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About Palmerston

Getting there and getting around

Crawfords Lookout offers views over the North Johnstone River gorge, Palmerston. Photo: WTMA.

Crawfords Lookout offers views over the North Johnstone River gorge, Palmerston. Photo: WTMA.

King ferns along K-tree Road, Misty Mountains. Photo: Queensland Government.

King ferns along K-tree Road, Misty Mountains. Photo: Queensland Government.

Maps

From Cairns

Travel south along the Bruce Highway towards Innisfail. Turn right onto the Palmerston Highway 5km north of Innisfail (83km south of Cairns). The Palmerston Highway runs through the Palmerston (Doongan) section of Wooroonooran National Park. The northern side of the highway is well-developed for visitors, with easy access to the Mamu Tropical Skywalk (27km along the Palmerston Highway from the turn-off), Crawfords Lookout (a further 1km from the walkway), Gooligans picnic area (4km from the walkway) and Henrietta Creek camping area (5km from the walkway).  

From the Atherton and Evelyn tablelands

Travel to Millaa Millaa and follow the Palmerston Highway down the range towards Innisfail. Henrietta Creek camping area is 25km from Millaa Millaa.

Linking to the Misty Mountains

The southern side of the Palmerston Highway is part of the Misty Mountains wilderness tracks. For access to the Misty Mountains, turn south off the Palmerston Highway on to K-tree Road. This unsealed road is on the opposite side of the highway to the Tchupala and Wallicher falls walking track. South Johnstone camping area is 12.8 km along this road.

Wheelchair accessibility

The toilets at Henrietta Creek camping area are wheelchair-accessible.

Park features

Nandroya Falls. Photo: WTMA.

Nandroya Falls. Photo: WTMA.

The Palmerston (Doongan) section of Wooroonooran National Park is included in the traditional lands of the Ma:Mu Aboriginal people. Located at the heart of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, it is a place of very high biodiversity, due to the high rainfall and fertile soils derived from basalt rocks. More than 500 rainforest tree species grow here, including black bean, milky pine, water gum and red tulip oak. The area also has many epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants without harming them) including ferns, mosses and basket ferns. This intermingling of plant species creates a haven for wildlife, such as the little musky rat-kangaroo, the double-eyed fig-parrot and the endemic chowchilla.

Camping and accommodation

Henrietta Creek camping area. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

Henrietta Creek camping area. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

Camping

There are two camping areas: Henrietta Creek camping area and South Johnstone camping area.

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

Other accommodation

A range of holiday accommodation is available in and around Innisfail, the Atherton Tableland and Cairns. For more information, see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Wallicher Falls and Gooligans picnic area track. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

Wallicher Falls and Gooligans picnic area track. Photo: Julie Swartz, Queensland Government.

Wallicher Falls track. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government.

Wallicher Falls track. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government.

Tchapala Falls. Photo: Queensland Government.

Tchapala Falls. Photo: Queensland Government.

Male Cairns birdwing. Photo: WTMA.

Male Cairns birdwing. Photo: WTMA.

Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway. Photo: Queensland Government.

Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway. Photo: Queensland Government.

Walking

Maps

Several access points along the Palmerston Highway allow walkers to explore the ancient rainforest at the southern end of Wooroonooran National Park.

The Palmerston Highway also provides access, via K-Tree Road, to the Misty Mountains wilderness tracks, a 130km network of short and long wilderness tracks through pristine, high altitude rainforest with crystal clear creeks, waterfalls and panoramic views.

North Johnstone lookout track (Grade: difficult)

Distance: 4km return
Time: Allow about 1–1.5hrs walking time
Details: Starting from Crawfords Lookout, a steep, winding track drops 500m in 1.5km and leads to a lookout—an open grassy area that overlooks the North Johnstone River and Douglas Creek. Follow the track down a further 500m to reach the river. Return along the same track.

