Important: Unfortunately the Dunk Island resort remains closed while repairs to the damaged cause by cyclone Yasi continue. The Dunk Island Spit camp ground, day use area and Family Islands National Park are open for public use. All other areas including the resort, airport, pools and farm are private property and off limits. The island's fully licensed Cafe, located adjacent to the Jetty on the Dunk Island Spit, is open. The cafe serves ice cold drinks, tea and coffee, meals including fresh local seafood all served in the awesome laid back atmosphere of the campground.
Dunk Island is one of Queensland's longest established resort islands. The island lies 4 km off the Australian east coast, opposite the town of Mission Beach. The island forms part of the Family Islands National Park and is in the larger Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
The island is surrounded by reefs and has a diverse population of birds. Aborigines once used the island as a source of food. Europeans first settled on the island in 1897. Dunk Island was used by the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. In recent years the island and its resort facilities were affected by both Cyclone Larry and Cyclone Yasi. There is also a camping ground available for visitors as part of the national park, although a permit is required for its use.
Dunk Island is also home to a small community of artists who live, work and showcase their work on a property on the southern side of the island. The Colony was established in 1974 by former Olympic wrestler Bruce Arthur, and continued to operate after his death in 1998, until Cyclone Larry damaged much of the colony.
Dunk Island is by far the largest island in the Family Islands National Park, all of which consist of granite rock. All of the islands were part of the mainland before the last sea level rise began 8,000 years ago. Dunk Island covers 970ha, of which 730 ha is national park and the rest is freehold. Its topography varies, with sandy beaches and rocky shores, slightly undulating slopes, foothills and steeper semi-rugged terrain. Mount Kootaloo is the island's highest point, at 271 m above sea level.
There are over 100 species of birds on Dunk Island, including rare and vulnerable seabirds. During the summer months, the island becomes a breeding site for terns and noddies. The lack of predators, along with a plentiful supply of food from the surrounding reef waters, make it an ideal nesting site. Dunk Island is also home to reptiles such as pythons, tree snakes, geckos and skinks. The island's fringing reefs and surrounding waters are home to an array of marine life such as sea turtles, dugongs, corals, fish, shellfish and crabs. Purtaboi Island (the small island directly out from Dunk Island) is closed and inaccessible for guests from October through to April each year due to the crested terns nesting on the island.
Dunk Island has thirteen kilometres of walking tracks spread over five main routes, ranging from a short walk to Edmund James Banfield's grave to a 4-hour island circuit hike. Commercial operators offer guided tours around the island, as does the Dunk Island resort. The Mission Beach Dunk Island Water Taxi and Mission Beach Charters run transfers between Mission Beach and Dunk Island, and Bedarra Island guest transfers. Dunk Island also has a small airstrip, Dunk Island Airport, located near the resort, with frequent flights to Cairns.
Brief history: The island was bought in 1934 by Captain Brassey and Banfield's bungalow provided the basis for the beginnings of a resort. The Royal Australian Air Force occupied Dunk Island during World War II, building its airstrip in 1941. they installed a radar station on the island's highest point a year later, which was then dismantled when the war ended in 1945. The Brassey family returned to run the resort for a period at the end of the war. The island then went through a succession of owners.
In 1956, Gordon & Kathleen Stynes purchased the island and relocated their family from Victoria to Dunk Island. The Stynes Family then set about to redevelop and upgrade the resort s facilities to establish the island as a tourist destination. As a result, Dunk Island became a popular destination for celebrities including Sean Connery, Henry Ford II and former Australian Prime Ministers Harold Holt and Gough Whitlam. The Stynes Family owned and operated the island and resort until 1964 when it was sold to Eric McIlree, founder of Avis Rent-A-Car.
In 1976, Trans Australia Airlines purchased Dunk Island. Ownership then passed to Qantas in 1992, following its merger with Australian Airlines. On 24 December 1997, the island was purchased by P&O Australian Resorts, who were then acquired by Voyages in July 2004. In September 2009, both Dunk and Bedarra island resorts were purchased by Hideaway Resorts, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pamoja Capital. Dunk Island Resort comprises 160 rooms popular with families and couples. The resort was closed after suffering considerable damage from Cyclone Yasi in 2011.
The Family Islands are a chain of stunningly scenic continental islands, close to the Wet Tropics coast near Mission Beach, clad in lush rainforest and woodlands and surrounded by coral reefs, tidal flats and sandy beaches. The islands have been given National Park status. The islands support many species of birds, insects, reptiles and mammals. Over time, the brilliant blue Ulysses butterfly has become a symbol for Dunk Island. The fringing reefs surrounding each of the islands are home to a diversity of reef life. Extensive seagrass beds lie between the islands and are important feeding grounds for sea turtles and dugong.
The lush, green, gently-rising hills of the Family Islands contrast greatly with the jagged and lofty profile of Hinchinbrook Island which dominates the southern horizon. Dunk Island, like the other Family Islands, is cloaked in a mosaic of dense rainforest in protected gullies and wet slopes, and eucalypt forest with an understorey of palms and looping lianas on drier more exposed ridges. The Family Islands lie within the traditional sea country of the Bandjin and Djiru Aboriginal peoples, who for tens of thousands of years have collected, gathered and hunted the bountiful marine and island resources for food and materials. Today they retain a strong connection to these islands.