Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) Tropical North Queensland

Catfish Waterhole is one of many deep and permanent waterholes along the North Kennedy River. Photo credit: John Augusteyn © Queensland Government

Magnificent weeping paperbarks line the river at Kalpower crossing. Photo credit: © John Augusteyn

Catfish Waterhole

Discover a quiet sanctuary for waterbirds and crocodiles at this deep waterhole on the North Kennedy River.

Accessible by

  • 4WD

Attraction facilities

  • Lookout (natural)

This tree-lined waterhole is an oasis for wildlife during the harsh Cape York dry season. Escaping from the hotter and drier parts of the park, they congregate here for shelter and water.

Stop at the vantage points and see if a crocodile is cruising the water’s surface. Watch darters and little pied cormorants drying their wings and nankeen night-herons and white egrets hunting for food.

Breathe in the heady forest smells. These hardy trees need to withstand the force of floodwaters and the harsh conditions of the dry season. Look for pendulous red flowers of the freshwater mangrove interspersed with melaleucas, tea-trees and unique corypha palms

Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) is jointly managed by the Rinyirru (Lakefield) Aboriginal Corporation and the Queensland Government.

Getting there and getting around

Catfish Waterhole day-use area is in the southern part of Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) 340km north-west of Cairns, and 140km west of Cooktown, on southern Cape York Peninsula.

  • Catfish Waterhole is just off Lakefield Road between New Laura ranger base and Lakefield ranger base
  • You need a 4WD to access the park and day-use area.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

From the south

  • Drive 2km north past Laura on the Peninsula Developmental Road and take the Lakefield turn-off.
  • Drive 25km to the park.
  • Continue 43km north through the park along Lakefield Road and turn left at the day-use area turn-off.

From the north

  • Take the Lakefield turn-off at the Musgrave Roadhouse on the Peninsula Developmental Road and drive 38km east on Marina Plains Road to the park.
  • Continue 89km south through the park, past the Lakefield ranger base, and turn right at the day-use area turn-off.

From Cape Melville

  • Drive 70km from Wakooka in Cape Melville National Parkto Kalpowar on the eastern boundary of Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL).
  • Continue 1km and turn left onto Lakefield Road.
  • Drive 19km south and turn right at the Catfish Waterhole turn-off.

From Battle Camp Road

  • Drive 85km west from Cooktown along Battle Camp Road to the park's eastern boundary.
  • Continue 65km through the park and turn left at the Catfish Waterhole sign.

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Before you visit

Opening hours

Catfish Waterhole is open 24 hours a day

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Seasonal closures

Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) is closed throughout the wet season every year.

  • Camping areas south of Lakefield ranger base are closed from 1 December to 31 May.
  • Camping areas north of the Lakefield ranger base are closed from 1 December to 30 June.
  • These dates vary each year depending on weather and road conditions.
  • Refer to the park map (PDF, 510.3KB) for location of the Lakefield ranger base and camping areas.

Visiting safely

For more safety information see Visiting Rinyirru (Lakefield) safely.