The Family Islands National Park are a chain of lushly forested continental islands 130km south east of Cairns, offshore from Mission Beach. Surrounded by coral reefs, tidal flats and white sandy beaches the islands are a popular getaway for mainland dwelling locals.
Islands of interest to either campers or resort goers are Dunk, Wheeler and Coombe Island, all of which are close enough to the mainland for small runabouts to make the trip in calm conditions.
Dunk Island is the best known island, thanks to a famous beachcomber (Edmund J Banfield) who penned his memoirs, though these days it’s mostly Dunk Island Resort that draws the crowds. See the separate entry for Dunk Island, which is closed for repair after TC Yasi Feb 2011.
Wheeler Island has appeal to campers, kayakers and small boat owners who can anchor near the beach. The campsite is in a bush setting near the point on the southern beach. The island is heavily forested with carpentaria and pandanus palms, coastal almond trees along with the odd coconut palm sprouting on the foreshore. Coral and sand beaches allow easy access to the sea for campers. Pit toilet and picnic table are the only facilities.
Nearby, Coombe Island is an intimate site with camping for just one group of up to 8 people at a time. On the southern side of the island, no toilet is provided, though, conveniently, there is a picnic table.
The islands are a habitat for over 100 species of birds. Australian brush turkeys and orange footed scrubfowl are often seen pecking at the undergrowth. Colourful little sunbirds and emerald doves also live off the forest vegetation. Overhead white headed ospreys hover above the sea looking for prey.
The Family Group of Islands straddle both a (Yellow) Conservation Park Zone and a 9Green) Marine National Park Zone. Check with GBRMPA for full details.
Dunk is accessed by ferry service from Mission Beach. Access is by private boat to Wheeler and Combe Islands.
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