VMR Whitesunday

About VMR Whitsunday

The Whitsundays are the common name for the Cumberland and Northumberland Island Groups. They form the largest offshore island chain on Australia’s east coast. There are generally 74 islands included in the group. But the figure is arbitrary. There are actually over 300 named bays and inlets for vessels to visit. The unit covers an area of some 13,000 square kilometres that includes inshore and offshore waters of the Great Barrier Reef.  The whole area is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the uninhabited islands are mostly controlled by the Qld Parks and Wildlife Service. This tropical sub-rainforest region is about 1,125 kms north of Brisbane, and 725 kms south of Cairns.  Each year over half a million people visit the Whitsundays. They are the “Mecca” for boating enthusiasts from all over Australia, and at any one time there can be 3,000 to 4,000 people on the water overnight, making it one of the most popular destinations in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

VMR Whitsunday operates from Gloucester Island / Passage, in the North west to Cape Conway / Shaw Island in the South (from Midge Point and Repulse Bay). The area south is covered by VMR Midge Point and VMR Mackay and to the north is covered by VMR Bowen. VMR Whitsunday has a manned radio base on weekends.  Our call sign is VMR 442. When not manned, there are many Commercial Operators and VMR home bases in the area who will pass on details in an EMERGENCY. Please note non-urgent general information calls may not be answered during weekdays. If you need VMR urgently for an emergency, please use channel 16 and state this when calling on the radio and your message will be relayed to us.

VMR Whitsunday uses 2 talk through repeaters and monitors VHF Channels 16 and 81. Channel 81 in the Whitsunday islands and central area, Channel 82 in the Hayman Island area, north to the Great Barrier Reef and west to the mainland. Weather forecasts are broadcast by commercial stations at 0800 and 1600 hours daily. Due to the large number of vessels and communications in the Whitsundays, we are unable to offer any form of vessel tracking.  Visiting vessels may log on with us upon arrival and we will record your vessel details, but it is not necessary to log on each time you move within the area.

For further information on the Whitsundays go online to the VMR Whitsundays website.

Operational Information

The VMR Whitsunday Rescue vessel maintains operational readiness 24/7 and is manned by a minimum of 4 crew, including Commercially qualified, trained and licenced skippers.

In 2017 we purchased a new, purpose-built 12 metre NoosaCat rescue vessel, which is fitted with economical twin Cummins straight shaft diesel engines and the latest electronics, including a Forward Looking Infra Red camera and VHF radio direction finder. It is specifically designed as a rescue vessel, incorporating walk-around decks and is specifically designed to assist Medical Evacuations.

In 2019 we added a new smaller and cost effective 7 metre Naiad Rescue vessel with twin 130hp Yamaha outboards to cope with increasing call-outs and extend the life of our primary vessel. It is a purpose-built rescue vessel, capable of handling the majority of rescues and can tow vessels up to 8 metres, predominantly in the Whitsunday Partially Smooth waters area.


To join VMR Whitsunday, membership can be processed online on the Whitsunday VMR website under the “Join” tab. Please complete all details and 24-hour payment can be made by PayPal or credit card. There is a $20 one-off joining fee and membership cost is $80 per year and provides one Free assist per year for your vessel if you run into trouble. Subject to conditions, which are available on the VMR Whitsundays website.

VMR units from Burdekin in the North to Midge Point in the South operate a reciprocal rights arrangement whereby you can be assisted by them as part of your VMR Whitsunday membership. You would be towed to a safe haven in their territory, so if you are boating in another VMR area, you should launch in that area, because this is where you will be towed.