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About Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range)

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More park information is available in our trial Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) page.

Getting there and getting around

Chilli Beach. Photo: Gary Featonby, Queensland Government.

Chilli Beach. Photo: Gary Featonby, Queensland Government.

Roads into and on Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land (CYPAL)) are suited to four-wheel-drive vehicles only. The roads and camping areas are not suitable for caravans.

Turn off the Peninsula Development Road onto Portland Roads Road 35 km north of the Archer River Roadhouse. Drive 97 km along the well-formed gravel road to its junction with Lockhart River Road. From here, continue along Portland Roads Road to Rainforest (3.9 km), Cooks Hut (4.8 km) and Gordon Creek (5.5 km) camping areas. A further 17.4 km past Gordon Creek is the turn-off to Chilli Beach camping area (which is an additional 6 km from that junction).

Alternative access to from the north is via the Frenchmans Track. This is a challenging route with unpredictable creek crossings and steep banks. The road is not maintained and is outside the national park. It is not recommended for vehicles without snorkels and recovery gear, towing trailers or drivers without suitable experience. Turn off the Telegraph Road onto Frenchmans Track, 22 km south of Moreton Telegraph Station. The intersection with Portland Roads Road is 52 km along this track. Turn left onto Portland Roads Road and travel 27 km to its junction with Lockhart River Road. From here, continue along Portland Roads Road to Rainforest (3.9 km), Cooks Hut (4.8 km) and Gordon Creek (5.5 km) camping areas. A further 17.4 km past Gordon Creek is the turn-off to Chilli Beach camping area (which is an additional 6 km from that junction).

Alcohol restrictions are in place in many of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and apply to the towns and areas around Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL). For the latest information on restrictions, see community alcohol limits. The camping areas in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) are outside the alcohol restriction zone.

Check road conditions before travelling on the Portland Roads Road or Frenchmans Track as both can become impassable following rain. Contact the Department of Transport and Main Roads to find out about local road conditions and the Bureau of Meteorology for weather reports and forecasts.

Map: Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) map (PDF, 296K)

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible tracks or facilities in the park.

Park features

The heath-covered Tozer Range. Photo: Queensland Government.

The heath-covered Tozer Range. Photo: Queensland Government.

Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) is a coastal park with spectacular views from the beaches and headlands to the heath-covered Tozer Range, which rises 543 m above sea level. The park is also of international significance as it contains the largest remaining area of lowland rainforest in Australia. Surrounded by drier eucalypt and paperbark forest, the rainforest is a refuge and stronghold for birds also found in New Guinea, but with a restricted distribution in Australia. It supports the vibrant eclectus parrot, which lives only in the Iron and McIlwraith ranges between the Pascoe and Rocky rivers, the raucous palm cockatoo and the magnificent rifle-bird. Kutini means cassowary and Payamu means rainbow serpent. These are important stories for the Kuuku Ya’u (Kanthanampu and Kungkay) people, the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of this park.

Read more about the nature, culture and history of Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL).

Camping and accommodation

Site two at Chilli Beach camping area. Photo: Gary Featonby, Queensland Government.

Site two at Chilli Beach camping area. Photo: Gary Featonby, Queensland Government.

Camping

There are four camping areas in the park: Rainforest, Cooks Hut, Gordon Creek and Chilli Beach camping areas. These are very popular during peak periods—campers should plan their visit and obtain an e-permit well in advance. Self-registration is not available. There is limited alternative accommodation around the park.

Campers must be self-sufficient. The only facilities provided are toilets at Chilli Beach and Cooks Hut camping areas. Take plenty of drinking water—there is no fresh water available in the park. Roads and camp sites are not suitable for caravans.

Camping permits are required and fees apply.

Other accommodation

There is limited accommodation available at Lockhart River and Portland Roads. For more information, see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Views from the Mount Tozer viewing platform. Photo: John DeCampo, Queensland Government.

Views from the Mount Tozer viewing platform. Photo: John DeCampo, Queensland Government.

The day-use area at Chilli Beach. Photo: Gary Featonby, Queensland Government.

The day-use area at Chilli Beach. Photo: Gary Featonby, Queensland Government.

Palm cockatoos can sometimes be seen feeding on the ground around the camp sites. Photo: Daryn Storch.

Palm cockatoos can sometimes be seen feeding on the ground around the camp sites. Photo: Daryn Storch.

The park offers many opportunities for visitors to explore and enjoy the natural surrounds.

Map: Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) map (PDF, 296K)

Walking

There are several walking tracks in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL).

Old Coen track (Grade: easy)

Distance: 10 km return
Time: Allow 4–5 hrs walking time
Details: Starting from the Rainforest camping area on the banks of the Claudie River, this walk follows the Old Coen track. Travel through rainforest and open woodland where birdwatching is excellent. Please advise someone of your planned route and return time. Arrange for a vehicle pick-up at the end of the track, on Portland Roads Road.

Mount Tozer viewing platform (Grade: easy)

Distance: 140 m return
Time: Allow about 10 mins walking time
Details: Starting at the Mount Tozer car park, walk the short distance to the viewing platform. Enjoy the scenic views of Mount Tozer and surrounding heath community. Signs are provided on the platform.

