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About Mangkalba (Cedar Bay)

Getting there and getting around

On the beach at Cedar Bay. Photo: Queensland Government.

On the beach at Cedar Bay. Photo: Queensland Government.

Map: Mangkalba (Cedar Bay) section map, Ngalba Bulal National Park (PDF, 216K)

Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park is 40km south of Cooktown or 10km north of Ayton. Lying between Cape Tribulation and Cooktown, Cedar Bay is accessible only by boat or on foot via the Home Rule track.

Check park alerts and Queensland Traffic to enquire about local road conditions. The Bureau of Meteorology provides updated weather reports.

Access to Rattlesnake Point is restricted (PDF, 183K) to protect significant cultural resources.

Boat access

Boat access is difficult in most conditions, especially during prevailing south-east winds above 15 knots. A fringing reef along much of the bay prevents easy access by boat. The best entrance points are at the far northern and more southern ends of the bay where sand allows for safe, easy access. Hope Islands, the closest sheltered anchorage, is about 10km away and public moorings are available.

Walking track access

The Home Rule track traverses Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park, providing access into Cedar Bay. The track begins at Home Rule Rainforest Lodge, a private property 3km from Rossville.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks in Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park.

Park features

Cedar Bay is home to vulnerable beach stone-curlews. Photo: Andrew McDougall, Queensland Government.

Cedar Bay is home to vulnerable beach stone-curlews. Photo: Andrew McDougall, Queensland Government.

Sandy beaches and fringing reefs are backed by dense, tropical rainforest in this remote section of national park. The mountainous, rainforest landscape forms part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Much of this forest has never been logged or disturbed.

Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park is home to a wonderful variety of wildlife including the near threatened Bennett’s tree-kangaroo, the endangered southern cassowary and the vulnerable beach stone-curlew.

Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park is the traditional country of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people, whose country extends along the coast to Mossman. Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park was a major turtle (ngawia) hunting area and contains important cultural sites including the canoe (murabaymba), turtle (ngawaia) and saltwater eel (ngiwa) story sites.

Read more about the nature, culture and history of Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

The park offers two designated camping areas: Cedar Bay camping area on the coast adjacent to Cedar Bay, and Granite Creek camping area along the Home Rule Track. Bush camping is also permitted along the Home Rule track if required. No facilities are provided and campers must be self-sufficient.

Camping permits are required and fees apply. Permits are limited and it is recommended that you book at least two weeks in advance.

Other accommodation

Accommodation, including camping, is available at Home Rule Rainforest Lodge. Accommodation is also available nearby at Ayton, Rossville and Helenvale.

For more information see tourism information.

Things to do

One of the many creek crossings along the Home Rule track. Photo: Queensland Government.

One of the many creek crossings along the Home Rule track. Photo: Queensland Government.

A red-bellied black snake warms itself in the sun at Black Snake Rocks. Photo: Queensland Government.

A red-bellied black snake warms itself in the sun at Black Snake Rocks. Photo: Queensland Government.

Southern cassowaries can be seen in the rainforest. Photo: Queensland Government.

Southern cassowaries can be seen in the rainforest. Photo: Queensland Government.

Walking

The 17km Home Rule track into Cedar Bay is a rough, steep and difficult track that should only be undertaken by fit and experienced walkers.

Map: Mangkalba (Cedar Bay) section map, Ngalba Bulal National Park (PDF, 216K)

Home Rule track (grade: difficult)

Distance: 17km one way

Time: allow 2 days

Details: this rough, steep track provides access to Cedar Bay. Only fit and experienced walkers should attempt this track.

Visit between April and September when the weather and track conditions are at their best. During this time the temperatures are generally cooler and the weather drier. However, heavy rain can occur at any time of the year and creeks and rivers can rise quickly—take care when crossing rivers and creeks.

This is an overnight walk. While camping is permitted anywhere along the track, a designated camping area, Granite Creek camping area is provided about 50m north of the junction of Slaty and Granite creeks.

This track begins at the Home Rule Rainforest Lodge. The lodge managers allow access to their property and provide detailed advice to walkers. Overnight camping at the lodge is allowed by prior arrangement, allowing walkers an early start.

Traversing attractive rainforest, the track climbs and descends steeply before arriving at the northern end of Cedar Bay. The early part of the walk follows an old road and involves several creek crossings. The road narrows to a track before Slaty Creek, then climbs to Black Snake Rocks where red-bellied black snakes may be encountered. These snakes are venomous and should be avoided. Remember all snakes are protected.

Near Cedar Bay, glimpses of the sea can be seen from the ridge before the track drops steeply along an old tin mining track that leads to the beach. Walk south along the beach to the Cedar Bay camping area.

When returning to Home Rule, remember that the first part of the walk will involve a walk north along the beach and then a very steep climb to the ridge.

Boating

Marine waters adjacent to Cedar Bay are internationally significant and are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Zones in the two marine parks—the Great Barrier Reef Coast and Great Barrier Reef—provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreational and commercial use. The marine waters of Cedar Bay are zoned Marine National Park (Green) Zone. This is a ‘no-take’ area and activities such as fishing and collecting are not allowed. Check zoning information and maps before entering or conducting any activities in the marine parks.

The closest sheltered anchorage is at Hope Isles. One B and one C class mooring are provided at East Hope Island. Maximum vessel lengths and wind speeds apply and details are on the mooring buoys. Moorings also have a time limit of either two or four hours (displayed on the mooring). If a vessel picks up a mooring on or after 3.00pm it may remain on that mooring until 9.00am the next day. Read more about public moorings and anchoring.

