South Molle is a hilly island with rolling grasslands and lush pockets of rainforest that sweep down to secluded beaches, bays and offshore fringing reefs.
The island is part of the Molle Islands National Park, which covers the majority of North Molle Island, Mid Molle Island and South Molle Island as well as several other islands including Long Island, Tancred Island, Repair Island, Planton Island, Goat Island and Denman Island.
South Molle Island is the largest of the Molle Island Group. There is no longer a resort on the island, instead camping grounds are located at Sandy Bay in the south and Paddle Bay at the northern end of the island.
Access to the island is easily arranged from Shute Harbour.
Explore some of the more than 420ha of national park along 17km (10mi) of trails. The park features white sandy beaches, open eucalypt forests, rainforest-clad gullies and grasslands.
Along the way, look out for colourful lorikeets, currawongs, coastal sheath-tailed bats and the beach stone-curlew.
Climb to Mount Jeffreys for great views over the island and out to sea. Enjoy a relaxed South Seas atmosphere on a palm-fringed beach or snorkel the nearby fringing reefs.
A network of shared walking and mountain bike tracks criss-cross the island passing through rolling grasslands and pockets of rainforest to scenic outlooks.
Shared trails can be accessed from Bauer Bay or from Sandy Bay camping area; access from Paddle Bay is walking only.
Walking only trails include…
Balancing Rock – Perched in eucalypt forest, Balancing Rock offers scenic views across South Molle's landscape. Note: Caution should be taken when traversing the rocks when wet. Allow one hour to complete this 2km (1.2mi) return walk from Bauer Bay.
Paddle Bay – This trail leads to a beach of coral fragments. A picnic area overlooks Daydream, Mid and North Molle islands.
At low tide you can walk to Mid Molle Island. Check tides before setting out as access is restricted to the two-hour period before and after low tide.
Allow one hour to complete the 2.2km (1.3mi) return walk from Bauer Bay beach.
Shared trails include…
Spion Kop – This track provides panoramic views as it winds through rainforest, grassland and open eucalypt forest to lookouts over the Whitsunday Passage.
The trail also passes an ancient Ngaro stone quarry of shattered rock high on the hillside.
Flat and generally smooth, the trail becomes 'walkers only' from the stairs leading up to Spion Kop.
Allow four hours to complete the 8.4km (5.2mi) return walk from Sandy Bay, and two hours for the 4.6km (2.8mi) return walk from Bauer Bay.
Mount Jeffreys – Hike up to Mount Jeffreys – South Molle Island's highest point – for uninterrupted 360° views of the Whitsundays. The trail is a moderate climb, but is quite easy.
Allow four hours to complete the 8km return walk from Sandy Bay, and slightly more than two hours for the 6km (3.7mi) return walk from Bauer Bay.
Sandy Bay – This 8.4km (5.2mi) return trail from Bauer Bay leads through rainforest, open eucalypt forest, and patches of native grasslands scattered with grasstrees. The beach is fringed with coastal she-oaks.
The track is relatively easy. At Sandy Bay there is a long moderate climb and some tight switch-backs. Allow four hours walking time to reach Sandy Bay from Bauer Bay.
Lamond Hill – Climbing through open eucalypt forest to Lamond Hill, this track overlooks the old and now dilapidated resort with views to distant mainland ranges.
The track is relatively easy with a generally smooth surface, however it includes some moderate climbs and one switch-back turn towards the end of the climb.
Allow four hours to complete the 8.8km (5.4mi) return trail from Sandy Bay, and two hours for the 6.6km (4mi) return walk from Bauer Bay.
With the demise of South Molle Island Resort, due to a devastating cyclone in 2017, the only opportunity to stay longer and experience the island at your own pace is to make use of the island's campgrounds.
You are required to book and pay for your camping permit before arriving at the camping area. You may book online at Queensland National Parks website, at an over-the-counter booking office or at a self-service kiosk. Advance bookings are recommended for holiday periods. Fees for camping permits are AUD$6.75 per person per night, or AUD$27.00 per family per night.
Note: In general, the camping areas can be reached by boat only. They are open 24 hours a day. Check-in after 2pm and check-out by 11am on the day of departure. Open fires are prohibited, generators are not permitted and you need to bring essentials such as drinking water, food, rubbish bags and insect repellent.
Camping areas include…
Sandy Bay – This campground features an open camping area with a long sandy beach. Great for keen bushwalkers, the bay is well connected to the rest of the island by walking tracks.
The site is an open area without separately defined sites for a maximum of 36 people. Facilities include a toilet and picnic tables. Access to the camping area is by boat only at mid to high tides.
Sandy Bay campground is located on the west side of South Molle Island, approximately 5km (3mi) east-north-east of Shute Harbour.
Paddle Bay – This sandy campsite backs onto rainforest and overlooks Daydream Island. Well shaded, it is accessible at low tide to the rest of the island walking tracks.
The open area campground can accommodate a maximum of 12 people. Facilities include a toilet and picnic tables. Access to the campsite is by boat at mid to high tides as well as from a walking track.
Paddle Bay campsite is located on a sandy spit, west of the old South Molle Island resort, approximately 6km (3.7mi) east-north-east of Shute Harbour.
Latest update: South Molle Island: 15 May, 2022