Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Lizard Island National Park

What's special?

Lizard Islandís rugged and stark beauty contrasts sharply with the surrounding sparkling blue Great Barrier Reef waters and colourful fringing coral reefs. The Lizard Island Group is the only continental island group close to the outer barrier. Six islands are protected in Lizard Island National Park.

Almost sixty percent of Lizard Island is covered in grasslands. Eucalypt and acacia woodlands and mangroves also grow on the island. More than 40 species of birds have been seen on Lizard, while nearby Osprey, Seabird, South and Palfrey Islands are important bird nesting sites.

The Dingiil Aboriginal people, the traditional custodians of Jiigurru (Lizard Island) lived here for tens of thousands of years, since before the islands separated from the mainland. Jiigurru is a sacred place for the Dingiil people, a place where young boys were initiated and the site of tribal gatherings. In the creation story for the Lizard Island Group, Jiigurru is the body of the stingray and other islands form the tail.

Cook named Lizard Island in 1770 after the Gouldís sand goannas he saw on the island. The islandís past includes the tragic death of the wife and child of beche-de-mer fisherman Robert Watson following an encounter with Aboriginal People in 1881.

The Australian Museum established a research station on the island in 1973 and the resort opened in 1975. Today, the island is popular for sailing and fishing. The waters and reefs surrounding the Lizard Island Group are protected in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and are part of the World Heritage Area.

Exploring Lizard Island

Lizard Island is a ruggedly beautiful and remote place to visit. Have a picnic overlooking Watsons Bay. Picnic tables, a barbecue and toilet are provided for day visitors. Walk to Cooks Look for a great view over the islands.

Go wildlife watching. Eleven species of lizards live on the island, and geckos, skinks, snakes and birds are commonly seen. Green and loggerhead turtles nest late spring and black flying-foxes often camp in the mangroves. Common birds include pheasant coucals, yellow-bellied sunbirds, white-bellied sea-eagles and terns.

Go snorkelling. See the giant clam gardens in Watsons Bay. Visit nearby Palfrey and South Islands. Beware of marine stingers between October and May. Observe fishing and collecting restrictions to protect the reef. Check the zoning plan for details.

Camp at Watsons Bay on Lizard Island. Campers must carry all their gear 1∑2km from the airstrip and be self-sufficient in food, shelter and first aid. No supplies are available on the island but campers are welcome at Marlin Bar, a resort bar and restaurant for non-residents.

Toilets, a gas barbecue and picnic tables are provided. Open fires are prohibited. Water is available from a hand-pump. Take water containers and boil the water for five minutes or treat it before drinking. Please do not feed the wildlife, and secure all food and rubbish scraps.

You can also stay at the resort or go on a tour of the research station.


Explore Lizard Island in the cooler part of the day. Cooks Look is the most challenging. Wear a hat and sunscreen when walking.

Getting there

Regular flights operate to Lizard Island from Cairns. Charter flights operate from Cairns and Cooktown. Access is also possible by charter or private boat. Anchoring restrictions apply to protect the coral.

Sources & Further reading


Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading