Barnard Islands Group National Park

These seven islands feature outstanding rock formations and diverse landforms including shallow reefs, sand spits, beaches and dense rainforest-clad slopes, and host important seabird rookeries.


Getting there and getting around


The Barnard Island Group comprises seven continental islands — Bresnahan, Hutchinson, Jessie, Kent and Lindquist (North Barnard group) and Sisters and Stephens (South Barnard group). They lie 5–10km offshore from Kurrimine Beach, which is approximately 10– 17km south-east of Mourilyan. Access is by private boat or sea kayak from Mourilyan Harbour and Kurrimine Beach.


Mourilyan is about 100km south of Cairns via the Bruce Highway, and Kurrimine Beach is a further 30km via the Bruce Highway and Murdering Point Road.


Park features


Known as high continental islands, the forested slopes of the Barnard Island Group rises steeply from the sea. Heights of the islands vary from 19m to 95m. The Barnard islands have a fascinating geological history dating back 420 million years. The older North Barnard islands are metamorphic rock outcrops while the younger South Barnard islands are layers of well-preserved volcanic tuff with steeply dipping basalt dykes cut through these layers.


The rocky slopes of the Barnard islands are densely cloaked with rainforest, diversity increasing with the size of the island. Mangrove species fringe parts of the islands and there are a number of coastal plants next to the shores. The south Barnard islands (Sister and Stephens islands) are an important breeding site for seabirds with six species of terns recorded nesting there, mainly in the dense vegetation next to the shore. Twenty-three species of woodland birds have also been recorded on and around the Barnard islands.


The Barnard Island Group is part of the "sea country" of the local Mamu Aboriginal people. The islands are a component of the local traditional cultural landscape and are still the focus of traditional use of natural resources. In the late 1800s a bech-de-mer fishing settlement was built on Sisters Island. Six boats and a large Aboriginal workforce occupied the island until the settlement was lost in a cyclone in 1890. A small lighthouse was built on Kent Island in 1897 and was staffed until a cyclone in 1918 forced the evacuation of the lighthouse keeper and his family; after this it was automated. Jessie, Bresnahan, Hutchinson, Sisters and Stephens islands have been protected as national parks since 1936. Kent and Lindquist islands are Commonwealth islands; Kent Island is a designated Lighthouse Reserve and Lindquist Island is a Defence Reserve.



Recreational camping is allowed by permit on Stephens and Kent islands.




There are no walking tracks on the Barnard islands. Short walks are possible on the few small access tracks around the campgrounds and around the beaches of all islands except Lindquist Island (Defence Reserve). During the seabird nesting season (1 September to 31 March) access to Sisters Island is prohibited and walking around Stephens Island is restricted to the sand spit and camping area.



When boating around the Barnard Island Group National Park, please follow the guidelines below.


>> No public moorings are provided around the Barnard islands
>> Anchor in sand away from coral reefs.
>> Use a reef pick if anchoring in coral is unavoidable. When hauling in, motor toward the anchor to prevent damage.
>> Do not throw scraps overboard, especially when you are in anchorage.




Fishing is subject to marine park and fisheries restrictions. The Barnard Island Group lies within three different zones of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Line fishing and spearfishing are prohibited in the Marine National Park (green) zone around Stephens and Sisters Islands. Limited recreational fishing and spearfishing are allowed in the Conservation Park (yellow) zone that surrounds Hutchison, Bresnahan, Jessie and Kent Islands. Lindquist Island is within a Habitat Protection (dark blue) zone, which allows line fishing.


Viewing wildlife


The Barnard Island Group is a favourite haunt for birdwatchers. Twenty-two species of seabirds and 23 species of woodland birds have been recorded on and around the island group.


Further information

QPWS Cairns Office
5B Sheridan St, Cairns
PO Box 2066, Cairns QLD 4870
ph (07) 4046 6600
fax (07) 4046 6751



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