Tropical Coast of Queensland

Conway National Park

Conway National Park's size and undeveloped nature makes it a very significant wilderness area. The park extends north along the coastline to the tip of Cape Conway, 30 km south of Shute Harbour and includes the rainforest-clad Conway Peninsula. It protects the largest area of lowland tropical rainforest in Queensland outside Tropical North Queensland. Hoop pines grow on coastal ridges and in damp gullies, emerging above the rainforest canopy. Rugged, steep, rocky cliffs provide a spectacular 35 km-long backdrop to the Whitsunday Passage and islands.

Conway National Park lies on the Central Queensland coast, between Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour. Conway National Park boasts a number of walking tracks, which take you through a variety of vegetation types including lowland rainforest, mangroves and open forest. Take the Mt Rooper track for spectacular Whitsunday Passage and island views. You can access the Swamp Bay camping area on foot or by boat.

Location: Approximately 30 km east of Proserpine

How to get there: From Airlie Beach, follow Shute Harbour Road south-east for 6.5 km to the Conway National Park day-use area. To explore the park on foot, you can leave your car at the day-use area, at the Swamp Bay/Mount Rooper car park or at the Coral Beach car park. Turn off the Bruce Highway just north of Proserpine, or 65 km south of Bowen, then travel 26 km to Airlie Beach. Do not take the turnoff to Conway Beach as there is no access to the park from Conway township.

If you are planning to access the park's undeveloped southern end by boat, be aware that boating restrictions apply. Gates at the Conway National Park day-use area are opened at 7.30 am each morning and locked at 6 pm. All other parts of the park are open 24 hrs. The Whitsunday Great Walk may be closed during seasonal wet weather.

Wheelchair accessibility: Toilets at the Conway National Park day-use area are suitable for people in wheelchairs, however some assistance will be required.

Park features
Dry vine thicket, mangroves, open forests with a grasstree understorey, paperbark and pandanus woodlands, and patches of lowland rainforest with twisted vines grow in the park. It is home to two of Australia's mound-building birds, the Australian brush-turkey and the orange-footed scrubfowl.

Rising steeply behind busy coastal settlements, the Conway Range appears impenetrable. Through climate fluctuations over tens of thousands of years, the rainforest has persisted here, providing a continuous refuge for wildlife.

The park's vegetation is very similar to that on the Whitsunday islands because thousands of years ago the sea level rose, drowning coastal valleys and creating the islands. For thousands of years, the Ngaro and Gia people roamed these forests, harvesting riches of the land and the adjoining sea country. Today the adjacent waters are protected in marine parks.

Walking Tracks
Conway National Park has a variety of walking tracks for you to enjoy. If you plan to go bushwalking, be prepared and tell a friend or family member of your plans. All distances given are one way. All walks and facilities are shown on the Conway national and conservation parks map (PDF, 281K)*. Access from Conway National Park day-use area

Coastal Fringe Circuit (Grade: Easy)
Distance: 1.2 km
Details: Starting at the day-use area, this track passes through lowland rainforest and crosses a small tidal creek. Take a self-guide brochure from leaflet box at the start of the track. (Please return the brochure to leaflet box when finished.)

Hayward Gully (Grade: Easy)
Distance: 1.6 km from day-use area.
Details: This track branches off the Coastal Fringe Circuit to Hayward Gully, with its lowland rainforest and rocky gullies. Access from Mt Rooper car park

Swamp Bay (Grade: Moderate)
Distance: 2.1 km
Details: Starting from the car park, this track passes the foot of Mt Rooper to arrive at Swamp Bay, where a coral-strewn beach offers views of the Molle islands. Return on the same track. Signs along this track and Mt Rooper track describe Indigenous use of local plants.

Mt Rooper
Mt Rooper offers views via four walking options. The turn-off to Mt Rooper is 200 m along the Swamp Bay track. All distances given below are one-way from the car park.
The track passes through low woodland growing in shallow, stony, clay soils where brushbox, grasstrees and wattles are prominent. Although grasstrees here are small, they can grow to 4 m tall elsewhere. Their pale yellow flowers on spear-like stalks provide food for many insects.

Conway Outlook (Grade: Moderate)
Distance: 800 m
Details: This first section of the Mt Rooper Circuit climbs up through mixed forests for a view over Shute Harbour to the Conway Range. Either return from this outlook or walk on to a natural lookout at Mt Rooper.

Mt Rooper (Grade: Moderate)
Distance: 2.3 km
Details: Continue on from Conway Outlook. The shallow, stony clay soils support brush box, grasstrees, wattles and other woodland vegetation. Soak up the panoramic vista of the Whitsunday Passage and islands at the summit.

Mt Rooper Circuit (Grade: Moderate)
Distance: 5.4 km
Details: Continue from the lookout passing views to Daydream and North Molle islands, descend through mixed forest to meet the Swamp Bay track. Turn left and return to the car park to complete the circuit.

