An island home to deadly death adders, man-eating crocodiles and tiger sharks could become Queensland's newest school camp.

The aptly-named Avoid Island, about 100km southeast of Mackay, is in the frame to become an education camp centre as part of a plan by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to create a new climate change refuge.

Despite the presence of some truly terrifying locals, the island is a vital nesting ground for the vulnerable flatback turtle and is considered an important part of the region's ecosystem.

With co-operation from partners Queensland Trust for Nature and Koinmerburra Aboriginal Corporation, the foundation is transforming the island into a hub of "education and citizen science" with opportunities for visitors to assist in the protection of important ecosystems and more than 80 species of birds, reptiles and marine creatures.

Avoid Island, southeast of Mackay, could become an education camp centre as part of a plan by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Avoid Island, southeast of Mackay, could become an education camp centre as part of a plan by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

The island would be able to host groups of up to 20 in basic cabin and bunk accommodation with access to kitchens and campsites.

The site would be geared towards school groups that align with the "Wonder of Science" curriculum, conservation volunteering programs, citizen science groups, university and TAFE programs as well as junior and trainee ranger courses.

GBRF managing director Anna Marsden said the project was an important tool in climate science.

"As the climate warms and cyclone intensity increases, the southern Great Barrier Reef will become an important refuge for reef residents looking that migrate to cooler areas," she said.

"Avoid Island will join our network of climate change refuges being created through the Reef Islands Initiative.

"Its southern location has an 8m tidal range, allowing it to avoid rising sea water levels and other effects of climate change."

An encounter with a death adder wouldn’t be out of the question on Avoid Island. Picture: Scott Eipper
An encounter with a death adder wouldn’t be out of the question on Avoid Island. Picture: Scott Eipper

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the Australian Government's Reef Trust would deliver $5 million in funding to help protect reef species and rejuvenate ecosystems.

"Avoid Island is the second largest flatback turtle rookery on the Great Barrier Reef and restoring nesting habitats there will greatly benefit this species," she said.

Queensland Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said Avoid Island was a worthy addition to the initiative as a refuge for some of the reef's most vulnerable species.

"We've provided $3 million for the Reef Islands project which is already delivering fantastic outcomes such as restoring island habitats for the benefit of marine life and local communities," she said.

"Climate change is of critical concern for the reef and this initiative is one of the many ways the Queensland Government is working to ensure a climate-resilient, healthy Great Barrier Reef for now and future generations."

Originally published as Snakes, crocs and sharks: Would you let your child camp here?



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