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About Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL)

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Getting there and getting around

Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL) is in Temple Bay, north of the Pascoe River, 12km east of Bolt Head, 40km north-west of Portland Roads and 60km north of Lockhart River on eastern Cape York Peninsula.

Access to the islands is by private boat from the boat ramp at Lockhart River or with a permitted commercial operator. See tourism information links for details.

The islands are located on platform reefs and access is difficult. Farmer Island offers fair vessel anchorage and is the most visited of the group. There is a grave site in the grassy area of the island and the Kuuku Ya’u people have requested that visitors stay a respectful distance away and do not disturb the site.

There are no roads, walking tracks or public facilities provided on Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL).

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities in Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL).

Park features

Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL) consists of four islands and one islet—Beesley, Baird, Farmer and Fisher islands and Kay Islet—located on three separate reefs.

The islands are low, vegetated cays, supporting significant populations of seabirds, shorebirds and forest birds. The islands retain a high level of natural integrity—demonstrated by records of almost 100 pairs of breeding roseate terns, which are highly sensitive to human disturbance.

Other species of conservation significance on and around the islands include endangered little terns, vulnerable species such as beach stone-curlews, green turtles, hawksbill turtles and dugongs and near threatened eastern curlews.

Camping and accommodation

Camping is not permitted on any of the islands within Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL). The nearest boat-based camping is available on the main island of Wuthara Island National Park (CYPAL).

Things to do

Boating and fishing

The tropical reefs and waters surrounding the islands of the park are pristine and offer excellent boating and fishing. When boating, help protect the surrounding reefs by following these guidelines:

  • Anchor in sand away from coral reefs.
  • Use a reef pick if anchoring in coral is unavoidable. When hauling in, motor toward the anchor to prevent damage.
  • Avoid landing on islands where seabirds are roosting or nesting on the beach—they are easily disturbed.

A designated shipping channel runs between the Piper Island reefs and an Australian Maritime Safety Authority navigation tower is located on the eastern edge of Piper Reef near Fisher Island. There are no designated anchorages or public moorings in waters surrounding the Piper Islands. Farmer Island offers fair vessel anchorage and is readily accessed from the nearby shipping channel.

Piper Islands 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 apply—information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures is available from Fisheries Queensland.

Be aware that estuarine crocodiles can be found in waters around island national parks. Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility—always be croc wise in croc country.

Viewing wildlife

Over 75 species of birds are found on Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL). During the summer months the islands become a creche for thousands of seabirds, including terns, pied-imperial pigeons and noddies. Seven species of terns nest on the islands, including the endangered little tern. As access to the islands is difficult, wildlife viewing is best from the water.

Hawksbill turtles come ashore to nest in the summer months and green turtles are also seen in the waters surrounding the islands.

To learn more about the park’s wildlife, see natural environment.

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

Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL) is a remote national park with no facilities. Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit. Make sure you bring:

  • drinking water
  • rubbish bags
  • protective clothing, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses
  • suitable shoes for walking on rough surfaces
  • a comprehensive first-aid kit
  • insect repellent.

Opening hours

Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL) is open 24 hours a day, all year round.

Permits and fees

Permits are required for commercial or organised events. Contact the department for further information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted on Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL) or on tidal lands adjacent to Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL) within the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. Tidal areas include beaches, rocks, mangroves, coral rubble and dunes.

Climate and weather

Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL) has a tropical climate with the wetter months usually between December and April when maximum temperatures can soar above 30 °C. The best time to visit the islands is between May and October when rain is unlikely and temperatures are cooler.

Fuel and supplies

There are no facilities on Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL), all fuel and supplies need to be brought with you.

The nearest fuel and supplies are available on the mainland at Lockhart River, about 60 km south of the park.

For more information, see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

Piper Islands is a remote national park. Visitors must be well prepared.

  • Wear sunscreen and cover up when you are boating.
  • Be aware that estuarine crocodiles can occur in the waters around island national parks. Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility—always be croc wise in croc country.
  • Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. If you cannot avoid entering 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.
  • Always carry drinking water and wear a hat.

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

Looking after the park

  • Be careful not to damage coral with anchors.
  • Everything in the park is protected. Please leave everything as it was.
  • Do not feed the wildlife as it can affect their health and alter the natural population balance.
  • Avoid bird-nesting areas and stay clear of roosting birds.
  • Domestic animals are not permitted.
  • Lighting of fires is not allowed. Bring a fuel or gas stove for cooking.
  • Please take rubbish off the island.

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 boat around the Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL)

  • 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.
  • 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

Piper Islands National Park (CYPAL) is jointly managed by the Northern Kuuku Ya’u Kanthanampu Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC Land Trust and the Queensland Government in accordance with an Indigenous Management Agreement. Read more about joint management of Cape York Peninsula national parks.

The reef and waters surrounding the islands are protected within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. They also form part of the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park (State) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Commonwealth).

The waters adjacent to the island are managed in a complementary manner by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Tourism information links

Nature’s Powerhouse
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
28 November 2016