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About Conway

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Getting there and getting around

Conway National Park lies on the Central Queensland coast, between Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour. Turn off the Bruce Highway just north of Proserpine, or 65 km south of Bowen, then travel 26 km to Airlie Beach. Do not take the turnoff to Conway Beach as there is no access to the park from Conway township.

From Airlie Beach, follow Shute Harbour Road south-east for 6.5 km to the Conway National Park day-use area.

To explore the park on foot, you can leave your car at the day-use area, at the Swamp Bay/Mount Rooper car park or at the Coral Beach car park.

Conway National Park boasts a number of walking tracks, which take you through a variety of vegetation types including lowland rainforest, mangroves and open forest. Take the Mt Rooper track for spectacular Whitsunday Passage and island views. You can access the Swamp Bay camping area on foot or by boat.

If you are planning to access the park's undeveloped southern end by boat, be aware that boating restrictions apply. See the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for further information.

Wheelchair accessibility

Toilets at the Conway National Park day-use area are suitable for people in wheelchairs, however some assistance will be required.

Park features

This park includes the rainforest-clad Conway Peninsula and protects the largest area of lowland tropical rainforest in Queensland outside Tropical North Queensland. Hoop pines grow on coastal ridges and in damp gullies, emerging above the rainforest canopy. Rugged, steep, rocky cliffs provide a spectacular 35 km-long backdrop to the Whitsunday Passage and islands.

Dry vine thicket, mangroves, open forests with a grasstree understorey, paperbark and pandanus woodlands, and patches of lowland rainforest with twisted vines grow in the park. It is home to two of Australia's mound-building birds, the Australian brush-turkey and the orange-footed scrubfowl.

Rising steeply behind busy coastal settlements, the Conway Range appears impenetrable. Through climate fluctuations over tens of thousands of years, the rainforest has persisted here, providing a continuous refuge for wildlife.

The park's vegetation is very similar to that on the Whitsunday islands because thousands of years ago the sea level rose, drowning coastal valleys and creating the islands. For thousands of years, the Ngaro and Gia people roamed these forests, harvesting riches of the land and the adjoining sea country. Today the adjacent waters are protected in marine parks.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Walk-in bush camping opportunities are available. If you wish to camp you will need to obtain a permit—fees apply. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site. Sites are limited and you can book your camping permit in advance. Penalties apply for camping without a permit.

Other accommodation

A wide range of accommodation is available in nearby Airlie Beach. See tourism information links for more information.

Things to do

Walking

Conway National Park has a variety of walking tracks for you to enjoy. If you plan to go bushwalking, be prepared and tell a friend or family member of your plans. All distances given are one way. All walks and facilities are shown on the Conway national and regional parks map (PDF, 276K). Note: The numbers that appear in brackets before the track name are map references.

Key to trail standards

The classification system is based on Australian Standards. Please note that while each trail is classified according to its most difficult section, other sections may be of an easier level.

Australian Walking Track Grading System
Grade 2: No bushwalking experience required. The track is a compacted surface.
Grade 3: Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections and a rough surface.

Access from Conway National Park day-use area

(1) Coastal Fringe Circuit  

Distance: 1.2 km

Details: Starting at the day-use area, this track passes through lowland rainforest and crosses a small tidal creek.

(2) Hayward Gully  

Distance: 1.6 km from day-use area.

Details: This track branches off the Coastal Fringe Circuit to Hayward Gully, with its lowland rainforest and rocky gullies.

Access from Mt Rooper car park

(3) Swamp Bay    

Distance: 2.1 km

Details: Starting from the car park, this track passes the foot of Mt Rooper to arrive at Swamp Bay, where a coral-strewn beach offers views of the Molle islands. Return on the same track. Signs along this track and Mt Rooper track describe Indigenous use of local plants.

(4) Mt Rooper

Mt Rooper offers views via four walking options. The turn-off to Mt Rooper is 200 m along the Swamp Bay track. All distances given below are one-way from the car park.

The track passes through low woodland growing in shallow, stony, clay soils where brushbox, grasstrees and wattles are prominent. Although grasstrees here are small, they can grow to 4 m tall elsewhere. Their pale yellow flowers on spear-like stalks provide food for many insects.

Conway Outlook   

Distance: 800 m

Details: This first section of the Mt Rooper Circuit climbs up through mixed forests for a view over Shute Harbour to the Conway Range. Either return from this outlook or walk on to a natural lookout at Mt Rooper. 

