Marpa National Park (CYPAL) Tropical North Queensland

About Marpa National Park (CYPAL)

    Park features

    Marpa National Park (CYPAL) is comprised of three, sandstone continental islands known as Ronganhu, Errewerpinha and Olilu.

    The island foreshores are a combination of small, sandy mangrove beaches and rocky sandstone and are subject to varying amounts of both natural erosion and growth. Along the exposed south-east foreshore, large sandstone boulders lie discarded from the cliff faces above.

    The grassed summit of Ronganhu is windswept with few shrubs and large rocky areas. Olilu has similar vegetation, mainly grassland or herbland between its many bare, rocky areas. Wind-sheared shrubs are scattered in sheltered spots.

    The islands have remained pristine, providing an important home for many plants and animals. Vulnerable beach stone-curlews Esacus magnirostris, near threatened (rare) eastern curlews Numenius madagascariensis and sooty oystercatchers Haematopus fuliginosus can be seen along the shore while white-bellied sea-eagles Haliaeetus leucogaster, peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus and eastern ospreys Pandion cristatus fly overhead.

    During the day, terns leave the colony to feed at sea. See their swift and graceful flights to and from the island and watch as they hover over the water, dipping and plunging to feed on small fish. At night they return to the island and gather in large groups, roosting on the ground and in low bushes.

    Terrestrial birds such as pied currawongs Strepera graculina and rose-crowned fruit-doves Ptilinopus regina can be found on the islands. Look for varied honeyeaters Lichenostomus versicolor and dusky honeyeaters Myzomela obscura feeding on the nectar of grevilleas. The profusely flowering bushman’s clothes peg trees produce large amounts of nectar, attracting a variety of birds. However, it is the woody fruits, that were once used as clothes pegs, that gives the tree its name.

    Wandering about the rocky outcrops, discover black-tailed monitor lizards Varanus tristis scampering into crevices. Along the foreshore near threatened rusty monitors Varanus semiremex live in holes in mangrove trees. Fish, crabs and insects are their favoured meal. Witness the evening exodus of black flying-foxes as they fly from their roosts in the mangroves in search of native blossoms and fruits.

    Surrounding the islands, fringing reefs and seagrass beds provide food and shelter to animals such as dolphins, dugongs, turtles and estuarine crocodiles Crocodylus porosus. During the breeding season vulnerable green turtles Chelonia mydas may be seen nesting on the beaches of Ronganhu and Olilu islands. Seagrass beds are also a significant nursery for commercial prawn species.

    Looking after the park

    • Access to Ronganhu Island (PDF, 265.9KB) and Olilu Island (PDF, 179.3KB) is prohibited to protect the significant cultural resources.
    • Be careful not to damage coral with anchors.
    • Respect Aboriginal culture. Cultural sites in the park represent thousands of years of living culture with special significance to the Lama Lama Traditional Owners. These sites are easily damaged and are irreplaceable.
    • Everything in the park, living or dead, is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.
    • Do not feed the wildlife as it can affect their health and alter the natural population balance.
    • Avoid nesting seabirds. If parent birds are disturbed, chicks and eggs can become vulnerable—they are easily destroyed by heat, cold and predators if left unprotected. Stay clear of roosting birds.
    • Domestic animals are not permitted.
    • Lighting of fires is not allowed—bring a fuel or gas stove for cooking.
    • Please take your rubbish with you when you leave.

    Be pest-free!

    Our precious Great Barrier Reef World Heritage islands are among the most pest-free islands in the world. They need your help to stay this way. Please Be pest-free! (PDF, 573.6KB) before your visit.

    Before you visit, please check that your boat, clothing, footwear and gear are free of soil, seeds, parts of plants, eggs, ants and insects (and their eggs), spiders, lizards, toads, rats and mice.

    Be sure to:

    • Unpack and clean out your backpack and hand, beach or camera bags and check them carefully before your visit, as pests love to hide in stored gear.
    • Clean soil from footwear and gear as invisible killers such as viruses, bacteria and fungi are carried in soil.
    • Check for seeds in pockets, cuffs and hook and loop fastening strips, such as Velcro.

    While you are on the islands, remove soil, weeds, seeds and pests from your boat, gear and clothes before moving to a new site. Wrap seeds and plant material, and place them in your rubbish.

    Everyone in Queensland has a General Biosecurity Obligation to minimise the biosecurity risk posed by their activities. This includes the risk of introducing and spreading weeds and pests to island national parks.

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

    Park management

    Marpa National Park (CYPAL) is Queensland’s first island national park (CYPAL) and is jointly managed by the Lama Lama Land Trust and the Queensland Government in accordance with an Indigenous Management Agreement and other land management arrangements. Read more about Joint management of Cape York Peninsula national parks.

    The reef and waters surrounding the islands are protected within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. They also form part of the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park (State) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Commonwealth).

    Complementary management of waters adjacent to these islands is vital and continued close co-operation between Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is essential.

    Tourism information links

    Nature’s Powerhouse
    Cooktown Botanic Gardens
    Walker Street, Cooktown Qld 4895
    Phone: (07) 4069 5763

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

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.