Chilli Beach forest walk (Grade: easy)

Distance: 720 m return
Time: Allow about 10 min walking time
Details: Starting at the entrance of the Chilli Beach camping area, this short walk travels through coastal dune and swamp vegetation. The track ends at the northern end of the camping area.

Four-wheel driving

Drive four-wheel-drives through Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) on the network of internal roads. Expect to share the roads with pedestrians, cyclists, trail bikes and other vehicles.

Vehicles are not permitted off-road or on internal roads and tracks that are closed for management purposes. Drivers must be licensed and vehicles must be road-registered. For more information, see four-wheel driving.

Trail-bike riding

Ride trail-bikes through Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) on the network of internal roads. Expect to share the roads with pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles.

Trail-bikes are not permitted off-road or on internal roads and tracks that are closed for management purposes. Riders must be licensed and trail-bikes must be road-registered. Expect to share the roads and tracks with pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. For more information, see trail-bike riding.

Picnic and day-use areas

There is a day-use area towards the northern end of the Chilli Beach camping area with picnic tables and a nearby toilet block.

Boating and fishing

Fishing is not permitted in any freshwater rivers or creeks within the national park.

Marine waters adjacent to Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) 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 Fisheries Queensland.

Bicycling

Cycle through Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) on the network of internal roads. Expect to share the roads with pedestrians, motorbikes, vehicles and other cyclists.

Bicycles are not permitted off-road or on any of the walking tracks.

For more information, see cycling.

Viewing wildlife

The park offers excellent opportunities for birdwatching. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for seeing and hearing birds. See many coastal and seabird species at Chilli Beach, including pied oystercatchers, little terns and white-bellied sea-eagles. The spectacle of the metallic starlings flocking offshore from Chilli Beach can be seen during the warmer months from September to April. Palm cockatoos—large black parrots with distinctive crests and red cheeks—can sometimes be seen feeding on the ground around the camp sites. Double-eyed fig-parrots—small green parrots with pale grey beaks—may also be seen.

Spotlighting at night around the road or camp sites at Chilli Beach may reward visitors with a glimpse of nocturnal birds, including owls, owlet-nightjars and Papuan frogmouths as well as snakes, frogs, giant tree geckos and mammals, such as spotted cuscuses, striped possums and sugar gliders. If planning a spotlighting trip, there are a few things that will make the experience memorable.

  • Keep bulb wattage to 30 or less. This will increase the chance of finding animals (by not warning them) and will extend viewing time.
  • Bring binoculars to get a good view.
  • Look for eye shine, listen for leaves rustling and inhale the smells.
  • Use a white light to explore the forest then add a red or orange filter (cellophane works) to view wildlife.
  • Remember that loud voices and sounds will scare away the wildlife and ruin the experience.
  • Lights should never be trained on nesting birds; this can cause them great distress.

See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about the diverse wildlife in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL).

Things to know before you go

Essentials to bring

To enjoy your time at Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) remember to bring:

  • sunscreen and hat
  • clothes for protection from the sun and biting mosquitoes, sandflies and midges
  • a fuel stove
  • rubbish bags
  • adequate water.

Opening hours

The park is generally only accessible in the drier months (May to November). At other times the park can be inaccessible due to flooding, both locally and along the Peninsula Development Road. Check park alerts and with Department of Transport and Main Roads to enquire about local road conditions.

Permits and fees

Camping permit

Camping permits are required and fees apply. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

Other permits

Permits are required for commercial and some organised group activities. See park permits and policies for more information.

Pets

Domestic animals, including dogs, are not permitted in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL).

Climate and weather

Cape York Peninsula has a tropical climate. During the wetter months (December to April), the area can be deluged by heavy monsoonal rains and roads can become impassable for extended periods, preventing access to the park. The best time to visit is during the drier months of May to November. Extremes of climatic and seasonal variations prevail. Winter temperatures can drop below 10°C and summer temperatures can soar above 40°C. Daily variation at any time of the year seldom exceeds 15°C. The weather from October to November can be very hot and thunderstorms are common.

Fuel and supplies

Food, fuel and mechanical services can be obtained from Lockhart River, 10.5 km from the intersection of Portland Roads Road and Lockhart River Road.

Staying safe

Estuarine crocodiles (Iiwayi or Nhapu) are common in the estuaries and on the beaches around the park. They are potentially dangerous. Photo: Adam Creed, Queensland Government.

Estuarine crocodiles (Iiwayi or Nhapu) are common in the estuaries and on the beaches around the park. They are potentially dangerous. Photo: Adam Creed, Queensland Government.

Be crocwise

Crocodiles live in the rivers, creeks, along the coast and offshore of Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL). Crocodiles are potentially dangerous to people. Never take unnecessary risks in crocodile habitat. You are responsible for your own safety, so please follow these guidelines and be crocwise in croc country.

