Cape Palmerston National Park Mackay

Experience the diverse landscapes of Cape Palmerston National Park on the Cape Palmerston drive. Photo credit: John Atkinson © Queensland Government

Rocky headlands, mangroves, swamps and sand dunes are iconic features of Cape Palmerston National Park. Photo credit: Paul Curtis © North Queensland Wildscapes

Be inspired: Coastal camping adventures for intrepid families at Cape Palmerston

Intrepid: fearless, adventurous, audacious, daring… If that sounds like your family facing up to a few days’ camping in a scenic coastal ‘wilderness’, read on! Photo credit: John Atkinson © Queensland Government

Cape Palmerston drive

Explore the full length and breadth of this rugged park—from sandy beaches and rocky headlands, to shady swamps and cool rainforests.

Journey type
17.7km return Start and finish points are the same and the traveller must return via the same path
Time suggested
Allow 1.5hrs driving time.

Accessible by

  • High clearance 4WD

Journey facilities

  • Lookout (natural)
  • Scenic drive

Venture out and discover all this beautiful coastal park has to offer.

Starting at the southern entrance, follow the stunning coastline through the park to Cape Palmerston. Along the way, you'll pass rocky headlands, mangroves, swamps, rainforest and sand dunes. As the forests change, look for the eucalypt woodlands of ironbark and poplar gums along the ridges, and the paperbarks flanking the gullies.

Scan the horizon for whales, dolphins, dugongs and other marine life from the many vantage points along the track.

Find your slice of paradise and set up camp along the eastern beach, or stay the night at Windmill Bay or Cape Creek camping areas. The only choice you need to make is if you want sunrise or sunset views from your camp site!

Getting there and getting around

The Cape Palmerston drive is in Cape Palmerston National Park, 115km south-east of Mackay on the Central Queensland coast. You need a high clearance 4WD for this drive, starting at the southern boundary of the park.

  • Turn off the Bruce Highway at Ilbilbie (76km south of Mackay and 157km north of Marlborough) and drive east towards Greenhill.
  • Before Greenhill, turn left into Cape Palmerston Road.
  • The park boundary is about 6km along this road.

Getting around

  • Drive for about 1km before choosing the beach access or to stay on the central track.
  • Drive for 11km to reach Windmill Bay camping area.
  • From here, take a 3km side track to Cape Creek camping area or continue for 2.2km to Cape Palmerston.
  • You will need to consult the map because the tracks and intersections aren't signposted.
  • Make sure you check the tide times before you drive on the beach as the tides vary up to 6m.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Before you visit

Opening hours

Cape Palmerston drive is open 24 hours a day.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Visiting safely

For more safety information see Visiting Cape Palmerston safely and Four-wheel drive with care.

  • There are currently no park alerts for this park.