The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (the managing agencies) support ecologically sustainable cruise ship operations within the Great Barrier Reef in accordance with this policy, and encourages the cruise ship industry to contribute to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and presentation of the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Designated Anchorages

Designated anchorages are designed for use by large ships (at least 70 metres) and large vessels (more than 35 metres, but less than 70 metres) that are used as part of a tourism program or for private recreation (e.g. for cruise ships or superyachts).

There is a comprehensive network of 34* designated anchorages along the length of the Great Barrier Reef. They are designed to offer a range of opportunities in the Marine Park.

More designated anchorages can be added to the network if requested, after an assessment funded by the applicant. Assessment involves a thorough consideration of safety and environmental issues by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, based on advice from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Transport and Main Roads (Qld), Royal Australian Navy Australian Hydrographic Service and reef pilots.

*Note: the total number of 34 designated anchorages includes the two designated anchorages in the Whitsundays that are numbered 29A and 29B.

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Note:

  1. The exact locations of each designated anchorage can be found by clicking on the relevant region below.
  2. All geographic coordinates are expressed in terms of the Geocentric Datum of Australia, 1994.
  3. The numbering of designated anchorages below are as per the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983.

Far North

There are 11 designated anchorages in the far north of the Marine Park. This is a remote area with no port facilities or support infrastructure. The nine anchorages located within the Remote Natural Area cater for cruise ships that are 70-120 metres in length, carry 120-150 passengers and are able to provide their own tourism activities.  There are no size requirements for the two Flinders Island Group designated anchorages.

Cooktown and Cairns

There are seven designated anchorages in the Cairns Planning Area. Cruise ships can operate up to 50 days a year within the Cairns Planning Area with a booking.

Dunk Island

There is one designated anchorage to the east of Dunk Island. This designated anchorage is outside the Hinchinbrook Planning Area.

Hinchinbrook

There are two designated anchorages in the Hinchinbrook Planning Area. Cruise ships can operate up to 50 days a year within the Hinchinbrook Planning Area with a booking.

Whitsundays

There are 10 designated anchorages in the Whitsunday Planning Area. Cruise ships can operate up to 50 days a year within the Whitsunday Planning Area with a booking.

Fitzalan Passage caters for cruise ships that are less than 200 metres in length. The prior approval of the Mackay Regional Harbour Master must be obtained before accessing this designated anchorage.