Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Fitzroy Island National Park

What's special?

Close to the north Queensland mainland, Fitzroy Island National Park is rugged and diverse with granite outcrops, open woodlands, rainforest, mangroves and coral beaches. The beaches and fringing reefs are protected in the Cairns Marine Park. This high continental island was connected to the mainland before sea levels rose.

For thousands of years, the Gungandji people hunted, gathered foods and held special ceremonies on the island they call “Gabar” or “Gabarra”. Cook gave the island its current name in 1770. The island became a quarantine station for Chinese heading to the Palmer River goldfields in 1876 and later part of an Aboriginal mission growing fruit and vegetables.

Several lighthouses have been established over the past 80 years, from a carbide gas light on Little Fitzroy Island in 1923 to a wartime light built on the ridge above the old lightkeeper’s residence in 1943. The lighthouse which is currently used as a visitor centre was built in 1970. This was the last staffed lighthouse purpose-built in Australia and probably the world. Today’s automated lighthouse is again located on Little Fitzroy Island.

Exploring Fitzroy Island

Spectacular vistas from almost any vantage point are a highlight of a visit to Fitzroy Island.

Go wildlife watching. See brilliantly-coloured Ulysses butterflies, emerald doves, sulphur-crested cockatoos, orange-footed scrubfowl, ospreys and migrating birds such as buff-breasted paradise kingfishers and pied imperial-pigeons.

Explore the island by walking. Signs on the Secret Garden track help you appreciate the rainforest. See the remains of the wartime lighthouse along the Summit trail.

The island is popular for boating. Protect the coral when anchoring, observe fishing and collecting restrictions, and dump no rubbish on the reef. Snorkel at Welcome Bay, Nudey Beach, the Playground or Sharkfin Bay. Beware of marine stingers between October and May.

Camping is allowed in the resort camping area or you can stay at the resort at Welcome Bay.


Wear a hat and sunscreen and take drinking water when walking. Walk in the cooler months. Be careful on the slippery and uneven track surfaces, especially when wet.

Getting there

Fitzroy Island is 29km south-east of Cairns. Access is by private boat or daily ferry services.

Sources & Further reading

Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading