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

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

Visiting Rinyirru (Lakefield) safely

    Lakefield Road. Photo: Adam Creed, Queensland Government.

    Lakefield Road. Photo: Adam Creed, Queensland Government.

    Access track into Sweetwater Lake. Photo: Grant Ison, Queensland Government.

    Access track into Sweetwater Lake. Photo: Grant Ison, Queensland Government.

    The Normanby River at Kalpowar Crossing. Photo: Queensland Government.

    The Normanby River at Kalpowar Crossing. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Crocodile warning sign. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Crocodile warning sign. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Estuarine crocodile and magpie geese at Twelve Mile Lagoon. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Estuarine crocodile and magpie geese at Twelve Mile Lagoon. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Red lotus lily. Photo: Sarah Jess.

    Red lotus lily. Photo: Sarah Jess.

    The North Kennedy River near Hann Crossing. Photo: Sarah Jess.

    The North Kennedy River near Hann Crossing. Photo: Sarah Jess.

    A woodland in the dry season. Photo: Sarah Jess.

    A woodland in the dry season. Photo: Sarah Jess.

    Getting there and getting around

    Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land (CYPAL)), including all camping areas, is closed throughout the wet season every year. All camping areas south of Lakefield ranger base are closed from 1 December to 31 May and all camping areas north of Lakefield ranger base are closed from 1 December to 30 June (see detailed camping information). These dates may vary depending on weather and road conditions and camping areas and roads may also be closed after heavy rain. Check Queensland Traffic or Cook Shire Council to enquire about local road conditions before setting out.

    Access to the park from Cairns is via the Peninsula Developmental Road through Laura to the Lakefield turn-off, about 2km north of Laura. Average travelling times from Cairns to Laura—5–6hrs; Laura to New Laura ranger base—45mins; New Laura ranger base to Lakefield ranger base—45mins.

    From Cooktown, access to the park is via Battle Camp Road. Suitable for four-wheel-drive vehicles only, it takes about 3hrs from Cooktown to the New Laura ranger base.

    The park can also be reached from Coen via the Peninsula Developmental Road to the Lakefield turn-off at the Musgrave Roadhouse. From the turn-off it takes 3hrs to the Lakefield ranger base via Hann Crossing, suitable for four-wheel-drive vehicles only.

    Access into Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) is not suitable for caravans. Ensure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition—suitable suspension and cooling are vital. Observe road closures and restrictions, as penalties can apply.

    Rarda-Ndolphin (Low Lake) is a restricted access area. Visitor access is limited to the car park and viewing area.

    Surveillance cameras may be used to monitor visitor behaviour and movements throughout the park. On-the-spot fines may also apply.

    Map: Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) map (PDF, 510.3KB)

    Wheelchair accessibility

    The Red Lily Lagoon viewing platform and Kalpowar Crossing camping area toilets are wheelchair accessible.

    Staying safe

    Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) is remote and visitors must be well prepared.

    • When driving, riding or cycling, stay on designated roads
    • Let a responsible person know your itinerary.
    • Plan your itinerary to allow adequate time to drive carefully as park roads are unsealed, have tight curves and rough surfaces.
    • Ensure that your vehicle is in good mechanical condition and be prepared for delays caused by breakdowns and stranding due to wet weather.
    • When trail-bike riding, wear appropriate safety gear and be realistic about your riding abilities. Ride to the conditions.
    • When cycling, wear appropriate safety gear and be realistic about your cycling abilities. Slow down or stop when approaching other track users. Follow the give-way code—cyclists must give way to walkers and alert others when approaching.
    • There are various natural hazards in the park. Please take note of all on-site management and safety signs.
    • Use lights when walking around at night and keep tents closed at all times.
    • Be alert for snakes when exploring the area. Wear protective clothing such as long trousers and closed-in shoes.
    • Mosquito nets are recommended for overnight camping.
    • Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in tidal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. If you do enter the water, a full-body lycra suit or equivalent may provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. See marine stingers for the latest safety and first-aid information.

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

    Be croc wise in croc country!

    Crocodiles can occur in the rivers, creeks, swamps, wetlands, waterholes and along beaches of Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL). Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal. Never take unnecessary risks in crocodile habitat. Visitors are responsible for their own safety, so please follow these guidelines and always be croc wise in croc country.

