frankland-islands - Great Barrier Reef dive

Frankland Islands

Frankland Islands National Park (sometimes seen written as Franklin Island) is a group of five islands: High, Normanby, Mabel, Round and Russell. They are about 45 kilometers south east of Cairns and 10 kilometers off the coast near the mouths of the Russell-Mulgrave rivers. James Cook is the one credited with naming these islands, adding them to his navigational charts. Names for two Sir Thomas Frankland, both mariners one the nephews of Cook the other, one of the Lords of the Admiralty.

Visiting Frankland Islands

The Frankland Islands are very popular with the local boaters and snorkeler/ divers. Private boats are limited to only those 35 meters or less and with less than 16 people on board, passengers and crew. Commercial operators such as tour boats are limited to one per day, unless they have a special permit.  Frankland Islands Cruises is currently the only operator to have a permit and it allows them to carry a maximum of 100 guest a day to the islands. They also are the owners of the only three private moorings allowed in the National park. Two of these are at Normanby Island and one at Russell Island.  The Frankland Islands National Park has a no structure allowed destination. The only exception to this rule is on the land leased for the solar powered automatic Russell Island Lighthouse.

Frankland Island Cruises

The day trip that Frankland Island cruises offer includes a range of different activities and provide a day that truly shows different aspects of Queensland. The best way to get started is by using their optional bus transfer from your hotel to the departure point. That way you can enjoy the scenery of the mountains and the sea. Departing from Deeral landing on the Mulgrave River, south of Cairns, the first part of your journey Mangrove lined river. This undeveloped river looks much the same way now as when western settlers first arrived in the area. As you travel along the river there will be a commentary giving some of the history and pointing out some of the locals like crocodiles.  It takes about 30 minutes for the boat to reach the mouth of the river.  Leaving the river the boat starts it 10 kilometer trip out to the islands. You will be heading out to Normanby Island.

Normanby island like the other islands in the group is a continental island, meaning it is really a mountain top of a submerged mountain range. Around this mountain top has formed fringing reefs which in turn have help great wonderful white sand beaches. Normanby island is an ideal location to spend a day with nature. The beaches are pristine with snorkeling on the reef just steps away. Snorkeling gear is included of course and for those who wish a lesson its use will receive it from one of the crew. A marine biologist is on hand that will be giving a few guide tours across the reef. Join and you will be amazed what there is to see and learn. There are also rock pool tours. Children as well as adults will really enjoy these. Rock pools are depressions in the rocks that remain filled with water but isolated as the tide goes out. Those creatures who were there at the time have to wait for the tide to come in before they can leave. It is interesting to get a close look at these marine creatures.

There are paths into the island and guided tours of some areas of the rain forest is also given. There are no buildings on the island however, there are a number of picnic benches and your lunch will be served under a tarp providing additional shady places.

Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving is available for both the certified diver and those who wish to take an introductory dive. Certified divers will dive a nearby location using an inflatable, while introduction dives are done along the beach area. There is time to do two dives on this trip.


While not a part of the daily trip just a comment on camping, and trying not to make fun of the National Parks website. Camping is available at both High Island and Russell Island. High Island is only accessible by private boats while the Camp sites at Russell Island is serviced by Frankland Islands Cruises. Reservations are required for both camping areas. The National Park service states that the Russell Islands camp sites are the most popular and are frequently fully booked. Reading furthers on you see that there are only three sites with a maximum of a total of 13 campers between all three sites. However for a true camping adventure having an entire island to your self and at most a dozen others may be paradise for many campers.

Return Trip

On your way back to the main land and up the river, afternoon tea will be served. It is also a great time to see how many crocodiles you can count along the way.