Townsville Region

The area south of Hinchinbrook Island to Cape Upstart is known for scenic bays and beaches, inshore islands like Magnetic Island, spectacular off-shores reefs such as Wheeler Reef and for the Yongala shipwreck. The area attracts increasing numbers of visitors.

When operating in the region there are some key arrangements you should check.

Check zoning requirements

Zoning is one of the primary management tools for the Marine Park and it is important that you understand the zoning for the area you intend to visit. You are responsible for knowing all the zoning provisions for the location you wish to visit.

Look up the colour of the reef, island or bay you wish to visit on the zoning maps, then check the Activities Guide for what you can and can't do in the zone.

More detailed information about zoning is available on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) websites.

Check Special Management Areas

There are Special Management Areas (SMA) throughout the Marine Park. They apply specific management arrangements to an area to improve conservation of the area or to manage use. They provide an overlay to zoning and are generally marked on the zoning maps.

When you operate off Townsville, you must be aware of the:

  • Public Appreciation Special Management Areas
    • Orpheus Island Reef south-west (18-049b)
    • Davies Reef (18-096)
    • Cape Upstart.

In addition to the rules for the Conservation Park (yellow) Zone, you cannot spearfish in these areas.

  • Restricted Access Special Management Area for the waters adjacent to the Australian Institute of Marine Science (in Bowling Green Bay). In order to access this area, you must have a Marine Parks permit from the GBRMPA and QPWS specifically allowing that access.

Check designated Shipping Areas

If you conduct a cruise ship operation, check the designated Shipping Areas. They are an overlay to zoning and are designated to allow the navigation of ships through zones where they would otherwise not be permitted. You can locate the Shipping Area boundaries on the zoning maps.

Check anchoring and mooring arrangements

Tying up to a mooring, instead of anchoring, means that you are helping to protect the coral reefs of the Marine Park. Please use a mooring whenever you can and follow the responsible reef practices for moorings.

There are some blue public moorings available for use within the Townsville region. You must use them according to the requirements marked on the colour-coded band and mooring tag.

There are No Anchoring Areas at Pioneer Bay and Yanks Jetty, Orpheus Island and in Florence Bay, Magnetic Island. These are marked by Reef Protection Markers (pyramid-shaped buoys with blue Marine Park labels). You must anchor outside these areas when visiting these bays.

Maritime Safety Queensland has also declared a Prohibited Anchorage Area in Magnetic Harbour and Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island (see related links).

Check your permit

You must have a permit to operate in the Marine Park. Read your permit carefully for additional conditions about operating in the region. Most permits include special arrangements for accessing some of the bays around Magnetic Island.

If you intend to visit the Yongala shipwreck, you will also need a permit from the Queensland Museum.

Check Island National Parks

There are many island National Parks close to Townsville. There may be booking and permit requirements to visit these islands, please contact your nearest QPWS office.

Check Responsible Reef Practices

For each of the activities you undertake, consider how you and your clients can adopt responsible reef practices and further help protect the Reef.

Where can I get more information?

The GBRMPA, QPWS and a range of other regional contacts can help you with any questions you may have.

Commercial Jet Skis Around Magnetic Island

Commercial jet skis may operate in some of the bays around Magnetic Island and there are specific conditions of operation. Applications for new or increased jet ski operations at Magnetic Island will be publicly advertised with an invitation for interested people to make comment. (see Related Links)

Download Guide

Activities Guide An introduction to zoning in the Great Barrier Reef - 99.4 kb



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