These small, tropical islands protect nesting and roosting seabirds and shorebirds and their habitat. Access onto North, Middle and Tween islands is prohibited. The fringing reefs around the islands offer excellent snorkelling opportunities.
The Brook Islands lie off the North Queensland coast, about 8 km north-east of Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island and about 30 km north-east of the nearest mainland town of Cardwell.
Three of the four islands in the group lie within Brook Islands National Park. Access to these islands—North (PDF, 185K)*, Tween(PDF, 155K)* and Middle (PDF, 153K)* islands—is prohibited to protect nesting and roosting seabirds and shorebirds and their habitats. There are no roads, walking tracks or facilities on the islands.
The fourth island—South Island is a Commonwealth island jointly managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). Access to this island is prohibited from 1 October to 31 March each year to protect breeding birds.
The fringing reefs are accessible by boat or sea kayak from Cardwell, Mission Beach or Lucinda.
Lying within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the Brook Islands and the Family Islands to the north, form an arc enclosing the semi-sheltered waters of Rockingham Bay.
The islands are covered in lush, tropical vegetation. The eastern shores are rocky while the western shores have a few beaches of coarse, coral rubble. The islands support a breeding colony of more than 40,000 pied imperial-pigeons, and significant breeding colonies of terns. Vulnerable beach stone-curlews also breed on the islands.
These national park islands are one of only a few island groups between the Whitsundays and Cairns with minimal evidence of human disturbance.
Camping and Accommodation
Camping is not permitted in Brook Islands National Park. The nearest island-based camping is available onHinchinbrook, Goold and Family islands national parks. In the Family Islands National Park, camping is permitted on Dunk, Coombe and Wheeler islands. Camping is also possible nearby at Garden Island (managed by the Cassowary Coast Regional Council).
A range of accommodation, including motels, campgrounds and caravan parks, is available at Cardwell, Mission Beach, Dungeness, Lucinda and Ingham.
Things To Do
Boating is a popular activity around the Brook Islands. The Brook Islands Location (PDF)* is designated as a low use setting under the Hinchinbrook Plan of Management and special rules apply:
Motorised watersports are prohibited.
Maximum vessel speed is 6 kn within 200 m of North, Middle and Tween islands.
Maximum vessel speed is 6 kn within 200 m of South Island between 1 October and 31 March.
Vessels over 35 are not permitted in the location.
Vessels are not permitted to anchor in the no-anchoring area along the west side of North, Tween and Middle islands. Reef protection markers identify the no-anchoring area.
To reduce coral damage from anchors, public moorings are provided for private vessels at the northern end of North Island. They are available for overnight use and each may only be used by one vessel at a time. Conditions of use such as vessel length, time limits and maximum wind strength limits, are displayed on the mooring buoy. Read more about public moorings and anchoring.
Anchor with care outside reef protection markers
Please ensure you follow best environmental practices when anchoring:
Carry enough chain, or chain and line, for the water depth.
Anchor in sand away from corals and seagrass beds.
Motor towards the anchor while retrieving it. If the anchor is stuck, motor the vessel above and slightly ahead of the anchor before retrieval.
Anchor far enough outside the line of reef protection markers to ensure that all parts of the anchor chain and rope remain outside the line of markers, should the vessel swing.
Brook Islands National Park and the surrounding marine waters are internationally significant and are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Zones in the two marine parks— the Great Barrier Reef Coast and Great Barrier Reef—provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreational and commercial use. Check zoning information and mapsExternal link icon before entering or conducting any activities in the marine parks.
A Marine National Park (Green) Zone encompasses the reef and waters surrounding Brook Islands National Park. These ‘no-take’ areas prohibit extractive activities like fishing or collecting.
Be aware that crocodiles can turn up anywhere in croc country, including tidal reaches of rivers, along beaches, on offshore islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait and in freshwater lagoons, rivers and swamps. Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal.
Swimming and snorkelling:
Swimming and snorkelling is popular around the Brook Islands, especially on the western side of the islands. Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. If you do enter the water, a full-body lycra suit, or equivalent, may provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. Remember to be crocwise in croc country. Visit marine stingers for the latest safety and first-aid information.
During the summer months, more than 40,000 pied imperial-pigeons breed on the islands, providing a spectacle as they return to their nests each evening after foraging for food on the mainland. There are also significant breeding colonies of bridled terns, black-naped terns, little terns and roseate terns. Beach stone-curlews, listed as vulnerable, are also present and are believed to breed on North Island beaches.
To prevent disturbance to the colonies, bird viewing should occur only from boats. Access to the national park—North (PDF, 185K)*, Tween (PDF, 155K)* and Middle (PDF, 153K)* islands—is prohibited to protect nesting and roosting seabirds and shorebirds and their habitats. Nesting birds are easily alarmed and will leave their nests if disturbed. Eggs and chicks are then vulnerable to heat, cold and predators and can die quickly.
Remember, access to South Island is also prohibited from 1 October to 31 March.