Kurrimine Beach National Park and Kurrimine Beach Conservation Park Tropical North Queensland

Nature, culture and history

    Natural environment

    Kurrimine Beach National Park is within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA). Proclaimed in 1988, the WTWHA extends for about 450km between Cooktown and Townsville. Consisting of nearly 900,000ha, vegetation is primarily tropical rainforest, but also includes open eucalypt forest, wetlands and mangrove forests. The WTWHA meets all four natural criteria for World Heritage listing. These criteria recognise the area’s exceptional natural beauty and the importance of its biological diversity and evolutionary history, including habitats for numerous threatened species. The WTWHA also has cultural significance for a number of Aboriginal people who have traditional links with the area and its surrounds.

    Contact the Wet Tropics Management Authority for more information about the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, the many things to do and how it is managed.


    Kurrimine Beach was once densely forested but now only small patches of remnant forest remain, the rest having been cleared for agriculture and housing. Although the sandy soils have a low nutrient content, dense forest has been able to grow here; fallen leaves, branches and dead trees quickly break down in the tropical climate to provide nutrients and minerals for the next generation of plants.

    Before cyclone Larry hit this part of the coast in March 2006 the forest in the conservation park featured some tall trees, such as native nutmeg (Myristica insipida) and milky pine (Alstonia scholaris). A few of these remain, but most have lost lateral branches; it will take many years for these to regrow and the canopy to reform. Buttressed roots may have helped some of these trees to withstand the force of the wind.

    Hardy pandanus trees and rare arenga palms (Arenga australasica) remain at a lower level. The arenga palm is an endemic species considered vulnerable to extinction; it grows only in coastal areas and adjacent islands in this part of Queensland and in the Northern Territory. It produces clumps of slender trunks, up to 20m in height, each of which dies after flowering and fruiting.


    This small conservation park is home to orange-footed scrubfowls (Megapodius reinwardt). These birds build large nesting mounds of leaf-litter and soil. The eggs are incubated by the heat generated by micro-organisms, particularly fungi, and the young birds are fully independent when they have hatched.

    Emerald doves (Chalcophaps indica) can be recognised by their bronzed emerald-green wings. These birds search for seeds on the ground and are often seen on the track, flying off when disturbed.

    Along the walking track look for lace monitors (Varanus varius). These lizards can grow up to two metres in length and scavenge for food including insects, eggs and young birds. The female lays her eggs inside a termite mound. The termites then seal in the eggs which incubate in the warm interior.

    Green tree ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) build their nests by drawing leaves together and fastening them with silk. Take care not to touch these ants as they can be aggressive and have a painful bite.

    Empty shells of the Wet Tropics’ largest land snail, Hadra webbi, can also be found along the track.

    Culture and history

    Kurrimine Beach is within the traditional lands of the Ma:Mu Aboriginal people. The Paddy Illich track is named after a Ma:Mu elder who received a bravery award in 1959 for rescuing a 67 year old man, Robert Ronald, from drowning in the sea.

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