Russell Island camping area
Camping area features: the most popular island camping in the Cairns section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Location: on the north-east side of Russell Island.
Number of sites: three sites (most are numbered).
Camp sites are suitable for: small to medium tents. There are two camp sites that hold a maximum of four people and one site that holds a maximum of five people. The maximum total number of campers allowed on the island at any one time is 13, or 24 in the case of school groups. Maximum group size is 10 people, except for school groups where 20 students plus four supervisors are permitted.
Camp site surface: sand.
Facilities: composting toilet (no toilet paper supplied), seats and picnic tables. At each site poles are provided for erecting tarpaulins.
Open fires: not allowed. Fuel stoves only.
Essentials to bring: tarpaulin, drinking water, rubbish bags, fuel stove, comprehensive first-aid kit, insect repellent and sun protection equipment. Read more about things to know before you go.
Bookings: Bookings are essential and are required well in advance for holiday periods. No camping fees apply. Click here to book online, or call 13 74 68 (much easier).
Mobile phone coverage: very limited or not available.
The Frankland Islands—High, Normanby, Mabel, Round and Russell—lie about 10 km offshore from the mouth of the Russell and Mulgrave rivers at Russell Heads, about 45 km south-east of Cairns.
Featuring outcrops of weathered and eroded green and white metamorphic rock, the islands are part of the coastal mountain range which was separated from the mainland by a rise in sea level 6000 years ago. The vegetation on the islands is varied and includes patches of lush rainforest, coastal plant communities and mangrove swamps.
The islands support a large array of bird life including numerous seabirds as well as pied imperial-pigeons, fruit doves, varied honeyeaters and white-breasted woodswallows. The fringing reefs surrounding the islands are home to a diversity of reef life including both hard and soft corals.
The Frankland Islands have special significance for the Mandingalby Yidinji and Gungandji Aboriginal people who fished, hunted and gathered food on these islands and the adjacent sea country. Lieutenant James Cook named the islands in 1770 in honour of two 18th century sailors—a Lord of the Admiralty and his nephew, both named Sir Thomas Frankland. Early in the 20th century, the Frankland Islands became a popular fishing and boating destination for local people. A lighthouse was built on Russell Island in 1929 and the island became a Commonwealth island. High, Normanby, Mabel and Round islands were declared national park in 1936. The surrounding waters were included in the Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkExternal link icon in 1983.