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Cape Melville National Park (CYPAL) Tropical North Queensland

Photo credit: Adam Creed © Queensland Government

About Cape Melville

    Park features

    This remote park is characterised by the massive, tumbled granite boulders of the Melville Range, the sandstone escarpments of the Altanmoui Range, and inland dunefields. The park features a diversity of plant communities including rainforest, mangroves, heathlands, woodlands and grasslands.

    The isolation of Cape Melville National Park (CYPAL) has given rise to a high proportion of endemic plants and animals, which are found nowhere else in the world. Most notable of these is the foxtail palm Wodyetia bifurcata, now a popular garden plant.

    Features of the park's landscape are woven into a rich tapestry of Aboriginal traditional stories and significant sites, creating a living cultural landscape. The long Aboriginal occupation of this area, known as Othawa, is evidenced by shell middens, burial and rock art sites, and has contributed to the significant diversity of vegetation in the area.

    Looking after the park

    • The use of firearms and chainsaws is prohibited in national parks.
    • Leave domestic animals at home—they are prohibited in national parks and adjacent tidal lands.
    • Camp only in designated camping areas—camping is not permitted in other parts of the park.
    • Bury human waste and toilet paper at least 15cm deep and 100m from camp sites, roads, beaches and watercourses.
    • Light fires only in existing fireplaces and put fires out with water when leaving. Fuel stoves are recommended. Do not collect firewood in the national park. Obey fire restrictions.
    • Take care not to pollute fresh water. Do not use soap, shampoo or detergents in or near waterways.
    • Avoid damaging the beach-front wongai trees as they have significance for the Traditional Owners and provide shade and shelter from the wind.
    • Do not collect souvenirs or interfere with cultural sites.
    • When driving or trail-bike riding, stay on the formed roads—off-road trail-bike riding and four-wheel driving is not allowed.
    • Roads in national parks are the same as any other public road in Queensland. All vehicles, except those exempted by law, must be registered. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 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.
    • Riders and drivers must be licensed and vehicles must be road registered.
    • Motocross is not permitted in this park.
    • Surveillance cameras may be used to monitor visitor behaviour and movements throughout the park. On-the-spot fines may also apply.
    • 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.

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

    Park management

    Cape Melville National Park (CYPAL) is jointly managed by the Cape Melville, Flinders & Howick Islands Aboriginal Corporation 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.

    Cape Melville National Park was originally gazetted in 1973. It was extended in 1996 with the inclusion of parts of the Starcke Pastoral Holding and again in 2005 with the inclusion of parts of the Kalpowar Pastoral Holding. The park now stretches for 70km, from Cape Melville in the north to Jeannie River to the south, covering 171,410ha.

    Cape Melville was successfully claimed under the Aboriginal Land Act (Qld) 1991 and changed to national park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land) on 26 November 2013. This tenure recognises Indigenous connection to the land and allows for joint management of the park by QPWS and the Aboriginal Traditional Owners.

    Restricted Access Area (PDF, 2.9MB) has been put in place to protect cultural resources and property. Entry to the Iipwulin (Ninian Bay) Living Area is prohibited.

    Sections of the park may be closed periodically for management purposes. Please do not enter these areas.

    Tourism information links

    Nature's Powerhouse Visitor Information Centre
    Cooktown Botanic Gardens, Cooktown QLD 4895
    ph (07) 4069 6004