Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park Townsville

Photo credit: © Queensland Government

Be inspired: Mountain biking in north Queensland parks—feel the burn!

Want to take leg day to the next level? Sometimes you just have to say, ‘what the heck, let’s do it’. Queensland National Parks, particularly those in the north, offer some gnarly mountain bike trails&hellip… Photo credit: © Tourism and Events Queensland

Things to do

    Picnic areas are a short stroll from the car park.

    Photo credit: Margaret Macindoe, Queensland Government

    Find a WWII gun pit on the Forts walk.

    Photo credit: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

    Walk or cycle to Shelly Cove.

    Photo credit: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

    Camping and accommodation


    Camping is not permitted in Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park.

    Other accommodation

    There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Townsville. For more information, see the tourism information links below.

    Walking and mountain biking

    The Cape Pallarenda Trails are a network of shared walking and mountain biking trails in the Cape Pallarenda and Townsville Town Common conservation parks.

    The trails range from short easy walks to challenging hikes and cross country mountain bike rides. Consider your fitness level before undertaking the extended trails.

    Limit the spread of weeds on the Cape Pallarenda Trails network

    Before leaving home and heading out on any of the trails.

    • Clean the soils off your bike wheels and frame, and the soles of your shoes.
    • Pick all weed seeds and other plant matter off your gear, clothes and shoes, place it in a sealed bag and dispose of it in a rubbish bin.

    Weeds have a significant impact on our natural ecosystems. You can help stop the spread of weeds by keeping your equipment clean and staying on the formed trails. Check out the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) website for information on weed eradication programs, control methods and some great Weedbuster activities and resources.


    Trail descriptions

    Shelly Cove trail

    Grade 3 Intermediate

    Distance: 750m one way
    Time: allow 45 mins walking time
    Details: Walkers and bike riders share this trail. Following an old access road created during World War II, this trail provides access to the beach at Shelly Cove on the northern side of the Cape Pallarenda headland. Large rock steps lead to the beach at the end of the trail. Trail users can return along the way they came or can continue along the Under the Radar trail.

    Graves circuit

    Grade 3 Bicycles prohibited

    Distance: 2km return
    Time: allow 1.5 hrs time
    Details: starting 110m along the Shelly Cove trail, this circuit winds through woodland and vine thicket behind the Quarantine Station before returning along the Forts walk. It passes a weir built in 1925 and the graves of 13 people who died from meningitis at the Quarantine Station in 1920. Trail users can return along the Forts walk and the Shelly Cove trail.

    Forts walk

    Grade 3 Bicycles prohibited

    Distance: 500m one way
    Time: allow 45 mins time
    Details: this walk starts 290m along the Shelly Cove trail and leads to a number of World War II gun emplacements and a searchlight station on Cape Pallarenda headland. The trail offers sweeping views of Townsville and Magnetic Island. Trail users can return the way they came.

    Under the Radar trail (UTR)

    Grade 3 Intermediate

    Distance: 10.1km one way
    Time: allow 5 hrs walking time
    Details: this narrow, two-way trail is designed for cross country mountain biking. Walkers must be alert and considerate for mountain bike riders approaching from either direction.

    At its eastern end, UTR begins 700m along the Shelly Cove trail and crosses the northern and western slopes of Many Peak Range. It provides excellent views of the islands to the north and the Coral Sea beyond. There is a link 6.6km along UTR that leads to Smedley's trail. At its western end, UTR begins 500m along the Shelly Beach trail in Townsville Town Common Conservation Park. UTR has rough surfaces and some steep sections. Trail users can return the way they came or may use the other trails and internal park roads to return to their starting point (see Cape Pallarenda Trails map (PDF, 209.2KB) ).

    Picnic and day-use areas

    The day-use area is located on the foreshore overlooking Magnetic Island. Picnic tables, toilets and parking are provided.

    Historic quarantine display

    A small display offers an insight into the quarantine history of the area. The display is open from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.


    Marine waters adjacent to Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park are internationally significant and are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Zones in the two marine parks—the Great Barrier Reef Coast and Great Barrier Reef—provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreational and commercial use. Check zoning information and maps before entering or conducting any activities in the marine parks

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

    Viewing wildlife

    The park is home to many types of birds, wallabies and lizards that are easily spotted in the open woodland environment.

    Read more about the natural environment of Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.