Orpheus Island is located within the Palm Island Group on the Great Barrier Reef. It lies 120 kilometres north of Townsville and 220 kilometres south of Cairns, and is 23 kilometres (16 nautical miles) east of the mainland coast from Lucinda, a small fishing community an hour's drive north of Townsville.
Orpheus Island is in the northern end of the Palm Island group. Travelling from Townsville to Lucinda, this equates to approximately 2½ hours driving time and about 3½ hours from Cairns.
Orpheus Island is within the Townsville/Whitsunday management area of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and, as the only national park within the Palm Island group, is also under the management of the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.
Composed of volcanic rocks, the island stretches for 12 kilometres and comprises 1,368 hectares of dry woodlands, with Moreton Bay ash and acacias dominating, scattered rainforest gullies featuring Figs and Macaranga trees, grasslands, granite outcrops, beaches and bays which are surrounded by fringing reefs.
Several mammals and reptiles are found on the island including bandicoots and antechinus, as well as many species of birds such as the orange-footed scrubfowl, and seabirds such as ospreys and egrets. A known 1,100 species of fish and 340 of the 350 known species of reef coral can be found in the underwater gardens of the surrounding fringing reef and adjacent mid shelf reefs.
Orpheus Island Research Station is located on the western side of the island within Pioneer Bay.
It is one of only six marine research stations located within the boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is uniquely sited to provide ready access to inshore reefs and islands within the middle section of the Great Barrier Reef. The station has a 2 hectare lease along the beach front and several private moorings. Access to the station is by the stations own catamaran Challenger III from Lucinda which takes approximately 45 minutes.
Visitors to the station are welcome, provided a suitable time is pre-arranged and visitors are escorted throughout their tour of the station by OIRS staff. Arrangements can be made for a visit by contacting the station on +61 7 4781 3480 or via VHF marine radio on channel 81 or 16.
The Orpheus Island Research Station actively seeks volunteers to assist with station duties throughout the year. See our Volunteer Program webpage for further information.
Orpheus Island Research Station provides a range of excellent facilities to suit both research and educational groups.