Danbulla National Park and State Forest Tropical North Queensland

Lake Tinaroo is the heart of Danbulla National Park and State Forest. Photo credit: Karl Seelig © Tourism and Events Queensland

Be inspired: ‘Slow camping’ at Danbulla where families enjoy the ‘little things in life’

‘Because one day you will look back and realise they were big things’. Writer Kurt Vonnegut was so right. Time is fleeting and we wish we could ‘bonsai’ our kids, but before we know it, they’ve grown and flown. Photo credit: Maxime Coquard © Queensland Government

Be inspired: Chasing volcanoes (and waterfalls) in the tropical north

They say ‘don’t go chasing waterfalls’ but we suggest you do, and volcanoes too! Photo credit: Steven Nowakowski © Queensland Government

Be inspired: Legendary fish, aquatic adrenaline and waterfront vistas—Danbulla offers all this and more!

Does the smell of sunscreen and insect spray evoke childhood memories of dangling a fishing line with Dad, bucket-washing the dishes with Mum and building a camp fire with your siblings? Photo credit: Karl Seelig © Tourism and Events Queensland

Be inspired: Queensland National Parks’ best-loved camping areas

We are truly a nation of coast dwellers, so when it comes to camping holidays, where do we head? To the water, of course! Photo credit: © Tourism and Events Queensland

Visiting Danbulla safely

    Keep to the walking track at all times.

    The Chimneys day use area

    Dogs on a leash are permitted at The Chimneys day use area.

    A stocked impoundment permit is required to fish in Lake Tinaroo.

    Getting there and getting around

    Danbulla National Park and Danbulla State Forest are on the central part of the Atherton Tableland. Danbulla Road is a 28km drive, suitable for conventional vehicles, that runs through the park and forest. The eastern entrance to the road is on Boar Pocket Road, just near the top of the Gillies Highway, about 60km or 1.5hr drive from Cairns. The western entrance is reached via the township of Kairi, which is about 80km from Cairns via the Gillies Highway, and about 90km from Cairns via the Kennedy Highway and Mareeba. The Atherton Tableland is also accessible via the Palmerston Highway from Innisfail and via the Mossman–Mount Molloy Road from Port Douglas.

    Getting to Danbulla

    From the north (Kuranda Range, Rex Range, Mulligan Highway) to the western entrance

    • From Mareeba, travel 29km south on the Kennedy Highway to Tolga.
    • Turn left in the centre of Tolga onto Kairi Road, and follow it for 7km to the T-intersection at Kairi.
    • Turn left onto Irvine Street and follow it as it winds through Kairi and becomes Tinaroo Falls Dam Road.

    From the west (Savannah Way) to the western entrance

    • From Atherton, follow the Gillies Highway east and turn left onto Tinaroo Falls Dam Road.
    • Travel for 10.8km to Kairi where the road becomes Irvine Street.
    • Follow Irvine Street as it winds through Kairi and again becomes Tinaroo Falls Dam Road.

    From the south (Palmerston Highway) to the western entrance

    • From Yungaburra, follow the Gillies Highway west for 7km.
    • Turn right into Marks Lane and follow it for 2.6km to Tinaroo Falls Dam Road.
    • Turn right onto Tinaroo Falls Dam Road and follow it for 4.2km to the T-intersection at Kairi.
    • Turn left onto Irvine Street and follow it as it winds through Kairi and becomes Tinaroo Falls Dam Road.

    From the south (Palmerston Highway) to the eastern entrance

    • From Yungaburra, follow the Gillies Highway east for 12.9km to Boar Pocket Road.
    • Turn left into Boar Pocket Road and follow it for 4.4km to the boundary of the park.
    • The road becomes Danbulla Road 100m further along (at the Gillies Lookout track).

