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About Keppel Bay Islands

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Getting there and getting around

Keppel Bay is a broad sweep of water off the central Queensland coast from Curtis Island to Corio Bay. The picturesque Capricorn Coast, with its townships of Yeppoon, Emu Park and Keppel Sands, fronts the bay.

Access to the islands is by boat only. Boat launch facilities and charters are available from Rosslyn Bay Harbour with secure parking available nearby. It is also possible to arrange transport to the national park islands from Great Keppel Island. See the tourism information links for more information.

Access to Barren and Peak islands is restricted due to their scientific values.

Flat and Perforated islands are isolated rocky islands with no practical access.

Wheelchair accessibility

There is a wheelchair-accessible amenities building on Humpy Island.

Park features

View over Humpy Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

View over Humpy Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

Keppel Bay is studded with islands. The two largest islands, Great Keppel (1454ha) and North Keppel (627ha), are surrounded by 16 smaller islands and several prominent rocky outcrops. Keppel Bay Islands National Park includes 13 islands, although it does not include Great Keppel Island. Barren and Peak islands form the Keppel Bay Islands National Park (Scientific). Steep hills and cliffs, which plunge into the sea, are features of the islands but there are also sheltered bays and quiet sandy beaches. Vegetation ranges from open grassland and heathland to tall, shady forests and dense, low rainforests.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park surrounds the Keppel Bay islands. Together they form part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the world's largest reef and island system. It is of exceptional beauty and biological diversity, protecting many endangered animals and plants.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Camping is allowed on North Keppel Island, Humpy Island, Miall Island, Conical Island, Divided Island, and Pelican Island. Camping permits are required and fees apply.

Other accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodation available in Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Emu Park. For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Reef Protection Marker at Big Peninsular, Great Keppel Island. Photo: Oliver Lanyon, Queensland Government.

Reef Protection Marker at Big Peninsular, Great Keppel Island. Photo: Oliver Lanyon, Queensland Government.

Walking

North Keppel Island

Three walks on North Keppel Island, with optional return segments, allow you to discover the island's diverse plant communities, wildlife and spectacular views of Keppel Bay and surrounding islands. All walks depart from the Considine Beach's camping area. Tracks are posted with directional and information signs.

There are two grades of walking track on North Keppel Island:

  • Walking track grade 3: rough formed track suitable for most ages and fitness.
  • Walking track grade 4: rough track with some steep sections, bushwalking experience required.

See the Keppel Bay Islands National Park map (PDF, 166K) for the locations of North Keppel Island's walks.

(1) Considine-Mazie Bay Track

Distance: 4.1km return
Time: about 1.5hrs
Grade: easy (grade 3 track)
A gently-sloping walking track winds past sandy shores and dunes, mangrove forests, through a variety of open forests and palm-dominated wetlands. Signs along the way identify key plants and their traditional uses. At Mazie Bay's Woppaburra shelter, descendents share their stories of life on Ko-no-mie.

Return via either or both optional sections.

• Wetlands Track

Distance: an additional 0.5km
Grade: moderate (grade 4 track)
Walk east along the beach about 200m, to where a totem directs you over the dune to a shady track through large paperbark trees and weeping palms. After prolonged rain this section may be closed.

• Banksia Track

Distance: an additional 0.5km
Grade: moderate (grade 4 track)
Turn east at the Keppel Bay Lookout junction, then north to wind through a forest of banksia and wattle, before reaching the mangroves where the track crosses Considine Creek—do not use at king tides.

(2) Keppel Bay Lookout Track

Distance: 3.6km return
Time: allow 1.5hrs
Grade: moderate (grade 4 track)
For views of the island, Mazie Bay and other northern islands, turn left 700m along the Mazie Bay track to take a short 850m walk uphill to the Keppel Bay lookout.

(3) Ko-no-mie Trail (Circuit via lookouts)

Distance: 7.8km circuit
Time: allow 3hrs
Grade: moderate (grade 4 track)
The trail is rough, with steep sections, for experienced walkers. Winding through woodlands and open grasslands this track offers spectacular 360-degree views of Keppel Bay.

Take the Considine-Mazie Track to Keppel Bay Lookout. Cross the island’s highest point to view forbidding heath-covered cliffs on the eastern shore and wide outlooks toward Bayfield. Return descending the steep inland track to the Banksia Track and over Considine Creek. On king tides take the Considine-Mazie Track.

