Olkola National Park (CYPAL) Tropical North Queensland

Creek line in Olkola National Park (CYPAL) Photo credit: © Francis Malcolm

Nature, culture and history

    Natural environment


    Olkola National Park (CYPAL) covers a diverse landscape from rocky escarpments to wetlands that support threatened flora and fauna.

    Two major corridors cross Olkola National Park (CYPAL), the Great Dividing Range and the eastern margin of the Great Artesian Basin. The Great Dividing Range corridor is higher country habitat that allows animals to move across the landscape. The eastern margin of the Great Artesian Basin corridor is flatter country that provides terrestrial and wetland habitat for many species.

    The Great Dividing Range section of Olkola National Park (CYPAL) is the headwaters of six major rivers: the Coleman, Morehead, Hann, Kennedy, Alice and King rivers.


    Termite mounds.

    Termite mounds.

    Photo credit: © Francis Malcolm

    Olkola National Park (CYPAL) is home to a variety of wildlife, including threatened species such as the golden-shouldered parrot (Psephotus chrysopterygius).

    Alwal (Golden-shouldered parrot)

    Alwal is the Olkola language name for the golden-shouldered parrot, an endangered bird still surviving in the park today.

    Alwal is an endangered species due to a number of threats. Since European settlement, fire regimes have changed dramatically, leading to woody vegetation taking over grasslands that Alwal depends on. Other threats include damage to grasslands by cattle grazing and feral pigs.

    The species now only occurs in the southern and central Cape York Peninsula. It measures 240-260mm in length including its long tapered tail. Like most parrots it is brilliantly coloured, especially the male which is primarily turquoise with a salmon pink belly, light brown wings with a streak of gold on their shoulder. Its head has a pale yellow forehead with a blackish cap and a darker tail. Females and immature birds are mostly various shades of green with a turquoise rump. The parrot has a preference for tropical savanna woodland. During the dry season, the choice of habitat appears to be based on the grass seed availability. The parrots are unique in that they nest in terrestrial mounds of grass-feeding termites.

    Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Olkola Land Managers are working to improve Alwal habitat by reinstating traditional Olkola burning practices along with other well established monitoring programs.

    A recovery plan for the species has been developed. The plan sets out objectives for increasing the numbers of the birds and specific actions that need to be taken to achieve these objectives.

    Culture and history

    The Traditional Owners of Olkola National Park (CYPAL) are the Olkola People. This park is a cultural landscape rich in history, stories and significant sites.

    In 2014 the title for five pastoral properties were handed back to the Olkola People as a combination of Aboriginal Freehold and jointly managed protected area—Olkola National Park (CYPAL). This was the largest handback of Aboriginal land in Queensland.

    Olkola National Park (CYPAL) is jointly managed by the Olkola Aboriginal Corporation Land Trust and the Queensland Government in accordance with an Indigenous Management Agreement. Read more about joint management of Cape York Peninsula national parks.

    A Restricted Access Area (RAA) has been put in place over a section of Olkola National Park (CYPAL). Entry to the Nukakurra Restricted Access Area (PDF, 144.2KB) is prohibited.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.