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Rinyirru National Park (old Lakefield)

Rinyirru_080712_0073_Adam Creed_QGPhoto: Adam Creed QNPWS

The park can be accessed a number of ways; from Cooktown via Battlecamp Road, from Cape Melville via Kalpowar, from Laura, from Musgrave Roadhouse, or from Port Stewart via Running Creek Nature Reserve (see map). This is Queensland’s second largest National Park. It is a large basin with many braided rivers draining into nearby Princess Charlotte Bay. In the wet season these rivers swell, creating a huge flood plain and breeding ground for barramundi and other species. Once the water recedes it leaves lagoons and wetlands full of life (see National Park section also), however, it takes a while to dry out before the park is open to visitors and it can be as late as July before the northern section is opened (watch for updates on the Tourism Cape York Facebook page).

lakefield national parkExcellent Barramundi Fishing








There are many bush camping opportunities for independent travellers, and Kalpowar Crossing has a large campground with toilets and showers. Hann Crossing also has a toilet near the crossing ch 10 doco 2 033
but a long way from most of the camp sites. The road that enters north of Laura has many camp sites along the Normanby and Kennedy River, all the way to the campsite at Top Whiphandle, which is tidal. The Hann River has a series of campsites from the crossing down (20+) which are easily accessible (even for caravans). There are also campsites along Saltwater Creek in the north section. The Bizant River is a popular place to launch boats. See the Parks website for layout of campgrounds, or look on the self-booking kiosk at the ranger base- all ranger bases have these.

ch 10 doco 2 093White Lilly Lagoon

If just passing through, there are some good places to stop just off the road. Those coming from Cooktown via Battlecamp Road can stop at Isabella Falls for a swim, only a short distance from the turnoff. The Normanby River has a crossing on Batlecamp Road that can prevent the road from opening until late in the year- don’t swim here! Along the southern access from Laura is Catfish Waterhole, a day use area with resident crocodile that can often be seen. White and Red Lilly Lagoons are just off the road, and are teaming with birdlife most of the year, not to mention  spectacular lotus lilies! Near the northern exit is Low Lake, a great place to bird watch- look out for Jabirus, Magpie Geese, and White Sea Eagles, to name a few. North of Hann Crossing you will drive through Nifold Plain which is hard to miss. It is a vast grassy plain with tall Cabbage Palms and Termite mounds.

Low LakeLow Lake

The Park is large, so take plenty of fuel for your journey; fill up at either Cooktown, Laura, or Musgrave Roadhouse. Situated just outside the northern end of the Park is Lotusbird Lodge, comprising 10 individual pole style cabins set amongst shady eucalypts, around a private billabong attracting many of the bird species from within the park.

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