Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Whitsunday Islands National Park

What's special?

Hilly islands dotting the aquamarine waters of the scenic Whitsunday Passage are protected in Whitsunday Islands National Park. The Whitsunday group of continental islands formed when changing sea levels drowned a mountain range. Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island is world-renowned for its pure, white, silica sands and crystal-clear waters.

The Whitsunday reefs have outstanding coral cover and variety. From May to September the Whitsundays are an important calving ground for migrating humpback whales. The islands and surrounding waters are part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and are protected.

The Ngaro people, one of the earliest recorded Aboriginal groups in Australia, were seen by Cook while exploring the Whitsunday Passage. The “Island People” lived throughout the island chain known as the Whitsundays and the nearby mainland for hundreds of years. Rock art and middens at Nara Inlet (Hook Island) provide a record of their special way of life.

Exploring Whitsunday Islands

A variety of campsites are available on Whitsunday, Hook, Cid and Henning Islands. Some have spectacular views over nearby islands. Facilities vary but are limited to toilets and picnic tables. Campers must be self-sufficient. Take fresh water, a fuel stove for cooking and insect repellent. Open fires and generators are prohibited. Remove all rubbish to the mainland. Island Camping in the Whitsundays : Camping Guide

While water is usually clearer at the northern sides of the outer islands, snorkelling over the reef flat at high tide can still be rewarding.

Beware of marine stingers and cyclones during the warmer months. Restrictions apply to activities such as spearfishing, fishing, collecting and anchoring. Check first.


Walk through woodland from Tongue Bay (Whitsunday Island) to a lookout for a fantastic view over Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach. A 1km track connects Dugong and Sawmill Beaches (Whitsunday Island). A short walk leads to a rock art site at Nara Inlet (Hook Island). Talk to the local rangers before walking off-track.

Getting there

The Whitsunday Island group is readily accessible from Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour by private boat or commercial tours. Commercial boats will drop off and collect campers. Arrange your passage before booking your campsite.

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