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About Mount Whitfield

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Getting there and getting around

The park is located less than 5 km from Cairns city centre. Access into the park is by foot only. Walking tracks start from trail heads on Collins Avenue—one near the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre and one to the east of the Tanks Art Centre.

Public transport

The city bus service provides transport to and from the entrance to Mount Whitfield Regional Park on Collins Avenue. See Sunbus for timetables.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks in Mount Whitfield Regional Park.

Park features

View of Barron River, Mount Whitfield Regional Park. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government

View of Barron River, Mount Whitfield Regional Park. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government

Mount Whitfield Regional Park is a forested range surrounded by urban development. Rainforest predominates but there are also patches of eucalypt forest and grasslands with cycads. Situated near the centre of a developing city, it is a popular place for hikers and local townsfolk looking for somewhere to escape the pressures of daily life.

The park offers many opportunities for nature-based recreation and educational activities. Two linked circuit tracks lead energetic visitors up the forested slopes to lookouts which provide views of Cairns city and suburbs, Trinity Bay, the rich, green, coastal mangrove forests lining the Barron River, the airport and the northern beaches.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Camping is not permitted in Mount Whitfield Regional Park.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Cairns. For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to do

The Red Arrow circuit walk in Mount Whitfield Regional Park. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government

The Red Arrow circuit walk in Mount Whitfield Regional Park. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government

The Blue Arrow circuit walk in Mount Whitfield Regional Park. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government

The Blue Arrow circuit walk in Mount Whitfield Regional Park. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government

A noisy pitta. Photo: WTMA.

A noisy pitta. Photo: WTMA.

Walking

Two linked circuit walks ascend the slopes of the Whitfield Range, providing views over the city and to the north. The tracks are popular with joggers and, particularly the Red Arrow circuit, can be busy at times. Please be courteous to others using these tracks.

Walking tracks start from trail heads on Collins Avenue—one near the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre and one to the east of the Tanks Art Centre. For a map of the walking tracks visit Cairns Regional Council - Mt Whitfield Regional Park (PDF).

Red Arrow circuit (grade: moderate)

Distance: 1.5 km return

Time: allow about 1 hr walking time.

Details: begin the walk from either the trail head near the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre or to the east of the Tanks Art Centre. After about 300 m from either starting point, the tracks come together at a large stand of bamboo.

From this point the track becomes a circuit. The right banch passes through an arch of the towering fishpole bamboo. Past the bamboo, the track continues uphill through open woodland to two lookouts, providing great views of the city, the coast and the busy Cairns airport.

The left branch of the circuit passes through a shady rainforest gully. Look for signs along the track that identify some of the interesting trees.

Blue Arrow circuit (grade: moderate)

Distance: 6.6 km return

Time: allow about 4–5 hrs walking time.

Details: this walk climbs to over 300 m altitude on a track that is sometimes steep and narrow and requires a moderate level of fitness. Walkers should allow plenty of time to complete the walk before it gets dark—do not start after 2.00 pm.

The Blue Arrow circuit starts about half way around the Red Arrow circuit. The track begins with a steep 600 m climb to a lookout with views of the coast north of Cairns and a glimpse of Lumley Hill. A short distance beyond the lookout the track divides into a circuit, which can be walked in either direction. The right branch passes through rainforest and open grassland before climbing steeply towards Lumley Hill. The left branch climbs through rainforest on stairs created by the roots of rainforest trees.

Lumley Hill

Halfway around the Blue Arrow circuit, a short, steep 400 m side track climbs to the summit of Lumley Hill, 325 m in altitude. The summit offers expansive views stretching inland to Red Peak Mountain and off-shore to Green Island.

Picnic and day-use areas

There are picnic shelters at the top of the Red Arrow circuit and at the lookout 600 m from the beginning of the Blue Arrow circuit. The nearby Flecker Gardens and Centenary Lakes also provide oportunities for picnicking.

Viewing wildlife

Mount Whitfield is a good place for birdwatching. The first part of the track is a favourite hangout for two interesting ground-dwelling birds—the Australian brush-turkey and orange-footed scrubfowl. Buff-breasted paradise-kingfishers may be seen in the summer months and shy noisy pittas may be spotted in the denser, quieter rainforest sections. Listen for their distinctive 'walk-to-work' call.

Red-legged pademelons (small wallabies) browse in the forest, and swamp and agile wallabies are sometimes seen.

Read more about the nature, culture and history of Mount Whitfield Regional Park.

Other things to do

Australia’s Gondwanan Heritage Garden is between the entrance to Mount Whitfield Regional Park and Flecker Garden. Signs along this short, flat walk explain evolutionary plant development. The Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre is near the entrance to Mount Whitfield Regional Park. See Cairns Regional Council for more information.

Visit Flecker Garden on Collins Avenue.

Things to know before you go

Essentials to bring

To ensure an enjoyable visit please remember to bring:

  • a hat, sunscreen and plenty of drinking water
  • sturdy shoes, particularly for the Blue Arrow circuit
  • insect repellent and suitable clothing to protect against insect bites.

Opening hours

Mount Whitfield Regional Park is open 24 hrs a day. Walk in daylight hours only. Do not start the Blue Arrow circuit after 2.00 pm.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in Mount Whitfield Regional Park.

Climate and weather

During the wet season, from December to April, there are frequent, heavy downpours. Maximum temperatures through the wet season generally range from 27°C to 33°C, with high humidity.

The cooler, drier months, from May to September, are the best time for walking. The weather is pleasantly warm during this time, with reduced humidity and maximum temperatures averaging 26°C.

Staying safe

Both walks are strenuous. Only fit walkers should tackle the Blue Arrow circuit and should allow plenty of time to return before it gets dark. Wear sensible clothes, walking shoes or boots and carry plenty of water—water is not available on the tracks.

In an emergency, phone Triple Zero (000). If you have difficulty connecting to 000 from your mobile phone, try dialling 112.

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

Looking after the park

  • Stay on walking tracksat all times—this reduces the risk of injury, prevents disturbance to native vegetation and reduces erosion.
  • Take rubbish home and help by picking up rubbish left by others. 
  • Leave your pets at home. Domestic animals are not permitted in Mount Whitfield Regional Park.
  • Do not chase, scare of feed animals.
  • Everything in the park is protected. Do not remove plant material.

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

Park management

Mount Whitfield Regional Park was gazetted as a conservation park in 1989. The park is managed jointly by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Cairns Regional Council for the purposes of nature conservation and nature-based recreation.

Tourism information links

Cairns and Tropical North Visitor Information Cenre

www.cairngreatbarrierreef.org.au

51 The Esplanade, Cairns Qld 4870
Phone: (07) 4051 3588
Email: info@ttnq.org.au

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

Further information

Contact us

or

Cairns Botanic Gardens
Cairns Regional Council 
Collins Avenue, Edge Hill Qld 4870
Phone: (07) 40326650
Email: gardens@cairns.qld.gov.au

Last updated
9 January 2013