Danbulla National Park and State Forest

Getting there and getting around

 

Danbulla National Park and Danbulla State Forest are on the central part of the Atherton Tableland. The Danbulla forest drive is a 28km gravel road, suitable for conventional vehicles, that runs through the park and forest. The eastern entrance to the drive is on Boar Pocket Road, just near the top of the Gillies Highway, about 60km or just over one hour’s drive from Cairns. The western entrance to Danbulla forest drive is reached via the township of Kairi, which is about 80km from Cairns via the Gillies Highway, and about 90km from Cairns via the Kennedy Highway and Mareeba. The Atherton Tableland is also accessible via the Palmerston Highway from Innisfail and via the Mossman-Mt Molloy Road from Port Douglas.

 

Road conditions
Take care when driving. The Danbulla forest drive is narrow, unsealed and has sharp curves and rough surfaces. Be aware of other vehicles, logging trucks, pedestrians and wildlife on the road. For any road access problems, please contact the Atherton Shire Council.

 

Wheelchair accessibility
Facilities at the Platypus, Kauri Creek, School Point and The Chimneys day-use areas and Platypus, Downfall Creek, Kauri Creek, School Point and Fong On Bay camping areas are wheelchair-accessible.

 

Park features

 

The Danbulla forest drive

 

At least half a day should be set aside to explore the Danbulla area. Each site is unique, catering for the needs of a wide range of visitors. Choose a secluded camping site at School Point or let the kids kick a football around the grassed area at The Chimneys. Enjoy a short walk through the upland rainforest to Mobo Creek Crater or take time to marvel at the enormity of the Cathedral fig tree.

 

Danbulla forest

 

The Danbulla forest is a spectacular part of the Atherton Tablelands, covering 12,000ha between the Tinaroo and Lamb ranges, and bordering Lake Tinaroo. It includes eucalypt and acacia forests, pine plantations and Wet Tropics World Heritage rainforest.

 

Lake Tinaroo

 

Created by damming the Barron River, Lake Tinaroo was completed in 1958. It was the first large dam built primarily for irrigation in Queensland. Its construction opened up new areas to farming and allowed different crops to be trialled. It is now a multi-purpose storage dam providing a water supply for tableland towns, power generation, crop irrigation, stock watering and recreation.

 

Camping and accommodation

 

Camping

 

The camping areas along the Danbulla forest drive have varying booking arrangements. In some areas, campsites must be pre-booked, while at others campers can self-register on arrival. In yet other areas, both booking methods are combined. Campers need to check the booking requirements before travelling the forest drive.

 

Platypus camping area
Pre-booking of camping sites is required. Book online.
This joint camping and day-use area is situated in a hoop pine plantation that was established in 1971. It has wheelchair-accessible toilets and open fireplaces. Popular with anglers, this area provides an interesting view of the dam wall. Spend the night in the camping area and enjoy the lake’s dawn colours.

 

Downfall Creek camping area
Pre-booking of camping sites is required. Book online.
This popular camping area looks over tall pine plantations and native forests and has uninterrupted water views. Campsites are separated by native vegetation that attract birds and butterflies. Wheelchair-accessible toilets and open fireplaces are provided. Enjoy the 2.4km regeneration walk through the forest and plantations to the Kauri Creek camping area.

 

Kauri Creek camping area
Pre-booking of camping sites is required. Book online.
This camping area is on the edge of a quiet inlet that is well suited to a peaceful swim or exploration by canoe. Wheelchair-accessible toilets, open fireplaces and cold showers are provided. Take the 600m, easy walk along the link track through the forest to the Kauri Creek day-use area.

 

School Point camping area
Pre-booking of camping sites is required. Book online.
This area was the site of the Euramoo State School prior to the construction of the dam. The camping area is 1km from the forest drive and has a limited number of attractive sites with wonderful views of the dam, pine plantations and landscaped surrounds. Wheelchair-accessible toilets and open fireplaces are provided.

 

Fong-On Bay camping area
Located 4.5km from the forest drive, this large camping area is favoured by water-skiers and is able to accommodate groups of all sizes. Most of the camping sites along this peninsula have water access and views. Beyond the lake, rolling hills, forests and pine plantations form a picturesque backdrop. Wheelchair-accessible toilets and open fireplaces are provided.

 

Other accommodation

 

There is a range of holiday accommodation around Lake Tinaroo and in the various towns across the tablelands. For more information see the tourism information links below.

 

Things to do

 

Walking

 

(3) Regeneration walk — 2.4km one way (1 hour) Grade: Easy
This easy walk links the Downfall Creek and Kauri Creek camping areas. Listen for the raucous calls of the chowchilla as you pass from native forests into tall pine plantations. This area was used for dairy farming before the dam was built, and then was either left to regenerate or planted with pines. The forest that you now enjoy is the result of a natural revegetation process that has been occurring since 1959. Informative signs along the walk explain more about how this process occurs as well as what is involved in the establishment of forestry plantations.

 

(4) Link track — 600m one way (15min) Grade: Easy
This short walk links the Kauri Creek camping and day-use areas. Stop for a while at Kauri Creek and watch the clear water gently flow past you on its way to Lake Tinaroo. This area of Danbulla is alive with birds so take your binoculars and walk quietly.

 

(6) Kauri Creek rainforest walk — 6.1km circuit (2.5hours) Grade: Moderate
Start this circuit track at the Kauri Creek day-use area. The first part of the walk winds through rainforest along the bank of Kauri Creek. The track then crosses the creek (be prepared to get your feet wet!) and passes through forest before joining an old logging road. You have another chance to dip your toes in the sandy-bottomed Kauri Creek before joining the return track. This track is steep and narrow in places and should only be undertaken by fit and healthy walkers.

