What's special?Close inshore, the Barnard Island Group National Park includes Jessie, Kent, Lindquist, Bresnaham and Hutchison Islands in the North Barnard Group and Sisters and Stephens Islands in the southern group.
The Barnards have a fascinating geological history dating back 420 million years. The islands were isolated from the mainland 18,000 years ago when the ice caps melted and sea levels rose. Stephens Island has well-preserved volcanic tuff outcrops and steeply dipping basalt dykes exposed along the shoreline.
Dense rainforest cloaks the rocky slopes of the Barnards. Clambering vines form “vine towers” in the rainforest. Mangroves, pandanus and she-oaks fringe the shore.
The South Barnards are an important seabird rookery for six species of terns which breed there each year. This is the sea country of the Mamu people. Fish traps remain around the islands.
Some corals in the surrounding marine park waters have been badly affected by recent coral bleaching.
Exploring Barnard IslandsGo birdwatching. See 22 species of seabirds and 23 woodland species. Access is restricted to Sisters Island and most of Stephens Island during the seabird nesting season, September to April.
Bush camp on the western side of Stephens Island. Obtain your permit from Cairns. Take drinking water and a fuel stove. Be self-sufficient.
Do not swim in marine stinger season, October to May. Observe fishing and collecting restrictions in the surrounding marine park waters.