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About Danbulla

Getting there and getting around

Danbulla National Park and Danbulla State Forest are on the central part of the Atherton Tableland. Danbulla Road is a 28km drive, suitable for conventional vehicles, that runs through the park and forest. The eastern entrance to the road is on Boar Pocket Road, just near the top of the Gillies Highway, about 60km or 1.5hrs drive from Cairns. The western entrance is reached via the township of Kairi, which is about 80km from Cairns via the Gillies Highway, and about 90km from Cairns via the Kennedy Highway and Mareeba. The Atherton Tableland is also accessible via the Palmerston Highway from Innisfail and via the Mossman–Mount Molloy Road from Port Douglas.

Road conditions

Take care when driving. Danbulla Road is narrow, unsealed and has sharp curves and rough surfaces. Be aware of other vehicles, pedestrians and wildlife on the road. Logging trucks also use this road. Exercise extreme caution and look out for oncoming vehicles. The Tablelands Regional Council has erected signs indicating this road is unsuitable for caravans. For any road access problems, please contact the Tablelands Regional Council.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities in Danbulla National Park and State Forest.

Park features

Lake Tinaroo was the first dam in Queensland built primarily for irrigation.

Lake Tinaroo was the first dam in Queensland built primarily for irrigation.

Danbulla Road

At least half a day should be set aside to explore the Danbulla area. Each site is unique, catering for the needs of a wide range of visitors. Choose a secluded camp site at School Point or let the kids kick a football around the grassed area at The Chimneys. Enjoy a short walk through the upland rainforest to Mobo Creek Crater or take time to marvel at the size of the Cathedral fig tree.

Danbulla forest

The Danbulla forest is a spectacular part of the Atherton Tableland, covering 12,000ha between the Tinaroo and Lamb ranges, and bordering Lake Tinaroo. It includes eucalypt and acacia forests, pine plantations and Wet Tropics World Heritage rainforest.

Lake Tinaroo

Created by damming the Barron River, Lake Tinaroo was completed in 1958. It was the first large dam in Queensland built primarily for irrigation. Its construction opened up new areas to farming and allowed different crops to be trialled. It is now a multi-purpose storage dam providing water to tableland towns, power generation, crop irrigation, stock watering and recreation.

Camping and accommodation

Fong-On Bay camping area is favoured by water-skiers.

Fong-On Bay camping area is favoured by water-skiers.

Platypus camping area is popular with anglers.

Platypus camping area is popular with anglers.

Camping

All camp sites at Danbulla must be booked and camping fees apply. As mobile phone service is unreliable, it is best to book your site before starting your trip. The maximum length of stay is 21 nights.

Dogs are not permitted in the camping areas. If you would like to have a fire, please bring your own firewood. The use of generators is only permitted at Downfall Creek and Fong-On Bay camping areas, subject to the conditions below. The Tablelands Regional Council has erected signs indicating this road is unsuitable for caravans. For any road access problems please contact the Tablelands Regional Council.

Platypus camping area is in a hoop pine plantation and is popular with anglers. Individual camp sites are available.

Downfall Creek camping area offers uninterrupted water views and there is a short walk that links it with Kauri Creek camping area.

Kauri Creek camping area is on the edge of an inlet that is well suited for a swim or exploration by canoe.

School Point camping area offers attractive individual camp sites with wonderful views of the dam, pine plantations and landscaped surrounds.

Fong-On Bay camping area is favoured by water-skiers and is able to accommodate groups of all sizes.

Curri Curri bush camping has camp sites that are accessed by boat only.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation around Lake Tinaroo and in the various towns across the tablelands. For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Lake Euramoo.

Lake Euramoo.

Mobo Creek.

Mobo Creek.

Kauri Creek Road.

Kauri Creek Road.

Kauri Creek day-use area.

Kauri Creek day-use area.

Cathedral fig tree.

Cathedral fig tree.

Walking

There are five walks of varying length along Danbulla Road. Large groups need to divide into smaller groups of no more than 12 people and stagger their departure at five minute intervals. This avoids congestion and ensures an enjoyable experience for all walkers. Non-commercial walking group activities operated in this manner do not require a permit. Note: numbers before track names are map (PDF, 207K) references.

