Range National Park is the best national park in Cape York.
If you only
plan to visit one national park on your Cape York trip, make it Iron
This is the only national park in Cape York that protects typical Cape York rainforests,
contains so many of Cape York's unique
plant, bird and animal species, and
While there are pockets of other rainforests in Cape York, many of them
are not very easily accessible.
And while the
rainforests of Daintree
just south of Cape York are at least as lush and extensive, it is not
the typical Cape York rainforest.Daintree is a
so-called Wet Tropics
rainforest - it gets more rain, but it doesn't have most of Cape York's unique plants and
Iron Range NP
is well known for its
Southern parts cover
largest area of lowland
rainforest that remains in Australia. Many species
from the ancient Gondwana
continent. Some examples are ant
plants, and many others, including some carnivorous plants.
Range National Park is also one of the best places to see Cape York's
that are found in PNG and not in the rest of Australia. Some of
known ones are cuscus
tree pythons. Both are best seen in darkness so
bring a good
famous birds that Cape York only shares with New Guinea are eclectus
and Iron Range National Park is one of the better places to see those,
too. Other rare
birds include red bellied pittas, Papuan frogmouths
and frill necked monarchs.
old days when parrot smuggling was a more common activity, a
tree in the
Range National Park
became known as Smugglers
Tree. There were
some parrot nests high up in that tree, and you can still
see the spikes in its trunk that were used for climbing up to the nests.
to See the Smugglers Tree
tree was knocked down by a tropical
cyclone many years ago.
It is now
laying on the ground but you can still visit it (sooner
rather than later, it's rotting quickly like everything in rainforest)
on one of the
only two bushwalking
tracks in Iron
- the Old Coen Road
The 5km Old Coen
Road Walking Track starts just south of the park entrance,
takes you past some
rainforest creeks and through some dense rainforest.
only other bushwalk
is a small track in the bush on Chili Beach.
are a few camping grounds in this national park.
in the southern, main part of the park, are a few beautiful ones like
the Rainforest Campground,
Cooks Hut Camping Area,
and Gordon Creek Camping
of the main part of the national park, past the heathlands and open
forests near Portland
another rainforest section at Chili Beach, which is also
part of this national park.
a nice large camping area, which is beautiful but can be windy.
two walks in Iron Range National Park (Kutini-Payamu).
Iron Range bushwalks
are not nearly as long and challening as some of the southern ones, but
they are nice strolls through some beautiful rainforest and give you
good chances to spot
some of Cape
York's unique wildlife.There is the shorter Chili Beach walk, and the
longer Old Coen Road bush walking track.
Beach Walking Track
first one is a small walking
the bush on Chili Beach.
Its one end is on your left hand side just as you drive in. And the
other end is near the northern
It is only a short track
can get quite bad so be better prepared than I was - with
a mozzy spray.
Old Coen Road
walk is longer and better. It
goes through the main section of the national park, and is 5km one way.
the Old Coen Road
Walking Track. Its northern end is at the Rainforest Campground.
It first crosses a creek and then goes through some dense tropical rainforest.
Then it goes through some more
And then it comes to the
of the walk - the old famous Smugglers
The end of the walk
is south of the
Iron Range national park
walk back along the road
or maybe have someone to pick you up
here if 10km is too long to walk.
taken by Smugglers Tree before I ever saw it.
and I was really amazed about all the beautiful photos of Cape York
birds, plantsanimals in that
book, and more than
anything I was taken by the story of Smugglers Tree.
It is a simply presented but well written book by a reasearcher of
Eclectus Parrots who
worked in these rainforests, and because
I have always had strong feelings against parrot smuggling, I
never forgot the story. Then I
went to Iron Range
but I could
see the tree anywhere. I stayed for weeks looking for Cape York's
driving around, spotlighting night time, bird watching day time..
until, the last day before I would leave, I realised I hadn't done the
park's only long-ish bushwalking
So the following morning I was walking along the track, and suddenly, just a bit off the
track, I saw ... the tree!
I could not believe my eyes. It
wasn't "standing deep in the Iron Range rainforest" as stated in the
book, "home to eclectus parrots and metallic starlings..."
It was laying down,
and what I later found out, knocked down by a tropical cyclone.
But the spikes were there.
The same spikes that I saw on the photos in the book, the spikes that
were used for getting up to parrot nests to steal the eggs and babies..
As described in the book, they only emerge half way out, as the tree
has grown out around the spikes.
just standing there
and thinking back to the book, leaving my walking partner
totally forgotten and by now looking for me... it was so amazing to
by the Smugglers Tree when I least expected.
You can find the tree
near the southern end of the Old Coen Walking Track, which
starts just south of the park entrance (there is a sign - of the track
- not the tree - on the main road).
But because decomposing is quick in tropical
rainforests, it's only
matter of time before the only place to have a look at the tree is in
the book, Life in the Cape York
this 50 pages
guide totally for FREE.
contains information that helps you getting started with planning of your trip.
You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you
should take, how to get
there and get
to stay (general info), what
will it cost..
and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.
This complete 300 pages
travel guide is all you need before and during your trip. Besides the
background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all
the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact
detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks,
at least 30 guaranteed FREE
camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to
the Cape), at least 40 best
swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things -
from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception,
how to deal with the national
parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits
and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery
gear by my partner
Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old
Not to mention locals'
tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)
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