Skip links and keyboard navigation

Bushfires

For the latest information on national parks and forests' closures stay up to date with Park Alerts

About Cardwell State Forest

Getting there and getting around

Cardwell Forest Drive

Access to Cardwell Forest Drive is via Brasenose St off Victoria St, in the Cardwell township.

Five Mile Creek day-use area        

Travel south from Cardwell, 8km along the Bruce Highway. Five Mile Creek is signposted and is located on the right hand side of the highway. The turn off from the highway is unsealed but can be accessed by conventional vehicle and is 800m in length.

Maps

Wheelchair accessibility

Cardwell Forest Drive

The Cardwell lookout is wheelchair accessible.

Five Mile Creek

The toilet block is wheel chair accessible.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Camping is not permitted in Cardwell State Forest. Camping is permitted in the nearby Girringun National Park, Abergowrie State Forest, Girramay National Park and Tully Gorge National Park, camping fees apply.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Ingham, Tully and Cardwell, including caravan parks, motels, holiday units, cabins and hostels. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Park features

Dead Horse Creek: Cardwell Forest Drive. Photo: Queensland Government.

Dead Horse Creek: Cardwell Forest Drive. Photo: Queensland Government.

Cardwell State Forest consists of a mix of native vegetation types and pine plantations. Cardwell Forest Drive is one of the key features of the Cardwell State Forest and offers a range of spectacular scenery and waterholes. There are four nodes along the drive (Cardwell lookout, Attie Creek, Dead Horse Creek and Spa Pool), which all have their own unique characteristics. Make sure you allow enough time to visit them all.

Five Mile Creek is another feature of Cardwell State Forest and a favourite waterhole for many to cool off at. There is a large day-use area with picnic tables, barbecues and toilet facilities.

Remember, the waterholes and creeks are seasonal and rely on rainfall. Most of the rain falls during the wet season which can start as early as December and continue through to April. At drier times of the year water flows may be minimal and can come to a complete stop.

Things to do

Attie Creek Falls, Cardwell Forest Drive. Photo: Queensland Government.

Attie Creek Falls, Cardwell Forest Drive. Photo: Queensland Government.

A view from Cardwell lookout, Cardwell Forest Drive. Photo: Queensland Government.

A view from Cardwell lookout, Cardwell Forest Drive. Photo: Queensland Government.

Spa Pool, Cardwell Forest Drive. Photo: Queensland Government.

Spa Pool, Cardwell Forest Drive. Photo: Queensland Government.

Walking

Cardwell Forest Drive

Cardwell Forest Drive map (PDF, 586K)

Two walking tracks will help you explore Cardwell Forest Drive.

Hinchinbrook Island, Hinchinbrook Channel and Rockingham Bay lookouts–1.6km return (60mins) Grade: moderate

Make your way along the walking track that starts from the Cardwell lookout carpark (Cardwell Forest Drive map (PDF, 586K)). The first of the three lookouts offers views of the Hinchinbrook Channel and Oyster Point. Continue along the trail until you reach the fork, take the left track and make your way to the Rockingham Bay lookout. On a clear day you will see the Goold, Garden and Family Group Islands, Hecate Point on Hinchinbrook Island, Meunga creek on the mainland and of course Rockingham Bay. Return to the fork and head further down the trail to the Hinchinbrook Island lookout This view shows the many spectacular peaks of Hinchinbrook Island. The track surface is uneven with loose gravel and several steps. Some sections of the track are reasonably steep.A moderate level of fitness is required.

Attie Creek Falls–1.4 km return (30mins) Grade: moderate

Take a 700m uphill walk to view Attie Creek Falls. The walk begins in the carpark at Attie Creek. Keep in mind that the falls are seasonal and may not be flowing all year round. Some sections of the track are reasonably steep.A moderate level of fitness is required.

Driving

Cardwell Forest Drive

Cardwell Forest Drive is 9km long and is best completed as a return trip from Cardwell Township via Brasenose Street. Take your time to explore the four nodes along the drive (Cardwell lookout, Attie Creek, Dead Horse Creek and Spa Pool). Allow two to three hours so you can visit all of the nodes. See the (Cardwell Forest Drive map (PDF, 586K)) for facilities at each node.

