Fitzroy Island, near Cairns, is rugged and diverse with granite
outcrops, open woodlands, rainforest, mangroves and coral beaches.
Access to Fitzroy Island is by private boat or daily ferry services
from Cairns. Reservations can be made online or by calling the ferry
hotline on (07) 4030 7907. Ferries can be affected by weather
conditions so it is best to confirm transfers 24 hours prior to
departure. The trip takes about 45 minutes. There is no vehicle access
on or around Fitzroy Island
.Close to the north Queensland mainland, Fitzroy Island National
Park is rugged and diverse with granite outcrops, open woodlands,
rainforest, mangroves and coral beaches. This high continental island
was connected to the mainland before sea levels rose.
For thousands of years, the Gungandji people hunted, gathered foods
and held special ceremonies on the island they call Kobaburra. 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 part of an Aboriginal mission growing
fruit and vegetables.
Several lighthouses have been established 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, which is currently used as an information display, was
built in 1970. This was the last staffed lighthouse purpose-built in
Australia and probably the world. Today's automated lighthouse is again
located on Little Fitzroy Island.
Camping and accommodation
The campground is managed by the Cairns City Council and is not always open. Check the Cairns City Council website for details.
The Fitzroy Island Resort offers bunkhouse and bungalow
accommodation, as well as a dive shop, restaurant, snack bar, pool and
bar. Reservations can be made online or by calling (07) 4051 9588. For
more information see the tourism information links below.
Things to do: walks
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.
Five walks, ranging from 30 minutes return to three hours return, are provided in Fitzroy Island National Park.
Lighthouse circuit — 4.2km return (3 hours)
This is a challenging circuit walk which affords spectacular views from
the lighthouse and lookouts at the summit and the Boulders. The walk
can be undertaken in either direction although ascending via the
lighthouse road is less demanding. The ascent in both directions is
very steep so take your time and rest along the way. This walk is split
into the three return walks, as described below, for those who would
like a shorter walk.
Lighthouse road — 3.6km return (2 hours)
A very steep service road from the north-eastern end of Welcome Bay
climbs through rainforest towards the lighthouse. Along the way, a
lookout on the windy northern side of the island affords views of Green
Island on a clear day. Inside the base of the lighthouse (open when
ranger is on site) an informative display presents the maritime history
of Fitzroy Island. From the lighthouse, spectacular views of the ocean
and, in winter, an occasional humpback whale sighting, make this
difficult walk well worth the effort.
Boulder lookout — 300m return (30 minutes)
From the back of the resort, the first section of the summit track is a
short steep climb with many steps ascending through rainforest to the
boulder lookout. The lookout affords picturesque views towards Cape
Grafton and Cairns. The walk returns along the same track to the resort.
Summit track — 2.6km return to resort (3 hours)
From the back of the resort, the summit track climbs steeply up to the
boulder lookout, then continues to ascend, steeply in places with many
hairpin bends, through heathland and sclerophyll forest, offering views
over this otherwise inaccessible part of the island. At the highest
point on the island, the summit (269m), slabs of granite and windswept
casuarinas frame magnificent views over the island, surrounding reefs
and mainland. The boulder-strewn track then winds down through woodland
to join the lighthouse road.
Secret Garden track — 1km return (45 minutes)
A short walk from the western edge of the resort lease meanders through
sheltered rainforest and around huge granite boulders. A series of
interpretive signs and a viewing platform overlooking a seasonal creek
provide insight to the secrets of the rainforest animals and plants.
Nudey Beach track — 1.2km return (45 minutes)
A relatively easy walk from the western edge of the resort winds
through rainforest and coastal woodlands leading to a picturesque
beach. Some walkers may find the boulder stairways difficult to
Guided tours and talks
Commercially operated tours are available, including reef
snorkelling, kayaking and scuba diving. For more information see the
tourism information links below.
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Picnic and day-use areas
Picnic tables are located in the camping area, adjacent to the resort.
Zoning boundaries and conditions apply to fishing in the waters
around Fitzroy Island National Park. For detailed maps and information
for State waters see Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and for
Commonwealth waters see Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Bag
and size limits apply. For details of bag and size limits for popular
fish species see Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.
Fitzroy Island provides a safe anchorage, facilities and water for
private boats. Eight A class public moorings are provided. Theses blue
and white moorings have yellow pick-up tags and yellow bands on the
buoys. Monohulls up to a maximum length of 10m and multihulls up to a
maximum length of 9m can use an A class mooring.
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. Most moorings have a limit of either two or four hours. This has
been introduced to ensure fair and equitable use of the moorings. 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
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. Disposal of garbage in the marine park
is prohibited and vessels must be more than 700m from sensitive areas
(reefs, aquaculture facilities and people in the water) before
discharging sewerage holding tanks.
The fringing reef just off the beach reveals the diversity of marine
life in these waters. A variety of reef fish, hard and soft corals and
other marine animals can be seen.
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 1.2m long yellow-spotted
monitor, can be seen around the resort area. At night, the dusky
leaf-nosed bat, a small insect-eating bat, can be seen chasing insects
near the resort lights.
Snorkelling and diving
Snorkelling in Welcome Bay and Nudey Beach offers the chance to
explore a fringing reef which supports many species of fish and
invertebrates. Snorkelling in other locations on the island may be
dangerous due to strong currents. Seek advice from the resort staff in
the Dive Shop about safe locations.
The Fitzroy Island Resort offers scuba diving, sea kayaking,
fishing, aqua scooters, catamarans, outriggers, paddle skis and
glass-bottomed boat tours.
Climate and weather
Two seasons occur in north Queensland, "the wet" and "the dry". The
wet season, November to April, brings high humidity and heavy rainfall.
March is the wettest month, with an average rainfall of 502mm. During
the dry season, 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 range from 19 to just
over 30 degrees Celsius.
QPWS Cairns Information Centre
5B Sheridan Street Cairns, Queensland
ph (07) 4046 6601
fax (07) 4046 6606
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service