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About Oyala Thumotang

Getting there and getting around

Jerry Lagoon. Photo: Queensland Government.

Jerry Lagoon. Photo: Queensland Government.

Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL) (pronounced ‘oy-a-la toom-o-tongue’) is a remote park suited to visitors seeking a wilderness experience. Access to the national park from Cairns is via the Peninsula Developmental Road, through Coen to the Rokeby Road turn-off. Average travelling times are Cairns to Coen—8 to 10 hrs, Coen to Rokeby Road—30 mins and Rokeby Road to tracks leading to camp sites—1.5 to 2 hrs. These times are only a guide as road conditions vary considerably throughout the year.

From the Rokeby Road turn-off it is 74 km to the Coen River section, 78 km to the Langi section and 125 km to the Archer Bend section of the park.

Roads into and on the park are suited to four-wheel-drive vehicles only. Most roads within the park are simple bush tracks. Vehicles should be in good mechanical condition.

Map: Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL) map (PDF, 397K)*

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks in the park.

Park features

Coen River. Photo: Queensland Government.

Coen River. Photo: Queensland Government.

Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL) is a living cultural landscape, rich in significance for the Aboriginal Traditional Owners—the Wik Mungkan, Southern Kaanju and Ayapathu peoples. Over many thousands of years, they have hunted and gathered the rich resources available to them for food and materials. Today the park also has important value as a wilderness area for visitors seeking quiet and intimate contact with nature.

The 381,000 ha area, mostly covered in dry open eucalypt woodlands and melaleuca swamps, extends from the McIlwraith Range in the east to the Archer River in the west. The Archer and Coen rivers, which have their sources in the rainforest-clad McIlwraith Range, are major features of the park. The braided channels of the Coen River are fringed with deciduous vine thickets while rainforest lines the Archer River. These riverine areas are important wildlife corridors. Widespread flooding occurs in the wetter months but in the dryer months stream flow ceases, leaving large, permanent waterholes and lagoons.

Camping and accommodation

Night Paddock Lagoon. Photo: Queensland Government.

Night Paddock Lagoon. Photo: Queensland Government.

Camping

There are 15 camp sites adjacent to rivers and waterholes in Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL). No facilities are provided on park.

Camping permits are required and fees apply. All campers must obtain an e-permit—self-registration is no longer available. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

Campers must be self-sufficient in this remote area. It is recommended to travel with another vehicle and have suitable vehicle recovery equipment on hand. Take fuel, food, vehicle spare parts and plenty of drinking water; there is no fresh water available in the park.

Other accommodation

There is limited accommodation and camping available in the nearest town—Coen 25 km south-east of the Rokeby Road turn-off. Camping is also available at the Archer River Roadhouse, 38 km north of the Rokeby Road turn-off. For more information, see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Old Archer Crossing. Photo: Queensland Government.

Old Archer Crossing. Photo: Queensland Government.

The park offers many opportunities for visitors to explore and enjoy the natural surrounds.

Map: Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL) map (PDF, 397K)*

Explore the three sections of Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL)
Walking
Four-wheel driving
Trail-bike riding
Quad bikes
Fishing
Bicycling
Viewing wildlife 

Explore the three sections of Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL)

Langi section

The Langi section is 78 km from the Rokeby Road turn-off. This section is in the north of the park close to the forest-lined Archer River. The Old Archer Crossing—the historical site of the main access to northern Cape York Peninsula—is located here. Lagoons covered in waterlilies and fringed with forest are also a feature. This section includes the following camp sites: Night Paddock Lagoon, Langi Lagoon, Old Archer Crossing, Jerry Lagoon, Twin Lagoons 1, Twin Lagoons 2 and 10 Mile Junction.

Coen River section

The Coen River section is 74 km from the Rokeby Road turn-off. This section is located on the Coen River floodplain where the open woodlands and native grasslands are dotted with lagoons, swamps and creeks fringed with dry vine thickets. This section includes Pandanus Lagoon day-use area and the following camp sites: Mango Lagoon 1, Mango Lagoon 2, First Coen River, Chong Swamp, Second Coen River and Vardons Lagoon.

Archer Bend section

The Archer Bend section is 125 km from the Rokeby Road turn-off, via the Coen River section. The road to Archer Bend crosses the privately owned Merapah Corridor for 8 km, north-west of Vardons Lagoon. Archer Bend section is bordered by the Archer River. Rainforest lines the river banks while open woodlands, sand ridges and swamps occur throughout the rest of the area. Archer Bend section includes the following camp sites: Governors Waterhole and Horsetailer Waterhole.

Walking

The best way to see the park is to camp at several sites and spend a couple of days exploring each location. The park has no tracks but visitors can walk around waterholes or along the Archer and Coen rivers. Equipment such as binoculars, a camera and a strong torch may make the visit more enjoyable. Remember that crocodiles inhabit this park so visitors must be croc wise.