Mt Rooper    

Distance: 2.3 km

Details: Continue on from Conway Outlook. The shallow, stony clay soils support brush box, grasstrees, wattles and other woodland vegetation. Soak up the panoramic vista of the Whitsunday Passage and islands at the summit. 

Mt Rooper Circuit    

Distance: 5.4 km

Details: Continue from the lookout passing views to Daydream and North Molle islands, descend through mixed forest to meet the Swamp Bay track. Turn left and return to the car park to complete the circuit.

Mt Rooper Circuit and Swamp Bay   

Distance: 7.2 km

Details: Take in both the circuit and Swamp Bay tracks for a comfortable one-day walk. Enjoy a picnic at Swamp Bay.

Access from Coral Beach car park

(5) Coral Beach    

Distance: 1.1 km

Details: This track starts and finishes at Coral Beach car park. A brochure describing Indigenous use of the coastal environment is available from the leaflet box at the start. (Please return the brochure when finished.) Enjoy views across Whitsunday Passage from Coral Beach.

(6) The Beak    

Distance: 620 m from Coral Beach

Details: After reaching Coral Beach continue on to The Beak. Walk east along Coral Beach and watch for the lookout symbol. The walk returns the same way.

Access from Forestry Road car park

(7) Kingfisher circuit   

Distance: 2 km

Details: From the car park, wind down into a moist rainforest valley then ascend to meet up with the Conway circuit. Turn right to return to the car park or left to find the Wompoo way turn-off, a further 1.5km along the Conway circuit

(8) Wompoo way (Shared-use trail: walkers and mountain-bike riders allowed)

Trail grade:   

Distance: 7 km return to Forestry Road car park

Details: Follow the Conway circuit (an old logging road) 2.3 km from the Forestry Road car park and then turn left onto the Wompoo way turn-off to reach a calm creek lined with Alexandra palms. Listen for wompoo fruit-doves calling from the canopy. 

Kingfisher circuit and Wompoo way are part of the Conway circuit (9). See the Conway circuit web page for more detailed information.

Mountain biking

There are a range of mountain-biking opportunities for cyclists from easy to more difficult tracks in part of Conway National Park. See the Conway circuit web page for more information.

Picnic and day-use areas

Stop for a picnic at the Conway National Park day-use area or walk to the Swamp Bay camping area. Toilets, a shelter shed and picnic tables are provided at both areas. The day-use area also has wood-fired barbecues.

Fishing

The adjacent waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park offer boating and fishing opportunities. It is possible to fish from the beach at Swamp Bay and Coral Beach.

Marine park zoning regulations protect the inter-tidal zone and waters surrounding Conway National Park. Zoning regulations specify how you can use particular sites and the permits you might require. For detailed information on activities such as fishing and crabbing, consult the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority zoning map. Maps are available from Queensland Fisheries offices, bait and tackle shops, Queensland Parks and Wildlife (QPWS) offices and online at www.gbrmpa.gov.au.

Minimum size and maximum bag limits apply to popular fish species. Queensland fisheries legislation applies in zones where fishing is permitted. See Queensland Fisheries for more information.

Viewing wildlife

Conway National Park is of high biological significance. Twenty-three species are significant nationally and internationally, six species are rare or threatened and three are known only from this area.

During the daytime you may see emerald doves, sulphur-crested cockatoos and brush-turkeys. Orange-footed scrubfowl mounds can be seen along the Circuit and Swamp Bay tracks. Early morning and late afternoon will be your best chance to see these unusual birds. Endangered Proserpine rock-wallabies live in small areas at the park's northern end but they are rarely seen.

Some species of skink (a type of lizard) are found only in this landscape and in the nearby Clarke Range. A leaf-tail gecko, Phyllurus ossa, is a rare find—its population barely extends beyond the Conway Range. Keep watch for the brilliant blue flash of Ulysses butterflies as they flit amongst the foliage.

From about November, you will share the rainforest with buff-breasted paradise-kingfishers. Every year, they make the long journey from Papua New Guinea to nest here in termite mounds. From about March, when their young are strong enough for the long flight, they return to their northern home. Listen for the birds' descending trill or look for the flash of their long, white tail plumes.

Other things to do

People go swimming at Coral Beach and Swamp Bay but caution is needed as these areas are not patrolled by lifesavers. Dangerous marine stingers are prevalent between October and May, but may be present year-round. Please see marine stingers for more information. Be croc wise! Estuarine crocodiles have been sighted in this area, exercise caution when near the water. Your safety is our concern, but your responsibility. Read more about being croc wise.

