Hill Inlet is spectacular, with its shifting white silica sands and aqua water, it wanders through diverse vegetation eventually reaching the ocean.
Hill Inlet is a wide inlet lined with melaleuca, casuarina and pandanus trees. The 12 different species of mangroves found here act as an important nursery ground for marine and terrestrial life. Local and migratory seabird and shorebird species including crested terns, pied oystercatchers and the threatened beach stone curlew also nest at Hill Inlet.
It is extremely popular for sightseeing and nature walks. The Hill Inlet walk follows an easy track to the Hill Inlet Lookout, boasting unparalleled views of the area.
Tourism operators accessing Tongue Bay or the Hill Inlet Lookout via Tongue Bay require a Commercial Activities Permit from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
This gives standard permission for a commercial operator to access the Lookout with a maximum group size of 25 including a mandatory guide.
Detailed map of Hill Inlet displaying the Setting 5 area
Accessing the area
Hill Inlet is the inlet between Tongue Point and the northern most point of Whitehaven Beach. It is located in a Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone which requires a permit for all tourism activities.
Conservation Park Zones provide for the conservation of areas of the Marine Park, whilst providing opportunities for reasonable use and enjoyment.
Whitsundays Plan of Management (WPOM)
Under the Whitsundays Plan of Management (WPOM) Hill Inlet (including the northern end of Whitehaven Beach) is classed as a Setting 5 area.
A Setting 5 area is:
A protected natural setting, for areas of outstanding or unique conservation value and areas of special management concern. Operation in these areas will be limited and managed according to individual site plans.
Table 1: WPOM Setting Limits for Hill Inlet and Betty’s Beach
|5||Protected||Max vessel length: 20m
Max group size: 15
Northern end of Whitehaven Beach
This area possesses outstanding conservation values that include:
- Beach stone curlews nest along the high water mark
- Unadorned rock wallaby habitat
- Diverse vegetation including melaleuca, casuarinas, pandanus and wedding bush
- Twelve species of mangrove
- Four species of seagrass
- Silica sand flats, pure white sand
- A cultural midden site, including rock shelter and artefacts.
A detailed Site Plan for the Hill Inlet Setting 5 location area has been established in collaboration with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Whitsundays Local Marine Advisory Committee and key industry groups, the proposed Site Plan aims to ensure the protection of the natural, cultural and heritage values of the inlet.
Tourism operators permitted to access Hill Inlet
Some permitted tourism operators have exemptions to the access restrictions at Hill Inlet and the northern end of Whitehaven Beach. These exemptions give them access to the Setting 5 area with specific group numbers.