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Nature, culture and history

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More park information is available in our trial Cape Palmerston National Park page.

Natural environment

Cape Palmerston National Park features extensive tidal estuaries. Photo courtesy of John Augusteyn.

Cape Palmerston National Park features extensive tidal estuaries. Photo courtesy of John Augusteyn.

Covering 7160 ha, Cape Palmerston National Park conserves one of the few remaining areas of undeveloped coastline between Bowen and St Lawrence in Central Queensland. This park is significant for the extent and variety of its lowland coastal vegetation.

The park protects a range of plant communities, including mangroves and pioneer dune vegetation, beach scrubs, melaleuca woodlands and wetlands, open eucalypt woodlands, grasslands and riverside rainforests.

Mangrove and saltpan communities within the park are important fish breeding areas. Mangroves also support animals such as crabs, prawns, bats and migratory waders.

The park is one of only three known protected habitats in Queensland for water mice, which inhabit some of Cape Palmerston’s mangrove communities. This threatened species builds nests of mud in the inter-tidal zone and hunts at night for small crustaceans.

Melaleuca wetlands provided habitat for frogs and numerous other species.

Birdlife here is prolific. The park’s beaches are home to a range of shorebirds, including beach stone-curlews, which are a threatened species. Further inland, pied imperial-pigeons visit the park in late winter and in spring. You might see small flocks of these striking birds feeding on fruit in the many native fig trees. These pigeons are found across northern Australia and New Guinea, but are near their southern limit at Cape Palmerston.

Mount Funnel, in the park’s south-west, is a dominant landscape feature, rising to 344 m. Its distinctive cap is harder than the surrounding rock and has withstood millions of years of erosion.

The coastal waters adjacent to the park are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park; they support significant seagrass meadows. Ince Bay (to the north of the park) is a Dugong Protection Area. Estuarine crocodiles are permanent residents of the park’s waterways; turtles and whales are visitors to the nearby seawaters.

Culture and history

An archaeological survey of the park’s coastal sections in 1992 found a number of shell middens (mounds), created by the area’s earlier Aboriginal inhabitants. Today, they are a reminder of the special connection Indigenous people have with this place.

Explorer Captain James Cook named Cape Palmerston, Cape Hillsborough and Cape Conway as he sailed up the Queensland coast in 1770.

Before being gazetted as a national park, parts of the area were used for cattle grazing, fishing and oyster collecting. Little evidence of this history remains today.

Last updated
5 December 2017