Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Green Island National Park

What's special?

The most popular destination on the Great Barrier Reef is Green Island. This 12ha island is a true coral cay formed over thousands of years by the build-up of sand and coral rubble deposited on the calm side of the reef. The eastern side of the island is covered in tropical vine forest vegetation. The surrounding coral reef is home to a variety of hard and soft corals, giant clams, fish and stingrays.

Even though beche-de-mer fishermen removed most of the vegetation in the 19th Century and recent crown of thorns outbreaks have affected the hard corals, this is still a very beautiful place. Pied imperial-pigeons roost on the island in summer and endangered green and hawksbill turtles are seen offshore.

This is part of the traditional sea country of the Gungandji people and the island is known as “Wunyami”. The Gungandji people maintain a close connection with the island, a former initiation ground for young men.

Green Island has been a popular resort for close to a century. The island became a national park in 1937, marine park in 1974 and part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area in 1981. The island, reef and beaches are managed together as a recreation area.

Exploring Green Island

Spend a busy day exploring the island. Relax on the beach or wander through the forest. Snorkel over the lagoon.

Go birdwatching ? Green Island is home to 35 species of seabirds and 28 species of woodland birds. Join a guided nature walk or explore the forest on your own.

Camping is not allowed but you can stay overnight in the resort, which has been operating on the island from the 1940s. Some resort facilities are available to daytrippers. Commercial attractions on the island include the world’s first underwater observatory and Marineland Melanesia Crocodile Habitat.

Fishing restrictions apply in the surrounding marine park waters. Visitors are asked to help protect the island and reef by collecting nothing, and anchoring carefully to avoid damaging the coral. Beware of marine stingers between October and May.


A 1km one-way track leads through the forest to the south-western beach. Return along the beach. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Allow about 50 minutes for the walk.


Boardwalks through the park are suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.

Getting there

Green Island is 27km east-north-east of Cairns. Daily ferry services operate to the island. The journey takes 50 minutes.

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Sources & Further reading


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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading