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North West Island camping area

Collette Bagnato © Queensland Government

North West Island camping area

Tent camping No tent camping
Caravan camping No caravan camping
Campervan camping No campervan camping
Motorhome camping No motorhome camping
Camper trailer camping No camper trailer camping
Toilets (non-flush) No toilets
No showers
Camp fires allowed (conditions apply) No camp fires
No barbecues
Generators allowed (conditions apply) No generators
Picnic tables No picnic tables
Dogs allowed on leash No dogs
Wheelchair access (may require assistance) No wheelchair access
World Heritage Area

Legend

Tent camping No tent camping
Caravan camping No caravan camping
Campervan camping No campervan camping
Motorhome camping No motorhome camping
Camper trailer camping No camper trailer camping
Toilets (non-flush) No toilets
No showers
Camp fires allowed (conditions apply) No camp fires
No barbecues
Generators allowed (conditions apply) No generators
Picnic tables No picnic tables
Dogs allowed on leash No dogs
Wheelchair access (may require assistance) No wheelchair access
World Heritage Area

Set up camp surrounded by pisonia forest on the largest of the Capricornia cays, in the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Luxuriate on the island's pristine white beaches.
Luxuriate on the island's pristine white beaches. Collette Bagnato © Queensland Government
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Park Capricornia Cays
Traditional Owners Traditional Owners
Park Ranger Park Ranger

Sleep listening to the noddies rustling in the pisonia trees, the shearwaters howling from their burrows and waves lapping the shoreline. Refreshed, grab your snorkel, swim or walk to the reef's edge, and plunge in to discover an underwater treasure trove of corals and other spectacular marine life.

Back on dry land, cross the island on the North West Island track and check out the evidence of the island’s industrial past. Wildlife abounds here! At various times of the year you’ll see nesting and hatching sea turtles, breeding seabirds and migrating humpback whales.

Capricornia Cays National Park is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, famed for its superlative natural beauty, outstanding examples of reef ecosystem development, evolutionary history and amazing diversity.

At a glance

Camping layout: Open area without defined sites
Site surface: Sand
Camp sites are suitable for: Short walk to tent
Facilities:
Permits and fees: camping permits

Getting there and getting around

North West Island camping area is in Capricornia Cays National Park, 75km north-east of Gladstone in the southern Great Barrier Reef.

  • The camping area is on the north-western side of North West Island.
  • From the drop-off point, walk up the beach into the camping area.

Getting to the island

  • You can reach the island by private boat or commercial vessel. The nearest departure points are Gladstone, and Yepoon.
  • The island does not have a regular charter service. You need to check with operators for timetables.
  • Access is restricted by tides. Commercial vessels (barges) will generally drop you and your gear on the beach at high tide.

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Fuel and supplies

You can get fuel and supplies on the mainland at Gladstone and Yepoon.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

When to visit

Opening hours

North West Island camping area is open 24 hours a day. Check-in to your camp after 2pm and check-out by 11am on the day of departure.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Seasonal closures

  • North West Island camping areas is open from the first day of the Queensland Easter school holidays until the day after the Australia Day long weekend (or the day after the Australia Day public holiday, if the holiday falls midweek).
  • The camping area is closed at all other times, but you can visit the island during the day.

Climate and weather

Capricornia Cays National Park straddles the Tropic of Capricorn and has a tropical climate. Conditions are pleasant throughout the year with hotter, humid days (26–30°C) from October to January. Balmy nights follow afternoons cooled by strong, north-easterly sea breezes. January to April is the wet season, although a shower may fall in any month. Between April and September, daytime temperatures are mild to warm (21–26°C) with cool nights (16–22°C), particularly when prevailing south-easterly winds blow. Water temperatures on the reef flat vary from 20°C in July to 27°C in January. Cyclones are possible between November and March.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

  • You need to book early for school holidays.

Organised events

  • If you are planning a school excursion or organising a group event such as a wedding, fun run or adventure training, you may need an organised event permit. Maximum group sizes and other conditions apply depending on location and activity type.

Pets

Domestic animals are not allowed here.

Staying in touch

Mobile phone coverage

Unreliable. Check with your service provider for more information.

Tourism information

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Be prepared

  • Parks are natural environments and conditions can be unpredictable. You are responsible for your own safety and for looking after the park.
  • Read stay safe and visit with care for important general information about safety, caring for parks and essentials to bring when you visit Queensland’s national parks.

  • Our national parks, including our precious Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area islands, need your help to remain pest‑free.

