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About Mount Spec

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Getting there and getting around

The Mount Spec section of Paluma Range National Park is easily accessible from both Townsville and Ingham. There are two turn-offs (northern and southern) onto Barrett Road from the Bruce Highway from which all recreation areas can be reached.

Big Crystal Creek camping area is located along Spiegelhauer Road, while Little Crystal Creek, McClellands lookout and the town of Paluma are accessed off Mount Spec Road. The road is windy and buses, caravans and campervans should travel with caution.

Birthday Creek Falls is located along Lake Paluma Road (off Mount Spec Road). Phone Townsville City Council on 1300 878 001 to enquire about the condition of Lake Paluma Road.

Maps:

From Townsville

Travel 61 km north of Townsville along the Bruce Highway before turning left at the southern turn-off onto Barrett Road. Drive 4 km west and turn left onto Mount Spec Road. From the turnoff drive 6km to Little Crystal Creek and 17 km to McClellands lookout and the Paluma township.

Birthday Creek Falls is located along Lake Paluma Road. From the Paluma township travel a further 5 km west along Mount Spec Road before turning right onto Lake Paluma Road. The car park is 7 km on the left.

To reach Big Crystal Creek camping area, from the Mount Spec Road turn-off travel 2 km further along Barrett Road, and turn left onto Spiegelhauer Road. Drive a further 5 km to the Big Crystal Creek camping area.

From Ingham

Drive 40 km south along the Bruce Highway and turn right at the northern turn-off onto Barrett Road.

To reach Big Crystal Creek camping area travel 1 km along Barrett Road, before turning right into Spiegelhauer Road. Big Crystal Creek camping area is 5 km further along.

To reach Little Crystal Creek, McClellands lookout and Paluma township, from the Spiegelhauer Road turn-off drive a further 2 km along Barrett Road. Turn right into Mount Spec Road and drive 6 km to Little Crystal Creek and 17 km to McClellands lookout and the Paluma township.

Birthday Creek Falls is located along Lake Paluma Road. From the Paluma township travel a further 5 km west along Mount Spec Road before turning right onto Lake Paluma Road. The car park is 7 km further along.

Wheelchair accessibility

Wheelchair access is provided to McClelland’s lookout via the second entrance. Turn-off Mount Spec Road onto Loop Road, the turn-off to first entrance is immediately to the right. The second entrance is just a short distance further along Loop Road. A short, sealed pathway leads to the lookout and wheelchair-accessible toilets and a shelter shed. The toilets and shelter shed at Big Crystal Creek and the toilets at Little Crystal Creek are also wheelchair-accessible.

Park features

Mount Spec, Paluma Range National Park straddles the summit and escarpment of the Paluma Range, rising 1,000 m above the Big Crystal Creek floodplain. This is the most southerly national park in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Tropical rainforest grows on the cooler mountain tops and in the valleys, while open eucalypt woodland covers the foothills. Casuarinas and paperbarks fringe the creeks in the lower, drier parts of the park. Bloodwoods, ironbarks, poplar gums and cocky apple trees grow here. The park is home to many animals found only in the Wet Tropics.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

A camping area is provided at Big Crystal Creek. There are also opportunities for remote hiking and camping.

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

To ensure a site during holiday periods you will need to book several weeks in advance.

Other accommodation

Camping is allowed at Lake Paluma, an area managed by Townsville City Council. Camp sites must be pre-booked, either online or by calling 1300 878 001.

Holiday accommodation is available at Paluma and Hidden Valley as well as in regional centres between Townsville and Cairns. For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Paradise waterhole, Big Crystal Creek camping area, Paluma Range National Park. Photo: Queensland Government.

Paradise waterhole, Big Crystal Creek camping area, Paluma Range National Park. Photo: Queensland Government.

Birthday Creek Falls. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Birthday Creek Falls. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Walking

The Mount Spec section of Paluma Range National Park contains five Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) walks. Two additional community walking tracks start from the Paluma township. These walks, which range from 300m to 4km, introduce visitors to the natural and historical values of the area.

