- Getting there and getting around
- Park features
- Camping and accommodation
- Things to do
- Things to know before you go
- Staying safe
- Looking after the park
- Park management
- Tourism information links
- Further information
Alligator Creek from lookout, Bowling Green Bay National Park. Photo: Margaret Macindoe, NPSR.
Mount Elliot section: Turn off the Bruce Highway towards Alligator Creek, 25 km south of Townsville or 65 km north of Ayr. The entrance to the Mount Elliot section of the park is 5.5 km from the highway. Access is suitable for conventional vehicles. There is no public transport.
Cape Cleveland section: Turn off the Bruce Highway onto Cape Cleveland Road (Australian Institute of Marine Science road), about 33 km south of Townsville or 57 km north of Ayr. The roads leading to the national park are sealed; however four-wheel-drive vehicles are generally needed to travel within the park. Bush tracks are prone to erosion; always check tracks prior to driving over them, particularly when close to the creek.
Bowling Green Bay section: Turn off the Bruce Highway onto Jerona Road, about 12 km south of the Giru turn-off (64 km south of Townsville, 26 km north of Ayr). The first kilometre of the road is bitumen. The remainder is unsealed road that is susceptible to wash-outs. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended, especially during the wet season (December to April). The park boundary starts 9 km along this road and extends for 6 km until you reach the township of Jerona.
The Alligator Creek camping area toilets and camp sites one and two are wheelchair accessible. The day-use area toilets and a 100 m boardwalk along Alligator Creek (Mount Elliot) are also wheelchair accessible.
Bowling Green Bay National Park covers 57,900 ha of coastal and mountainous country. The habitats range from mangroves at sea level to rainforests on the mountain tops.
The national park includes a wetland that has gained international recognition as a significant habitat for waterfowl, and has been listed under the Ramsar Convention. In the summer months at least 30 different species of birds migrate to the park from various parts of the world.
Within the park, Mount Elliot reaches a height of 1210 m, jutting out of the surrounding coastal plain and dominating the landscape.
Read more information about the natural environment of Bowling Green Bay National Park.
There are several options for camping in Bowling Green Bay National Park.
There is one camping area with facilities, three camping areas with no facilities and opportunities for remote hiking and camping. All camping activities in the park require a permit and fees apply. Before setting up camp you will need to obtain a camping permit, which should be attached to your tent in a visible place. Rangers conduct regular patrols in all sections of the park. Please camp with minimum impact and take all rubbish with you when you leave.
- Find out more about camping in Bowling Green Bay National Park.
- Book your camp site online.
- If you cannot book online, see camping bookings for other options.
There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Townsville. For more information, see the tourism information links below.
A creek crossing along the Alligator Falls track. Photo: Jackie Chappell, NPSR.
Alligator Creek day-use area. Photo: NPSR.
If you intend to embark on extensive hikes in remote areas remember to tell a responsible person where you are going and when you expect to return. Let them know your route and contact them on your return. Have a contingency plan if you fail to contact them by the agreed time. If you change your plans, inform them.
Alligator Creek boardwalk (Mount Elliot)—200 m return (15 mins) Grade: easy
A wheelchair-accessible boardwalk leads from the day-use area through riparian forest to the bank of Alligator Creek. Interpretive signs highlight some of the plants and animals in the area.
Alligator Creek lookout (Mount Elliot)—1 km return (30 mins) Grade: easy
Take your camera for a canopy-level view of the lower sections of Alligator Creek. Reach the lookout by walking 500 m directly from the car park along a sealed path, or use the steps from the swimming area.
Cockatoo Creek track—3 km return (1.5 hrs) Grade: moderate
Enjoy a walk through open woodland, climbing steadily to Cockatoo Creek. Lined with bottlebrush trees and filled with clear rockpools, this creek is ideal for a rest and a swim.
Alligator Falls track (Mount Elliot)—17 km return (5–6 hrs) Grade: difficult
The track to Alligator Falls starts from the southern end of the day-use area. The Alligator Creek lookout is located 500 m along the track (as described above). The track then continues on for another 2 km to Cockatoo Creek.
From Cockatoo Creek the track meanders roughly parallel to the creek, following powerlines through open woodland forest to Hidden Valley. Across the creek the valley narrows, with Mount Elliot and Saddle Mountain framing the landscape. An open clearing features towering, old mango trees, one of the only reminders of the homestead that once stood there. After a further 2 km, the track arrives at a series of steps ascending through a rocky vine-thicket where some boulder-scrambling is required. The track then suddenly emerges at the falls. Access to and above the falls is not provided.
On this track visitors must cross the creek on four occasions. These crossings vary in depth from ankle-deep to approximately waist-deep depending on the season and weather conditions.
