Visiting Endeavour River safely
Getting there and getting around
Most of the park is accessible only by boat and there are two boat ramps on the Cooktown waterfront that provide access to Endeavour River, and the national park. Visitors need to be aware of snags, sand and rock bars and rough conditions.
The southern section of the park can be reached by vehicle along Starcke Street. Alternatively you can access the park via Endeavour Valley Road, three kilometres west of Cooktown.
Cooktown can be reached from the south by inland or coastal road routes. Access is also possible from the north and west via an inland road route. Many of the roads are unsealed and four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended. All roads may be closed for extended periods during and after heavy rain in the wet season. Check with the Bureau of Meteorology for updated weather reports. Travellers should seek the latest information on road conditions from the RACQ before proceeding.
Alcohol restrictions are in place in many of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. For the latest information on restrictions see community alcohol restrictions.
From Cairns (coastal road route)
When travelling from the south, Cooktown can be reached from either the inland or coastal road routes. The inland road is sealed and suitable for caravans. The coastal route is suitable only for four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Travel west on the Kennedy Highway for 67km to Mareeba. Turn north onto the Mulligan Highway (Cooktown Development Road) and travel 181km to Lakeland Downs via the Palmer River Roadhouse. Continue north-east on the Mulligan Highway for another 82km to Cooktown. The total distance is 330km and takes approximately 4 hours.
Travel 75km north towards Mossman on the Captain Cook Highway and a further 62km to the Daintree and Cape Tribulation. Follow the unsealed Bloomfield Track for 77km to the Mulligan Highway (Cooktown Development Road). Turn right onto the highway and travel 28km to Cooktown. The total distance is 242km and takes approximately 4 hours. This route has creek crossings and is recommended for four-wheel-drive vehicles only.
From Laura (inland road route)
Travellers coming from the north and west can reach Cooktown from Laura via either the Battle Camp Road or Lakeland. These routes are suitable for four-wheel-drive vehicles only as the road is mostly gravel and heavily corrugated in some places.
Battle Camp Road
From Laura travel 28km north to Old Laura. Turn east and drive 123km on the Battle Camp Road to Cooktown.
From Laura travel 64km to Lakeland, then 82km to Cooktown.
There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities on Endeavour River National Park.
Estuarine crocodiles are potentially dangerous. Never take unnecessary risks in crocodile habitat. You are responsible for your own safety, so please follow these guidelines and be croc wise in croc country.
- Never swim in water where crocodiles may live even if there is no warning sign present.
- Swimming or standing in water above knee height near a crocodile warning sign or where estuarine crocodiles are frequently seen, is illegal in protected areas. However a person can still enter the water if they have a reasonable excuse, e.g. launching a boat.
- When fishing, always stand a few metres back from the water’s edge and never stand on logs or branches overhanging the water.
- Never clean fish or discard fish scraps or bait near the water’s edge, around campsites or at boat ramps.
- Stay well back from any crocodile slide marks. Crocodiles may be close by and may approach people and boats.
- Boats and vehicles must never be brought within 10 m of an estuarine crocodile in the wild—it is illegal unless part of a commercial crocodile viewing tour, or there is a reasonable excuse, e.g. where a creek is less than 10m wide.
- Never dangle your arms or legs over the side of a boat. If you fall out of a boat, get out of the water as quickly as possible.
- Never provoke, harass or interfere with crocodiles, even small ones.
- Never feed crocodiles—it is illegal and dangerous.
- Camp at least 2m above the high water mark and at least 50m from the water's edge. Avoid places where native animals and domestic stock drink.
- Never leave food scraps, fish scraps or bait at your campsite. Always check that previous campers have not left these behind.
- Never prepare food, wash dishes or pursue any other activities near the water's edge or adjacent sloping banks.
- Be more aware of crocodiles at night and during the breeding season, September to April.
For more information on being croc wise, see crocodiles—Be Croc wise.
General safety tips
To enjoy a safe visit in this area, please take these precautions:
- Avoid the sun in the middle of the day to prevent sunburn and heat exhaustion. Use sunscreen and wear a hat.
- During summer months biting insects may be a problem. Apply insect repellent and wear protective clothing.
- Ensure you carry plenty of drinking water.
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
Before you visit
Essentials to bring
- adequate food and water
- first-aid equipment
- sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and clothes for protection from the sun
- repellent and clothing for protection against biting insects
- rubbish bags to remove all rubbish.
Endeavour River National Park is open 24 hours a day.
Permits and fees
Permits are required for commercial or organised activities. View permits and fees for further information.
Please leave your pets at home—domestic animals are not allowed in Endeavour River National Park.
Climate and weather
Endeavour River National Park has a tropical climate. Summer can be very hot and humid with maximum temperatures reaching over 35°C. During the wet season, from December to April, there are heavy, frequent downpours. During the cooler, drier months from May to September when south-easterly winds normally blow, the weather is pleasantly warm, with reduced humidity. For more information see the tourism information links below.
Fuel and supplies
Fuel and supplies are available in Cooktown. For more information see the tourism information links.
- Feral animal control program: Endeavour River National Park 6 January to 30 June 2023