values have led to its inclusion in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The national park is managed in accordance with the Orpheus Island National Park Management Plan (PDF, 703K). The primary focus of natural resource management is to maintain the integrity and diversity of the park’s various vegetation communities, particularly the open grasslands.

The reef waters surrounding Orpheus Island are part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and are managed in accordance with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park.

Tourism information links

Flinders Mall Information Centre (Townsville Enterprise Ltd)
www.townsvilleonline.com.au
Flinders Mall, Townsville Qld 4810
ph (07) 4721 3660 or 1800 801 902
email

Rainforest and Reef Information Centre
www.greatgreenwaytourism.com
142 Victoria Street, Cardwell Qld 4849
ph (07) 4066 8601
email
A partnership between QPWS and the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, managed by Great Green Way Tourism Incorporated.

Tyto Wetlands Information Centre
www.tyto.com.au
Bruce Highway, Ingham Qld 4850
ph (07) 4776 4792
email

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

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
28 November 2016