The island is largely national park with good swimming, kayaking and hiking. There is also an abandoned resort once used for day-trippers and overnighters. It has had an interesting career, being used in earlier and happier times by artists, beachcombers, Prime Ministers and film celebrities. There is some interesting snorkeling near the jetty.
Dunk Island was wrecked by Cyclone Yasi in February 2011 and the resort was closed. There will be no regular day trips out to the island until the resort reopens, as a rebuilt super-luxury exclusive resort.
Wreck of the Lady Bowen
GPS -18 2.2096799 146 25.8673199
The Lady Bowen left Lucinda on 18 August 1894 bound for Sydney. The Lady Bowen was a 66 metre long schooner. Due to poor navigation and a strong current the vessel was driven onto Kennedy Shoal and holed. The Lady Bowen immediately began to sink and break up. The crew escaped safely. The wreck lies upright listing to starboard on a sandy bottom and can be partially covered by sand. Site features include an iron hull, ballast, broken planks, large anchor winch and anchor. Fish to be seen includes schools of barracuda, fusiliers, snapper, sweetlips, cod, lionfish and sea snakes. There are also plenty of colourful invertebrates including sponges, corals, shellfish, urchins, sea cucumbers and nudibranchs. The wreck enjoys visibility of 12-30 metres. The site is exposed and can be affected by currents. The site should only be dived at slack water on a calm day.
Cardwell/ Hinchinbrook Island
Once a popular resort island, the area has been quieter since the Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge shutting its doors in 2010 because of financial troubles and cyclone damage. It was further damaged by a fire. It may again reopen its doors and offer dive services to the more distant reefs around the area.
The Brook Islands are the most popular coral reef in close proximity to Hinchinbrook. The coral formations around these islands have been identified as being the oldest and largest single formations yet to be found on the Great Barrier Reef. The reefs are protected from fishing and are a great snorkeling location. Charters can be arranged from Port Hinchinbrook Resort
Situated approximately 130km North of Townsville, Lucinda is a small coastal town close to the world heritage listed Hinchinbrook Island and the Palm Island group. Lucinda is also home to the largest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 5.5 km; built to supply the container ships that come from round the world with raw sugar. This harbour serves some dive businesses visiting the offshore reefs in the area.
Palm Island Group
There are 11 islands in the group; apart from Orpheus and nearby council-run Pelorus, all of the islands are Aboriginal communities with restricted access, traditional land of the Manbarra Aboriginal people.
The fringing reefs surrounding Orpheus and the neighbouring islands are very colourful and diverse. The island boasts pretty tropical forest and superb fringing reef. The local dive sites are home to 1,100 of the 1,500 species of fish on the reef, 340 of the 359 varieties of hard corals and some of the region’s largest collections of soft corals. There is a research station and a small and exclusive resort on Orpheus accessible by air. There is a good snorkel site to the north of the main resort noted for giant clams, big coral bommies and clouds of damsel fish. Yanks Jetty, built during W.W.II for an American Catalina flying boat base now offers good snorkelling.
Some popular dive sites include Black Coral Wall, The Maze, Bat Caves, The Scuba School and Chunder Point. All the dives offer their own unique features. There is a range of hard and soft corals and marine life. There’s a drift dive that covers a good distance and encompasses dive sites including: Moon Pool, Dark Side of the Moon and The Trenches.
The deeper, outer reefs are approximately 75 mins from the Orpheus lodge by boat and are accessible by private charter. The outer reef offers plenty of reef habitats with green turtles, manta rays, bull rays and reef sharks.
The smaller of the 2 islands, overlooks the Lucinda Jetty and Hinchinbrook Island. There is an excellent variety of hard and soft corals, turtles, manta rays, bull rays, pipefish and nudibranchs.