Cape Palmerston National Park Mackay

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

Things to do

    Camping and accommodation


    Basic camping facilities are available at Windmill Bay and Cape Creek camping areas. Bush camping is also permitted in the fore dunes of the eastern beach.

    Camping permits are required and fees apply.

    Other accommodation

    Caravan parks, hotels and motels are located in centres such as Green Hill, Carmilla, Koumala, Armstrongs Beach and Sarina. See tourism information links for details.


    Cape Palmerston’s beaches and inland roads are accessible only by high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles. Check tide times before setting out as the beach is not passable at high tide. Trailers and caravans are not recommended. Be aware that road conditions can vary. During times of extended dry or wet weather, drivers can expect difficulties in traversing Cape Palmerston’s roads.

    Boating and fishing

    The adjacent waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park offer boating and fishing opportunities. Small boats can be launched on high water from the boat landings at Cape Creek and Windmill Bay. A high-clearance 4WD vehicle is recommended. Beware of estuarine crocodiles and marine stingers all year round.

    Marine park zoning regulations protect the intertidal zone and waters surrounding Cape Palmerston National Park, including the Cape Creek system. Ince Bay has been zoned a Dugong Protection Area.

    Zoning regulations specify how you can use particular sites and the permits you may require. For detailed information on activities such as fishing and crabbing, consult the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority map, available from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

    Licences for harvesting oysters in coastal areas adjacent to the national park are issued by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Licence holders can harvest these oysters from nominated locations.

    Viewing wildlife

    Cape Palmerston offers good birdwatching opportunities. You may see ospreys and sea eagles soaring overhead, and white-breasted woodswallows in flowering grasstrees. Other bird species can often be seen around the swamp on the road to the camping areas. A guide to birds common to the area is available from the Mackay office.

    The beaches around the park are a vital resting area for international migratory shorebirds and an important habitat for resident shorebirds such as beach stone-curlews. These significant species can often be seen feeding and resting at the water’s edge. Please take care not to disturb them, especially when driving along the beach.

    Climb the cape to view marine life below, including various turtle species. From May to September you may also see humpback whales on their way to and from birthing areas further north.

    Other things to do

    Relax and enjoy nature in this undeveloped, remote park. Photograph the spectacular scenery. Beware of estuarine crocodiles and marine stingers all year round.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.