About Jardine Heathlands
This vast, remote wilderness is an ancient sandstone landscape. Clear, fresh water is abundant, not only in the mighty west-flowing Jardine River—which dominates the landscape—but also in swamps, boggy gullies and numerous smaller streams. The area features a diversity of plant communities. Heathland, grassland, rainforest and woodland grow on low broad sandstone ridges separated by swamps, while shrublands and vine thickets cover massive coastal sand dunes. The animals that live in this area are an interesting mix of species. Some have been present since the ancient Gondwanan rainforests while other endemic species have evolved from Gondwanan times over long periods of isolation and climate change. More recent species, originating from New Guinea, arrived via ice-age land bridges.
The parks encompass the traditional country of several Aboriginal groups, including people from the Atambaya, Angkamuthi, Yadhaykenu, Gudang and Wuthathi language and social groups. The area is a living cultural landscape, with places and features named in Aboriginal languages, story-places and story-beings, and occupation and ceremony sites throughout. Today the Traditional Owners retain a strong and continuing interest in their land and are involved in the protection and management of the area.
The area also has links of early European travellers to Cape York Peninsula. In 1848, Edmund Kennedy was speared on the Escape River, at the northern end of the park. The Jardine brothers were involved in skirmishes with Aboriginal people during their overland expedition in 1865 and later during their settlement at Somerset. Geologist Robert Logan Jack encountered local Aboriginal people on the east coast in 1880, at a place known today as Captain Billy Landing. In 1887, a telegraph line was completed to provide communications with remote Cape York Peninsula—today this line forms the western boundary of the park and reserve.
- Read more about the nature, culture and history of Jardine River National Park, Heathlands Resources Reserve and Jardine River Resources Reserve.
Looking after the park
Help preserve this natural area by following the guidelines below:
- Domestic animals are not permitted in parks.
- Do not remove or disturb plant material, living or dead.
- Do not interfere with or feed native animals.
- The use of firearms is prohibited in parks.
- Generators and chainsaws are prohibited in these parks.
- Do not use soap or detergent in streams, rivers or waterholes.
- Camp only in designated camp sites—camping is not permitted in other parts of the parks or on adjacent Aboriginal land.
- Light camp fires responsibly and only in existing fireplaces. Never collect firewood from within the parks. Where possible, use gas stoves.
- Keep your camp site clean and free from food scraps.
See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting the environment and heritage in parks.
Jardine River National Park, Heathlands Resources Reserve and Jardine River Resources Reserve are managed to preserve the area’s natural and cultural values.
The parks total an area of 384,200ha. They are managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, in collaboration with the Aboriginal Traditional Owners from the Atambaya, Angkamuthi, Yadhaykenu, Gudang and Wuthathi language and social groups.
Tourism information links
Nature's Powerhouse Visitor Information Centre
Cooktown Botanic Gardens, Cooktown QLD 4895
ph (07) 4069 5444
For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.
The natural, cultural and historical significance of Jardine Heathlands
- Temporary closure: camp site 4 Ussher Point camping area, Apudthama National Park (CYPAL) 14 October 2020 to 15 December 2023
- Apudthama National Park (CYPAL) 9 September 2022 to 28 April 2023
- Safety advice: Scrubby Creek crossing into Eliot Falls camping and day-use area, Apudthama National Park (CYPAL) 23 December 2020 to 15 December 2023
- Temporary closure for protection zone burning: Eliot Falls camping and day-use area, Apudthama National Park (CYPAL) 19 December 2022 to 16 June 2023