Townsville Town Common Conservation Park Townsville

Photo credit: Briony Masters © Queensland Government

Be inspired: Grab your boots and adventure outdoors—7 short walks around Cairns and Townsville

‘These boots are made for walkin’ and that’s just what they’ll do…’ If you like the sound of rambling through ancient rainforests, wandering along palm-fringed beaches and clambering around tropical islands, not to mention, spotting awesome wildlife, read on! Photo credit: Maxime Coquard © Queensland Government

Things to do

    Some of the trails are shared-use, for walkers and mountain bike riders.

    Some of the trails are shared-use, for walkers and mountain bike riders.

    Photo credit: Fiona O'Grady © Queensland Government

    Camping and accommodation

    Camping

    Camping is not permitted in Townsville Town Common Conservation Park.

    Other accommodation

    There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Townsville. For more information see the tourism information links.

    Walking and mountain biking

    The Cape Pallarenda Trails are a network of shared walking and mountain biking trails in the Townsville Town Common and Cape Pallarenda conservation parks.

    The trails range from short, easy trails to challenging hikes and cross-country mountain bike rides. Consider your fitness level before undertaking the extended trails.

    The give-way code, Cape Pallarenda Trails

    The Cape Pallarenda Trails are shared between walkers, runners and bike riders. Please be careful and courteous to all trails users and follow the shared trails give-way code.

    • Be alert for bike riders approaching from either direction.
    • Cyclists must alert others when approaching.
    • Everyone must slow down and go around wildlife.
    Ride the Under the Radar trail for a view to Magnetic Island.

    Ride the Under the Radar trail for a view to Magnetic Island.

    Photo credit: Fiona O'Grady © Queensland Government

    Key to trail standards

    The classification system is based on Australian Standards. Please note that while each trail is classified according to its most difficult section, other sections may be of an easier level.

    Australian Walking Track Grading System
    GradeDescription
    Grade 2 walking trackGrade 2 No bushwalking experience required. The track is a compacted surface.
    Grade 3 walking trackGrade 3 Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections and a rough surface.
    Grade 4 walking trackGrade 4 Bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may be long, rough and very steep. Directional signs may be limited.
    International Mountain Bicycling Association, Australia
    GradeDescription
    Easy mountain bike trailEasy Wide trail with gentle gradient and smooth surface. Some obstacles such as roots, logs and rocks. Suitable for beginner mountain bikers with basic mountain bike skills and off-road bikes.
    Intermediate mountain bike trailIntermediate A trail with moderate gradients, variable surface and obstacles. May include steep sections. Suitable for skilled mountain bikers with a good standard of fitness and basic off-road riding skills.
    Trails at a glance
    Trail nameDistance Walking timeClassification
    Shelly Beach trail 8.2km return 4hrGrade 4 walking trackEasy mountain bike trail
    Under the Radar trail (UTR) 10.1km one-way 5hrGrade 3 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail
    Smedley's trail 6.8km circuit 3hrGrade 4 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail
    Many Peaks track 5.7km one-way 3hrGrade 4 walking trackBicycles prohibited
    Lagoon trail 4.6km one-way 2hrGrade 3 walking trackEasy mountain bike trail
    Freshwater trail 3.6km one-way 2hrGrade 4 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail
    Jacana bird hide 450m one-way 30minGrade 3 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail
    Wetland walk 850m return 30minGrade 2 walking trackBicycles prohibited
    Forest walk 1.7km return 1hr returnGrade 3 walking trackBicycles prohibited
    Brolgas feeding near Long Swamp, Pandanus viewing area.

    Brolgas feeding near Long Swamp, Pandanus viewing area.

    Photo credit: Fiona O'Grady © Queensland Government

    Trail descriptions

    Shelly Beach trail Grade 4 walking trackEasy mountain bike trail

    Distance: 8.2km return
    Time: allow 4hr walking time

    Walkers and mountain bikers share this trail.

    Following the edge of a large marine plain, this trail leads through coastal woodland before finishing at the western end of Shelly Beach. Trail users must return the way they came. The northern part of this trail, towards the beach, is soft and sandy, and can be physically demanding.

    Under the Radar trail (UTR) Intermediate mountain bike trailGrade 3 walking track

    Distance: 10.1km one-way
    Time: allow 5hr walking time

    This narrow two-way trail is for cross country mountain biking. Walkers must be alert and considerate for mountain bike riders approaching from either direction.

    At its western end, the trail starts 500 m along the Shelly Beach trail and crosses the western and northern slopes of Many Peaks Range. It provides excellent views of the islands to the north and the Coral Sea beyond. At its eastern end, the trail begins 700 m along the Shelly Cove trail. UTR has rough surfaces and some steep sections. Trail users can return the way they came or may use the other trails and internal park roads to return to their starting point (see the Cape Pallarenda Trails map (PDF, 200.7KB) ).

    Photo of the link bridge over the wetlands to Smedley’s trail.Open larger image

    Cross the link bridge over the wetlands to Smedley’s trail.

