Orpheus Island, or Goolboddi in the local Aboriginal language, is a private island in the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of tropical Northern Queensland. Most of the island is part of the Orpheus Island National Park. There are beautiful coral reefs in the shallow waters offshore from white-sand beaches. There is one luxury resort and three campgrounds to stay at.
Orpheus Island provides some of the finest examples of fish, coral, and other marine life anywhere on the Great Barrier Reef. While it’s a scenically beautiful place, there’s very little construction on the island—just a resort and a research station operated by James Cook University. There’s only one resort on the island, the luxury Orpheus Island Lodge, as well as three campsites. The population of the island is tiny, at around 20 people. Aside from a school group that visits the research station annually, the majority of visitors stay at the luxury resort, enjoying activities like swimming, snorkeling, diving, hiking, and boat charters to nearby islands.
Things to know before you go
*While there are three campsites on the island—at Yanks Jetty, Pioneer Bay, and South Beach—these can only be reached by charter boat, so Orpheus Island is not an ideal destination for low-budget travelers.
- A permit is required to camp on the island.
- Campsites are very basic, and you’ll need to bring food and water with you.
How to get there
Most visitors arrive on Orpheus Island by helicopter charter. It’s a 90-minute flight from Cairns, or a 30-minute flight from Townsville. If staying at the Orpheus Island Lodge, some packages include helicopter transfers with a minimum number of nights booked. The island can also be reached by private boat charter.
When to get there
While it’s possible to visit Orpheus Island at any time of year, conditions for swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and lounging on the beach are preferable in the dry season (May through October). During the wet season (November through April), it’s unlikely to rain all day every day, but the skies won’t be so clear and the waters will be rougher and more churned up with debris.
Day Trip to Hinchinbrook Island
Travelers staying at the Orpheus Island Lodge for a few days can take a day trip to nearby Hinchinbrook Island. This has Australia’s largest island national park. There are beautiful viewpoints, waterfalls, beaches, and rainforests, and some visitors also like to go saltwater crocodile spotting—under strict supervision from a guide. Hinchinbrook can be reached from Orpheus by helicopter or boat.
- Paluma Range National Park
- Magnetic Island
- Jezzine Barracks
- Army Museum North Queensland
- Kissing Point Fortification
- Royal Australian Air Force Museum (RAAF Museum)
- The Strand
- Castle Hill
- Museum of Tropical Queensland
- Reef HQ Aquarium
- Maritime Museum of Townsville
- Tumbetin Tea Rooms
- Billabong Sanctuary
- SS Yongala Dive Site