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Montague Island Nature Reserve

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Learn more about why this park is special

Montague Island Nature Reserve is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

Australian heritage

Lighthouse, Montague Island Nature Reserve. Photo: Stuart Cohen

Get in touch with Australia's colonial history - Captain James Cook spotted Montague Island from his tall ship in 1770 but the island was in fact discovered by the master of the convict ship Surprise in 1790 and was later named after George Montagu Dunk, Earl of Halifax. The island received visits from several shipwrecked sailors, and during the goldrush, seabird eggs were collected from the island to sell to miners.

  • Montague Island Lighthouse Montague Island Lighthouse is the perfect place to get in touch with history while seeing dramatic views, amazing birds and marine wildlife.

What we're doing for Historic heritage in this park

A sacred place

Rocky shoreline, Montague Island Nature Reserve. Photo: Stuart Cohen

The Yuin people have had a long connection with Montague Island; travelling to the island for traditional ceremonies and food, and using it as a men's teaching place. It would have been a dangerous trip - 9km each way by bark canoe. There are many Aboriginal artefacts and middens on the island. Montague Island is known as Barunguba, and is the eldest son of Gulaga (Mount Dromedary) and a brother to Najunuka (Little Dromedary). The older brother, Barunguba was allowed out to sea while Najunuka, the younger brother, had to stay close to his mother.

Seals, whales and waterbirds

Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus), Montague Island Nature Reserve. Photo: M Jarman

The protected waters of Montague Island are a playground for hundreds of seals who make the island their home, all year round. Between September and November you can also see humpback and southern right whales pass the island on their annual migration south. Watch for blowholes and spectacular displays from the island or on a combined whale watching and island tour. With more than 90 bird species seen on the island, and 15 species breeding there, you’ll be reaching for your binoculars – and camera – at every turn. Up to 8,000 penguins live on the island at any one time. Between September and March they are joined by three species of shearwaters, which can produce more than 12,000 chicks per year, and their colonies seem to be growing!

  • Montague Island Lighthouse Montague Island Lighthouse is the perfect place to get in touch with history while seeing dramatic views, amazing birds and marine wildlife.
  • Montague Island walking track This coastal walk around Montague Island is short but challenging and takes you past the historic lighthouse and precious penguin breeding boxes.

What we're doing for Biodiversity in this park

Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  • Australian fur seals, Montague Island Nature Reserve. Photo: OEH

    Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus)

    The largest fur seal, Australian fur seals are found in isolated rocky outcrops and islands along the NSW coast. They come ashore to form breeding colonies and can often be seen at Montague Island Nature Reserve.

  • Humpback whale breaching. Photo: Dan Burns

    Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

    The humpback whale has the longest migratory path of any mammal, travelling over 5000km from its summer feeding grounds in Antarctica to its breeding grounds in the subtropics. Its playful antics, such as body-rolling, breaching and pectoral slapping, are a spectacular sight for whale watchers in NSW national parks.

  • White-bellied sea eagle. Photo: John Turbill

    White-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

    White-bellied sea eagles can be easily identified by their white tail and dark grey wings. These raptors are often spotted cruising the coastal breezes throughout Australia, and make for some scenic bird watching. Powerful Australian birds of prey, they are known to mate for life, and return each year to the same nest to breed.

Look out for...

Humpback whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

Humpback whale breaching. Photo: Dan Burns

The humpback whale has the longest migratory path of any mammal, travelling over 5000km from its summer feeding grounds in Antarctica to its breeding grounds in the subtropics. Its playful antics, such as body-rolling, breaching and pectoral slapping, are a spectacular sight for whale watchers in NSW national parks.

Environments in this park

Education resources (1)

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Rocky shore, Montague Island Nature Reserve. Photo: Stuart Cohen