    Photo credit: Phil Copp © Queensland Government

    Smedley's trail Intermediate mountain bike trailGrade 4 walking track

    Distance: 6.8km circuit
    Time: allow 3hr walking time

    Accessed via a link from UTR (6.6 km from the eastern beginning of UTR) or 2.8 km from the beginning of Shelly Beach trail. This circuit winds around Smedley’s hill taking in panoramic views over the Town Common wetlands, Bohle River and the Coral Sea to the north. It is a challenging but rewarding ride with steep sections and rock obstacles.

    Photo of a man hiking the Cape Pallarenda Trails. Remember to carry drinking water, a first aid kit and communication equipment.Open larger image

    When hiking the Cape Pallarenda Trails, remember to carry drinking water, a first aid kit and communication equipment.

    Photo credit: Phil Copp © Queensland Government

    Photo of a stunning sunset across the wetlands from Tegoora Rock, Many Peaks trail.Open larger image

    Catch a stunning sunset across the wetlands from Tegoora Rock, Many Peaks trail.

    Photo credit: Linda Thompson © Queensland Government

    Many Peaks track Grade 4 walking trackBicycles prohibited

    Distance: 5.7km one-way
    Time: allow 3hr walking time

    Starting at the western end, or 450 m along the eastern end of the Lagoon trail, this challenging walk across Many Peaks Range leads to the summit of Mount Marlow, before descending through vine thickets and woodland towards the wetlands below. The walk has spectacular views over the Town Common wetlands and along the coastline from the Palm Islands in the north to Cape Cleveland in the south. Some sections of the trail are very steep and there are many steps. In some areas the trail can be indistinct and walkers must follow the orange trail markers. Walkers may return on the same trail or via the Lagoon trail.

    Lagoon trail Grade 3 walking trackEasy mountain bike trail

    Distance: 4.6km one-way
    Time: allow 2hr walking time

    Walkers and mountain bike riders share this trail.

    Starting at the intersection of Freshwater and Shelly Beach trails or opposite Walter Nesbit Park at the end of Cape Pallarenda Road, this trail follows the edge of Freshwater Lagoon at the southern base of Many Peaks Range. The trail can become boggy after wet weather. Trail users can return the way they came or can walk the Many Peaks track or ride the Under the Radar trail to complete a loop.

    Freshwater trail Grade 4 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail

    Distance: 3.6km one-way
    Time: allow 2hr walking time

    Walkers and mountain bike riders share this trail.

    Starting at the intersection with Shelly Beach and Lagoon trails, or 1.2 km along the eastern end of the Lagoon trail, Freshwater passes through coastal sand dune vegetation, crosses the dam wall of Freshwater Lagoon and provides access to the Freshwater and Jacana bird hides. Trail users can return the way they came or use the Lagoon or Under the Radar trails to complete a loop.

    Jacana bird hide Grade 3 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail

    Distance: 450m one-way
    Time: allow 30min walking time

    Walkers and mountain bike riders share this trail.

    Access the Jacana bird hide from the Freshwater trail—the turn-off to the hide is 350 m from the Freshwater car park. The track leading to the hide is 100 m long. Overlooking Freshwater Lagoon, the bird hide is a good place to spot nesting and foraging waterbirds. Trail users can return the way they came or continue along the Freshwater trail.

    Wetland walk Grade 2 walking trackBicycles prohibited

    Distance: 850m return
    Time: allow 30min walking time

    This short walk starts 150 m along the eastern end of the Lagoon trail and meanders through melaleuca forest within a seasonal wetland.

    Forest walk Grade 3 walking trackBicycles prohibited

    Distance: 1.7km return
    Time: allow 1hr walking time

    Starting beside Freshwater Lagoon Road in the southern part of the park, this walk follows the edge of Barramundi Waterhole and is shaded by melaleucas, eucalypts and acacias. In the cooler parts of the day this is a good area for viewing forest birds such as honeyeaters and kingfishers.

    Remember to follow the Parks and forests mountain bike and cycle with care plus the walk with care guidelines.

    A pair of binoculars will help spot the more elusive birds in the park.

    A pair of binoculars will help spot the more elusive birds in the park.

    Photo credit: Fiona O'Grady © Queensland Government

    Viewing wildlife

    The Town Common is home to many woodland and waterbird species. Five observation points are provided for keen birdwatchers but many birds (including brolgas) are regularly seen from the roads and trails within the park.

    The Freshwater and Jacana bird hides overlook Freshwater Lagoon. Pandanus and Melaleuca viewing areas, beside Long Swamp are located on Freshwater Lagoon Road and provide space for a vehicle to pull over on the roadside. A car park and short track lead to Payets Tower in the south of the park. This observation tower looks out over seasonal wetlands.

    Sand monitors roam the park and are sometimes seen sunning themselves on the roads and trails. Agile wallabies also live in the area.

    Read more about the natural environment of Townsville Town Common Conservation Park.