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People who are eligible to use the Lizard Island Research Station's facilities usually fall into one of the following categories.

Researchers, including research students

Any person who will be conducting bona fide scientific research during his/her visit to Lizard Island is eligible to use the Research Station's facilities. Eligibility extends to assistants who are necessary to accomplish the project and (except during peak periods) family members who are not involved in the research.

Researchers must provide sufficient detail about their proposed project to satisfy the LIRS directors that the research is genuine. In general, the research must have the capacity to contribute towards a scientific publication or a postgraduate thesis, or it must be a requirement of an undergraduate course. Researchers will generally have a university or research institute address.

If the research being conducted at Lizard Island is not intended for publication in the public domain for commercial reasons, the trip is considered to be commercial usage and commercial rates will apply.

Conditions of research bookings
Booking request form

School or university student groups

Groups of students from schools or universities who are undertaking an educational visit led by academic staff from their own institution or others engaged for that purpose are eligible to use the station's facilities.

The maximum group size is 22 people.

The trip need not be a formal part of a course of study or contribute to course credit, but there must be a significant and genuine educational component. This would generally be demonstrated by at least some of the following activities being organised by the group leader during the visit: lectures by academic staff; guided field trips involving recording of observations or data collection; individual or group research projects; verbal presentations and/or written reports by students.

Because of the remote location and the nature of the activities (boating, snorkelling, walking), all participants in educational trips must be physically fit and have a reasonable level of swimming ability. They must be able to swim at least 100 metres in a pool without aids comfortably, float on their back, and tread water for at least five minutes. They must also be capable of getting in and out of small boats and light aircraft, climbing stairs, and walking on soft sand.

Group leaders and adult supervisors of school-age children must have substantial snorkelling and boating experience, and a qualifying boat licence. At least one of the adult supervisors (and preferably more) must have current certificates in both first aid and in administration of medical oxygen.

A sufficient number of adult supervisors must be provided to allow for safe and effective conduct of the group's activities. For example, a high school group may require an adult supervisor for every four students, whereas a university group may only require one academic staff member for 10 students.

Conditions of group bookings
Booking request form

Special interest groups

Groups of people who share a common special interest relevant to coral reefs may be eligible to use the Research Station's facilities. For example, group trips are sometimes offered for Australian Museum Members who are interested in learning more about coral reef biology and ecology. Such tours are led by a Museum scientist who gives lectures and organises a structured field program. Eligibility of such special interest groups is considered on a case-by-case basis by the LIRS directors.

Booking request form

Station Volunteers

Anyone who is older than 18 years and is capable of and willing to perform outdoor manual work is eligible to become a station volunteer. A maximum of two people will be accepted as station volunteers at any one time.

Tell me more about the Station volunteer program

Do not send a booking request form for a volunteer visit. Instead, email LIRS directly with the information requested in the link above.

Media and commercial

Individuals and companies may use the Research Station's facilities for commercial purposes that are appropriate to the station's role as a research and educational facility. However, research and educational usage have priority over commercial usage.

Media projects conducted at LIRS usually have an educational component. Scientific research is considered to be commercial if it is not intended for publication in the public domain for commercial reasons. There are separate rates for educational media and purely commercial usage.

Media and commercial usage is subject to the same conditions as research usage.

Conditions of research bookings

Booking request form

LIRS visitors are charged a daily bench fee per person at a rate that depends upon their role during the visit.

The current schedule of bench fees is at the bottom of this page.

Bench fees cover the following facilities and services:

  • self-catering, shared accommodation, including kitchen facilities and bed linen
  • use of a small, self-drive boat within the Lizard Island Group provided there is a qualified and competent boat user in the team
  • most laboratory and aquarium facilities
  • scuba tanks and air fills to scuba divers qualified according to LIRS regulations
  • weights and belts for approved snorkellers and divers
  • registration and orientation for boating and diving, provided the visit is for four nights or more. A fee of $165 per team is charged for this service if the visit is less than four nights.

Notes about bench fees:

  • Bench fees increase on 1 January each year in line with inflation.
  • For visits by individuals of 28 consecutive days or more, the whole fee for that person is discounted by 10%.
  • For each student group of ten people, one leader is exempt from the fee (i.e. a group of 10 to 19 people in total gets one free space, a group of 20 or more gets two).
  • To be eligible for the highly subsidised research student fee, the student's university must certify that the student is enrolled at the time of the visit to LIRS and that the work being done by the student at LIRS forms part of his/her thesis research.
  • Supervisors and other more senior researchers are eligible to visit as "assistants" to postgraduate students at the highly subsidised research student rate with the following limitations:
    1. For those days claimed at the student rate, the senior researcher must spend virtually all of his/her work time helping to establish the student's project rather than conducting his/her own research. Often, the student's project is so closely aligned to the senior researcher's own research that it is difficult to differentiate between the two projects. In these cases, the senior researcher will be charged for some nights as a researcher and some nights as a student's assistant.
    2. A senior researcher may claim a maximum of 5 nights at the student rate per student over the life of the student's project.
    3. A senior researcher working with more than one student at Lizard Island may claim a maximum of 10 nights at the student rate per calendar year.

