Orpheus Island National Park features sheltered bays with
spectacular fringing reefs. Composed of granite and volcanic rocks,
Orpheus Island belongs to the chain of continental islands called the
Palm Group located 20km off the Queensland coast, east of Ingham.
Orpheus Island is made up of volcanic rocks formed around 280 million
years ago. A geological feature of the island are 'ring dykes', formed
by intrusions of molten rock into granite bedrock cracks. These create
a spider web effect and can be seen on the headland and rocky shores
where erosion has created caves and crevices.
Vegetation Dry woodlands dominate the island and consist of Morton bay
ash (Eucalyptus tessellaris) and acacia. In the deeper gullies and
sheltered bays, rainforest trees such as fig and macaranga, with its
large, heart-shaped leaves, can be seen. Small irregular bands of
grasslands are also an intriguing aspect of the island.
Animals Many of the native mammals on the island are nocturnal, but you
may be lucky enough to see an echidna foraging in the forest.
Reptiles can often be seen in the rainforest and woodland, including
brown tree snakes, carpets and children's pythons, and various skinks
A range of birds can be seen or heard throughout the forests. The
orange-footed scrub fowl can sometimes be heard scratching amongst the
rainforest litter. This bird builds a mound of vegetation (up to 3m
high) as its nest in which it incubates its eggs. Ospreys soaring
above, while reef herons and egrets are usually seen wading in the
mangroves and inter-tidal areas.
Orpheus Island can be reached by boat. There is no public ferry, but
special charters can be arranged. The closest boat ramp is at Taylor's
Beach, 25km from Ingham, while the ramp at Lucinda is a little further
from the island.
Camping is allowed near Yank's Jetty, South Beach and a Little
Pioneer Bay where basic facilities are provided. Fresh water is not
available and bushwalking tracks are not provided. A camping permit
must be obtained in advance from QdoE offices at Townsville Wonderland
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Intertidal waters surrounding Orpheus are part of the Queensland
(State) Marine Park, while the remaining waters from the Great Barrier
Reef Marine Park. Most of the waters surrounding the island are zoned
Marine National Park 'B', a look but don't take zone', where collecting
and fishing are prohibited. Between the northern end of Hazard Bay and
Harrier Point the waters are zoned Marine National Park 'A', allowing
limited line fishing; one hook and one line per person.
Collecting living or dead shells, corals and other marine life is
not permitted in either zone. Check a Zoning Plan for more details. The
fringing reefs are best explored by snorkeling or scuba diving. Large
coral bommies may be found in Little Pioneer Bay, Cattle Bay and around
the Yank's Jetty area. The best snorkeling area is off the north east
tip. Care should be taken when anchoring to avoid damage to coral,
scientific research is carried out. Boats should ensure that they
remain at least 50m from the reef front.
Orpheus Island resort overlooks Hazard Bay while the James Cook
University research station is located at Pioneer Bay. Only guests and
authorized visitors are welcome on these leases. Research Station staff
may show visitors around the station by arrangement with the manager -
PH (07) 4777 7336
For further information and permits contact:
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Rainforest and Reef Centre
PO Box 74 CARDWELL QLD 4849 Ph (07) 4066 8601 Fax (07) 4066 8116