A Day of Island Hopping


There are several islands close to the mainland that just have campsites – no resorts or walking trails. We set out to to explore a few of these in one day with quick visits (10-15 minutes each). We didn’t even anchor the boat – it was easiest for one of us to stay with the boat, holding her on the beach whilst the other wandered around, then swapping over. Here’s a rundown of what we found.


Three of the islands we explored were tiny – Tancred just out from Shute Harbour, and Denman and Planton in the eastern shadow of South Molle. The campsites were only big enough for 4-6 people, so you’d be pretty certain of having them all to yourself. They also had minimal facilities – just a bush loo, but no picnic tables or other facilities.

Planton Island, looking towards South Molle

Planton had the most beautiful outlook – east to South Molle’s Oyster Bay and Spion Kop, and a little sandy spit just visible at high tide, where two sooty oystercatchers were puddling about. The tidal current was quite strong, though, rushing past the beach – you’d have to be a very strong swimmer or just make do with a dip in the shallows.

Cockatoo Beach campsite, North Molle Island

The fourth island was North Molle, larger and with a pretty beach at the southern end called Cockatoo Beach, looking out onto the ominously named Unsafe Passage (but which is really only ‘unsafe’ for the large sailing ships of the days when it was named). In our little boat it was no trouble, and we jumped out to find quite a large, grassy campsite under casuarina trees just behind the beach. There were several picnic tables, shade and the beach was sandy with good views south over to Mid Molle, and west to Daydream Island. It would be a great campsite for a large group.

The beautiful Nara Inlet

But the prettiest spot of the day has to be Nara Inlet. We headed out from North Molle across the Whitsunday Passage just before high tide, to visit the Ngaro Cultural Site – an Aboriginal site of great significance, with rock art in a cave shelter overlooking the inlet. I’d heard that Nara Inlet was a lovely anchorage for yachts, and I wasn’t disappointed. Like a Norwegian fjord, but with turquoise waters – it was stunning. One day I’d love to charter a yacht up here for a few days, and go back there and stay overnight.

Ngaro rock artThe Cultural Site itself was really well curated, if that’s the right word. Queensland Parks and Wildlife must have worked hard in collaboration with descendants of the Ngaro people to create interesting displays to explain the cultural and spiritual significance of the site. The walk itself is only about 200m up the side of Nara Inlet, but you could easily spend an hour reading everything and listening to a fascinating collection of audio recordings from Ngaro descendants. The thing I liked most was that the signs encouraged you to pause and reflect, to consider the ‘Ancient Ones’ who used this site and try to connect with them whilst there, rather than just rush through.

Pause for a moment - sign on the way to the Ngaro Cultural Site, Nara Inlet

The wind and weather are looking good for a longer boat trip tomorrow morning, over to Lindeman Island to camp for 2-3 nights at Boat Port. Really looking forward to it as the walks are supposed to be fantastic…

Over and out from the skipper and the first mate… time for drinks and making dinner 🙂

The skipperThe first mate


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