There is nothing more relaxing than taking a walk amongst nature in your local national park. Those lucky enough to live in north Queensland are spoilt for choice.
As Australia starts to get back to business, many national parks and beaches have welcomed visitors once again. So, put on your activewear, pack a picnic and start exploring the beautiful national parks of Tropical North Queensland.
Photo by Jan Kronies on Unsplash
5 Must-Visit North Queensland National Parks
1 . Daintree National Park
Cape Tribulation is known as the region uniting the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. You can in fact see more than one World Heritage site in this one location; the aforementioned Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics.
To reach Cape Tribulation, you’ll need to travel 110 kilometers north of Cairns and take a short ferry trip across the Daintree River Crossing. Once there, you can explore the long white sandy beaches, rocky headlands and rugged rainforests. There are a variety of trails to travel by foot, mountain bike or 4WD, allowing you to explore the free flowing creeks and abundance of wildlife in your own time.
Although temporarily closed due to COVID-19, Mossman Gorge is a must-see section of the world-renowned Daintree National Park. Famous for its crystal-clear creek, running almost magically across boulders into the Mossman River, it’s a sight to behold. Traveling to the site will require you to catch a shuttle at small cost, but it’s worth it— once the park is open again, of course.
2. Davies Creek National Park
Davies Creek National Park is located only 53km away from the central business district of Cairns, making it a perfect day trip for those living in the area. However, those travelling in a low-set vehicle or with a caravan may want to consider one of the other parks in this list.
This park is famous for its stunning waterfalls, cascading effortlessly over giant granite cliffs and winding through boulders into the lush rainforest surroundings. Don’t give the waterfall all your attention though. Whilst walking the Davis Creek Falls circuit, ensure you stop and take in the valley view. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for the endangered northern bettong (commonly known as rat kangaroos) and southern brown bandicoots.
For those looking to make a weekend trip, camping is available at Lower Davies Creek, although this does incur a small fee and requires booking in advance. Please check the website to see how COVID-19 restrictions apply.
3. Wooroonooran National Park
Located just south of Cairns, Wooroonooran National Park covers more than 79,500 hectares of mostly untouched rainforest. The park covers an abundance of recreational activities, from the experienced hikers to the novice strollers.
Arguably the most popular attraction is Walshs Pyramid. The mountain provides a challenging hiking trail with breathtaking views. However, if hiking isn’t your style, head to Goldsborough Valley.
Goldsborough Valley offers a vast array of recreational activities for the whole family, including canoeing, mountaineering, biking and walking. Camping areas are available within the national park, although you will have to book in advance.
4. Barron Gorge National Park
Not far from the North Queensland city of Cairns, Barron Gorge National Park is a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike. The park extends from the coastal lowlands to the elevated areas of the Atherton Tablelands. Whichever walking track you choose, you’ll be transported to a world of lush rainforests, untouched wildlife and mesmerising waterfalls.
With four walking tracks, each 3km or less return, there is a track at Barron Gorge National Park to suit your needs. During your visit, you must explore the Din Din Barron Falls lookout. The track is wheelchair accessible, with visitors journeying through the treetops on a suspended broadwalk. On the track you’ll meet local wildlife including possums and spotted-tailed quolls, while learning about the magical history of the area through informational guides scattered along the journey.
Unfortunately, camping is not available at this national park. However, there is plenty of space for a picnic at Lake Placid or Wrights Lookout. If you’re after an adventure, be sure to check out the commercial rafting experiences available on the Barron River, or the scenic boat tours, which operate from the upper section of the park. For those who are experienced canoers, private kayaking and canoeing is permitted.
5. Fitzroy Island National Park
If you’re looking to take a day trip to truly let you leave your worries behind, Fitzroy Island National Park is the place for you. Nestled just off the mainland of North Queensland, Fitzroy National Park is accessible via a 45 minute private boat trip or ferry service, operating daily from Cairns.
The park features everything from rugged rainforests and open woodlands to white sandy beaches — the tropical island of your dreams. There are many walking trails on the island, ranging from easy to difficult. Each trail will allow you to immerse yourself in the wildlife and natural beauty of the practically untouched island.
For the adventurous amongst us, you can climb to the summit of Fitzroy Island and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the region. Be warned though, this track is mostly difficult terrain, allowing around 3hrs walking time for a return trip.
If you’re looking to stay a while longer, camping and other accommodation are available within the national park.