Visiting Bartle Frere safely
The Bartle Frere trail can be accessed from the coast at Josephine Falls or from the west via the Atherton Tableland. From the summit you can return to your starting point or continue to complete the 15km trail.
From Josephine Falls
Josephine Falls is 75km south of Cairns. Turn right off the Bruce Highway 2km south of Miriwinni and drive 8km to Josephine Falls. Access is suitable for conventional vehicles.
From Atherton Tableland
From Malanda, travel 5.5km along the Malanda–Yungaburra road then turn into Topaz Road and travel 2km past Butchers Creek School. Turn left to Lamins Hill lookout—this gravel road can be slippery when wet—and follow the signs for 7km to the end of Gourka Road and the national park boundary. Junction camp, 2km along the gravel road from the national park boundary, marks the start of the walking trail.
There are no wheelchair-accessible tracks or facilities along the Bartle Frere trail.
The Bartle Frere trail travels through remote and isolated country. Walkers must be well-prepared and responsible for their own safety. Consider your ability and the trail conditions carefully before setting out.
- Never walk alone. Groups of four are ideal.
- Walkers should always stay on the trail.
- Always let someone know your travel plans—see things to know before you go.
- Carry adequate drinking water. There is a small creek at Western Summit camping area but no guaranteed water source along the trail.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and a long-sleeved shirt, even on cloudy days.
- Take waterproof clothing as it is often wet, windy and cold near the summit.
- Wear adequate clothing and insect repellent for protection against stings, scratches and insect bites, especially bites from ticks.
- Check regularly for leeches and remove.
- Avoid stinging trees. These plants are found at rainforest edges. 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 attention.
- Set up camp well before dark. For your safety do not walk at night.
Carry at least one form of communication equipment. Satellite phones and Personal Location Beacons (PBLs) are the most effective. Mobile phone coverage is available only on some exposed parts of the walk. In case of an emergency, if you have mobile network coverage available dial 000. Download the Triple Zero emergency app—it could save your life.
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
The Bartle Frere trail is remote and isolated. Prepare thoroughly to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable walk.
Before you go
The Bartle Frere trail is isolated and help can be hours away. You must be responsible for your own safety and be well prepared. Tell a responsible person where you are going and when you expect to return. Let them know your route and don’t forget to contact them on your safe return. Have a contingency plan in place if you fail to contact them by the agreed time. If you change your plans, inform them.
Essentials to bring
The Bartle Frere trail is remote and isolated. Prepare thoroughly to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable walk. Plan to be fully self-sufficient and pack the following safety equipment and bushwalking gear:
- a basic first-aid kit including a space blanket
- adequate clothing—be prepared for very cold and wet conditions
- a compass and a map or track guide
- a quality lightweight and waterproof tent
- a lightweight sleeping bag and sleeping mat
- sturdy, reliable footwear
- sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and insect repellent
- a torch or headlamp
- biodegradable toilet paper and a small hand trowel
- a pocket knife
- a gas or liquid fuel stove with spare fuel
- lightweight cooking and eating utensils
- waterproof matches or a lighter
- a washing up container
- adequate water—enough for the duration of the walk
- waterproof bags for keeping clothing and bedding dry, and for storing rubbish
- nourishing lightweight and compact food, and high-energy snacks—for safety, allow 1–2 days extra food
- solid containers to store food as native rats will chew through non-solid materials
- at least one form of communication equipment, preferably a satellite phone or a Personal Location Beacon (PLB), as mobile phone coverage is limited and unreliable.
Wooroonooran National Park is open 24 hours a day. The Bartle Frere trail may be closed during the wet season, between December and April. Additional closures may occur for management purposes including pest plant and animal control.
Camping permits are required for camping in Wooroonooran National Park and along the Bartle Frere trail and fees apply. There are 4 designated camping areas along the Bartle Frere trail. There is no camping available outside of the 4 designated camping areas. The Bartle Frere trail camping areas each have a maximum of 8 people per night per camping area with a maximum group size of 4 people. See camping for more information. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your campsite.
Domestic animals are not permitted in Wooroonooran National Park.
Climate and weather
To ensure your visit is fun and comfortable, try to visit between May and October when the weather and trail conditions are at their best. During this time, temperatures are generally cooler and the weather drier. Temperatures on the mountain are around 10°C cooler than on the coast. Be aware that strong winds of 25–40km/hr can occur and the wind chill factor can result in temperatures below freezing.
During the wet season, from December to April, rain can be extensive and very heavy. The region receives some of the highest rainfall in Australia, often more than 10,000mm annually. The highest recorded annual rainfall for the summit was 11,850mm in 1999. Day temperatures average about 30°C with 90% humidity and nights can be cool.
Cloud envelops the upper ridges of the mountain suddenly and rainstorms are common all year round. Rain, cold and poor visibility can make camping and bushwalking uncomfortable and potentially unsafe. In extreme weather conditions the trail may be closed.
Carry suitable clothing to accommodate all extremes.
For more information see the tourism information links.
Fuel and supplies
Fuel and supplies are available from local towns such as Innisfail, Tully, Malanda and Yungaburra.
- Temporary road closure: Bartle Frere access road (western trailhead) 30 November to 8 December 2023
- Wet season safety information - significant stream rises: Wooroonooran National Park 28 November 2023 to 31 March 2024