Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Hope Islands National Park

What's special?

East and West Hope Islands are low-lying coral cays protected in Hope Islands National Park. The surrounding waters and reefs are protected in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.

Shingle cays like West Hope develop when piles of loose coral debris build up on the windward side of the reef during storms. Only hardy plants like mangroves grow on such cays. Mangroves grow on the northern and western sides of West Hope while shrubs grow on the eastern side.

East Hope is a typical sand cay, formed when fine reef sediments are deposited on the leeward side of a reef. The cay is vegetated by beach almond and red coondoo in its centre with sea trumpet, silverbush and nickernut around the edges.

Hope Islands are an important nesting site for pied imperial-pigeons.

The islands are part of the sea country of the Kuku Yalanji people who still hunt, fish and collect in the area. The islands were named by Cook in 1770 when he struck the nearby reef.

Exploring Hope Islands

Relax and enjoy the natural beauty of these islands.

East Hope Island has four campsites, toilets, picnic tables and fireplaces. Limits apply to camper numbers and the length of stay. West Hope has no facilities. All rubbish must be removed. Take drinking water and a fuel stove.

Go birdwatching. Twenty-five species of seabirds and many woodland birds can be seen on the islands. See terns, reef herons, pied oystercatchers, beach stone-curlews, ospreys, kingfishers, brahminy kites and bar-shouldered doves. Stay away from nesting seabirds. They are easily disturbed.

Go snorkelling but beware of strong currents and tides. Beware of marine stingers between October and May. Fishing is allowed but restrictions apply.


Wear a hat and sunscreen if walking around the island. No tracks are provided.

Getting there

East and West Hope Islands are 37km south-east of Cooktown and north-east of Cedar Bay. Access is by charter or private boat.
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Sources & Further reading


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