 

(10) Lake Euramoo — 500m circuit (10min) Grade: Easy
Lake Euramoo is a maar — a dumbbell-shaped volcanic crater formed about 10,000 years ago by two massive explosions resulting from super heating of groundwater. An observation platform affords excellent views of the crystal clear water and the wide array of birdlife. An easy circuit track winds through the rainforest providing occasional glimpses of the lake through the trees.

 

(12) Mobo Creek Crater — 630m circuit (15min) Grade: Moderate
A few kilometres from the eastern end of the drive you will find the Mobo Creek Crater. The geology of this crater has perplexed scientists for many years and several theories exist as to how it was formed. You can draw your own conclusions as you enjoy the circuit walk that passes through upland rainforest, following the edge of the crater. Trackside labels help you to identify some of the many tree species and quiet visitors may spot a platypus in the creek.

 

Picnic and day-use areas

 

(2) Platypus day-use area
This joint camping and day-use area is in a hoop pine plantation that was established in 1971. Popular with water skiers and anglers, this site provides an interesting view of the dam wall. The picnic area is separate from the campsite and is able to accommodate several groups. Wheelchair-accessible toilets, picnic tables and open fireplaces are provided.

 

(5) Kauri Creek day-use area
Hidden in pine plantations and native forest, this small day-use area is ideal for a family stopover. Children can paddle in the shallow sandy-bottomed creek while parents enjoy the facilities in the shaded surrounds. Wheelchair-accessible toilets, picnic tables and open fireplaces are provided.

 

(8) School Point day-use area
This joint camping and day-use area was the site of the Euramoo State School prior to the construction of the dam. The small day-use area is located on the lake foreshore, 1km from the forest drive. Secluded picnicking nodes offer views over the water with a background of pine plantations. A large grassed area allows ample space for children to play while replantings of native trees attract butterflies and birds. Wheelchair-accessible toilets, picnic tables and open fireplaces are provided.

 

(11) The Chimneys day-use area
Following World War I, land in the Danbulla area was offered to returned soldiers for clearing and farming. Settlers battled to make a living from the small blocks, with poor soil fertility and native animals hampering their efforts. Many blocks, like the one on which this day-use area is located, were abandoned. The chimneys are all that remain of the house, built in 1924, and stand taller than the surrounding tree line. This day-use area has picnic shelters and tables, gas barbecues, wheelchair-accessible toilets and a large grassed area that would suit large family groups. Dogs are permitted on a leash.

 

Lookouts and places of interest

 

(1) Platypus Rock lookout
Not far from the dam wall is Platypus Rock lookout. Climb the steps onto the huge granite boulders for a unique view of the plantation and forest canopy and a glimpse of the lake through windswept branches. Dogs are permitted on a leash.

 

(9) Schoolhouse
The old Euramoo State School, originally located at School Point, was moved to this location in the 1960s. In the early 1980s, it became the residence of the Forestry Overseer based at Danbulla. Today the restored building is a fine example of a school from yesteryear and is used as a base by educational groups. The grounds and facilities can be used by groups who have obtained a permit from QPWS.

 

(13) Cathedral Fig Tree
At the eastern end of the forest drive is one of the most impressive strangler fig trees you will ever see. A boardwalk around the tree helps to protect the fragile roots and prevent soil compaction, while providing great views up the trunk and into the canopy of this rainforest giant. Dawn chorus at the Cathedral Fig is one of the best on the tableland — be sure to bring your camera and binoculars.

 

Driving

 

(7) Tinaroo Range road network (Mt Edith and Kauri Creek Roads)
This 43km road circuit climbs 450m into the Lamb Range and offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of rainforest, dry open forest and tall wet sclerophyll forest as well as many creeks and streams. It takes at least 2hrs to drive and a full day to cycle the network. Permits are required for both these activities and can be obtained from QPWS offices.

 

Fishing

 

A stocked impoundment permit is required to fish in Lake Tinaroo. Bag and size limits also apply. Details are available from the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

 

Viewing wildlife

 

Wildlife in Danbulla forest includes many endangered and rare species. You may catch a glimpse of the endangered northern bettong as it searches for truffles. In the rainforest sections, keep an eye out for the rare green-eyed tree frog and the well-camouflaged Boyd’s forest dragon. The variety of

 

Things to know before you go

 

Essentials to bring
>>Bring drinking water.
>>Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen, a hat and a long-sleeved shirt, even on cloudy days.

 

Climate and weather

 

Danbulla National Park and State Forest are 800m above sea level, and the lower humidity and temperatures are a pleasant escape from the coastal extremes. Maximum summer temperatures are around 30 degrees Celsius while winter temperatures can fall below 10 degrees Celsius at night, when frosts are not uncommon. Most of the rain falls during the wet season, between October and March. For more information see the tourism information links below.

 

Further information
QPWS Atherton
83 Main St, Atherton
PO Box 975, Atherton QLD 4883
ph (07) 4091 1844
fax (07) 4091 3281

 

QPWS Cairns Information Centre
5B Sheridan St, Cairns
PO Box 2066, Cairns QLD 4870
ph (07) 4046 6600
fax (07) 4046 6751

 

EPA Customer Service Centre
160 Ann Street, Brisbane
PO Box 15155, City East QLD 4002
ph (07) 3227 8185
fax (07) 3227 8749

 

Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service

 

 

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