Mt Rooper Circuit and Swamp Bay (Grade: Moderate)
Distance: 7.2 km
Details: Take in both the circuit and Swamp Bay tracks for a comfortable one-day walk. Enjoy a picnic at Swamp Bay. Access from Coral Beach car park

Coral Beach (Grade: Moderate)
Distance: 1.1 km
Details: This track starts and finishes at Coral Beach car park. A brochure describing Indigenous use of the coastal environment is available from the leaflet box at the start. (Please return the brochure when finished.) Enjoy views across Whitsunday Passage from Coral Beach.

The Beak (Grade: Moderate)
Distance: 620 m from Coral Beach
Details: After reaching Coral Beach continue on to The Beak. Walk east along Coral Beach and watch for the lookout symbol. The walk returns the same way. Access from Forestry Road car park

Kingfisher Circuit (Grade: Moderate)
Distance: 2 km
Details: Pick up a self-guide brochure at the start of this walk to learn about forest wildlife, including the fascinating buff-breasted paradise-kingfisher. From the car park, walkers will wind down into a moist rainforest valley then ascend to an old logging road. Turn right to return to the car park or left for the Wompoo Walk. (Please return the brochure when finished.)

Mountain bike: Class 2 (easy)
Distance: 3.5 km
Details: The Wompoo Walk is accessible to both walkers and mountain-bike riders. Follow an old logging road, the start of the Whitsunday Great Walk, for 2.4 km and then turn left to reach a calm creek lined with Alexandra palms. Listen for wompoo fruit-doves calling from the canopy. (This walk is closed from 1 February to the end of March under the Whitsunday Great Walk annual closure, or subject to seasonal conditions).
The Kingfisher Circuit and Wompoo Walk are part of the Whitsunday Great Walk (9).

Walk-in bush camping opportunities are available. If you wish to camp you will need to obtain a permit fees apply. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site. Sites are limited and you can book your camping permit in advance.

Mountain biking
There are a range of mountain-biking opportunities for cyclists from easy to more difficult tracks in part of Conway National Park.

The adjacent waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park offer boating and fishing opportunities. It is possible to fish from the beach at Swamp Bay and Coral Beach.

Marine park zoning regulations protect the inter-tidal zone and waters surrounding Conway National Park. Zoning regulations specify how you can use particular sites and the permits you might require. For detailed information on activities such as fishing and crabbing, consult the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority zoning map. Maps are available from Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol offices, bait and tackle shops.

Minimum size and maximum bag limits apply to popular fish species. Queensland fisheries legislation applies in zones where fishing is permitted. See Fisheries Queensland for more information.

Viewing Wildlife
Conway National Park is of high biological significance. Twenty-three species are significant nationally and internationally, six species are rare or threatened and three are known only from this area.

During the daytime you may see emerald doves, sulphur-crested cockatoos and brush-turkeys. Orange-footed scrubfowl mounds can be seen along the Circuit and Swamp Bay tracks. Early morning and late afternoon will be your best chance to see these unusual birds. Endangered Proserpine rock-wallabies live in small areas at the park's northern end but they are rarely seen.

Some species of skink (a type of lizard) are found only in this landscape and in the nearby Clarke Range. A leaf-tail gecko, Phyllurus ossa, is a rare find its population barely extends beyond the Conway Range. Keep watch for the brilliant blue flash of Ulysses butterflies as they flit amongst the foliage.

From about November, you will share the rainforest with buff-breasted paradise-kingfishers. Every year, they make the long journey from Papua New Guinea to nest here in termite mounds. From about March, when their young are strong enough for the long flight, they return to their northern home. Listen for the birds' descending trill or look for the flash of their long, white tail plumes. Other things to do v People go swimming at Coral Beach and Swamp Bay but caution is needed as these areas are not patrolled by lifesavers. Dangerous marine stingers are prevalent between October and May, but may be present year-round. Please see marine stingers for more information.

Be croc wise! Estuarine crocodiles have been sighted in this area, exercise caution when near the water. Your safety is our concern, but your responsibility. Read more about being croc wise.

Whitsunday Islands
The Whitsunday Islands are the most well known and well visited island group in Australia. They have become the epitome of the perfect tropical island holiday destination and are synonymous with the image of paradise. As one of the country's major tourist attractions and holiday destinations, these islands and the neighbouring coast are considered a very special part of Australia. Located just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, the Whitsundays are right in the heart of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. The main islands lay directly between the Queensland Coast and The Great Barrier Reef to the east. Follow the link below for activities and tours in the Whitsunday Islands.

Whitsundays Great Walk
Enjoy a different Whitsunday experience and walk or mountain-bike the Great Walk on a 30 km journey through Conway National Park, starting at Brandy Creek, and finishing at Airlie Beach. With tracks of varying distance and difficulty, everyone can explore the Conway Range. The entire Great Walk is a three-day escape, but you can choose shorter walks or rides that are linked to the main track. Two short tracks can be accessed from Brandy Creek car park.

Shute Harbour
10km east of Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour is a buzzing marine transit facility, one of the boarding points for ferries to the islands, island/reef boating operations and moorings for private boats. Shute Harbour seaplane air base is the largest in the southern hemisphere. Shute Harbour is home to a busy marine transit facility, which includes one of the boarding points for ferries to the islands, as well as island/reef boating operations and moorings for private boats.