Tchupala Falls track (Grade: easy)

Distance: 1.2km return
Time: Allow about 40mins walking time
Details: About 2km uphill from Crawfords Lookout, via the highway, a track leads to Tchupala Falls. After about 200m, the track splits. The right-hand track continues for 400m to Tchupala Falls where Henrietta Creek tumbles over a basalt barricade, one of many created by past volcanic activity. This is a permanently damp place supporting ferns, mosses and other moisture-loving plants.

Wallicher Falls and Gooligans picnic area track (Grade: easy)

Distance: 3km one way
Time: Allow about 1–2hrs walking time
Details: About 2 km uphill from Crawfords Lookout, via the highway, a track leads to Wallicher Falls. After about 200m, the track splits. The left-hand track leads to Wallicher Falls (800m) and then continues for another 2km to Gooligans picnic area.

Gooligans picnic area to Henrietta camping area track (Grade: easy)

Distance: 800m one way
Time: Allow about 30mins walking time
Details: This short track connects Gooligans picnic area with the camping area and involves wading across Henrietta Creek.

Nandroya Falls circuit track (Grade: moderate)

Distance: 6km return
Time: Allow about 2– 3hrs walking time for the full circuit
Details: From the western side of Henrietta Creek camping area, cross the footbridge over Henrietta Creek. After a short distance the track divides—the left branch leads 1.7km to Nandroya Falls, winding along the upper valley of Douglas Creek, passing the 10m high Silver Creek Falls on the way. The right branch is a longer 3.5km route to the falls. At Nandroya Falls, Douglas Creek drops in a narrow, uninterrupted, 50m fall from a basalt parapet. This walk can be done as a circuit walk, returning by the alternative route.

Swimming

There are pleasant swimming holes at South Johnstone camping area, Gooligans day-use area and Henrietta Creek camping area. 

Driving

To the south of the Palmerston Highway, a 36km scenic drive winds through picturesque rainforest from the Palmerston Highway, via the K-tree, Maple Creek and Sutties Gap roads, to the Ravenshoe–Millaa Millaa scenic drive (Old Palmerston Highway) about 12.5 km east of Ravenshoe.

Sutties Gap, K-tree, Maple Creek, Bora Ground and Maalan roads are all unsealed—four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended for Maple Creek, Bora Ground and Malaan roads. All roads are unsuitable for caravans, motor homes or buses. Roads may be slippery when wet. Gates at the entrance to these roads may be locked to stop access during times of extremely wet weather or for road works—check for park alerts.

Picnic and day-use areas

Henrietta Creek camping area has picnic tables, free gas barbecues and toilet facilities. Toilets are wheelchair accessible. Treat water collected from the creek or from taps near the facilities block before use.

Gooligans picnic area, 1km down the Palmerston Highway from Henrietta Creek camping area, has picnic tables and toilets.

South Johnstone camping area, 12.8km along K-tree Road, has picnic tables and toilets. It is on the banks of the South Johnstone River, near a pleasant swimming hole.

Bicycling 

Unless otherwise indicated, bicycles are only allowed on gazetted roads—they are not generally permitted on Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service walking tracks. Expect to share the roads with pedestrians, vehicles, trail-bikes and other cyclists.

Some of the nearby Misty Mountains wilderness tracks are shared tracks with mountain biking permitted

Viewing wildlife

The dense rainforest, with over 500 tree species, attracts a diverse range of animals and provides many opportunities for viewing them in their natural environment. Bright butterflies are commonly encountered. Observant visitors may see a platypus swimming in the creek or a musky rat-kangaroo hopping through the forest.

See the description of the park’s natural environment for more details about the area’s wildlife.

Other things to do

Mamu Tropical Skywalk

This elevated walkway and tower, 1km east of Crawfords Lookout, has sweeping views of the North Johnstone River gorge and surrounding rainforest-clad mountains. It allows visitors to get close to plants and animals, from the forest floor to the canopy. Information signs explain the complex web of rainforest life and the rich cultural history of the area which has great significance for the Ma:Mu Aboriginal people.