Map: Mount Spec map (PDF, 122K)

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service walks

Rockslides walking track (grade: easy)

Distance: 800m return

Time: allow about 40mins walking time

Details: the start of the Rockslides walking track is at the end of Spiegelhauer Road, 2 km past Big Crystal Creek camping area. Walk approximately 200 m along the sealed road, past the locked gate, to the start of the gravel walking track on the left-hand-side of the road. Walk a further 200 m along this gravel walking track to the rockslides—a series of water holes and cascades. Never jump or dive off the rocks as serious injuries and deaths have occurred here.

Birthday Creek Falls walk (grade: moderate)

Distance: 1km return

Time: allow about 1hr walking time

Details: walk through the rainforest to the top of the picturesque cascades on Birthday Creek. Birdwatchers look for golden and tooth-billed bowerbirds along the track. A short track leads to the base of the falls where visitors can swim in the small pool.

Never walk on the rocks above the falls as they are extremely slippery and serious injuries could result from a fall.

Walks around McClellands lookout

McClellands lookout (grade: easy)

Distance: 300m return

Time: allow about 15mins walking time

Details: turn off Mount Spec Road onto Loop Road (where signposted), just east of the Paluma township. From the car park, a 150 m track leads you to the lookout. Wheelchair access to the lookout is via the second entrance a short distance further along Loop Road. Enjoy extensive views of Halifax Bay and the Palm Islands and learn about the site’s colourful history from the information sign.

Witts lookout track (grade: moderate)

Distance: 3km return

Time: allow about 1.5–2hrs walking time

Details: this track starts 200m beyond McClellands lookout. From the lookout follow the 200m long wheelchair-accessible, bitumen path to the start of the walk. Meander through the rainforest learning about local plants and animals. At the signposted junction take the right-hand-route to Witts lookout. From here the track climbs steeply through open forest before finishing at lookouts on two rocky outcrops. On a clear day enjoy views of Halifax Bay and the Palm Islands to the north-east.

Cloudy Creek walk (grade: moderate)

Distance: 4km return

Time: allow about 2.5hrs walking time

Details: this track follows the same route as the walk to Witts lookout. When you reach the signposted junction, follow the track to the left. The track leads you through rainforest to a series of small waterfalls along Cloudy Creek. Some sections of this walk are steep with many steps and boulder hopping.

Community walking tracks

Paluma rainforest walk (grade: easy)

Distance: 680m

Time: allow about 30mins

Details: this rainforest walk starts opposite the Paluma Town Hall and finishes 200m to the west along Mount Spec Road. Look for strangler figs and king ferns as you meander along the track which takes you to a rainforest creek past an old tin-race; a stone-pitched channel made by miners.

H track (grade: moderate)

Distance: 1.1km

Time: allow about 1hr walking time

Details: this walk starts on Whalley Crescent and finishes on Lennox Crescent—both roads are off Mount Spec Road in the Paluma township. Passing through rainforest as it follows an old timber-hauling or ‘snig’ track, this walk allows you to view loading ramps and old stumps—logging relics of the past. Fenced for your safety, remnants of an old shaft provide an insight into how miners searched for tin.

Note: Other extended bushwalking opportunities are available in Paluma National Park for experienced walkers. See camping information for more details.

Driving

Take a drive past Paluma to the west and explore the towering rose gum forests of Mount Zero–Taravale Nature Refuge, the rustic charm of Hidden Valley, or the relative solitude of the rainforest surrounding Lake Paluma.

Picnic and day-use areas

Day-use areas are located at Big Crystal Creek, Little Crystal Creek and McClellands lookout. Barbecues, picnic tables, toilets and water are provided. Treat all water before drinking. There is also a shelter shed at McClellands lookout. A day-use area located at Lake Paluma is managed by Townsville City Council.

Fishing

Fishing in Paluma Range National Park is only permitted in Big Crystal Creek, but not in the Paradise Waterhole area. Fisheries regulations apply—information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures is available from Fisheries Queensland.

Swimming

Swim at Little Crystal Creek and at Paradise Waterhole and the Rockslides along Big Crystal Creek. Never jump or dive into water and be careful at the water’s edge. Rocks can be extremely slippery and submerged timber can appear after flooding. Injuries have occurred.

Never jump or dive into Little Crystal Creek. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred here.

Visitors also swim in the small pool at the base of Birthday Creek Falls. Never walk on the rocks above the falls as they are extremely slippery and serious injuries could result from a fall.

