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

Visiting Cape Palmerston safely

    Mangroves in Cape Palmerston National Park. Photo courtesy of Querida Hutchinson.

    Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Querida Hutchinson

    Getting there and getting around

    You need a high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle to visit Cape Palmerston National Park.

    Cape Palmerston National Park is 115km south-east of Mackay. Turn off the Bruce Highway at Ilbilbie and drive east towards Greenhill. Before Greenhill, turn left into Cape Palmerston Road. The park boundary is about 6km further along this road.

    Once you enter the park allow another hour to get to the Windmill Bay camping area, located along the beach in the park’s northern section. A track then follows the coastline to the cape itself. A second track from Windmill Bay heads inland to the west, then leads to the sandy spit where Cape Creek camping area and boat landing are located. Please note that these tracks are not signposted and you should consult the park map (PDF, 146.0KB) for details.

    The park is rugged and during periods of heavy rain tracks can become impassable. When travelling along the beach, be prepared for soft sand and extreme tides of up to 6m. For your own safety, please follow these guidelines:

    • Carry suitable recovery gear and sufficient fuel for your vehicle (nearest fuel is at Ilbilbie).
    • Check tide times before you travel. Beach driving is safest on a falling tide.
    • Lower tyre pressure to make soft sand driving easier and reduce track damage. If you choose to deflate your tyres, follow manufacturer specifications and drive with caution.
    • Re-inflate tyres to drive on hard surfaces.
    • Pack a pressure gauge and pump.

    Be aware that shorebirds also use the beach. Drive with caution around them.

    Check park alerts for up-to-date information on access to parks and forests. Contact the Department of Transport and Main Roads to find out about local road conditions and the Bureau of Meteorology for weather reports and forecasts.

    Wheelchair accessibility

    There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks in Cape Palmerston National Park.

    Staying safe

    • Sun protection is needed all year. Bring a hat and sunscreen.
    • Bring insect repellent as sandflies and mosquitoes can be prolific.
    • Wear stinger suits when wading. Dangerous marine stingers are most common from October to March but can occur throughout the year. Check Beachsafe for the latest safety advice.
    • Beware of estuarine crocodiles. Be crocwise.
    • Drive carefully, check tide times, and carry 4WD recovery gear and spare fuel.
    • Pack a first-aid kit and know how to use it.
    • Bring sufficient drinking water. No drinking water is available in the park.
    • Carry at least one form of communication equipment. Satellite phones, marine radios and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are the most effective in this area. Mobile phone coverage is poor.

    For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

    In an emergency

    For all emergencies call Triple Zero (000).

    We recommend you visit the Triple Zero website before visiting the national park. You can also download the free emergency + app before you leave home, the GPS functionality can provide critical location details to emergency services.

    Before you visit

    Essentials to bring

    • 4WD recovery gear and fuel
    • adequate drinking water
    • fuel stove and cooking fuel
    • sturdy rubbish bags
    • insect repellent
    • first-aid kit (including vinegar for box jellyfish).

    Opening hours

    Cape Palmerston National Park is open 24 hours a day. The national park may be closed at times due to extreme weather conditions and other management activities. Check park alerts for information on park conditions and closures.

    Permits and fees

    Camping permits are required and fees apply. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

    Permits are required for scientific research, commercial or organised group activities. View permits and fees for further information.


    Domestic animals are not permitted in the park.

    Climate and weather

    Winters are mild (10–25°C) while summers are warm to hot (22–32°C). Expect heavy rain from December to March.

    Fuel and supplies

    The nearest fuel and basic supplies is available south west of the park at Ilbiblie (14km) and Carmila (40km).

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.