Lookout

Stop at Crawfords Lookout to admire the view through a gap in the forest down to the North Johnstone River far below.

Things to know before you go

Well-buttressed trees can be seen along walking tracks. Photo: Greg Watson.

Well-buttressed trees can be seen along walking tracks. Photo: Greg Watson.

Henrietta Creek near the camping area is a popular place to refresh. Photo: Greg Watson.

Henrietta Creek near the camping area is a popular place to refresh. Photo: Greg Watson.

Essentials to bring

To ensure a safe and enjoyable visit always bring:

  • sturdy, reliable footwear
  • a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent and protective clothing for walking or cycling
  • drinking water or a water treatment device if you are planning to use water from the creeks or taps
  • rubbish bags.

Opening hours

Wooroonooran National Park is open 24hrs a day. Some walks may be closed during the wetter months, between October and May, because of flooding creeks. Roads in the Misty Mountains may be closed in periods of wet weather. Additional closures may occur for management purposes including pest plant and pest animal control— check for park alerts.

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 Wooroonooran National Park, a permit may be required. See park permits and policies for further information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in Wooroonooran National Park.

Climate and weather

Wooroonooran National Park has a tropical climate. Daytime temperatures and humidity can be high at any time of the year and nights can be very cool. Visitors should carry clothing suitable for all extremes. August to September is generally the driest period, but heavy rain can fall at any time. The cooler months of the year, from April to September, with an average maximum temperature of 26°C, are the best times to visit.

For more information, see the tourism information links.

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available from local towns including Cairns, Innisfail, Millaa Millaa, Malanda and Atherton.  For more information, see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

Keep away from wait-a-while (lawyer cane) growing along the tracks. Photo: Greg Watson.

Keep away from wait-a-while (lawyer cane) growing along the tracks. Photo: Greg Watson.

Stinging tree. Photo: Queensland Government.

Stinging tree. Photo: Queensland Government.

  • Never jump or dive into water—there may be submerged objects.
  • Take care around steep slopes and rock faces along the tracks.
  • Stay on the track and take care on uneven surfaces, especially in wet conditions and when walking near slippery rocks along streams and creeks.
  • Do not attempt to cross strong flowing creeks and streams—flooding can occur during and after heavy or prolonged periods of rain.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen, a hat and a long sleeved shirt, even on cloudy days.
  • Treat tap and creek water before use.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and insect repellent for protection against stings, scratches and insect bites, especially bites from leeches and ticks. March flies are prevalent from September to December.
  • Beware of stinging trees. They grow to 4m high and have large, heart-shaped leaves with serrated edges. Do not touch these plants as it will almost certainly result in a very painful sting. If you are stung and symptoms are severe, seek medical advice.
  • Special care should be taken when driving on unsealed roads in the Misty Mountains.

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

Looking after the park

Keep to the walking tracks throughout the park. Photo: Queensland Government.

Keep to the walking tracks throughout the park. Photo: Queensland Government.

  • Take your rubbish with you when you leave.
  • Stay on walking tracks—taking short cuts leads to erosion and adjacent areas may be unstable.
  • Respect Indigenous culture and protect places of special significance to Aboriginal people. Never disturb any historic sites or remove artefacts.
  • Protect native wildlife by leaving your pets at home. You will be more likely to see and hear native animals.
  • Keep wildlife wild. Never chase, scare or feed native animals—you might get bitten or scratched. Let animals find their own food—human foods may be harmful.
  • Avoid the use of soaps and detergents near water, as the health of frogs and other aquatic life can be seriously affected. Sand is a wonderful scourer.

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

Park management

Wooroonooran National Park forms part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. It is managed for the purposes of nature conservation and nature-based recreation.

Tourism information links

Innisfail Information Centre
www.innisfailtourism.com.au
1 Eslick St, Innisfail QLD 4860
Phone: 07 4061 2655
Email:

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

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

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
15 September 2016