Please remember that Cardwell Forest Drive is a working forest and has a large network of roads (beware of logging trucks). Heavy trucks and machinery frequent the track network. Visitors are reminded to stay on the designated marked roads at all times and not to venture off these roads as harvesting may be occurring.  

Five Mile Creek

Five Mile Creek day-use area is a short 8km drive south of Cardwell Township.

Picnic and day-use areas

Cardwell Forest Drive

Picnic tables are provided at Attie Creek, Dead Horse Creek and at Spa Pool along the Cardwell Forest Drive. There are no toilets or rubbish bins along the drive.

Five Mile Creek

A picnic table, wood barbecues and toilets are provided at Five Mile Creek.

Fishing

Fishing is not permitted in Cardwell State Forest.

Viewing wildlife

The Cardwell area is home to a variety of mammals, frogs and reptiles, as well as over 70 species of birds including doves, pigeons, rainbow lorikeets, kookaburras, kingfishers, honey eaters and figbirds. Bring binoculars and watch for many colourful birds at the waterholes along the Cardwell Forest Drive.

Things to know before you go

Essentials to bring

To ensure you have a safe and enjoyable visit, make sure you bring:

  • drinking water
  • first-aid kit
  • insect repellent and clothing to protect against insect bites
  • hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • wet-weather clothing
  • sturdy, reliable footwear

Opening hours

Cardwell State Forest is open 24 hours a day.

Pets

Dogs are permitted on a leash within the Cardwell State Forest.

Dogs are not permitted in the Girringun National Park section at Attie Creek.

Climate and weather

In summer, daytime temperatures at Cardwell State Forest can exceed 35 degrees Celsius. The cooler months from April to September are the best times to visit. Remember, the waterholes and creeks are seasonal and rely on rainfall. Most of the rain falls during the wet season which can start as early as December and continue to April. At drier times of the year water flows may be minimal and can come to a complete stop. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available from Cardwell, Tully and Ingham. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Staying safe

  • Take care around cliffs, steep slopes and rock faces along tracks and at lookouts.
  • Never jump or dive into water—there may be submerged objects.
  • Supervise children closely at all times.
  • Stay on the tracks and take care on uneven surfaces, especially in wet conditions.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen, a hat and a long-sleeved shirt, even on cloudy days.
  • Wear insect repellent, clothing and shoes to protect yourself from stings, scratches and bites.
  • Avoid swimming in slow-moving or stagnant water.
  • Bullrouts (freshwater stonefish) live in some creeks. They can inflict a painful sting if touched. Wear shoes when wading or swimming. Seek medical attention if stung.

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

Fire safety

  • Fires are not permitted in Cardwell State Forest.
  • To report a wildfire call Triple Zero (000).

Looking after the park

  • There are no rubbish bins on Cardwell Forest Drive, take all of your rubbish with you.
  • Dogs are not permitted in the neighbouring National Parks, this includes the section of Attie Creek. In all other areas, dogs must be under control and on a leash at all times.
  • Fires are not permitted within Cardwell State Forest. Wood fire barbeques can be found at the Five Mile Creek day-use area.
  • Do not chase, scare or feed wildlife.
  • Everything in the park is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.

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

Toilets

There are no toilet facilities along the Cardwell Forest Drive. Public toilets can be found in the Cardwell Township or at Five Mile Creek day-use area.

Park management

The Cardwell State Forest is managed by DES with the aid of Girringun Aboriginal Corporation and HQ Plantations.

Tourism information links

Cardwell Visitor and Heritage Centre
www.cassowarycoast.qld.gov.au
51 Victoria Street, Cardwell QLD 4849
ph (07) 4066 2412
email

Rainforest and Reef Information Centre
www.greatgreenwaytourism.com
142 Victoria Street, Cardwell QLD 4849
ph (07) 4066 8601
email
Managed by Great Green Way Tourism Incorporated.

Tully Visitor and Heritage Centre
www.tropicalcoasttourism.com.au
Bruce Highway, Tully QLD 4854
ph (07) 4068 2288
email

Tyto Information and Wetlands Centre
www.tyto.com.au
Bruce Highway, Ingham QLD 4850
ph (07) 4776 4792
email  

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see the Queensland Holidays website.

Last updated
11 September 2018