Known as Palm Island, Great Palm Island, or by its Aboriginal name “Bwgcolman,” this 64-square kilometer island is the largest in the Greater Palm group, and is located 65km north-west of Townsville in Queensland.
Palm Island was named by Captain Cook due to the cabbage tree palms growing on the island during his exploratory travels.
The Queensland government established an unofficial penal colony on the island, which operated for most of the 1900s but mostly during the 1940s and 1950s. An Aboriginal reserve was established on the island in the early 20th century.
Palm Island is one of thirteen in the Palm Group (which comprises mostly small islands), is approximately the same size as nearby Magnetic Island, and is twice as large as the Norfolk Island.
Palm Island rises to over 500 meters above sea level, and offers various habitats, such as sandy beaches, forested hilly terrain, secluded bays, and coral reefs. Most of the island’s landmass consists of rainforest, with notable landmarks of Mount Bentley and Mount Lindsay.
The island has rich volcanic soil which supports diverse plant species: mango, banana, pawpaw, hoop pine, eucalypts, mangroves, and wild plum trees.
Marine systems around the island house crayfish, coral trout, and sizeable coral reefs.
Great Palm Island is located 65km north-west of Townsville, and is easily connected to Townsville by daily Sunferries ferries. The ferry service takes about one and a half hours, ending at Challenger Bay (Palm Island’s pier), and runs three times a week.
Great Palm Island also has an airport, with flights routing from Townsville multiple times a day.