Humpy Island

Ridgetop Trail

Distance: 1.9km
Time: allow 1hr
Grade: easy (grade 4 track)
A rough track with an intial steep section, leaves from the camping area and takes you through the island's different habitats. Views from the island's high points are spectacular. Don't forget to look for marine life such as whales, dolphins and large fish in the surrounding waters. Looking north from the ridge top you will see Halfway Island and Cathedral Rock between Humpy and Great Keppel islands.

Reef walking

The fringing reefs at Mazie Bay are exposed at very low tides and are accessible to reef walkers. Although coral on these reefs is less diverse and luxuriant than on reefs further from the mainland, they support a variety of fish, invertebrate and plant life.

You can also go reef walking at Olive Point headland (Middle Island), and at Humpy and Miall islands.

If reef walking please remember:

  • Move along sand channels, watch where you walk and avoid walking on any coral or other marine life.
  • Look but don't touch! Some marine life can deliver painful and dangerous stings. Check with an experienced guide before handling anything.
  • Set out on the ebbing tide. Allow one hour either side of the predicted low tide time for adequate walking time. Keep watch on the incoming tide during the walk.
  • Use a pole or stick for balance only. Do not poke or probe sea life.
  • Return boulders to their original position if over-turned. Many animals and plants shelter on the undersides of boulders and will soon die if they are exposed.
  • Don't pick up or remove animals which are attached to the reef flat as they won't survive!
  • Avoid walking among coral colonies in water deeper than your knees. This makes seeing into the water and balancing difficult.
  • Don't stand on the edges of coral pools. Corals in this area are often fragile and easily damaged, particularly if you step in and out of the pool.
  • Be aware of marine park collecting restrictions.
  • Don't litter. Cigarette butts and plastic can be especially harmful if swallowed by marine animals which mistake them for food.

Guided tours and talks

Education Queensland operates the North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre. Access to the centre is by appointment only. For further information, contact the centre on (07) 4939 2510.

Picnic and day-use areas

The following national park islands are recommended for picnics and day use.

  • Humpy Island has toilets, bush showers and picnic tables.
  • North Keppel Island's Considine Beach has toilets, rainwater bush shower (occassionally water is not available) and picnic tables.
  • Conical, Middle and Halfway islands have picnic tables.
  • Corroboree, Pelican, Divided, Miall and Hummocky islands have no facilities.

Boating and fishing

Boating and fishing are popular activities for visitors to Keppel Bay Islands National Park. Boat launch facilities and charters are available from Rosslyn Bay Harbour.

The Keppel Bay islands and surrounding reefs are important sea turtle habitat. Be vigilant when out on the water to avoid injuring turtles and marine life.

Conditions on the bay can be extremely dangerous. Always file a trip sheet with the Australian Volunteer Coastguard. Please take note of the advice given in Staying safe.

When boating remember:
  • Anchorages around most islands are exposed and have limited holding ability. The best anchorages are at North Keppel and Great Keppel islands.
  • Anchor with care, on sand when possible. If you cannot avoid coral, use reef picks and motor towards anchor when hauling in.
If fishing:

No anchoring areas

Four locations around the Keppel Bay islands are no anchoring areas.

  • Great Keppel Island—Monkey Beach Reef and Big Peninsula
  • Barren Island—northern side
  • Humpy Island—west of the camping area.

No anchoring areas are defined by white pyramid shaped buoys called reef protection markers (RPMs) with blue marine park labels. You cannot anchor inshore of the imaginary line these buoys create. RPMs must not be used to moor vessels.

For further information, including maps of the Keppel Bay island’s No Anchoring Areas, visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website.

Viewing wildlife

Birds of prey are often seen above the bay and beaches, and some nest on the islands. Terns and cormorants hunt for fish at sea, while waders such as pied oystercatchers and beach stone-curlew forage along the beaches and small estuaries. Many land birds including honeyeaters, rainbow bee-eaters, pheasant coucals and friarbirds are permanent residents of the islands' woodlands and heaths.

Sea turtles, which are vulnerable to extinction, breed and feed in the waters around the Keppel Bay islands. Flatback turtles migrate from as far as Torres Strait to nest on Peak Island beaches—the most important breeding rookery for these turtles on Australia's east coast. When out on the water, keep your eyes open for green turtles popping up for air while feeding over seagrass areas.

Diving and snorkelling

Diving and snorkelling are popular in this area. You can snorkel on the fringing reefs at Mazie Bay (North Keppel), Olive Point headland (Middle Island), Humpy Island or Miall Island. Diving is particularly good on reefs surrounding North Keppel, Middle, Miall and Conical islands. Please take care not to damage the fragile coral.