  • Obey crocodile warning signs—they are there for your safety and protection.
  • Never swim in water where crocodiles may live even if there is no warning sign present.
  • When fishing, always stand a few metres back from the water's edge and never stand on logs or branches overhanging the water.
  • Never clean fish or discard fish scraps or bait near the water's edge, around camp sites or at boat ramps.
  • Stay well back from any crocodile slide marks. Crocodiles may be close by and may approach people and boats.
  • Never dangle your arms or legs over the side of a boat. If you fall out of a boat, get out of the water as quickly as possible.
  • Never provoke, harass or interfere with crocodiles, even small ones.
  • Never feed crocodiles—it is illegal and dangerous.
  • Camp at least 2 m above the high water mark and at least 50 m from the water's edge. Avoid places where native animals and domestic stock drink.
  • Never leave food scraps, fish scraps or bait at your camp site. Always check that previous campers have not left these behind.
  • Never prepare food, wash dishes or pursue any other activities near the water's edge or adjacent sloping banks.
  • Be more aware of crocodiles at night and during the breeding season, September to April.

For more information on being crocwise, see crocodiles—be crocwise.

Other hazards

  • Wear appropriate safety gear and be realistic about your cycling and riding abilities.
  • Obey speed limits and safety and advisory signs.
  • Ride and drive to the conditions.
  • Avoid camping and sitting under trees laden with coconuts.
  • Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. If you do enter the water, a full-body lycra suit or equivalent may provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. Remember to be crocwise in croc country. Visit marine stingers for the latest safety and first-aid information.
  • Potentially harmful animals inhabit the reef at low tide, including cone shells, blue-ringed octopus and stonefish. Take care not to stand on or touch any animals.
  • Avoid stinging trees. These plants are found at rainforest edges, growing up to 4 m high. They have large, heart-shaped leaves with serrated edges. Touching any part of the plant results in a very painful sting. If symptoms are severe, seek medical advice.
  • Be self-sufficient with adequate fuel, basic vehicle repair equipment, food and first-aid equipment in case of unexpected delays or breakdown.
  • Always carry adequate drinking water with you as well as equipment for treating water.
  • Carry plenty of fuel—driving on rough roads in low gear uses more fuel than normal driving conditions.
  • Stay on designated roads as there are various natural hazards in the park. Driving on the beach can be dangerous particularly near creek mouths and between the tides, where quicksand can develop.
  • Bring sunscreen, hat and clothes for protection from the sun when walking around the park.
  • Stay on walking tracks and take heed of safety signs as disused mine shafts are scattered throughout the park; some are deep and have unstable edges.

For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

Looking north along Chilli Beach. Photo: Gary Featonby, Queensland Government

Looking north along Chilli Beach. Photo: Gary Featonby, Queensland Government

Your cooperation is sought to help preserve this natural area. Please follow these guidelines:

  • Domestic animals are not permitted in national parks.
  • Take all your rubbish with you when you leave—you may use the rubbish pit on the Portland Roads Road just north of the turn-off into Chilli Beach.
  • Do not remove or disturb plants, living or dead.
  • Do not interfere with or feed native animals. Ensure all food, including scraps, are stowed securely at night. Wildlife, including pigs, frequent the camping areas in search of food.
  • The use of firearms is prohibited in national parks.
  • Chainsaws are not permitted in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL).
  • Do not use soap or detergent in streams, rivers or waterholes.
  • Camp only in designated camping areas—camping is not permitted in other parts of the park or on adjacent Aboriginal land.
  • Light camp fires responsibly and only in existing fireplaces. Never collect firewood from the park. Where possible, use gas stoves.
  • Keep your camp site clean and free from food scraps.
  • Be aware that driving on the beach can be dangerous, particularly near creek mouths and between the tides. Dunes are fragile environments and can be easily damaged.
  • Limit the spread of weeds by ensuring clothes, shoes, gear, bikes and vehicles are clean and free of seeds before arriving at the park.
  • Stay on formed roads—mountain bikes and trail-bikes are not permitted on walking tracks and boardwalks. Riding over vegetation, breaking branches, taking shortcuts and forming new tracks damages the environment.
  • Unlicensed drivers and trail-bike riders are not allowed in parks and forests. Drivers and riders must be licensed and vehicles must be fully registered.
  • Motocross is not permitted in this park.
  • Avoiding driving and riding on unsealed roads during and after heavy rains.
  • Avoid causing unnecessary erosion as this may lead to the closing of the road.
  • Respect park neighbours and visitors—ensure the noise and dust from your driving and riding doesn’t upset others.

See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

This park was originally gazetted as Iron Range National Park on 11 January 1981. The original 33,000 ha has expanded over time and is now 53,160 ha following conversion to Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) on 22 July 2011.

Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL) is jointly managed by the Northern Kuuku Ya’u Kanthanampu Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC Land Trust and the Queensland Government in accordance with an Indigenous Management Agreement and other land management arrangements. Read more about joint management of Cape York Peninsula national parks.

Tourism information links

Nature's Powerhouse Visitor Information Centre
www.cooktownandcapeyork.com
Cooktown Botanic Gardens, Cooktown QLD 4895
ph (07) 4069 6004
email

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
1 May 2018