As the surrounding landscape is extremely remote, being prepared is essential. Accidents have happened at this park, even to experienced bush walkers. This park has a predominantly flat landscape with very few visual points of reference—getting lost is a real risk if visitors are unprepared.

Follow these guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable walk:

  • Check for fire danger and other park news before you leave.
  • Wear sturdy footwear, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellant.
  • Carry a topographic map, compass, GPS and whistle.
  • Don’t overheat—avoid walking in extreme heat or during periods of high fire danger.
  • Carry adequate drinking water, food and a first-aid kit.
  • Mobile phone coverage is not available. Carry at least one form of communication equipment. Satellite phones and Personal Locator Beacons are the most effective.

See staying safe for more information on being crocwise in croc country.

Four-wheel driving

Drive four-wheel-drives through Oyala-Thumotang National Park (CYPAL) on the network of internal roads. Expect to share the roads with pedestrians, cyclists, trail bikes and other vehicles.

Vehicles are not permitted off-road or on internal roads and tracks that are closed for management purposes. Drivers must be licensed and vehicles must be road-registered. For more information, see four-wheel driving.

Trail-bike riding

Ride trail-bikes through Oyala-Thumotang National Park (CYPAL) on the network of internal roads. Expect to share the roads with pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles.

Trail-bikes are not permitted off-road or on internal roads and tracks that are closed for management purposes. Riders must be licensed and trail-bikes must be road-registered. Expect to share the roads and tracks with pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. For more information, see trail-bike riding.

Quad bikes

Roads in national parks are the same as any other public road in Queensland. All vehicles, except those exempted by law, must be registered. The department does not give permission for conditionally registered vehicles (e.g. quad bikes) to be used recreationally by individuals. In many places it is not legally possible to issue a permit.

Fishing

Recreational fishing is allowed in all creeks and rivers in Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL), except Peach Creek.

Fisheries regulations apply—information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures is available from Fisheries Queensland.

Be aware that estuarine crocodiles inhabit creeks, rivers, waterholes and lagoons in this park—always be croc wise in croc country.

Bicycling

Cycle through Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL) on the network of internal roads. Expect to share the roads with pedestrians, motorbikes, vehicles and other cyclists.

Bicycles are not permitted off-road.

For more information, see cycling.

Viewing wildlife

Birdwatching

Take short walks around permanent lagoons, swamps, waterholes and rivers. Waterbirds, notably pelicans, Pacific black ducks, radjah shelducks, black-necked storks, royal spoonbills and sarus cranes, as well as forest birds such as the palm cockatoo, Australian bustard and orange-footed scrubfowl all live in the park. The best locations include Langi Lagoon, Old Archer Crossing, Chong Swamp, Pandanus and Vardons lagoons and several swamps along the road in the Archer Bend section.

Wildlife spotting

Crocodiles, turtles, frogs and many species of fish, including barramundi, live in the rivers and waterholes. Watercourses are also home to antilopine wallaroos and small agile wallabies. Large nesting mounds (up to 10 m across and 4 m high) of the orange-footed scrubfowl occur in the river gallery forests. Spotlighting at night may reveal the spotted cuscus, a small possum-like animal, in the rainforest margins along watercourses.

Be aware that estuarine crocodiles inhabit creeks, rivers, waterholes and lagoons in this park—always be croc wise in croc country.

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

Things to know before you go

Mango Lagoon. Photo: Queensland Government.

Mango Lagoon. Photo: Queensland Government.

Essentials to bring
Opening hours
Permits and fees
Pets
Climate and weather
Fuel and supplies 

Essentials to bring

Always prepare for a longer stay than anticipated in case of breakdown, or stranding due to wet weather and ensure that someone is notified of your itinerary. Ensure vehicles are in good mechanical condition.

  • Always carry adequate food, water, equipment for treating water, fuel, spare parts and basic vehicle repair equipment. The nearest fuel, repairs and supplies are in Coen 25 km south-east of the Rokeby Road turn-off.
  • Most roads in the park are bush tracks. Carry plenty of fuel—driving on rough roads in low gear uses more fuel than normal driving conditions.
  • Bring insect repellant and a screened tent or mosquito nets for protection from insects at night.
  • Carry rubbish bags to take your rubbish away with you—bins are not provided.
  • A fuel stove.

Opening hours

The park is open only in the drier months, usually from July until November. At other times the park is inaccessible due to flooding. Check park alerts for any park closures and with Department of Transport and Main Roads to enquire about local road conditions.

Permits and fees

Camping permit

Camping permits are required and fees apply. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

Other permits

Permits are required for commercial or organised group activities. See park permits and policies for more information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL).