You must be either a certified diver or under instruction with a registered diving company to dive on the Keppel Bay reefs.

When diving please remember:
  • Be careful with your fins—careless kicking can damage coral.
  • Don't stir up sediment—murky waters stress plants and animals.
  • Spearfishing while using scuba gear is prohibited.

See Looking after the park for more information.

Things to know before you go

Essentials to bring

  • First-aid kit.
  • Sufficient fuel if boating.
  • Drinking water—allow at least seven litres per person per day. There is no reliable drinking water on the park.
  • Fuel stove and liquid or gas fuel—fires, generators and ash-producing fuels are not permitted - see the Fires prohibited regulatory notice (PDF, 64K).
  • A container for rubbish—bins are not provided.
  • Insect repellent and sun protection.
  • Mobile phone and marine radio in case of emergency.
  • Broadcast radio for weather forecasts.
  • Spare batteries.

Opening hours

The islands are open 24 hours a day, all year. However, the islands may be closed and campers evacuated in an emergency or during feral animal control programs or park maintenance, and in an emergency campers evacuated. Check Park alerts for details of any closures.

Permits and fees

Camping permits are required and fees apply. School and public holidays may book out well in advance, especially Humpy Island.

Tour groups require a Marine Parks permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to conduct reef walking and other activities.

Commercial photography permits are required if you intend to sell any photographs taken of Queensland’s parks and forests. Organised events permits are required for organised group activities that may interfere with general public use. Contact us for further information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted on any islands in the park.

Climate and weather

Apart from a hot summer period from December to February, temperatures are generally mild with maximum temperatures of 21-28°C. Most rain falls during summer but can occur at other times of the year. Cyclones are more likely between December and April. See the tourism information links for more information.

Fuel and supplies

You will need to be self-sufficient during your visit to Keppel Bay Islands National Park. Remember, fires and ash-producing fuels are not permitted. The nearest shop and fuel are in Rosslyn Bay.

Staying safe

The islands are isolated so you need to plan your camping and communication requirements carefully.

In particular please remember:

  • Strong winds, rough seas and cyclones can isolate campers. Carry emergency food, water, a broadcast radio for weather forecasts, spare batteries and medical supplies.
  • Boating can be extremely hazardous in Keppel Bay. Ensure your safety equipment is checked and maintained. File a trip sheet with the local Australian Volunteer Coastguard.
  • Bring a two-way marine radio or mobile phone in case of any emergency. Some mobile phones have reception from hilltops—check coverage with your provider.
  • Be familiar with local procedures, navigation charts, radio frequencies and call signs.
  • Protect yourself from marine stingers. These may be present at any time, but occur more frequently, between October and May. A full-body lycra suit, or equivalent, may provide some protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. See www.beachsafe.org.au for the latest safety and first aid advice.
  • Look but don't touch! Some marine life can deliver painful and dangerous stings. Check with an experienced guide before handling anything.
  • Be aware—death adders have been seen on Middle and Miall Islands.

Local weather reports are broadcast on VHF channel 21 at 0705, 0920, 1205 and 1705 hours. You can also access weather reports by calling 1300 360 426.

Evacuation procedures

In the event of a cyclone or tsunami, The Department of National Parks, Sports and Racing (NPSR) has developed a contingency plan and will work with camper transfer companies and local authorities to try to inform campers of impending cyclones, tsunamis and possible evacuation.

  • NPSR will attempt to inform campers of impending severe weather conditions or tsunami alert and possible evacuation or other response.
  • During evacuation, all camping permits will be cancelled with campers required to leave the islands. The decision to evacuate may be made well in advance of a cyclone or other threatening event, while sea conditions are still moderate.
  • Commercial charter vessels involved in camper drop-offs will collect you during the evacuation. On board, a NPSR officer and possibly a police officer will assist in the evacuation.
  • Sea conditions may prevent the evacuation of camping equipment and private boats. In these circumstances you may be able to store equipment in toilet blocks. Where no structures are available, 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 negotiate directly with charter vessel operators if wishing to collect belongings left behind during the evacuation.
  • When delivered to the mainland, you will be responsible for your own accommodation.
  • The unpredictable nature of cyclones can mean campers are evacuated, but no cyclone eventuates. In such situations, you will need to negotiate directly with the charter vessel operator if wishing to return.
  • NPSR will offer alternative camping or reimburse camping fees for lost days.

It is important that all members of your group understand and accept the consequences associated with camping in a remote location that are prone to extreme weather conditions.

