Michaelmas and Upolu cays are small, low, sand cays, covered by
low-lying vegetation which offers an ideal habitat for thousands of
ground-nesting seabirds. Michaelmas Cay is one of the most important
seabird breeding sites within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It is
the only destination within the Cairns section of the reef that
provides an opportunity for visitors to experience a seabird rookery
with high species diversity and large populations.
Michaelmas Cay is also the only local rookery supporting breeding
populations of sooty terns and common noddies and is the most
significant local rookery for crested terns and lesser crested terns.
It is the southernmost limit of sooty tern breeding and the
northernmost breeding limit of the crested tern. Nowhere else are these
two species found breeding together in such vast numbers in such an
Both cays are surrounded by coral reefs teeming with a variety of
interesting marine life. The surrounding reef and waters of the
Michaelmas and Upolu cays form part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine
Park and World Heritage Area and are popular destinations for both
commercial and recreational water activities.
Getting there and getting around
Michaelmas and Upolu Cays National Park is 40km north-east of
Cairns. Daily access to Upolu and Michaelmas cays is by commercial or
private vessels. Commercial vessels depart from Cairns and Yorkeys Knob
and the frequency depends on demand. Travel times depend on whether the
vessel is sailing or motoring. Sea planes are available but can only
access Upolu Cay.
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Access onto Michaelmas Cay is only allowed within the roped-off
area (Designated Access Area of the Marine Park section) between 9.30am
and 3.00pm. Access to the national park section of the cay (area above
high water) is prohibited due to nesting seabirds.
EPA Customer Service Centre
160 Ann Street, Brisbane
PO Box 15155 CITY EAST QLD 4002
ph (07) 3227 8185
fax (07) 3227 8749