Costs other than bench fees involved in conducting research at Lizard Island are listed below. All amounts are in Australian dollars and include GST.

Air travel

The round trip fare on the only scheduled service between Cairns and Lizard Island is currently $780 per person ($390 one way) plus a credit card fee. It will increase to $900 per person from 1 April 2024. See Early stage trip planning/ Travelling to Lizard Island for how to book.

Barge freight

Barge freight for food and other supplies from Cairns costs $20 per large grocery carton or similar-sized container (see Freight).


Food is purchased through Coles Online and comes from Cairns. The cost is the supermarket bill plus $30 for delivery to the barge depot. Most people spend between $15 and $20 per person per day excluding alcoholic drinks (see Ordering Food).

Extra boat usage

Use of a small self-drive boat is included in the bench fee provided there is a competent and licensed driver in the team. If a larger boat is needed, the additional cost is recouped on a distance basis (e.g. $302.00 for a trip to the outer reef in 2024). Use of larger boats away from the Lizard Island Group requires a boat driver with extensive experience in similar conditions (see Boats).

Extra laboratory and aquarium facilities

Use of most laboratory and aquarium facilities is included in the bench fee although, rarely, extra charges may be incurred for use of equipment that draws a lot of power or uses additional fuel.

Diving and snorkelling equipment

Scuba tanks and air fills are included in the bench fee for divers who are qualified under the LIRS Diving Regulations.

Weight belts and weights are included in the bench fee for qualified divers and for snorkelers who have been approved to use them under the LIRS Snorkelling Regulations.

LIRS has snorkelling equipment for hire in sufficient numbers and sizes to equip up to 25 people. This equipment (mask, snorkel, fins, lycra suits, short 5 mm wetsuits) does not need to be booked in advance.

LIRS also has a small number of scuba regulators and BCDs for hire by visitors who qualify to dive under LIRS regulations. This equipment should be booked in advance.

The cost of hiring gear at LIRS is at the bottom of this page.

Mobile phone and internet access

The only mobile carrier to reach Lizard Island is Telstra. Visitors can use their own Telstra mobile account within the lab area at LIRS where a large antenna boosts the signal.

Wifi is provided free of charge within the same central area.

LIRS is moving from paper-based to online forms for the information we need to collect from visitors. Eventually, links to all forms needed for a visit to LIRS will be found here.

We hope that this new system streamlines the process of organising trips to LIRS – and we welcome your feedback.

You don’t have to complete an online form in one sitting

Most forms contain questions that must be answered (indicated by *) before you can submit it. However, you don’t have to complete it in one sitting and can temporarily skip questions if you don't have the answers at hand. As long as you use the same browser and device (not in Incognito or Private browsing mode), the partly-completed form will stay in your browser's local storage for 15 days. No information is sent to LIRS until you hit the ‘Submit’ button at the end.


Your personal information will be collected, used and stored in line with our Privacy policy.

Pre-trip forms available now

Booking request form (for initial enquiries)

Diver registration form

Independent snorkeller form

Group snorkeller form (for student groups only)

Project form (for confirmed bookings only)

More to come

Other online forms will be posted here soon, including those for dive teams and for reporting research sites and collections. Until then, the old paper-based forms remain in use.

Bench fee schedule
Category 2023 rate per person per night incl. GST 2024 rate per person per night incl. GST
Researcher $158.00 $166.00
Assistant to researcher $142.00 $149.00
Research student (own project) $61.00 $64.00
Assistant to research student $56.00 $59.00
Student groups (min. 10 people, min 4 nights) $101.00 $106.00
Media $238.00 $250.00
Commercial $298.00 $313.00
Snorkelling and diving gear hire costs
Item Daily Weekly
Mask $3.30 $14.00
Snorkel $3.30 $14.00
Fins $3.30 $14.00
Lycra suit (protection from sun and stingers) $5.50 $21.00
Short 5 mm wetsuit $8.00 $36.00
Sleeveless wetsuit vest with hood $5.50 $21.00
Wetsuit booties $3.30 $14.00
Scuba regulator with octopus and gauges $18.00 $72.00
Buoyancy compensator $18.00 $72.00