Barrow Island



Barrow Island


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Born in 1926 on the now-defunct North Head of Sydney Harbour, Barrow Island has been a fresh water pearl for decades. With a dense population of foxes, wild waterbirds, and goats developing its ecosystem, the island has become a hive of activity that extends to its nearby surroundings. That’s not all.

Its role as an important base for Sydney’s harbour cruise services has spared no effort in keeping it in the spotlight. This article will shed light on how travel expands our horizons and sheds light on a small island that is only 15 minutes’ boat ride from Sydney Harbour.

Barrow Island



Since the early 1800s, Barrow Island has been a freshwater pearl-producing island. The first known small-scale pearl harvesting occurred in 1830 and the industry prospered until about 1870 when production began to decline as technology improved.

Commercial pearling took place sporadically until 1938 when it was significantly increased due to World War II demand for naval supplies from Japan. Pearl culture continued on Barrow Island through the 1960s but with declining yields as a result of competition from South East Asia. The industry declined again in the early 1990s and ceased entirely by 2001.


Barrow Island is now a vibrant island with a dense population of foxes, wild waterbirds, and goats. It has also become an important base for Sydney’s harbour cruise services due to its sheltered harbour location and beautiful surroundings.



Barrow Island has a subtropical climate with dry summers and mild winters.


It is customary to shake hands when meeting someone, offer tea or coffee, and say “thank you” when receiving something. Local residents here have been very welcoming of foreigners. They often come to meet you on the way back from the pier or at al fresco dinning venues, and are always happy to see visitors coming onto their island again after a long absence.

Many will walk over the nearly 1 km just to give visitors a brief tour in their homes or gardens. Tourists are also invited into people’s private residences while they’re away so make sure that you give them adequate notice, i.e.,

Several days so that they can obtain some consent from their hosts and purify the space for visitors. You should interact with local people in a similar manner by asking permission before taking souvenirs or photographing private gardens/houses while touching objects makes it quite rude behavior here too.


The traditional music and dance of the Barrow Islanders is called kapa haka. It is danced as part of chiefly ceremonies or on special occasions such as births, marriages and funerals. It is considered a skill learnt in childhood, passed on from one generation to the other.

A typical performance consists of three different groupings as shown below: The first “wi/gwe” (male and female) dancing together, who move counterclockwise around an imagined line in unison; followed by the “kumutaki”, male lead singers of haka (“tuathal sei tuman”).

They stride down this imaginary front section in loose chorus, followed by the repetitive “poitakaki”, female dancers who mimic them as they waddle down like birds in a row; then comes the group of older senior men and women who sing unison (seemingly considered strenuous work) but whose rhythm is more difficult to synchronise with that of their counterparts.


The Barrow Islands are a self-governing overseas territory of New Zealand. They elect their own legislature, the Island Council, which has a chairman and twelve councillors. The principal political parties are the Labour Party and the Conservative Party.

Government Services

Healthcare is provided by the New Zealand government through the District Health Board. There is a police service, headed by a superintendent, and there are two hospitals:

The Hospital at Turua and Stanley Memorial Hospital on Barrow Island The local  school is called Barrow Island School. It has a roll of almost 250 (in 2009) and offers primary and secondary education for students up to year thirteen with discipline problems.


Flaherty Island Tourism

There is a small but growing tourist industry on Barrow Island. Activities include hiking, snorkelling and kayaking. There are also two self-catering cottages available for tourists. Ecology

Barrow Island is covered in numerous rare plants and animals. They include the New Zealand Leatherwood, that grows nowhere else on earth; the Mitchell’s Spleenwort which also occurs only on Barrow; and the Three Kings Snail (also one of 33 endemic or near-endemic snails). A large population has been found of Seicercus jamesi, a threatened species originally thought to be extinct .


The only means of transport on the island is by helicopter. There are four landing sites important to tourists: Laketop, Onewa Beach (near the lagoon), Perito Rocks and Kiwi Pass.

The other half of Barrow Island is a seabird colony called Campbell Island situated in New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands , which houses around 1000 species of birds as well as rats, stoats and weasels . Roughly 60 indigenous people still live on the island.


The cuisine on Barrow Island is centred around seafood. The locals catch tuna, salmon and blue cod in the lagoon; barracuda, whiting and giant trevally offshore; kahawai (a type of white fish) from the streams; and crabs from under stones along the shoreline. They augur the catch as it washes up on to their beaches, leaving tiny shards of bones in its wake.

Barrow Island is one of New Zealand’s most inaccessible islands and has no airstrip making landings impossible without a helipad. That is why tours are done entirely by helicopter – the only way to reach Barrow Island! While there, take care not to bring goods such as clothing or shoes which may be worn.



Barrow Island is home to some of the country’s rarest and most endangered wildlife, including New Zealand’s only leatherwood tree, the Mitchell’s Spleenwort; three kings snail; and Campbell Island seabird colony. There are also some rare insects and animals such as the Fovea subspecies of Pachysandra  and two types of gecko.

Maori legends tell that when Intone first came to New Zealand, he ordered his people to bury their tools so they would not take them off with them on the long sea journey; consequently it is a common belief that there may be Roman relics in profusion all over Barrow Island.


We thought we’d share with you an emerging piece of work from the port of Brisbane. This photo captures one of the really exciting aspects of what we do – our ability to combine pioneering exploratory research on new technology with the cut and thrust of the international maritime industry.

The photo was taken during a recent shipment of five brand new research vessels. They are on their way to Victoria’s Port Phillip bay, in Melbourne, to join the innovative fleet already under construction as part of our plan to make Australia the world leader in shipping technology in the years to come.


1.Is It Safe To Visit Barrow Island?

Ans. Yes. We are committed to making sure you have a safe and memorable experience on Barrow Island, so we provide safety instructions with every one of our ship tours.

What outfits may I wear when visiting the island? Here’s more detail: Part – 9-Lakes & Rivers Anti-malingering policy There is no time limit for wearing clothing into or onto the helipad at Barrow Island – this topic comes up regularly in user

2.Where Can I Stay On Barrow Island?

Ans. Check out our Accommodation page for a comprehensive list of all accommodation and camping options on Barrow Island.

3.Where Can I Eat On Barrow Island?

Ans. You can try out the island’s recommended eateries. Get the locations with our Lodging and Camping Guide

4.What Is Barrow Island?

Ans. Barrow Island is part of the rich marshland that was formed by sea levels rising and falling over thousands of years. Today, on one side it still retains its natural wildlife-rich wilderness, but within a short walking distance from your cruise trip there are accommodation options for you to choose from at – among other places – Mission Beach Resort , Durkin’s Marina & Apartments or Barrow Village .

5.How Can I Get To Barrow Island?

Ans. Barrow Island can be reached in 2 different ways. On a boat tour, you will touch down at Durkin’s Marina the best concrete airstrip on or offshore of Barrow Island. You may also choose to take a helicopter ride over Bass Strait – this is upon request and not included as part of any cruise excursions package with C3 Adventure Cruises

General Information about Barrow Island: The island is very separate from the Australian mainland. It has only one main airstrip, backed by a concrete lookout tower and provided as part of C3 Adventure Cruises .

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