Eurimbula National Park Gladstone

Eurimbula National Park includes the beautiful coastline where Captain James Cook made his first landing in Queensland. Photo credit: Maxime Coquard © Tourism and Events Queensland

Nature, culture and history

    Natural environment

    Many people come to Eurimbula National Park to enjoy the beach and fishing in a quiet, unspoiled area, but there is more to this area than meets the eye. The sandy beaches, pristine waterways and windswept headlands adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park are only some of the area's features. Take some time out to discover this interesting and picturesque coastal park.

    Plants and animals

    Over the past 6,000 years, parallel dunes have built up on the coastal edge of Eurimbula National Park. Now covered in heaths, these dunes support a myriad of habitats. Botanically, this is a key coastal area that preserves a complex mix of vegetation including some plants common in both southern and northern areas.

    The area displays marked changes in plant communities. Visitors can observe mangrove-fringed estuaries, freshwater paperbark swamps and coastal lowland eucalypt forests with weeping cabbage palms to tall rainforest with towering hoop pines.

    The mangrove-fringed estuaries are ideal for birds such as sacred kingfishers, which nest and feed in this habitat. Honeyeaters can be spotted feeding and calling in the paperbark swamps.

    Preferring the coastal lowland swamps, glossy black-cockatoos feed exclusively on Allocasuarina species. This makes them one of the most highly specialised birds in the world. Gregarious family parties of this vulnerable bird can often be heard feeding on forest oak cones.

    Rare yellow-bellied gliders are seen during the first half of the night—their most active time of the evening—feeding on nectar, pollen, insects and the sap of specific eucalypts, such as scribbly gum, sugar gum, blue gum and grey gum. The V-shaped scar made by the glider's sharp incisors easily identifies food trees. These gliders prefer productive, tall open sclerophyll forests where mature trees provide shelter and nesting hollows, and year-round food resources are available from a mixture of eucalypt species.

    Powerful owls are Australia's largest and strongest owls. They are capable hunters and include greater gliders, ringtail possums and brush-tail possums in their diet. Unseen and unheard, these winged hunters swoop onto their unwary prey, grasping them with their claws and breaking their prey’s neck. Like all hunters, powerful owls require large areas to hunt and because of their size, they need large hollows to breed. Clearing and habitat fragmentation have led to this majestic bird being listed as vulnerable.

    Foraging on the intertidal mudflats, sandflats and sandbanks exposed by low tide, beach stone-curlews thrive on a diet of crabs and other marine invertebrates. Beach stone-curlews are susceptible to human disturbance such as beach-combing, boating, four-wheel-drive vehicle activities and to predation from raptors, cats and dogs. Listed as vulnerable, beach stone-curlews manage to raise their one chick each year from a nest among mangroves or in the sand surrounded by short grass and scattered Allocasuarina species.

    Eurimbula Creek and its tributaries provide valuable freshwater and marine habitat. Species such as water mice find shelter in the sedgelands adjacent to the creek. Water mice live near shallow water close to the coast. They forage among the mangroves at night, when the tide is low, for small crabs, shellfish and worms, and when the tide rises, they return to the adjacent sedgelands for shelter.

    The ocean beaches around Rodds Peninsula and Bustard Beach are important feeding grounds for migratory waders such as sooty oystercatchers and little terns. From mid-November to February these beaches become crucial nesting sites for adult loggerhead, flatback and green turtles. If you visit in January, you might be lucky enough to see both adults and hatchlings. By mid-January until late March, hatchlings begin to leave their nests and start their journey to the sea. It is fascinating to watch marine turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests, but you must remain quiet and do not handle them. Avoid standing on the nest as you may push onto hatchlings still below the surface and suffocate them.

    Turtles are easily disturbed when nesting. Visitors are urged to follow turtle watching guidelines, such as:

    • Do not approach turtles leaving the sea or moving up the beach.
    • Keep artificial light (such as torches, gas lamps) to a minimum and do not shine lights directly at turtles leaving or moving up the beach.
    • Avoid sudden movement.

    For more information read watching turtles in Queensland.

    Culture and history

    The park is rich in cultural history and is part of the Gooreng Gooreng Aboriginal people's traditional country.

    Lieutenant James Cook first landed on this picturesque stretch of coast with its broad, sandy beaches in May 1770. Captain Cook's ship HMB Endeavour anchored in the sheltered inlet that was named Bustard Bay after a bustard or plains turkey was shot in the vicinity. While the crew renewed their water supplies, naturalist Joseph Banks collected 33 plant species from behind the curving beach of Bustard Bay (near the area which is now Eurimbula National Park) and noted the presence of palms, which indicated that the expedition had arrived in the tropics. Daniel Solander, a naturalist and a friend and assistant of Banks, wrote the first technical report of a native land animal in Queensland by describing the Australian bustard.

    Originally called Round Hill by Lieutenant Cook, Seventeen Seventy was renamed in honour of his first landing in Queensland. A rock cairn was built on the road leading to the headland to commemorate the first landing of HMB Endeavour in Queensland. The cairn was dedicated in 1926 and stands on the site where one of Cook's crew carved the date on a tree, close to where they came ashore.

    Eurimbula National Park was gazetted in 1986, protecting 7,830ha of coastal vegetation. Over the following years, more land was added to the national park and it currently protects over 23,000ha.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.