New caretakers for tropical island in the Great Barrier Reef

It is one of the most coveted jobs on the Great Barrier Reef, and this week the new caretakers for Low Isles are taking up their post on the coral cay offshore from Port Douglas.

Karen Hofman and James Ware were chosen from a merit-based tender process run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority which attracted widespread attention from the media and on social media.

Marine Park Authority Field Management Project Manager Stephanie Lemm welcomed the new caretakers, saying they’ll play an important role protecting and presenting the island’s values.

“We’re excited to welcome Karen and James to Low Isles and look forward to working with them,” she said.

“The couple, from Brisbane, bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in reef tourism and engineering and are well-suited to the role that involves maintaining the heritage and natural values of this beautiful coral cay.”

Ms Hofman said they were delighted to take up the role in far north Queensland.

“We are very excited about this role as it is our chance to protect our patch of the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.

“Conservation of the natural environment and the Low Isles heritage values will be our priority. We look forward to ensuring a sustainable future for Low Isles.”

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority appoints caretakers to this carbon-neutral island in the Marine Park to ensure its natural and heritage values are maintained.

Ms Lemm said the duties were varied and, while living on a tropical island might seem to be a dream job, it’s not as glamourous as it sounds.

“There’s a lot of hard work and challenges that come with living and working on an island 24–7,” Ms Lemm said.

“The caretakers are involved in a number of official duties to maintain the island.

“Given the location, they must also live and work in a very environmentally sustainable way, including conserving water and electricity.”

The caretakers are responsible for maintaining the heritage listed lightstation buildings, liaising with tourist operators, cleaning compost toilets, managing weeds, and counting pied imperial pigeons.

Low Isles is a Commonwealth-owned island, managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

There are 70 Commonwealth Islands in the Marine Park, located between Albany Rock at the tip of Cape York to the southernmost island on the Reef at Lady Elliot Island. Of these, 21 are directly managed by the Marine Park Authority.

Contact: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority | Media team: (07) 4750 0846 |