As the walk is long, visitors are advised to start walking in the morning to ensure a safe return during daylight hours. Carry water and wear sturdy footwear.
Other extended bushwalking opportunities exist on Mount Elliot and Mount Cleveland for experienced walkers. See camping information for more details.
Picnic and day-use areas
At Alligator Creek, near the camping area, a spacious day-use area has picnic tables, a shelter shed, gas barbecues and toilets. The area caters for large groups. There is a smaller day-use area along the track to the lookout with a covered picnic table and a gas barbecue. Picnic tables are also located along the road leading to the camping area and main day-use area. Please remove your rubbish.
Alligator Creek is a great place to visit but is also hazardous. Water levels can rise rapidly and care must be taken in and near the water because of slippery rocks and submerged objects. Heed all warning signs. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred here.
Boating and fishing
Marine waters adjacent to Bowling Green Bay National Park are internationally significant and are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Zones in the two marine parks—the Great Barrier Reef Coast and Great Barrier Reef—provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreational and commercial use. Check zoning information and maps before entering or conducting any activities in the marine parks.
Fisheries regulations apply—information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures is available from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Bowling Green Bay National Park offers excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife. The diversity of landscape and vegetation supports a large and varied population of birds, including migrants such as the channel-billed cuckoo. Male scarlet honeyeaters make a colourful subject for keen photographers. Agile wallabies and allied rock-wallabies are common. At night, common brushtail possums can be spotted patrolling the area. If you are lucky you may even see a rufous bettong. Never feed any animals, including fish and turtles, as it can affect their health and alter the natural population balance. Ensure that your food is securely packed away out of animals' reach.
Throughout much of the year the buzzing resonance of cicadas dominates the park. Their empty skins can be found on rough-barked trees.
See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about Bowling Green National Park's diverse wildlife.
Essentials to bring
Preparation is key to a safe and enjoyable visit. Make sure you bring:
- a first-aid kit
- drinking water
- a fuel stove and fuel as fires and generators are not permitted
- a sealable container for rubbish. Bins are not provided—please take your rubbish home with you.
All sections of the park are open 24 hours a day.
Permits and fees
All camping areas in Bowling Green Bay National Park require a camping permit and fees apply. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.
Domestic animals are not permitted in Bowling Green Bay National Park.
Climate and weather
The Townsville region has a dry tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The average daily temperature range is 24–31 ºC in summer (December–February) and 14–25 ºC in winter (June–August).
For more information see the tourism information links.
Fuel and supplies
Fuel and supplies are available 25 km north at Townsville and 65 km south at Ayr. For more information, see the tourism information links.
- Before embarking on remote bushwalking trips tell a responsible person where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Estuarine crocodiles inhabit the coastal sections of the park (Cape Cleveland and Bowling Green Bay). Always be croc wise in croc country.
- Water levels can rise rapidly in Alligator Creek (Mount Elliot section) without warning. Do not enter the creek following heavy rain.
- Never dive or jump from rocks into Alligator Creek. Be careful in and near the water as the rocks are slippery and there may be submerged objects. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred here.
- Sandflies and mosquitoes may be a nuisance, especially during the wet season (December–April). Wear protective clothing and insect repellent to protect yourself from insect bites and stings.
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
- Do not take glass bottles or containers in or near Alligator Creek.
- Everything in the park is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.
- Lighting of fires is prohibited. Bring a fuel or gas stove for cooking.
- Domestic animals are not permitted in the national park.
- Rubbish bins are not provided. Do not bury rubbish—take it with you when you leave.
- Where no toilets are available bury human waste and toilet paper at least 15 cm deep and 100 m from camp sites, tracks and watercourses to guard against pollution and the spread of disease.
- Take care when driving on sand as it can be difficult and dangerous—all road rules apply.
- Protect sea turtles and dugongs—these animals feed among the seagrass surrounding the shores of Cape Cleveland. If you are boating in the area, please go slowly to avoid a collision with these animals. Propeller injuries can be fatal to these animals.
See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.
A view from the cliffs at Cape Cleveland. Photo: NPSR.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) aims to preserve Bowling Green Bay National Park's unique beauty and values. Please help by following park guidelines and regulations.
A portion of Mount Elliot was gazetted as national park in 1940 and the Alligator Creek area was added in 1967. Other areas including Cape Cleveland and Cape Bowling Green followed in recent years.
The Bowling Green Bay wetland area has international recognition as a significant habitat for waterfowl, and was listed under the Ramsar Convention in 1993.
- Read more about wetlands.
The national park will be managed in accordance with the Bowling Green Bay National Park Management Plan.
For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.