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About Palmer Goldfield

Getting there and getting around

Access from the east is via Whites Creek Road. Photo: Queensland Government

Access from the east is via Whites Creek Road. Photo: Queensland Government

Dog Leg Crossing on the Palmer River. Photo: Queensland Government

Dog Leg Crossing on the Palmer River. Photo: Queensland Government

Tracks within the park are narrow and rough. Photo: Queensland Government

Tracks within the park are narrow and rough. Photo: Queensland Government

Map: Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve (PDF, 182K)

Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve is closed throughout the wet season every year from 1 December, reopening on Good Friday—roads into and on the park become impassable for extended periods and are closed to public access. These dates may vary depending on weather and road conditions, and roads may also be closed after heavy rain. Observe road closures and restrictions, as penalties can apply. Check park alerts and with Department of Transport and Main Roads or Cook Shire Council for local road conditions. The Bureau of Meteorology provides updated weather reports.

The reserve is 280km north-west of Cairns but the journey takes many hours by road. Access from the east is via the winding, undulating and unsealed Whites Creek Road. Turn off the Peninsula Developmental Road 67km north of Mount Carbine (17km south of the Palmer River Roadhouse)—allow three hours to travel the 71km to the reserve.

Access is possible from the north via the very rough Old Maytown-Laura Road (‘old coach road’) from Laura. This is an extremely challenging four-wheel-drive track, only suitable for experienced drivers with appropriate recovery gear—allow six hours for this route.

The park can also be accessed from the west via the Palmerville Road—check with Cook Shire Council for information about current conditions.

There is current mining activity in the reserve, with numerous side tracks leading to mining leases—stay on tracks that are signposted or marked on the map and be alert for other vehicles and machinery in the area.

This is a remote area. Tracks are rough and suitable for four-wheel-drive vehicles only. Travel is slow. Roads become impassable in the wetter months between October and April when flash flooding can occur and water can become scarce in the drier months. Check with Department of Transport and Main Roads for road conditions and the Bureau of Meteorology for updated weather reports.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities in this reserve.

Park features

The park has a rich mining history. Photo: Queensland Government

The park has a rich mining history. Photo: Queensland Government

Discover the prosperous and colourful history of the gold rush days protected in Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve. Today old mines, rusting machinery, Chinese alluvial workings and traces of the Maytown township are all that remain of the once thriving settlements which sprang up around the Palmer Goldfield over 100 years ago.

Following the discovery of payable alluvial gold on the Palmer River in 1873, would-be diggers flocked to the field in search of their fortunes. Within two years, an estimated 9000 people had arrived on the Palmer, a mecca for European and Chinese miners.

Camping and accommodation

The North Palmer River may be dry, depending on the time of year and annual rainfall. Photo: Queensland Government.

The North Palmer River may be dry, depending on the time of year and annual rainfall. Photo: Queensland Government.

Camping

Camping is permitted in the North Palmer River camping area. The camping area consists of two separate sections of river bank on the southern side of the North Palmer River. There are no facilities and campers need to be totally self-sufficient. Camping permits are required and must be booked in advance—fees apply. Your booking number must be displayed at your camp site. Please camp with minimal impact and take all rubbish with you when you leave.

Other accommodation

Camping and caravan parks can be found along the Peninsula Development Road at Palmer River Roadhouse, Lakeland, Mount Carbine and Laura. There is a greater range of holiday accommodation in and around Mossman and Cooktown. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Things to do

Charcoal burners used tea tree and ironbark fuel to produce charcoal for mine forges. Photo: Queensland Government

Charcoal burners used tea tree and ironbark fuel to produce charcoal for mine forges. Photo: Queensland Government

Walking

There are many historical sites to explore—visitors can walk around the ruins at the different sites, with care—see staying safe for more information. Prospecting, panning and metal detectors are not allowed There is a formed walking track (500m one way) to three remnant charcoal burners (see map (PDF, 182K)).

Driving

Tracks in the reserve are very rough and suitable only for experienced drivers with well-equipped, high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles. There is current mining activity in the reserve, with numerous side tracks leading to mining leases. Stay on tracks that are signposted or marked on the map and be alert for other vehicles and machinery in the area.

Viewing wildlife

The dry landscape supports open woodlands of scattered ironbark and bloodwood trees with paperbarks fringing the creeks. Grey-crowned babblers, pardalotes and finches are among the most common birds spotted in the area. During wet periods, waterbirds and waders such as herons, black-necked storks, Rajah shelducks and black ducks can be seen around the river. After rain, burrowing frogs emerge from the soil.

Things to know before you go

Views across the dry landscape of the park. Photo: Mick Cockburn, Queensland Government

Views across the dry landscape of the park. Photo: Mick Cockburn, Queensland Government

Essentials to bring

To ensure you have an enjoyable visit please remember to bring:

  • a first-aid kit
  • fresh water for drinking and washing
  • all the food you will require
  • all the fuel you will need for your vehicle, and essential spares and tools
  • a fuel stove
  • rubbish bags — bins are not provided
  • a shovel to bury human waste.

Opening hours

Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve is closed throughout the wet season every year from 1 December, reopening on Good Friday—roads into and on the park become impassable for extended periods and are closed to public access. These dates may vary depending on weather and road conditions, and roads may also be closed after heavy rain. Observe road closures and restrictions, as penalties can apply. Check park alerts and with Department of Transport and Main Roads or Cook Shire Council for local road conditions. The Bureau of Meteorology provides updated weather reports.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

Camping permits are required and must be booked in advance. Fees apply. 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 are not permitted in the reserve.

Climate and weather

The reserve is subject to flash flooding during the wetter months between December and April. Conditions can be extremely hot and humid, with temperatures reaching 42°C. In the winter months, from May to September, days are more pleasant and nights are cool. The Palmer and North Palmer rivers may be dry depending on the time of year you visit and annual rainfall, which can vary. For more information visit the Bureau of Meteorology or see the tourism information links.

Fuel and supplies

The closest fuel and supplies are at Mount Carbine and Palmer River Roadhouse, or Laura at the northern end of the Old Maytown-Laura Road. Larger towns are 192km south-west at Mossman and 193km north-east at Cooktown. For more information see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

  • Be careful exploring the reserve. Stay on tracks as signposted and marked on the map and be alert for other vehicles and machinery in the area.
  • Beware of previously mined areas, where open and collapsed shafts are common.
  • Always supervise children.
  • Avoid dehydration—carry and drink plenty of drinking water.
  • Take spare parts for your vehicle.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and a long-sleeved shirt, even on cloudy days.

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

Looking after the park

  • Stay on tracks that are signposted or marked on the map. Avoid travelling on unsealed roads during wet weather as roads can be severely damaged.
  • Leave all historical material where it is. Help keep Queensland's heritage intact.
  • Prospecting, panning and metal detectors are not allowed.
  • Leave domestic animals at home. Pets disturb native wildlife and other campers.
  • Plants and animals (dead or alive) are protected.
  • Rubbish bins are not provided. Do not bury rubbish—take it with you when you leave.
  • Camp and walk softly. Leave your camp site better than you found it.
  • Bury human waste and toilet paper at least 15cm deep and 100m from water bodies and campsites to guard against pollution and the spread of disease.

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

Park management

The area was proclaimed a reserve in 1986 to protect the historical remains. Today the Palmer Goldfield Resources Reserve is managed to preserve and present the rich mining and cultural heritage of the area. Joint management by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the department ensures mining interests and historical sites are considered. There are many active mining leases operating in the area.

Tourism information links

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see www.queenslandholidays.com.au

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
26 April 2017