    From the east (Gillies Range) to the eastern entrance

    • From Gordonvale, follow the Gillies Range for 30.7km to Boar Pocket Road.
    • Turn right onto Boar Pocket Road and follow it for 4.4km to the boundary of the park.
    • The road becomes Danbulla Road 100m further along (at the Gillies Lookout track).

    Boat ramp directions

    There are 2 public access boat ramps located outside of Danbulla National Park and State Forest.

    To Black Gully Road boat ramp

    • From Kairi township, follow Tinaroo Falls Dam Road for 3.8km.
    • Turn right into Black Gully Road and drive to the boat ramp at the end.

    To Church Street boat ramp

    • From Kairi township, follow Tinaroo Falls Dam Road for 6.4km to the Tinaroo township.
    • Turn right into Lamb Street and follow it to the end.
    • Turn right into Church Street and drive to the boat ramp at the end.

    Road conditions

    Take care when driving. Danbulla Road is narrow, unsealed and has sharp curves and rough surfaces. Be aware of other vehicles, pedestrians and wildlife on the road. Logging trucks also use this road. Exercise extreme caution and look out for oncoming vehicles. The Tablelands Regional Council has erected signs indicating this road is unsuitable for caravans. For any road access problems, please contact the Tablelands Regional Council.

    Wheelchair accessibility

    There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities in Danbulla National Park and State Forest.

    Staying safe

    Walk safely

    • Keep to the walking tracks at all times and take note of the safety signs.
    • Wear sunscreen, a hat and protective clothing when exploring the area.
    • Take care on wet and slippery rocks.
    • Mobile phone coverage is not reliable.

    Drive safely

    Take care when driving. Danbulla Road is narrow, unsealed and has sharp curves and rough surfaces. Be aware of other vehicles, logging trucks, pedestrians and wildlife on the road. The Tablelands Regional Council has erected signs indicating this road is unsuitable for caravans. For any road access problems please contact the Tablelands Regional Council.

    Mount Edith and Kauri Creek roads are unsealed and may be closed during periods of extended wet weather. Take care to remain on the left side of the road and be on the lookout for oncoming traffic. Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

    Boat safely

    The lake contains many submerged trees and other hidden hazards. These hazards vary as the water level in the lake changes. Vessel masters must ensure they navigate with extreme caution.

    • Swimmers have been seriously injured by boats. Take care around boats and skiers.
    • Read water safety for important information about staying safe in and near water and caring for parks.

    Swim safely

    • There are no patrolled swimming areas in Lake Tinaroo, and you enter the water at your own risk.
    • Never dive or jump into the water; it may be shallower than it looks and there could be hidden, submerged objects.

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

    Before you visit

    Essentials to bring

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

    • drinking water
    • firewood (firewood must not be collected from Danbulla State Forest and National Park)
    • sunscreen, a hat and a long-sleeved shirt, even on cloudy days, to protect yourself from the sun.

    Opening hours

    Danbulla National Park and State Forest are open 24 hours a day.

    Permits and fees

    Camping permits

    Camping permits are required and fees apply. Your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

    Other permits

    If you intend conducting a commercial tour, wedding, school excursion or scientific research in Danbulla National Park and State Forest, a permit may be required. See park permits and policies for further information.

    A stocked impoundment permit is required to fish in Lake Tinaroo.

    Pets

    Dogs are permitted on a leash at the Kauri Creek day-use area and The Chimneys day-use area. Domestic animals are not permitted anywhere else in the Danbulla area.

    Climate and weather

    Danbulla National Park and State Forest are 800m above sea level and their lower humidity and temperatures are a pleasant escape from the coastal extremes. Maximum summer temperatures are around 30°C while winter temperatures can fall below 10°C at night, when frosts are not uncommon. Most of the rain falls during the wet season, between December and March. For more information see the tourism information links.

    Fuel and supplies

    Fuel and supplies are available from any of the towns on the Atherton Tableland. The closest town to the eastern end of the drive is Yungaburra, and at the western end is Tinaroo township. For more information see the tourism information links.