Things to know before you go

Essentials to bring

You will need to be self-sufficient if you are planning to camp at Swamp Bay. The nearest supplies are at Airlie Beach. Ensure that you bring:

  • a first-aid kit
  • drinking water—tank water needs to be treated before drinking, and may not be available
  • fuel stove and fuel—fires are not permitted
  • sealable rubbish container—bins are not provided
  • insect repellent
  • sun protection—some areas of the park are quite exposed.

Drinking water

Bring your own drinking water. There is no reliable water source in the park. If available, water from tanks must be treated before drinking.

Opening hours

Gates at the Conway National Park day-use area are opened at 7.30 am each morning and locked at 6 pm. All other parts of the park are open 24 hrs. The Conway circuit may be closed during seasonal wet weather. Visit the Conway circuit page for further information.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

If you intend to camp you will need to obtain a camping permit and fees apply. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site. Penalties apply for camping without a permit.

Other permits

Various activities conducted in Conway National Park may require a permit. These activities include commercial tours, social events such as weddings, organised group visits, school excursions, scientific research, and sale of photographs or vision of Conway National Park. Contact us for further information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in Conway National Park.

Climate and weather

The region has a well-defined dry season in winter, with average temperatures of 10–20°C. Between January and March, high humidity, strong seasonal rainfall and average temperatures of 20–35°C make walking less comfortable. For more information see tourism information links below.

Fuel and supplies

You need to be self-sufficient during your stay. The nearest fuel and supplies are available in Airlie Beach.

Staying safe

While Conway National Park provides the opportunity to encounter the region's diverse wildlife, it can also present some harmful species.

  • Be prepared to encounter wildlife such as scrub mites, stinging trees, and red-bellied black snakes and know how to respond.
  • Plan carefully and travel in groups. Tell a responsible friend or family member of your plans and let them know when you return. Take plenty of water and snacks with you, in case of emergency.
  • Ensure you have enough daylight as light levels in the rainforest fade rapidly before sunset and you could get disorientated and lost.
  • Do not rely on mobile phones. There is occasional mobile phone coverage from the ridgelines only.
  • Cyclones are common along Queensland's tropical coastline. Never go bushwalking if a cyclone is imminent and be prepared for an emergency.
  • Tank water must be treated before drinking.
  • Never swim alone. Lifesavers do not patrol Coral Beach or Swamp Bay.
  • Protect yourself from marine stingers, especially from October to May, although some may be present year-round. Always wear a stinger suit when swimming. See marine stingers for more information.
  • Be aware that estuarine crocodiles occur in the waters around this national park. Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility—always be croc wise in croc country.

In case of emergency

  • Call Triple Zero (000).
  • If you have difficulty connecting to Triple Zero (000) from your mobile try: 112.
  • Ambulance, non-urgent medical transport: 13 12 33.

For more information please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

Parks and forests protect Queensland's wonderful natural diversity and scenery. Please help keep these places special during your stay.

  • Protect the wildlife. Remember, plants and animals (dead or alive) are protected. Try not to trample plants when walking or erecting your tent.
  • Camp at designated camp sites only.
  • Use a fuel stove. Fires are not permitted.
  • Leave no rubbish. Rubbish bins are not provided. Do not bury rubbish—take it with you when you leave. You can dispose of it at Airlie Beach.
  • Respect Indigenous culture. Indigenous sites represent thousands of years of living culture of special significance to Indigenous people. They are easily damaged and irreplaceable. Look at, enjoy, but do not touch them.
  • Be considerate. People visit parks and forests to enjoy nature, not noisy people or radios.
  • Camp and walk softly. Leave your camp site better than you found it. Stay on the walking tracks.

See caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

Conway National Park's size and undeveloped nature makes it a very significant wilderness area. The park extends north along the coastline to the tip of Cape Conway, 30 km south of Shute Harbour. It is managed to preserve its significant beauty and rare and threatened species for generations to come.

QPWS is responsible for Conway National Park Conway Regional Park and Conway West Regional Park. The Great Barrier Reef, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, lies just off Conway National Park's coast and is managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

See Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park for more detailed zoning information.

Tourism information links

Whitsunday Information Centre
www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au
Bruce Highway, Proserpine Qld 4800
ph (07) 4945 3711
fax (07) 4945 3182
email info@tourismwhitsundays.com.au

Bowen Visitor Information Centre
www.tourismbowen.com.au
Bruce Highway, Mount Gordon, Qld 4805
ph (07) 4786 4222
fax (07) 4786 4222
email info@bowentourism.com.au

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
20 November 2014