Viewing wildlife

Mount Spec, Paluma Range National Park is a great place to go birdwatching. Rainforest birds can be seen as well as those that inhabit drier, eucalypt woodland and watercourses. Several of the rainforest birds, notably chowchillas, mountain thornbills and golden bowerbirds, are found only in the Wet Tropics.

Green ringtail possums and giant white-tailed rats are active at night.

Read the description of the park's natural environment for more details about Paluma's diverse wildlife.

Other things to do

For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to know before you go

Essentials to bring

To ensure a safe and enjoyable visit please remember to bring:

  • a first-aid kit
  • a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • cans or plastic bottles—glass containers are prohibited
  • rubbish bags
  • insect repellent
  • sturdy shoes for walking.

Opening hours

Mount Spec, Paluma Range National Park is open 24 hrs a day. For your safety, walk in daylight hours only.

Seasonal closures are common in the wetter months, due to flooding and occasionally in the dryer months the park will be closed due to fires.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

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. Contact us for further information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in Paluma Range National Park.

Climate and weather

The summit of Paluma Range/Mount Spec receives an average annual rainfall of almost 3 m. Much of this rain comes from moisture-laden air from the sea cooling as it rises over the range. Mists are common and, in summer, the area is often cloaked in low cloud.

For more information see the tourism information links. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and basic supplies are available at Mutarnee, on the Bruce Highway, 700 m north of the northern turnoff. More supplies and services can be obtained at Rollingstone, on the Bruce Highway, 10 km south of the southern turnoff.

For more information see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

  • Never jump or dive into water and be careful at the water’s edge. Rocks can be extremely slippery and submerged timber can appear after flooding.
  • Never jump or dive into Little Crystal Creek. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred here.
  • Never climb on the rocks above Birthday Creek falls as they are slippery and serious injuries could result from a fall.
  • Do not attempt to cross strong flowing creeks and streams. Flooding can occur during and after heavy or prolonged periods of rain and the creek may become impassable.
  • Do not feed native wildlife. It is a health risk to them and a safety risk to you.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen, a hat and a long-sleeved shirt, even on cloudy days.
  • Wear insect repellent, clothing and shoes to protect yourself from stings, scratches and bites.
  • Cassowaries live in some areas. Never approach or feed these animals and remember to be cass-o-wary!
  • Venomous fish called bullrouts live in some creeks. Wear sandshoes or similar footwear and take care when investigating unusual rocks or objects. Be aware of the required first-aid procedures.
  • Carry adequate drinking water. Treat all water from taps, creeks and streams before drinking.

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

Looking after the park

Parks and forests protect Queensland's natural diversity and scenery. Help keep these places special by following these guidelines.

  • Glass containers are not permitted in some areas as broken glass can cause injuries.
  • Do not chase, scare or feed animals.
  • Never leave food, dirty dishes or bars of soap unattended—Australian brush-turkeys and native giant white-tailed rats are nature’s perfect thieves.
  • Take all rubbish with you, including food scraps.
  • Camp only in designated camping areas.
  • Take care not to pollute fresh water. Do not use soap, shampoo or detergents in or near creeks.
  • Light campfires responsibly using existing fireplaces and do not collect firewood from within the park.
  • Stay on the track—never cut corners or create new tracks.
  • Leave your pets at home. Domestic animals are not permitted in national parks.

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

Park management

Mount Spec, Paluma Range National Park is managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service in collaboration with the Wet Tropics Management Authority, for the purposes of nature conservation and nature-based recreation.

Tourism information links

Flinders Mall Information Centre (Townsville Enterprise Ltd)
www.townsvilleonline.com.au
Flinders Mall, Townsville QLD 4810
Phone: (07) 4721 3660 or 1800 801 902
Email:

Tyto Wetlands Information Centre
www.tyto.com.au
Bruce Highway, Ingham QLD 4850
Phone: (07) 4776 4792
Email:

Rainforest and Reef Information Centre
www.greatgreenwaytourism.com
142 Victoria Street, Cardwell QLD 4849
Phone: (07) 4066 8601
Email:

A partnership between QPWS and Cassowary Coast Regional Council, managed by Great Green Way Tourism Incorporated.

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

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
16 November 2016