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Cape Palmerston drive

John Atkinson © Queensland Government

Cape Palmerston drive

Walking No Walking
Wheelchair access (may require assistance) No wheelchair access
Mountain biking No mountain biking
Horseriding No horseriding
Two-wheel driving No two-wheel driving
Four-wheel driving No four-wheel driving
Trail-bike riding No trail-bike riding
Canoeing & kayaking No canoeing & kayaking
Boating No boating
Dogs allowed on leash No dogs
Lookout (natural) No lookouts
Tent camping No tent camping

Legend

Walking No walking
Wheelchair access (may require assistance) No wheelchair access
Mountain biking No mountain biking
Horseriding No horseriding
Two-wheel driving No two-wheel driving
Four-wheel driving No four-wheel driving
Trail-bike riding No trail-bike riding
Canoeing & kayaking No canoeing & kayaking
Boating No boating
Dogs allowed on leash No dogs
Lookout (natural) No lookouts
Tent camping No tent camping
World Heritage Area

Explore the full length and breadth of this rugged park—from sandy beaches and rocky headlands, to shady swamps and cool rainforests.

Stunning coastal scenery is ready to be explored on the Cape Palmerston drive.
Stunning coastal scenery is ready to be explored on the Cape Palmerston drive. John Atkinson © Queensland Government
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Park Cape Palmerston
Traditional Owners Traditional Owners
Park Ranger Park Ranger

Leave no stone unturned as you discover all this beautiful coastal park has to offer.

Starting at the southern entrance, follow the stunning coastline through the park to Cape Palmerston. Along the way, you'll pass rocky headlands, mangroves, swamps, rainforest and sand dunes. As the forests change, look for the eucalypt woodlands of ironbark and poplar gums along the ridges, and the paperbarks flanking the gullies.

Scan the horizon for whales, dolphins, dugongs and other marine life from the many vantage points along the track.

Find your slice of paradise and set up camp along the eastern beach, or stay the night at Windmill Bay or Cape Creek camping areas. The only choice you need to make is if you want sunrise or sunset views from your camp site!

At a glance

Distance: 17.7km return (start and finish points are the same and the traveller must return via the same path).
Time suggested: Allow 1.5hrs driving time.
Grade:
Journey type: 4WD

Getting there and getting around

The Cape Palmerston drive is in Cape Palmerston National Park, 115km south-east of Mackay on the Central Queensland coast. You need a 4WD for this drive, starting at the southern boundary of the park.

  • Turn off the Bruce Highway at Ilbilbie (76km south of Mackay and 157km north of Marlborough) and drive east towards Greenhill.
  • Before Greenhill, turn left into Cape Palmerston Road.
  • The park boundary is about 6km along this road.

Getting around

  • Drive for about 1km before choosing the beach access or to stay on the central track.
  • Drive for 11km to reach Windmill Bay camping area.
  • From here, take a 3km side track to Cape Creek camping area or continue for 2.2km to Cape Palmerston.
  • You will need to consult the map (PDF, 146.0KB) because the tracks and intersections aren't signposted.
  • Make sure you check the tide times before you drive on the beach as the tides vary up to 6m.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

Road conditions

  • The roads and beaches in the park are sandy and conditions vary.
  • It may be difficult to drive on the roads during periods of extended wet or dry weather and closures may be in place.
  • See traffic and travel information for road and travel conditions.
  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Fuel and supplies

There is a shop just after the Cape Palmerston Road turn-off on the road to Greenhill. Fuel and supplies are also available at Ilbilbie.

  • For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

When to visit

Opening hours

Cape Palmerston drive is open 24 hours a day.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Climate and weather

Cape Palmerston National Park has a mild subtropical climate. Winters are mild (10–25°C) while summers are warm to hot (22–32°C). Expect heavy rain from December to March.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

Organised events

  • If you are planning a school excursion or organising a group event such as a wedding, fun run or adventure training, you may need an organised event permit. Maximum group sizes and other conditions apply depending on location and activity type.

Pets

Domestic animals are not allowed here.

Staying in touch

Mobile phone coverage

Unreliable. Check with your service provider for more information.

Tourism information

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Be prepared

Open fires

  • Open fires are not allowed. Bring a fuel stove for cooking.
  • You can use an above ground fire container. Bring clean, milled firewood as you cannot collect timber from the park. Remove your fire container when you leave.
  • Read camp with care for tips on camping safely and camping softly.

Rubbish

  • There are no bins. Take your rubbish with you when you leave.

Drinking water

  • Water is not available in the park. Bring all the water you will need for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
  • Treat all water before use.

Dump point

  • There are toilets at the Windmill Bay camping area.
  • At all other locations, use portable toilets, or bury your waste in a 15cm hole, well away from camp sites, walking tracks and waterways. Bag and remove personal hygiene products and nappies.
  • The nearest dump points are at Carmila and Sarina.

Driving

  • You will need to consult the map (PDF, 146.0KB) because the tracks and intersections aren't signposted.
  • Make sure you check the tide times before you drive on the beach as the tides vary up to 6m.
  • Remember all vehicles must be registered, drivers must be licensed and all Queensland road rules apply, even on beaches.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

Camping

  • You can stay for up to 22 nights in the park.
  • Camp sites are suitable for tents and high-clearance camper trailers.
  • Don't clear and vegetation or cut trees down to make space for camping.
  • Read camp with care for tips on camping safely and camping softly.

Boating and fishing

Around water

  • There are no patrolled swimming areas along the coastline of Cape Palmerston National Park and we advise against swimming in the ocean, creeks and estuaries. Tragedies have occurred in unpatrolled waters and crocodiles and marine stingers are found here. Enter the water at your own risk. The nearest patrolled beach is at Sarina.
  • Be croc-wise in croc country.
  • Beware marine stingers.
  • Read water safety for important information about staying safe in and near water and caring for parks.
Last updated: 22 March 2018
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