Remote, rugged and diverse park with wild coastal scenery and impressive geological formations. Unusual wildlife, flora and fauna includes the foxtail palm. A crocodile habitat, this remote park is characterised by the massive, tumbled granite boulders of the Melville Range, the sandstone escarpments of the Altanmoui Range and inland dunefields. The park features a diversity of plant communities including rainforest, mangroves, heathlands, woodlands and grasslands.
The isolation of Cape Melville National Park has given rise to a high proportion of rare and endemic plants and animals, which are found nowhere else in Australia. Most notable of these is the foxtail palm, now a popular garden plant. Features of the park's landscape are woven into a rich tapestry of Aboriginal traditional stories and significant sites, creating a living cultural landscape. The long Aboriginal occupation of this area, which is known as Othawa, is evidenced by shell middens, burials and rock art sites, and has contributed to the significant diversity of vegetation in the area.
Bush camping is allowed in Cape Melville National Park, behind the beach at Bathurst Bay. Facilities are not provided. Please keep campsites on the sand to avoid encroaching into the beachfront vegetation. Camping permits are required and fees apply. Permits can be obtained from the self-registration shelter at the Lakefield ranger station in Lakefield National Park or in advance from the Cooktown QPWS office.
All coastal waters surrounding Cape Melville National Park are included in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park. The marine park is zoned to manage different activities. A National Park (green) zone, in which all fishing and collecting is prohibited, extends from Cape Melville south-east to Ninian Bay. This green zone also extends from south of Barrow Point along the coast to the Jeannie River. Bathurst Bay, west from Cape Melville, is zoned Conservation Park (yellow zone) which allows limited fishing.
Essentials to bring
>> ample supplies of your own drinking water, as access to fresh water is limited;
>> fuel stoves and rubbish bags;
>> protective clothing, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun;
>> insect repellent to avoid mosquito and sandfly bites.
Take a stroll along the wide sandy beaches of Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville, fringed by woodlands with a backdrop of the Melville Range, and enjoy the views of the Flinders Group islands. Wongai plums grow along the shore here. These trees have significance for the Traditional Owners please do not damage or disturb them in any way. From the beach, a short easy walking track leads to the Cyclone Mahina monument.
Roads into and on the park are suited only to 4WD vehicles. Most roads within the park are simple bush tracks. Your vehicle should be in good mechanical condition. Carry plenty of fuel as driving on rough roads in low gear uses more fuel than under normal driving conditions. Also carry spare parts and basic vehicle repair equipment to be self-sufficient.
Wakooka: Wakooka is at the junction of the coastal track from Starcke and the Kalpowar road from Lakefield. Cattle yards, a windmill and an old hut mark the site of a historical stockyard and outstation (a temporary mustering and work camp), which were part of the old Starke Pastoral Holding. Wakooka is now Aboriginal land.
Jones Gap: The Starcke road winds south between the Altanmoui Range to the east and a mountain range to the west. The crest of the road between the ranges is known as Jones Gap. This indigenous cultural site, which is associated with a creation story, provides impressive views to Altanmoui Range and across the Starcke plains. The Traditional Owners ask that you show respect for this powerful cultural place and do not disturb or damage any part of the landscape for your own safety and the health of the country.