Camping

  • You may get dropped off some distance from your camp site so you need to be sensible about what you pack.
  • Remember to bring:
    • everything you need to be self-sufficient
    • strong, animal-proof containers for food and rubbish
    • tick-removing tweezers. Beware bites and stings.
    • a free-standing marquee to protect your camp and cooking area from bird droppings.
  • When setting up camp:
    • Stay clear of brittle pisonia branches.
    • Make sure you are behind the roped-off revegetation areas.
    • Avoid camping on walking tracks as sometimes shearwaters use these as flight paths!
  • Ticks are common, particularly during the seabird breeding season from October to May, and centipedes are active at night, especially in wet weather.
  • Shake out bedding, clothing, footwear and dive gear, and keep tents securely zipped. Beware bites and stings.
  • Our national parks, including our precious Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area islands, need your help to remain pest‑free.
  • Read camp with care for tips on camping safely and camping softly.

Open fires

  • Open fires are not allowed. Use a gas or fuel stove for cooking.

Drinking water

  • Bring at least 5L per person per day, plus a bit extra in case of an emergency.

Rubbish

  • There are no bins. Take your rubbish with you when you leave.

Emergencies

  • You will need a marine VHF radio as mobile phone reception is unreliable.
  • You can hire a portable VHF marine band radio from Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) Gladstone (VMR446 Gladstone). One radio is allocated to the island so if you have it, make yourself known to the other campers.

  • There is a 24hr watch on VHF channels 16 (emergency) and 82.
  • VHF channel 82 is monitored from 6am to 6pm by VM446 Gladstone and Gladstone Harbour Control.
  • VHF channel 16 is monitored from 6am to 6pm by Gladstone Harbour Control.
  • You can also contact vessels in the area on these channels.
  • Weather forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology in Rockhampton are broadcast on VHF channel 82 at 6.40am, 11.40am and 4.40pm; and on VHF channel 21 at 7.20am, 12.10pm and 5.05pm.

Evacuation procedures

Capricornia Cays National Park lies within the Queensland tropical storm (cyclone) zone. We have an emergency contingency plan to provide early warning and possible evacuation of campers if a cyclone or other event threatens your safety.

  • We will attempt to inform you of impending severe weather and the need for evacuation.
  • During an evacuation, all camping permits will be cancelled and you will be required to leave the cays. The decision to evacuate may be made well in advance of a cyclone or other threatening event, while sea conditions are still moderate.
  • If you need a permit refund, see camping and vehicle access permit fee and pre-paid booking refunds.
  • The unpredictable nature of cyclones may mean campers are evacuated, but the cyclone doesn't eventuate.
  • Commercial charter vessels will collect you during the evacuation.
  • Sea conditions may prevent the evacuation of camping equipment and private boats. In these circumstances, you may be able to store you equipment in the toilet blocks. Where this is not possible, you will need to secure and store your equipment as best you can. No responsibility will be accepted for items or boats left on the island. You will need to organise your own transport to the cays to retrieve your property.
  • When delivered to the mainland, you will need to look after your own accommodation.
  • Read safety during extreme weather for important information about what to do during floods, bushfires and cyclones.

Walking

  • When island walking, stay on the tracks to avoid trampling and collapsing wedge-tailed shearwater burrows in the sand.
  • If reef walking, walk in sand channels and avoid stepping on live corals—they are easily damaged and will cause nasty cuts. Don't stir up sand and sediment, and beware of strong currents and changing tides. Wear shoes to protect your feet.
  • Read walk with care for tips on walking safely and walking lightly.

Around water

  • When swimming beware of strong currents and changing tides.
  • Stay clear of access channels and keep an eye out for boats.
  • You'll need diving boots or other shoes to protect your feet when crossing the reef flat.
  • Read water safety for important information about staying safe in and near water and caring for parks.

Diving and snorkelling

  • You'll need diving boots or other shoes to protect your feet when crossing the reef flat.
  • Beware of strong currents and changing tides.
  • Stay clear of access channels and keep an eye out for boats.
  • Store your fuel and oil in the storage area and use the dive compression bunker while diving.
  • Read water safety for important information about staying safe in and near water and caring for parks.

Boating and fishing

  • The waters adjacent to Capricornia Cays National Park are in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park.
  • Before heading out on the water make sure you have a zoning map, know the zones and what's allowed there.
  • Access and many activities depend on tide times and heights. The islands' average tidal range is about 2m.
  • We don't allow you to place temporary moorings, such as star pickets, on the reef flats or over reef edges.
  • Stay below 6kts when travelling over reef flats and shallow water.
  • Dump fish scraps at sea, at least 500m seaward of the reef edge. Vary dump sites to discourage scavenging sharks.
  • Fisheries regulations apply. You can obtain information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures from Fisheries Queensland.
  • Read boat and fish with care for tips on boating and fishing safety and caring for parks.
Last updated: 22 March 2018
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