This remote park is characterised by the massive, tumbled granite boulders of the Melville Range, the sandstone escarpments of the Altanmoui Range, and inland dunefields. The park features a diversity of plant communities including rainforest, mangroves, heathlands, woodlands and grasslands. The isolation of Cape Melville National Park has given rise to a high proportion of endemic plants and animals, which are found nowhere else in the world. Most notable of these is the foxtail palm, now a popular garden plant. Features of the park's landscape are woven into a rich tapestry of Aboriginal traditional stories and significant sites, creating a living cultural landscape. The long Aboriginal occupation of this area, known as Othawa, is evidenced by shell middens, burial and rock art sites, and has contributed to the significant diversity of vegetation in the area.... more
Bush camp on the easter side of Bathurst Bay near Cape Melville or at Ninian Bay camping area. Walk the beaches or the short distance to the Mahina monument. Fish and boat in the adjacent marine parks.
Cape Melville National Park is extremely remote and visitors must be well prepared and entirely self-sufficient. Be aware of estaurine crocodiles and dangerous stinging jellyfish. Camp only in the designated areas.... less
How To Get There
All roads into and on the park are unsealed and suitable for high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles only—they are not suitable for trailers, caravans, campervans or buses. Roads on the park are not maintained and can be very rough. Be prepared for corrugations, washouts, tidal creek crossings and soft sand. The road into Ninian Bay is particularly difficult and vehicles may be scratched by roadside vegetation. Visitors must be experienced in four-wheel-driving and should travel with the necessary recovery gear, winches, spare parts, first-aid, communications equipment, and adequate food, water and fuel. Satellite phones are essential—there is no mobile reception—and personal locator beacons (PLBs) are recommended. Travel with another vehicle where possible.
Access to the park is either from the west via Kalpowar Crossing in Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) or from the south by the coastal route from Cooktown. These routes converge at Wakooka outstation, which is Aboriginal land and camping is not allowed.
Access via Kalpowar Crossing
It is about 70 kilometres from Kalpowar Crossing to Wakooka outstation, and an additional 4 kilometres to the park boundary. From here it is a further 35 kilometres to the camping areas at Bathurst Bay or 37 kilometres to Ninian Bay camping area. Sections of this road are extremely rough and it can take up to five hours to traverse.
Access via Cooktown
The coastal route from Cooktown is around 180 kilometres to Wakooka outstation, and an additional 4 kilometres to the park boundary. From here it is a further 35 kilometres to the camping areas at Bathurst Bay or 37 kilometres to Ninian Bay camping area. The road is extremely rough and challenging and can take up to 12 hours to traverse. The coastal route can also be accessed by travelling 66 kilometres from Old Laura Homestead in Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) along Battle Camp Road to join the coastal route 45 kilometres north of Cooktown.
Alcohol restrictions are in place in many of Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Roads in national parks are the same as any other public road in Queensland. All vehicles, except those exempted by law, must be registered. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service does not give permission for conditionally registered vehicles (e.g. quad bikes) to be used recreationally by individuals.
Camping fees apply.
The best time to visit is during the drier months of July to November when the daytime temperature averages 28 degrees Celsius. From December to April the area can be deluged by heavy monsoonal rains and roads become impassable for extended periods, preventing access to the park. Average maximum temperatures at this time are around 33 degrees Celsius with very high humidity.
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