The National Parks in the Cape encompass a wide array of flora and fauna, living amongst an ever-changing landscape which changes from mangrove to rainforest, to volcanic, sandstone and marine. This is tough country. Pioneering country. A place where you can really connect with nature and have authentic experiences and cultural encounters.
The Cape’s country has been generally, lightly touched by the hands of man; with the exception of the mining operations in Weipa. The Aboriginals have lived here for thousands of years, in some places leaving an impressive array of rock art which spans Australia’s pre-history, through to European contact. This country was also home to the Palmer River gold rush and is dotted with past and current cattle and telegraph stations. We look forward to sharing the beauty and diversity of the National Parks in the Cape with you.
Daintree and Cape Tribulation National Parks are a part the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and the only place where two Natural World Heritage listed sites exist side by side, the Great Barrier Reef and Rainforest. This remote landscape remains relatively untouched, appearing today as it has for millions of years. The rainforest is home to ancient plants and animals, some of which are found no where else. From its vine and root covered floor, to thick green canopy above, it’s a place of remarkable beauty.
The rainforest slides down to the meet the Coral Sea. Sometimes the trees grow right to the sandy beaches, sometimes there’s a small border of mangroves dividing the two. Offshore, the fringing reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Oz Tours Safaris takes you through both of these national parks, along the Bloomfield Track to Cooktown. You’ll see towering tree ferns and climbing palms, dense rainforest and giant buttress root tree trunks. Keep your eyes peeled for the endangered Southern Cassowary, which is sometimes seen crossing the road.
Black Mountain National Park is on the outskirts of Cooktown and marks the northern end of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Located right alongside the highway, 25km south of Cooktown, it’s hard to miss and very impressive in its size and appearance. The towering mountain of black boulders, some of which are the size of houses, rise against the sky and have an ominous, mysterious feeling to them. It’s an area rich in Aboriginal culture and has special significance to the Aboriginal Traditional Owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, who call it Kalkajaka, meaning ‘place of the spear’.
Although the mountain appears desolate and sparsely vegetated it’s home to an amazing variety of wildlife, including snakes, rock wallabys, the Black Mountain skink, black kites and white-rumped swiftlets. There is some hardy vegetation growing around the base of the mountain, which provides a colourful contrast between the boulders and sky beyond. The boulders appear black because of microscopic lichens and algae growing on exposed surface.
Lakefield National Park (Rinyirru) is at the centre of the Laura Basin, in far northern Queensland. As well as being Queensland’s second largest national park, it’s a rare place of abundant water on Cape York and home to many crocodiles. In fact, its most renowned for its large river systems, which provide a permanent source of water, attracting many different types of birds. The main rivers are North Kennedy, Hann, Normanby and Morehead. During the dry they provide a much needed source of water, in the wet they flood over the low-lying lands creating an inland sea.
Some of the birds you might see here include waterbirds (brolgas, sarus cranes, black-necked storks, magpie geese, comb-crested jacanas and ducks in Catfish Waterhole and Red Lily Lagoon) as well as star finches and honeyeaters in the grasslands. Another impressive feature of Lakefield National Park are the giant ‘magnetic’ and ‘cathedral’ termite mounds dotted across Nifold Plain in Rinyirru. While in this section, keep an eye out for agile wallabies and the more elusive northern nail-tailed wallabies. The landscape has important Aboriginal cultural significance, containing sites associated with occupation, ceremonies and stories of ancestral spirits. This park is jointly managed by the Rinyirru (Lakefield) Land Trust and Queensland Parks and Wildlife.
Iron Range National Park (Kutini Payamu) is a scenic refuge on the eastern side of Cape York. As well as being home to some seriously stunning beaches, flora and fauna, it’s also a place rich in Aboriginal cultural significance and with a unique war history. On the coast there’s the locally famous Chilli Beach, which is remote and beautiful. Its wind-swept white quartz sands are framed on one side by leaning coconut trees and azure waters on the other. A popular place to stop and revive with camping and facilities on site. If you’re here between September and April, you might be lucky enough to enjoy the evening spectacle of metallic starlings flying overhead.
A major feature of the Iron Range National Park (Kutini Payamu) is the rugged heath-clad Tozer Range, with its lush lowland tropical rainforest (part of the largest remnant in Australia) and long sweeping beaches, this park provides a refuge for wildlife found only in northern Cape York Peninsula and New Guinea. Take the time to stop and look for local identities, southern common and common spotted cuscus, green pythons, eclectus parrot and palm cockatoo. The area is rich in Aboriginal cultural significance, with story places, ceremonial sites and occupation places dotted across the landscape. The park is jointly managed by the Northern Kuuku Ya’u Kanthanampu Aboriginal Corporation Land Trust and Queensland Parks and Wildlife.
Jardine River National Park is home to some of most photographed and enjoyed waterholes in all of Cape York, including Eliot Falls. Eliot Falls is a natural oasis and a safe place to swim for visitors. It’s set amongst an ancient sandstone landscape, which is dominated by the mighty Jardine River. The park is on the tip of Cape York, about 900km north of Cairns, and after you’ve travelled through miles of savannah country, you’ll appreciate and enjoy the sudden abundance of freshwater here. The flora of Jardine River National Park ranges from dry heaths, coastal heaths, grasslands, rainforest and woodlands.
The area is a living cultural landscape, containing story-places and story-beings, occupation and ceremony sites. The parks are managed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife, in collaboration with the Aboriginal Traditional Owners from the Atambaya, Angkamuthi, Yadhaykenu, Gudang and Wuthathi language and social groups. It’s an ancient landscape with a rich history, one you can’t help but feel surrounded by when visiting here.
Oz Tours Safaris have been running soft adventure outback touring for more than 33 years. We’re proud of our reputation for providing highly specialised, all-age wilderness holidays, across the Cape and beyond. You’ll travel in air-conditioned 21-seater 4WD coaches, guided by experienced locals. We look forward to sharing Cape York with you. For more information, call us on 1800 079 006 Toll Free within Australia.