(3) Regeneration walk—2.3km one way (1hr) Grade: easy

This easy walk links the Downfall Creek and Kauri Creek camping areas. Listen for the raucous calls of the chowchilla as you pass from native forests into tall pine plantations. This area was used for dairy farming before the dam was built, and was then either left to regenerate or planted with pines. The forest that you now enjoy is the result of a natural revegetation process that has been occurring since 1959. Informative signs along the walk explain how this process occurs as well as what is involved in the establishment of forestry plantations.

(4) Link track—600m one way (15mins) Grade: easy

This short walk links the Kauri Creek camping and day-use areas. Stop for a while at Kauri Creek and watch the clear water gently flow past you on its way to Lake Tinaroo. This area of Danbulla is alive with birds so take your binoculars and walk quietly.

(6) Kauri Creek rainforest walk—5.1km circuit (2.5hrs) Grade: moderate

Start this circuit track at the Kauri Creek day-use area. The first part of the walk winds through rainforest along the bank of Kauri Creek. The track then crosses the creek (be prepared to get your feet wet!) and passes through forest before joining an old logging road. You have another chance to dip your toes in the sandy-bottomed Kauri Creek before joining the return track, which is steep and narrow in places and should be undertaken only by fit and experienced walkers.

(8) Lake Euramoo—500m circuit (10mins) Grade: easy

Lake Euramoo is a maar—a dumbbell-shaped volcanic crater formed about 10,000 years ago by two massive explosions resulting from super-heating of groundwater. An observation platform affords excellent views of the crystal clear water and the wide array of birdlife. An easy circuit track winds through the rainforest providing occasional glimpses of the lake through the trees.

(10) Mobo Creek Crater—630m circuit (15mins) Grade: moderate

A few kilometres from the eastern end of the road you will find the Mobo Creek Crater. The geology of this crater has perplexed scientists for many years and several theories exist as to how it was formed. You can draw your own conclusions as you enjoy the circuit walk that passes through upland rainforest, following the edge of the crater. Trackside labels help you identify some of the many tree species; quiet visitors may spot a platypus in the creek.

Driving and cycling

(7) Mount Edith and Kauri Creek roads (Tinaroo Range road network)

This 43km road circuit climbs 450m into the Lamb Range and offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of rainforest, dry open forest and tall wet sclerophyll forest as well as many creeks and streams. It takes at least two hours to drive and a full day to cycle the network. To protect the driving surface, the roads are closed during periods of wet weather.

Picnic and day-use areas

Note: numbers before place names are map (PDF, 207K) references.

(2) Platypus day-use area

This joint camping and day-use area is in a hoop pine plantation that was established in 1971. Popular with waterskiers and anglers, this site provides an interesting view of the dam wall. The picnic area is separate from the camping area and can accommodate several groups. Picnic tables and open fireplaces are provided.

(5) Kauri Creek day-use area

Hidden in pine plantations and native forest, this small day-use area is ideal for family stopovers. Children can paddle in the shallow sandy-bottomed creek while parents enjoy the facilities in the shaded surrounds. Picnic tables and open fireplaces are provided.

(9) The Chimneys day-use area

Following World War I, land in the Danbulla area was offered to returned soldiers for clearing and farming. Settlers battled to make a living from the small blocks, with poor soil fertility and native animals hampering their efforts. Many blocks, like the one on which this day-use area is located, were abandoned. The chimneys are all that remain of the house, built in 1924, standing taller than the surrounding tree line. This day-use area has picnic shelters, tables and a large grassed area that would suit large family groups. Dogs are permitted on a leash.

Boating and fishing

Lake Tinaroo is a popular area for waterskiing, swimming, sailing and fishing. Several public boat ramps are available around the lake. The Queensland Boating and Fisheries enforces fisheries and boating safety laws and conducts periodic patrols on the lake. A stocked impoundment permit is required to fish in Lake Tinaroo. Bag and size limits also apply. Details are available from the Queensland Fisheries. The lake contains many submerged trees and other hidden hazards. These hazards vary as the water level in the lake changes. Vessel masters must ensure they navigate with extreme caution.

The Queensland Police Service enforces laws relating to alcohol misuse and nuisance behaviour. For emergencies please dial 000 or 112 if you have reception. For non-urgent incidents, contact Policelink on 131 444.

Viewing wildlife

Wildlife in Danbulla forest includes many endangered and rare species. You may catch a glimpse of the endangered northern bettong as it searches for truffles. In the rainforest sections, keep an eye out for the rare green-eyed tree frog and the well-camouflaged Boyd's forest dragon. The variety of habitats and vegetation types also support a wide range of bird species so don't go anywhere without your binoculars.

