Visiting Jardine Heathlands safely
Getting there and getting around
The parks are located in the remote north of Cape York Peninsula and the roads are accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles only.
From Cairns, drive north-west to the Peninsula Developmental Road, the main road to Cape York Peninsula. Follow the Peninsula Developmental Road 50km north from Coen and turn on to the Telegraph Road. Drive 40km north of the Wenlock River to Bramwell Junction and cross on to the Southern Bypass Road.
To access Captain Billy Landing, drive 66km from Bramwell Junction along the Southern Bypass Road to the signposted Captain Billy Landing turn-off and travel a further 27km to the coast.
To access Eliot and Fruit Bat falls from Bramwell Junction, follow the Southern Bypass Road for 119km and turn onto the Telegraph Road. Drive 3km to Fruit Bat Falls and a further 7km to Eliot Falls. An alternative (rougher) route to Eliot Falls follows the Telegraph Road from Bramwell Junction.
To access South Jardine River camping area, travel north on the Telegraph Road for 32km from Eliot Falls. Alternatively, from the intersection of the Southern Bypass Road and the Telegraph Road, drive 38km on the Northern Bypass Road then turn on to Nolans Brook Bypass Road. Travel 18km to the camping area. To continue heading north visitors must back-track south on the Telegraph Road to access the Northern Bypass Road. There is no river crossing available at North or South Jardine River camping areas.
To access North Jardine River camping area, follow the Northern Bypass Road from the Southern Bypass Road and Telegraph Road intersection for 50km to the Jardine River ferry crossing. Continue on the Northern Bypass Road for 11km to the North Jardine River camping area turn-off. The camping area is a further 6km from the turn-off.
To access Ussher Point camping area, turn east off Bamaga Road approximately 12km north of the Jardine River ferry crossing. Follow this four-wheel-drive track for 60km (4–5hrs) to arrive at the camping area on the far-northern east coast of Cape York Peninsula. This track is not maintained and can be hazardous with deep ruts, washouts and fallen trees. Camper trailers are not recommended.
Visitors must be totally self-sufficient. It is advisable to travel with another vehicle and it is essential to carry adequate fuel, basic spare parts, four-wheel-drive recovery gear, food, water and first-aid equipment in case of unexpected delays or breakdown.
Eliot Falls camping area has wheelchair-accessible toilets.
A practical working knowledge of basic first aid is highly important when travelling in remote areas. Be familiar with first-aid procedures for heat exhaustion, snakebite and sprained or twisted ankles. Ideally, at least one person in your party should have an up-to-date first-aid qualification. You should carry a well-stocked first-aid kit, and make sure that other members of your party know where it is located. Other important guidelines are:
- Ensure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition. Carry adequate spare parts and fuel.
- Drive slowly and carefully and keep on the tracks within the park.
- Observe directions about road closures or other restrictions to avoid road damage and vehicle problems.
- Some waterfalls contain natural hazards—please obey management and safety signs.
- Dangerous stinging jellyfish (stingers) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. If you do enter the water, a full-body lycra suit or equivalent may provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. Visit marine stingers for the latest safety and first-aid information.
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
Be croc wise
Crocodiles live in the rivers, creeks, swamps, wetlands and waterholes, along the coast and offshore of Jardine River National Park, Heathlands Resources Reserve and Jardine River Resources Reserve. Crocodiles are potentially dangerous to people. Never take unnecessary risks in crocodile habitat. Visitors are responsible for their own safety, so please follow these guidelines and be croc wise in croc country.
- Obey crocodile warning signs—they are there for your safety and protection.
- 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 (water can still be entered if there is a reasonable excuse to do so, 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 near the water's edge, around camp sites 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 10m 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 arms or legs over the side of a boat. If a person falls out of a boat, they should 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 frames or bait at a camp site. 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.
Before you visit
Essentials to bring
- Always carry adequate food, water, first-aid equipment, fuel and basic vehicle repair equipment. The nearest fuel, repairs and supplies are in Bamaga, 45km north from the Jardine River ferry crossing.
- Always carry adequate drinking water as well as equipment for treating water.
- Carry plenty of fuel—driving on rough roads in low gear uses more fuel than normal driving conditions.
- Bring a screened tent or mosquito nets for protection from insects at night.
- Carry rubbish bags to take your rubbish away with you—bins are not provided.
The parks are open throughout the dry season, usually from June until November. At other times the area is inaccessible due to flooding. Check park alerts for any park closures and Queensland Traffic to enquire about local road conditions.
Permits and fees
All camping areas require a camping permit and fees apply. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.
- Find out more about camping in Jardine River National Park, Heathlands Resources Reserve and Jardine River Resources Reserve.
Permits are required for commercial or organised activities. View permits and fees for further information.
Domestic animals are not permitted in the park or reserves.
Climate and weather
Far northern Cape York Peninsula has a tropical climate with the wetter months usually from December to May. Flooding caused by heavy rain prevents access to the area during much of this time.
Visiting this area is only possible during the drier months. Although rain can also be experienced during this time, conditions are much more suitable for travellers. Nonetheless, nights can be cool while daytime temperatures can reach 40°C. For more information, see the tourism information links.
Fuel and supplies
The nearest fuel and supplies are available at Bamaga, 80km north of Eliot Falls. For more information, see the tourism information links.
- 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