Fitzroy Island National Park

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Fitzroy Island National Park is a gazetted protected area covering Fitzroy Island, Queensland (also called Koba or Gabar), a continental island located 22 kilometres east of Cairns, Queensland (Australia).[1]

The Aboriginal people particularly connected to this Island are the Kobaburra (or alternatively Gaba:ra[2]) from within the Gungganyji language group.[3]

As a Queensland National Park the natural and cultural resources of the Island itself (down to high tide) are protected by the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and much of the island is therefore off-limits to visitors. Most visitors remain on the sheltered western side of the island, where the jetty, resort and best snorkeling can be found.


The island

Fitzroy Island is a continental island, not a coral cay. It became an island when sea levels rose at the end of the last ice age, flooding a plain between a hill that is now Fitzroy Island, and what is now Cape Grafton. Over the 10,000 years since that time, coral reefs have formed in the bay on the protected western side of the island, and lush rainforest on its shore.

Fitzroy Island has been put to many uses by humankind. It is part of the traditional lands of the Gurabana Gungandji people, who recorded its formation in myth, and was used as a hunting and fishing ground. In 1778, Lieutenant James Cook named the island after the family name of the Duke of Grafton, who was the British Prime Minister when his ship, the HMB Endeavour, had set sail. Through the 1800s, a pearling and beche-de-mer industry operated from the island. A giant clam research station remains in operation on Welcome Bay. The Island has also served as part an aboriginal mission in the early 1900s, an artillery gun emplacement in World War II, and, more recently, a tourist resort.

The Island has also been home to lighthouses warning ships in the Grafton Passage of the reefs around the island, and a small automatic light on Little Fitzroy Island, just off the north-east point, still serves this purpose. An inactive lighthouse sits on the point above, and is part of the circuit trail that is open to tourists.

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