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View from Solway Circuit Track, Whitsunday Islands National Park View from Solway Circuit Track, Whitsunday Islands National Park

Discover art in nature within Whitsunday Islands National Park

Do you like spending your weekends catching the latest exhibition or orchestral performance? Are you more at home roaming a gallery than wandering a walking track?

The beauty of nature—the colours of a sunset or patterns in a pine cone—have long inspired artists around the world and there are galleries and museums dedicated to it. So why not experience it for yourself? Swap your program for a backpack and visit Whitsunday Islands National Park—a place where nature has truly inspired art.

You’ll be spoilt for choice as this park—just 25km east of Airlie Beach—has 30 islands to explore. Discover an ancient art gallery, fall asleep to a seaside symphony and walk one of the most photographed beaches in the world. You can stay for a day, a weekend, or spend a week exploring the art in nature.

Take your own boat and use the moorings in one of the many anchorages or catch a commercial boat or tour that can drop you to your perfect destination. Here are some ‘must dos’ to help bring out your inner artist.

Visit one of the most photographed beaches in the world

Numerous people stand, walk and lie on a pure white sandy beach, lapped by azure seas, with yachts sitting at anchor, against a backdrop of blue hilly islands in the distance.
Whitehaven Beach | Justin Heitman © Queensland Government

A trip to Airlie Beach is not complete without seeing the jewel in the crown of the Whitsundays—Whitehaven Beach. If you are into photography then Whitehaven might be a familiar sight as it’s one of the most photographed and awarded beaches in the world.

You’ll be inspired by nature as you stroll along the 7km of pure-white silica sand. Take a moment and dip your feet into crystal-clear water brimming with schools of tiny tropical fish and watch sea turtles cruising by. Whitehaven can be busy, with many daytrippers flocking to the island, so if you like to wander art galleries in quiet contemplation then escape the crowds on the 1.2km return Solway circuit. Head to the natural rock platform and enjoy views over Solway Passage and the surrounding islands. Take a moment to compose your shot—while the view may not be photographed as commonly as Whitehaven Beach, it’s certainly an exhibition-worthy 'pic'.

Discover real art in nature

A couple, arm in arm, stand on a lookout overlooking swirls of white sand and turquoise seas, against a backdrop of forested hills and blue skies.
Hill Inlet | © Tourism and Events Queensland

Just a short boat ride from Whitehaven Beach is Hill Inlet—a stunning cove filled with a fusion of colours. The beach is beautiful but it’s at the lookout, just a 15min climb along an easy walking track, where Mother Nature will blow your mind like a Giuseppe Arcimboldo illusion painting. The swirling sands and turquoise water of Hill Inlet form incredible sand art that transforms with every changing tide.

Fall asleep to a seaside symphony

A small orange dome tent nestles inthe shade of coastal trees, just behind the beach, with views over a turquoise ocean and distance islands.
Whitehaven Beach camping area | © Mitchell Burns Imagery

Are you are a fan of the classics and enjoy falling asleep to the calming sounds of Beethoven, Mozart or Schubert? Then why not relax to the sounds of nature’s symphony? Whitsunday Islands National Park has 11 camping areas—big and small, popular and remote.

If you didn’t experience enough of Whitehaven Beach, then you can stay a little longer at the Whitehaven Beach camping area. Once the day boats depart, you can truly enjoy the natural environment in peace and tranquillity. Sit back with a cuppa and take in the pure-white silica sands and turquoise waters that surround you. You’ll spend the night nestled in lowland vine forest and eucalypt woodlands with fantastic views to Border Island.

If you prefer a more exclusive experience then relax for a night at Curlew Beach camping area. Tucked away in Macona Inlet, on the southern side of Hook Island, only shallow craft at mid to high tide can reach this site—so it’s possible you’ll have it to yourself. Snorkel or fish off the beach or just relive your favourite moments of the day.

No matter where you pitch your tent for the night, you’ll fall asleep under a star-studded sky to the soothing sounds of the ocean lapping against the shore—a different kind of ‘Moonlight Sonata’.

While both sites have toilets to make your stay a little more user-friendly, you’ll have to be self-sufficient for the rest.

Discover an ancient art gallery

Red ochre figures adorn a white sandstone rock face in a cave.
Ngaro rock art | Justin Heitman © Queensland Government

Nestled in the south east end of Hook Island is Nara Inlet, a secluded bay with tranquil waters so clear they reflect the dense forest that covers the island. This spot is stunning, but it is what you’ll find in the island’s steep hills that make Nara Inlet truly remarkable. Here you’ll embark on a fascinating cultural and artistic journey. Be transported back over 9000 years to a time when the Ngaro Aboriginal people thrived on the ocean’s rich resources. See Ngaro rock art decorating the once-hidden cave—one of the oldest Indigenous sites on Australia’s east coast. The steep, stepped climb to the viewing platform at the cave’s entrance is well worth the effort as you’ll be captivated by the Ngaro rock art, middens and the stories they reveal.

Be inspired like artists from around the world. Check out Whitsunday Islands National Park for more information or to plan your camping trip. Always check Park alerts before you go.

Remember to book before you go!
Camping must be booked in advance.
Book now

Last updated: 15 March 2020

Acknowledgement of Country

The Department of Environment and Science acknowledges Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land. We recognise their connection to land, sea and community, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Design developed by Boyd Blackman, a Butchulla and Birri Birri man, featuring the artwork of Elaine Chambers, a Koa (Guwa) and Kuku Yalanji woman.