    • Obey crocodile warning signs—they are there for your safety and protection.
    • Never swim in water where crocodiles may live, even if there is no warning sign present.
    • Swimming or standing in water above knee-height near a crocodile warning sign, or where estuarine crocodiles are frequently seen, is illegal in protected areas (water can still be entered if there is a reasonable excuse to do so, e.g. launching a boat).
    • When fishing, always stand a few metres back from the water's edge and never stand on logs or branches overhanging the water.
    • Never clean fish or discard fish scraps near the water's edge, around camp sites or at boat ramps.
    • Stay well back from any crocodile slide marks. Crocodiles may be close by and may approach people and boats.
    • Boats and vehicles must never be brought within 10m of an estuarine crocodile in the wild—it is illegal unless part of a commercial crocodile viewing tour, or there is a reasonable excuse, e.g. where a creek is less than 10m wide.
    • Never dangle arms or legs over the side of a boat. If a person falls out of a boat, they should get out of the water as quickly as possible.
    • Never provoke, harass or interfere with crocodiles, even small ones.
    • Never feed crocodiles—it is illegal and dangerous.
    • Camp at least 2m above the high water mark and at least 50m from the water's edge. Avoid places where native animals and domestic stock drink.
    • Never leave food scraps, fish frames or bait at a camp site. Always check that previous campers have not left these behind.
    • Never prepare food, wash dishes or pursue any other activities near the water's edge or adjacent sloping banks.
    • Be more aware of crocodiles at night and during the breeding season, September to April.

    Crocodiles fill an essential role as key predators in the aquatic and estuarine ecosystem. This park is one of only six key areas for estuarine crocodile conservation in Queensland, and is crucial to long-term conservation of the species on Queensland's east coast.

    Freshwater crocodiles also occur here. This species can be distinguished from the estuarine crocodile by its long, narrow snout, straight jaw line and a row of four large scales on the neck. ‘Freshies’ are usually shy and placid when they are left alone.

    For more information, see crocodiles—be croc wise.

    Before you visit

    Be prepared for your visit to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time.

    Essentials to bring

    Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit. Make sure you bring:

    • adequate food, water and equipment for treating water
    • first-aid kit
    • fuel, spare parts and basic vehicle repair equipment
    • fuel or gas stove for cooking
    • insect repellent and mosquito nets
    • rubbish bags as no bins are provided.

    There are no services and minimal facilities in the park. Always prepare for a longer stay than anticipated in case of breakdown or stranding due to wet weather. Ensure that someone is notified of your itinerary. Most roads in the park are bush tracks and are not suitable for caravans, campervans or buses. Driving on rough roads in low gear uses more fuel than normal driving conditions. Ensure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition.

    Opening hours

    Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land (CYPAL)), including all camping areas is closed throughout the wet season every year. All camping areas south of Lakefield ranger base are closed from 1 December to 31 May and all camping areas north of Lakefield ranger base are closed from 1 December to 30 June (see detailed camping information). These dates may vary depending on weather and road conditions and camping areas and roads may also be closed after heavy rain. Check Queensland Traffic or Cook Shire Council to enquire about local road conditions before setting out.

    Rarda-Ndolphin (Low Lake) is a restricted access area. Visitor access is limited to the car park and viewing area.

    Permits and fees

    Camping permit

    Camping permits are required for all camping areas in Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) and fees apply.

    All camping must be booked prior to arriving in the area—bookings can be made up to six months in advance. For information on how to obtain an e-permit see camping information.

    Other permits

    Various activities conducted in Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL) may require a permit. These activities include commercial tours, social events such as weddings, organised group visits, school excursions, scientific research, and sale of photographs or vision of Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL). See park permits and policies web pages for further information.

    Pets

    Domestic animals are not permitted in Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL).

    Climate and weather

    The best time to visit is during the ‘cooler’ months of the dry season, from June to September, when average maximum temperatures range from 30–33ºC. In July and August, the average minimum temperature drops to 14ºC at night. From October to December it can be very hot and thunderstorms are common. During this ‘build up’ season, the average maximum temperatures are around 35ºC with very high humidity. The wet season, usually from December to May, prevents access to Lakefield and most of Cape York Peninsula. Average maximum temperatures at this time range from 32–35ºC. See tourism information links for more information.

    Fuel and supplies

    The nearest fuel, meals, supplies and mechanical repairs are available at Laura, 84km south-west of Lakefield ranger base. Fuel, meals, toilets, showers, limited supplies and some mechanical repairs are also available from the Musgrave Roadhouse, 109km north-west of Lakefield ranger base. For more information, see the tourism information links.