Climate and weather

Cape York Peninsula's seasons are divided into 'the wet' and 'the dry'. During the wetter months (December to April) the area can be deluged by heavy monsoonal rains and roads can become impassable for extended periods, preventing access to the park. The best time to visit is during the drier months of June to November. Some late rain is possible during May and travel within the park may be restricted until June. Winter temperatures can drop below 10ºC, and summer temperatures can soar above 40ºC. The weather from October to November is very hot and thunderstorms are common. For more information, see the tourism information links.

Fuel and supplies

The nearest fuel, meals, supplies and mechanical repairs are available from Coen, 25 km south-east of the Rokeby Road turn-off. Fuel, meals, toilets, showers, limited supplies and some mechanical repairs are also available from the Archer River Roadhouse, 38 km north of the park. For more information, see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

A practical working knowledge of basic first aid is highly important when travelling in remote areas. Be familiar with first-aid procedures for heat exhaustion, snakebite and sprained or twisted ankles. Ideally, at least one person in your party should have an up-to-date first-aid qualification. You should carry a well-stocked first-aid kit, and make sure that other members of your party know where it is located. Other important guidelines are to:

  • When driving, stay on designated roads, travel with another vehicle if possible.
  • Let a responsible person know your itinerary.
  • Plan your itinerary to allow adequate time to drive carefully as park roads are unsealed with rough surfaces. 
  • Ensure that your vehicle is in good mechanical condition, carry adequate spare parts and fuel and be prepared for delays caused by breakdowns and stranding due to wet weather.
  • Always carry adequate drinking water with you as well as equipment for treating water.
  • Observe directions about road closures or other restrictions to avoid road damage and vehicle problems.
  • When trail-bike riding, wear appropriate safety gear and be realistic about your riding abilities. Ride to the conditions.
  • When cycling, wear appropriate safety gear and be realistic about your cycling abilities. Slow down or stop when approaching other track users. Follow the give-way code—cyclists must give way to walkers and alert others when approaching.

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

Be croc wise

Estuarine crocodiles are present in the creeks, rivers, waterholes and lagoons of this park. These crocodiles can be dangerous to people.

  • Obey crocodile warning signs. They are there for your safety and protection.
  • Never swim, bathe or canoe in waterholes or rivers in the park, even if there is no warning sign present.
  • When fishing, stand a few metres back from the water's edge—do not stand on logs or branches overhanging the water.
  • Never clean or discard fish scraps near the water's edge or near camp sites.
  • Stay well back from any crocodile slide marks. Crocodiles may still be close by and may approach people and boats.
  • Never dangle your arms or legs over the side of a boat. If you fall out of a boat, get out of the water as quickly as possible.
  • Never provoke or interfere with crocodiles, even small ones.
  • Never feed crocodiles—it is illegal and dangerous.
  • Camp at least 2 m above the water and well away from the water's edge. Avoid places where native animals and domestic stock drink.
  • Do not leave food scraps at your camp site.
  • Do not prepare food, wash dishes, or pursue any other activities near the water's edge or adjacent sloping banks.
  • Be more aware during the breeding season, September to April.

For more information, see crocodiles—be croc wise.

Looking after the park

Help Traditional Owners and rangers to protect the park.

  • The use of firearms and chainsaws is prohibited in national parks.
  • When driving or trail-bike riding, stay on the formed roads—off-road trail-bike riding and four-wheel driving is not allowed.
  • Unlicensed trail-bike riders and drivers are not allowed in national parks. Riders and drivers must be licensed and vehicles must be road registered.
  • Motocross is not permitted in this park.
  • Respect park neighbours and visitors—ensure the noise and dust from your riding and driving doesn’t upset others.
  • When cycling, stay on formed roads.
  • Limit the spread of weeds by ensuring clothes, shoes, gear, bikes and vehicles are clean and free of seeds before arriving at the park.
  • Do not access roads and tracks that are closed for management purposes.
  • Bury human waste at least 15 cm deep and 100 m from watercourses and camping areas.
  • Do not interfere with, or feed, native animals.
  • Do not remove plant material, living or dead.
  • Do not collect souvenirs or interfere with cultural sites.
  • Keep your camp site tidy and take your rubbish with you when you leave.

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

Park management

Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL) is jointly managed by the Oyala Thumotang Land Trust and the Queensland Government in accordance with an Indigenous Management Agreement and other land management arrangements. Read more about the joint management of Cape York Peninsula national parks.

Created in 2012, Oyala Thumotang National Park (CYPAL) was formerly known as Mungkan Kandju (Kaanju) National Park.

Tourism information links

Cairns and Tropical North Visitor Information Centre
www.cairnsgreatbarrierreef.org.au 
51 The Esplanade, Cairns QLD 4870
Phone: (07) 4051 3588
Email: info@ttnq.org.au

Nature's PowerHouse
www.naturespowerhouse.com.au
Cooktown Botanic Gardens, Cooktown QLD 4895
Phone: (07) 4069 6004
Email: info@naturespowerhouse.com.au

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

Further information

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Last updated
28 April 2014