See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about Danbulla's diverse wildlife.

Other things to do

Lookouts and places of interest

Note: numbers before place names are map (PDF, 207K) references.

(1) Platypus Rock lookout

Not far from the dam wall is Platypus Rock lookout. You can climb the steps on to the huge granite boulders for a unique view of the plantation and forest canopy and a glimpse of the lake through windswept branches. Dogs are permitted on a leash.

(11) Cathedral Fig Tree

At the eastern end of Danbulla Road is one of the most impressive strangler fig trees you will ever see. A boardwalk around the tree helps to protect the fragile roots and prevent soil compaction while providing great views up the trunk and into the canopy of this rainforest giant. Dawn chorus at the Cathedral Fig is one of the best on the tableland—be sure to bring your camera and binoculars.

Things to know before you go

Dogs on a leash are permitted at Platypus Rock.

Dogs on a leash are permitted at Platypus Rock.

Dogs on a leash are permitted at The Chimneys.

Dogs on a leash are permitted at The Chimneys.

A stocked impoundment permit is required to fish in Lake Tinaroo.

A stocked impoundment permit is required to fish in Lake Tinaroo.

Essentials to bring

  • drinking water
  • firewood
  • sunscreen, a hat and a long-sleeved shirt, even on cloudy days, to protect yourself from the sun.

Opening hours

Danbulla National Park and State Forest are open 24hrs a day.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

Camping permits are required and fees apply. Your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

Other permits

If you intend conducting a commercial tour, wedding, school excursion or scientific research in Tully Gorge National Park, a permit may be required. See park permits and policies for further information.

Details for non-commercial walking groups is available in the walking section.

A stocked impoundment permit is required to fish in Lake Tinaroo.

Pets

Dogs are permitted on a leash at the Platypus Rock lookout, Kauri Creek day-use area and The Chimneys day-use area. Domestic animals are not permitted anywhere else in the Danbulla area.

Climate and weather

Danbulla National Park and State Forest are 800m above sea level and their lower humidity and temperatures are a pleasant escape from the coastal extremes. Maximum summer temperatures are around 30°C while winter temperatures can fall below 10°C at night, when frosts are not uncommon. Most of the rain falls during the wet season, between December and March. For more information see the tourism information links.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available from any of the towns on the tableland. The closest town to the eastern end of the drive is Yungaburra, and at the western end is Tinaroo township. For more information see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

Keep to the walking track at all times.

Keep to the walking track at all times.

Walk safely

  • Keep to the walking tracks at all times and take note of the safety signs.
  • Wear sunscreen, a hat and protective clothing when exploring the area.
  • Take care on wet and slippery rocks.
  • Treat tap and creek water before drinking.
  • Never dive or jump into the water; it may be shallower than it looks and there could be hidden, submerged objects.
  • Mobile phone coverage is not reliable.

Drive safely

Take care when driving. Danbulla Road is narrow, unsealed and has sharp curves and rough surfaces. Be aware of other vehicles, logging trucks, pedestrians and wildlife on the road. The Tablelands Regional Council has erected signs indicating this road is unsuitable for caravans. For any road access problems please contact the Tablelands Regional Council.

Boat safely

The lake contains many submerged trees and other hidden hazards. These hazards vary as the water level in the lake changes. Vessel masters must ensure they navigate with extreme caution.

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

Looking after the park

  • Everything in the park, living or dead, is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.
  • Camp only in designated camping areas.
  • Lighting of fires is prohibited outside designated areas.
  • Please do not feed wildlife as it can affect their health and alter the natural population balance.

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

Park management

The Danbulla National Park and State Forest are managed on a day-to-day basis by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). Parts of the park and forest are within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Management of the World Heritage Area is coordinated through a partnership between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments, the Traditional Owners and the wider community.

The Danbulla area is sustainably managed to provide a balance between conservation, recreation and other resource use through the cooperation and contributions of community and government.

Tourism information links

Atherton Tableland Information Centre
www.athertoninformationcentre.com.au 
Corner Main Street and Silo Road, Atherton Qld 4883
ph (07) 4091 4222
email

Malanda Falls Visitor Information Centre
www.malandafalls.com
Malanda-Atherton Road, Malanda Qld 4885
ph (07) 4096 6957
email

Cairns and Tropical North Visitor Information Centre
www.cairnsgreatbarrierreef.org.au 
51 The Esplanade, Cairns Qld 4870
ph (07) 4051 3588
email

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

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
7 October 2016