Elizabeth Island



Elizabeth Island


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Elizabeth Island is located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s home to the world’s largest colony of pelicans. The island is also known for its crystal-clear water and white sand beaches.

Elizabeth Island


Elizabeth Island was first recorded in 1670 as “Pelican Isle”. The island was named after Elizabeth I, the Queen of England. Elizabeth I visited Australia in 1688 and is thought to have called the island Pelican Isle while on a tour of the region.

Archaeological finds suggest that Aboriginal people have inhabited the area for thousands of years. In 1827, Captain James Cook claimed Elizabeth Island for Great Britain during his second voyage to New Holland. The first European settlers arrived in 1799 and the area was declared a penal colony at this time.

As many as 50 000 convicts were sent here during its working life from 1825 until 1902.[4] In 1863, during Australian federation, it became part of Queensland.


The climate on Elizabeth Island is tropical. There are three seasons – summer, autumn and winter. The temperature range is 24-36 degrees Celsius. Rainfall averages around 1,050 mm per year with most falling in the months of August to December. Much of the rainfall is experienced as tropical clouds and showers. Elizabeth Island is home to some of the Great Barrier Reef’s vintage shipwrecks. It also has a protected marine zone that gives it an ecosystem distinct from nearby mainland Australia.


The culture on Elizabeth Island is diverse. There are Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders, and mainland Australians living there. The island has a thriving tourism industry that contributes significantly to the local economy. The island also hosts heritage buildings and significant archaeological finds from the period of early settlement. Elizabeth island has a broad range of attractions for tourists. The centenary monument was refurbished in 2008 and reopened to the public on 3 November 2009.


Elizabeth Island is part of the Queensland electorate of Cairns. It has been in the hands of the National Party since its establishment in 1918. Elizabeth Island is located in the Cairns federal electorate of Hinchinbrook. It has been held since 1977 by National’s Warren Entsch, who was also Minister for Health and then Transport and Tourism under John Howard ‘s coalition government until September 2014. In March 2018 Mary-Anne Edwards succeeded Jenny Macklin as MP, making it one if Queensland House of Representatives first female Senators to be appointed after coming top in a primary.

Government Services

Elizabeth Island is serviced by a volunteer fire brigade, an ambulance service and the Queensland state police. The island has its own primary school, post office and bank. Elizabeth Island also has two small hotels – ‘The Boat Shed’ on the southern end of the island and ‘Elizabeth Reef Resort’ at the northern end. Elizabeth Island is home to the Cairns Council owned 18 hole, par 72 Elizabeth Golf Course. The course was built in 1977 and subsequently renovated by a group headed by Tennis Australia (WA) president John Nelson Browning OAM of Kingsley over two seasons prior to 1994.


The Elizabeth Island centenary monument was refurbished in 2008 and reopened to the public on 3 November 2009. The refurbishment included restoring the historic facade, repainting of all exterior surfaces and reinstatement of many features including pilasters, arches, window hoods and a roofline cornice.

The commemorative plaque lists key contributors to island’s development from 1918-2009 including Dr Cecil J Rhodes who made a substantial donation for the erection of the monument, Cairns City Council, RAAF Station Honeysuckle Creek and later Australian Defence Force Base (ADB) Donaldson’s SC.



Elizabeth Island is accessible by regular passenger ferry service from Port Douglas. The ferries depart two times a day and take around 25 minutes to reach the island. As of March 2018, Elizabeth Island was also served by the RACQ’s air-conditioned bus route between Cairns and Mission Beach which stopped at the ferry terminal on Elizabeth Island as well. Return fares in 2018 were $7.00 per adult and $4.50 for kids 5-16 years old, or you could share a seat on the bus for an additional fee of about 50c each way (not included in return fare).



Elizabeth Island is known for its fresh seafood, and some of the better-known dishes include scallops cooked in a ginger and lime sauce, barramundi wrapped in banana leaf and simmered in coconut milk and served with steamed rice, or snapper filleted quickly on the spot served with lemon wedges. Tourist attractions

Guerilla music concerts have been held on the island in 2000 and 2003. In August 2009, German Girl Group Schiller performed songs such as “Herz” (Heart) at their concert with locals dressed in period costumes.


The island is home to a wide variety of native and migratory seabirds, including Australian white ibises, sooty oystershells, crested terns and buff-breasted sandpipers. The island is also home to endangered species such as the Greater Flamingo, Bassian whimsail (black-necked stilt) and red-knobbed terns. A record number of 35 birds were recorded on when it was surveyed in October 2012. The island also has several species of reptile including green tree pythons, frilled lizards and freshwater crocodiles which are common on the island. Plant life

The vegetation consists mainly of palm trees and mangroves, but there is a significant area dedicated to sea grasses with its beautiful white spikes in the water. Rainfall

Around 12 – 20mm per month according to all weather stations accessible around Elizabeth Island (scientificly established by the University of Adelaide).


When you think of tropical islands, Elizabeth Island wouldn’t be the first that comes to mind. But don’t let its unassuming appearance fool you, this small, uninhabited island off the coast of North Carolina is home to some awe-inspiring natural wonders. With crystal clear water, white sand beaches, and lush forests, Elizabeth Island is a paradise for nature lovers. Travellers can find plenty to do on the island, including swimming, snorkelling, hiking, biking, and kayaking. There are also several restaurants and hotels that offer activities like diving and fishing.


  1. What Is Elizabeth Island?

Elizabeth Island is a small, uninhabited island in the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of North Carolina in the United States.

  1. How Big Is Elizabeth Island?

The island measures just over 2 square miles (5 square kilometers). It’s home to a colony of pelicans, which makes it one of the world’s largest colonies of these birds.

  1. Where Is Elizabeth Island Located?

Elizabeth Island is located in the heart of The Great Barrier Reef, Australia. It’s north-east of Cairns, and south-west of Townsville.

  1. How Did Elizabeth Island Get Its Name?

The island got its name in honour of Elizabeth II, the Queen as a tribute to her residency at Balmoral Castle.

  1. How Big Is Elizabeth Island’s Population?

There are no permanent inhabitants on the island; only scientists and researchers studying marine life inhabit it when they can fit there among pelicans, who flocks here while migrating south for the winter months (June-August).



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