- 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
The park is located less than 5km from Cairns city centre. Access into the park is by foot only. Walking tracks start from trail heads on Collins Avenue—one near the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre and one to the east of the Tanks Art Centre.
The city bus service provides transport to and from the entrance to Mount Whitfield Conservation Park on Collins Avenue. See Sunbus for timetables.
There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks in Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.
View of Barron River, Mount Whitfield Conservation Park. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government
Mount Whitfield Conservation Park is a forested range surrounded by urban development. Rainforest predominates but there are also patches of eucalypt forest and grasslands with cycads. Situated near the centre of a developing city, it is a popular place for hikers and local townsfolk looking for somewhere to escape the pressures of daily life.
The park offers many opportunities for nature-based recreation and educational activities. Two linked circuit tracks lead energetic visitors up the forested slopes to lookouts which provide views of Cairns city and suburbs, Trinity Bay, the rich, green, coastal mangrove forests lining the Barron River, the airport and the northern beaches.
- Read more about the nature, culture and history of Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.
Camping is not permitted in Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.
There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Cairns. For more information see the tourism information links.
The Red Arrow circuit walk in Mount Whitfield Conservation Park. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government
The Blue Arrow circuit walk in Mount Whitfield Conservation Park. Photo: Stella Martin, Queensland Government
A noisy pitta. Photo: WTMA.
Two linked circuit walks ascend the slopes of the Whitfield Range, providing views over the city and to the north. The tracks are popular with joggers and, particularly the Red Arrow circuit, can be busy at times. Please be courteous to others using these tracks.
Walking tracks start from trail heads on Collins Avenue—one near the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre and one to the east of the Tanks Art Centre. For a map of the walking tracks visit Cairns Regional Council - Mt Whitfield Conservation Park.
Red Arrow circuit (grade: moderate)
Distance: 1.5km return
Time: allow about 1hr walking time.
Details: begin the walk from either the trail head near the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre or to the east of the Tanks Art Centre. After about 300m from either starting point, the tracks come together at a large stand of bamboo.
From this point the track becomes a circuit. The right banch passes through an arch of the towering fishpole bamboo. Past the bamboo, the track continues uphill through open woodland to two lookouts, providing great views of the city, the coast and the busy Cairns airport.
The left branch of the circuit passes through a shady rainforest gully. Look for signs along the track that identify some of the interesting trees.
Blue Arrow circuit (grade: moderate)
Distance: 6. km return
Time: allow about 4– hrs walking time.
Details: this walk climbs to over 30 m altitude on a track that is sometimes steep and narrow and requires a moderate level of fitness. Walkers should allow plenty of time to complete the walk before it gets dark—do not start after 2.0 pm.
The Blue Arrow circuit starts about half way around the Red Arrow circuit. The track begins with a steep 600m climb to a lookout with views of the coast north of Cairns and a glimpse of Lumley Hill. A short distance beyond the lookout the track divides into a circuit, which can be walked in either direction. The right branch passes through rainforest and open grassland before climbing steeply towards Lumley Hill. The left branch climbs through rainforest on stairs created by the roots of rainforest trees.
Halfway around the Blue Arrow circuit, a short, steep 400m side track climbs to the summit of Lumley Hill, 325m in altitude. The summit offers expansive views stretching inland to Red Peak Mountain and off-shore to Green Island.
Picnic and day-use areas
There are picnic shelters at the top of the Red Arrow circuit and at the lookout 600m from the beginning of the Blue Arrow circuit. The nearby Flecker Gardens and Centenary Lakes also provide oportunities for picnicking.
Mount Whitfield is a good place for birdwatching. The first part of the track is a favourite hangout for two interesting ground-dwelling birds—the Australian brush-turkey and orange-footed scrubfowl. Buff-breasted paradise-kingfishers may be seen in the summer months and shy noisy pittas may be spotted in the denser, quieter rainforest sections. Listen for their distinctive 'walk-to-work' call.
Red-legged pademelons (small wallabies) browse in the forest, and swamp and agile wallabies are sometimes seen.
Read more about the nature, culture and history of Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.
Other things to do
Australia’s Gondwanan Heritage Garden is between the entrance to Mount Whitfield Conservation Park and Flecker Garden. Signs along this short, flat walk explain evolutionary plant development. The Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre is near the entrance to Mount Whitfield Conservation Park. See Cairns Regional Council for more information.
Visit Flecker Garden on Collins Avenue.
Essentials to bring
To ensure an enjoyable visit please remember to bring:
- a hat, sunscreen and plenty of drinking water
- sturdy shoes, particularly for the Blue Arrow circuit
- insect repellent and suitable clothing to protect against insect bites.
Mount Whitfield Conservation Park is open 24hrs a day. Walk in daylight hours only. Do not start the Blue Arrow circuit after 2.00pm.
Domestic animals are not permitted in Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.
Climate and weather
During the wet season, from December to April, there are frequent, heavy downpours. Maximum temperatures through the wet season generally range from 27°C to 33°C, with high humidity.
The cooler, drier months, from May to September, are the best time for walking. The weather is pleasantly warm during this time, with reduced humidity and maximum temperatures averaging 26°C.
Both walks are strenuous. Only fit walkers should tackle the Blue Arrow circuit and should allow plenty of time to return before it gets dark. Wear sensible clothes, walking shoes or boots and carry plenty of water—water is not available on the tracks.
In an emergency, phone Triple Zero (000). If you have difficulty connecting to 000 from your mobile phone, try dialling 112.
For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.
- Stay on walking tracks at all times—this reduces the risk of injury, prevents disturbance to native vegetation and reduces erosion.
- Take rubbish home and help by picking up rubbish left by others.
- Leave your pets at home. Domestic animals are not permitted in Mount Whitfield Conservation Park.
- Do not chase, scare of feed animals.
- Everything in the park is protected. Do not remove plant material.
See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.
Mount Whitfield Conservation Park was gazetted as a conservation park in 1989. The park is managed jointly by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Cairns Regional Council for the purposes of nature conservation and nature-based recreation.
Cairns and Tropical North Visitor Information Cenre
For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.