Michaelmas and Upolu Cays National Park

Michaelmas and Upolu cays are small, low, sand cays, covered by low-lying vegetation which offers an ideal habitat for thousands of ground-nesting seabirds. Michaelmas Cay is one of the most important seabird breeding sites within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It is the only destination within the Cairns section of the reef that provides an opportunity for visitors to experience a seabird rookery with high species diversity and large populations.

Michaelmas Cay is also the only local rookery supporting breeding populations of sooty terns and common noddies and is the most significant local rookery for crested terns and lesser crested terns. It is the southernmost limit of sooty tern breeding and the northernmost breeding limit of the crested tern. Nowhere else are these two species found breeding together in such vast numbers in such an accessible location.

Both cays are surrounded by coral reefs teeming with a variety of interesting marine life. The surrounding reef and waters of the Michaelmas and Upolu cays form part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area and are popular destinations for both commercial and recreational water activities.

Getting there and getting around

Michaelmas and Upolu Cays National Park is 40km north-east of Cairns. Daily access to Upolu and Michaelmas cays is by commercial or private vessels. Commercial vessels depart from Cairns and Yorkeys Knob and the frequency depends on demand. Travel times depend on whether the vessel is sailing or motoring. Sea planes are available but can only access Upolu Cay.


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Access onto Michaelmas Cay is only allowed within the roped-off area (Designated Access Area of the Marine Park section) between 9.30am and 3.00pm. Access to the national park section of the cay (area above high water) is prohibited due to nesting seabirds.

Further Information

EPA Customer Service Centre
Ground Floor
160 Ann Street, Brisbane
PO Box 15155 CITY EAST QLD 4002
ph (07) 3227 8185
fax (07) 3227 8749

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