When not using public moorings make sure to follow the guidelines below:

  • Anchor only on sand and away from coral reefs. Corals are destroyed by anchors and chains dragging across the reef.
  • Use a reef pick if anchoring in coral is unavoidable. When hauling in, motor toward the anchor to prevent damage.
  • Do not throw rubbish overboard, especially when you are at anchor.

Be aware that crocodiles can turn up anywhere in croc country, including tidal reaches of rivers, along beaches, on offshore islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, and in freshwater lagoons, rivers and swamps. Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal. Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility—always be croc wise in croc country.

Motorised water sports

Motorised water sports, such as jet skiing, are prohibited in Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park and the marine waters adjacent to the park.

Viewing wildlife

Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park is home to a variety of wildlife. Keen observers may see southern cassowaries, Bennett’s tree-kangaroos, lace monitors and many colourful birds. Several snakes, including venomous species, inhabit the park. Care should be taken to avoid disturbing all snakes.

See the description of the park’s natural environment for more details about the diverse wildlife of Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park.

Things to know before you go

Essentials to bring

For a safe and enjoyable visit remember to bring:

  • lightweight food and drinking water
  • a fuel stove and fuel
  • rubbish bags
  • insect repellent and a mosquito net
  • first-aid kit
  • map and compass.

Opening hours

Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park is open 24 hours a day.

Access to Rattlesnake Point is restricted (PDF, 183K) to protect significant cultural resources.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

Camping permits are required and must be booked in advance. Fees apply. Your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

Other permits

Permits are required for commercial and some organised group activities. See park permits and policies for more information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park.

Climate and weather

Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park has a tropical climate. In summer the temperatures and humidity are high. From April to September the days are cooler and less humid. Visiting in the cooler winter months is recommended. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available at Ayton, Rossville, Helenvale and Cooktown.

Staying safe

Box jellyfish are found in the marine waters in Cedar Bay in the warmer months. Photo: Jamie Seymour, James Cook University.

Box jellyfish are found in the marine waters in Cedar Bay in the warmer months. Photo: Jamie Seymour, James Cook University.

You are responsible for your own safety. Follow the guidelines below for a safe and enjoyable visit.

  • Be aware that crocodiles can turn up anywhere in croc country, including tidal reaches of rivers, along beaches, on offshore islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, and in freshwater lagoons, rivers and swamps. Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal. Remember to be crocwise in croc country!
  • Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. 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.
  • Be alert for snakes and take care to avoid disturbing them. Keep your distance if you do encounter a snake.
  • Inform a reliable person of your itinerary including starting and finishing times. Make sure to tell them when you return to avoid an unnecessary search.
  • Plan to complete your walk well before dark.
  • Never walk alone. Groups of four are recommended.
  • Carry at least one form of communication equipment. Satellite phones and personal locator beacons (PLBs) are the most effective. Mobile phone coverage is unreliable.
  • Stay on the track at all times and follow the trail markers.
  • Creek beds and rock surfaces can be slippery. Care is required when traversing these surfaces.
  • Always carry adequate drinking water as well as equipment for treating water—treated water is not available in the park. Remember to drink regularly to avoid heat stress.
  • Wear a hat, shirt and sunscreen, even on overcast days, to avoid sunburn.
  • Wear protective clothing (long sleeves and long pants) to protect yourself from lawyer vine, leeches, mosquitoes and sandflies.
  • Always carry a first-aid kit, map and compass, and know how to use them.
  • Pack lightly. Do not carry glass or other heavy, bulky food items.

For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

Please assist the Traditional Owners and rangers in preserving the natural and cultural values.

  • Everything in the park, living or dead, is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.
  • Please help to protect the sites of natural and cultural significance—stay on the walking tracks at all times.
  • Do not bring in any plants or plant material—they can become weeds and threaten native plants and animals. Regularly check your footwear and clothing for seeds. Remove, wrap and carry seeds out of the park.
  • Leave domestic animals at home—they are prohibited in national parks.
  • Littering is prohibited. Take all your rubbish with you when you leave—it is unsightly and can harm wildlife.
  • Toilets are not provided. Use a trowel to bury toilet waste and paper. Dig a 15cm hole at least 100m away from camping areas, walking tracks and all watercourses. Failure to do this leads to unsightliness, unpleasant odours, pollution of watercourses and potentially dangerous hygiene problems.
  • Avoid using soap, shampoo, toothpaste or detergent in or near waterways.

See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park is managed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) in collaboration with the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people. The park is managed to ensure the natural and cultural values, which have led to its inclusion in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, remain for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

In March 2007 the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people signed a series of Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) with the Queensland Government and other bodies, recognising Eastern Kuku Yalanji people’s rights to be custodians and managers of their traditional country. Under one of these ILUAs the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people will be more involved in managing Mangkalba (Cedar Bay), Ngalba Bulal National Park.

Tourism information links

Cairns and Tropical North Visitor Information Centre
www.tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au
51 The Esplanade, Cairns Qld 4870
Phone: 07 4051 3588
Email:

Nature’s PowerHouse
www.cooktownandcapeyork.com
Cooktown Botanic Gardens
Walker Street, Cooktown Qld 4895
Phone: (07) 4069 5763
email:

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Last reviewed
22 October 2019
Last updated
14 October 2015