In an emergency

  • Phone: Triple Zero (000).
  • Australian Volunteer Coastguard: VHF channels 16 and 21.

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

Looking after the park

Parks and forests protect Queensland's wonderful natural diversity and scenery. Please help keep these places special by following the rules when visiting.

  • Return your rubbish to the mainland. Please do not burn or bury it on any island.
  • Open fires are not permitted in the park and surrounding beaches. Cooking is restricted to gas or fuel stoves. See the Fires prohibited regulatory notice (PDF, 64K).
  • Tent sites should be at least 7m back from the high water mark to avoid damaging the fragile foredune vegetation.
  • Do not damage island vegetation. Bring your own poles to support tents, tarpaulins and showers. Do not tie ropes to trees.
  • All island features are protected. All animals (living or dead), sand and rubble are protected. Firearms, axes, machetes and saws are not to be used.
  • Use toilets. If toilets are not provided, bury human waste and toilet paper at least 15cm deep and 100m away from water bodies and camp sites to guard against pollution and the spread of disease. For more information watch the bush toileting practices web clip.
  • Don't bring potential pests. Ensure all equipment and clothing brought to the islands is free of insects, rodents and plant material. Be sure to shake out your tent and check tent pegs for no soil.
  • Leave your pets at home. Dogs and cats are not permitted on national park islands.
  • Help preserve the tranquility of island settings. Engine-driven equipment such as generators cannot be used. Air compressors are permitted only at the far southern end of Considine Beach on North Keppel Island.
  • Respect Indigenous sites. North Keppel Island has some of the most culturally significant sites in the Great Barrier Reef. They represent thousands of years of living culture and are highly significant to Indigenous people. They are easily damaged and irreplaceable. Look at, enjoy, but do not touch these sites.

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.

Before you visit, please check that your boat, clothing, footwear and gear are free of soil, seeds, parts of plants, eggs, insects, spiders, lizards, toads, rats and mice.

Be sure to:

  • Unpack your camping gear and equipment and check it carefully as pests love to hide in stored camping gear.
  • Clean soil from footwear and gear as invisible killers such as viruses, bacteria and fungi are carried in soil.
  • Check pockets, cuffs and Velcro for seeds.

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.

When snorkelling or diving please take care of the reef.

  • Be careful with your fins. Careless kicking can damage coral.
  • Don't rest or stand on coral. If you must stand up, make sure it is on sand or use rest stations if available.
  • Don't stir up sand or sediment. Murky water can stress plants and animals.
  • Return boulders to their original position if over-turned. Many animals and plants shelter on the undersides of boulders and will soon die if exposed.
  • Don't pick up or remove animals attached to the reef flat. They won't survive!
  • Be aware of marine park collecting restrictions.

See Caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

Keppel Bay Islands National Park forms part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Its exceptional natural beauty and the presence of rare and endangered species contributed to its World Heritage listing.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service manages the marine park and islands in conjunction with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park zoning plan has been introduced to manage the waters and coastline not covered under Commonwealth legislation. Where fishing is permitted, Queensland fisheries legislation applies.

A management plan for the Keppel Bay Islands National Park will be developed in the future.

Tourism information links

Capricorn Coast Information Centre

www.capricornholidays.com.au

Ross Creek Roundabout Scenic Highway, Yeppoon QLD 4703
Phone: (07) 4939 4888 or 1800 675 785
Fax: (07) 4939 1696
Email:

Capricorn Tourism Information Centre

www.capricornholidays.com.au

Tropic of Capricorn Spire Gladstone Road, Rockhampton
Phone: (07) 4927 2055 or 1800 676 701
Fax: (07) 4922 2605
Email:

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Marine zoning and fishing

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Phone: 1800 990 177
www.gbrmpa.gov.au

Qld Boating and Fisheries Patrol—Yeppoon
Rosslyn Bay Boat Harbour
Phone: (07) 4933 6404
www.daff.qld.gov.au

For information about fishing regulations:
Phone: 13 25 23

To report illegal fishing:
Fishwatch Hotline
Phone: 1800 017 116

To report marine animal strandings:
RSPCA Qld
Phone: 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)

Marine safety

Australian Volunteer Coastguard
Yeppoon Flotilla QF11
Rosslyn Bay Harbour
Phone: (07) 4933 6600
Fx: (07) 4933 6606
www.coastguard.com.au

Frequencies monitored
27MHz, VHF Ch.16
Repeater Ch. 20, 21 & 22
MF/HF 2182, 2524, 4125, 6215 & 8291

Call sign: VMR 411

Last updated
10 August 2016