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Lakeland

Lakeland is a relatively recent settlement, built to service the agricultural activities in Laura Valley. Lying at the junction of the Mulligan Way to Cooktown and the Peninsula Development Road, the business community caters for passing traffic with two petrol outlets. One is situated at the intersection with a large roadhouse where you can buy food. The other is at a coffee shop behind the hotel which has accommodation.

If you visit the coffee shop, have a cappuccino and stock up on ground coffee or beans grown locally at Lakeland coffee plantation. There are also limited groceries, maps and books specialising in Cape York history. Other accommodation options include the caravan park.

Lakeland's name does not relate to the terrain. The settlement was named after Billy Lakeland who first marked trails to Coen and Batavia (Wenlock). Not a bad chap to know - he found gold and wolfram on the Peninsula as well.

Lakeland
Lakeland, Cook Area
Queensland
Australia

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Mount Cook National Park

Cooktown, Cook Area
Free Entry
This park features the rugged Mount Cook, which provides a scenic backdrop to the town of Cooktown. Rainforest and tropical woodlands with a heath understorey cover the upper slopes and sheltered gullies. Mount Cook was named after Lieutenant James Cook, navigator and explorer, who had repaired the Endeavour in 1770 where Cooktown now stands, after damaging it on the reefs off Cape Tribulation. Take the steep two kilometre walk to the lookout for scenic views over the Great Barrier Reef and coastline. Climb one kilometre further to Mount Cook's summit. See large granite boulders covered with ferns. Look for tree snakes and lace monitors. Take binoculars for birdwatching.

Fitzroy Island National Park

Fitzroy Island, Cairns Area
Free Entry
This island national park, located close to the mainland, is rugged with diverse landscapes featuring granite outcrops, open woodlands, rainforest, mangroves and coral beaches. The island and its surrounding waters form part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Fitzroy Island, named by Lieutenant James Cook, has an interesting history as a quarantine station for the Palmer River Goldfields in the late 1800s, and later as part of an Aboriginal mission growing fruit and vegetables. Explore the rainforested Secret Garden track (one kilometre return) or walk to Nudey Beach (1.2 kilometres return) to relax in the shade, swim and snorkel. Tackle the 3.6 kilometre return Lighthouse track to the lighthouse, which offers spectacular views of the ocean and, in winter, migrating humpback whales. Look for birds such as rose-crowned fruit-doves and metallic starlings and large goannas. Challenge yourself on the 3.6 kilometre return boulder-strewn Summit track which climbs through woodland to the island's summit (269 metres) where slabs of granite and windswept casuarina trees frame magnificent views over the island, surrounding reefs and mainland.

Mount Lewis National Park

Julatten, Mareeba Area
Free Entry
Mount Lewis, one high rainforest-clad mountains of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, is a treasure trove of unique and endemic wildlife. The area between the Mount Lewis and Atherton Tableland is especially diverse. The beautiful upland rainforest dates back to the evolution of flowering plants on earth. Some flowers are indicative of Australia's link with the ancient landmass of Gondwana. Drive a four-wheel-drive or ride a mountain bike on the 56 kilometre (return) Mount Lewis Road. Starting at the entrance to the park, the rainforest drive climbs to over 1200 metres before following the contours around the chain of peaks that form the watershed of the Mossman and Mitchell rivers. Picnic at one of the creek crossings. Look for the Mount Lewis spiny crayfish in the creeks and blue-faced parrot-finches in grassy clearings and glades. Spot red-bellied black snakes basking on the road and huge blue earthworms coming to the ground's surface during wet weather.

Mount Whitfield Conservation Park

Cairns, Cairns Area
Free Entry
The rainforest-clad slopes of the Whitfield Range form a dramatic backdrop to Cairns, offering bushwalking opportunities close to the city. Walking tracks through Mount Whitfield Conservation Park climb through shady rainforest gullies and dry open forest and grasslands with cycads to the top of Mount Lumley Hill. Enjoy the short but steep 1.5 kilometre Red Arrow circuit walk through rainforest up to a lookout with views scenic views over the Cairns coastline. Add the more demanding Blue Arrow circuit for a 6.6 kilometre (four to five hour) walk, with an optional 400 metre sidetrack to a lookout at Mount Lumley Hill (325 metres), offering expansive views to the Cairns hinterland and out to Green Island. Picnic at the lookout between your circuit walks. Look for mound-building brush-turkeys, orange-footed scrubfowl and graceful honeyeaters .
Free Entry
In this park, an imposing mountain range of massive granite boulders is home to unique wildlife and rich in Aboriginal culture. Located near Cooktown at the northern end of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Black Mountain is imposing mountain range of black granite boulders, some the size of houses, stacked seemingly precariously on one another. The wet tropics and drier savanna woodland regions meet in this park, and an unusual range of wildlife finds refuge here, including species that are found nowhere else. Known as Kalkajaka (meaning 'place of spear'), Black Mountain is an important meeting place for the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people and is the source of many Dreaming stories. Stop at the Black Mountain lookout on the Mulligan Highway on the eastern side of the crest of the Black Mountain boulder field. Signs at the lookout tell of the geology, natural environment, culture and history of the area. There is no other access to the park. Do not risk injury by venturing onto the boulder field. People have been injured and have died trying to climb Black Mountain.

Cape Melville National Park

Cooktown, Cook Area
Free Entry
This beautiful yet rugged park features the rocky headlands of Cape Melville, massive tumbled granite boulders of the Melville Range, sandy beaches of Bathurst Bay, sandstone escarpments of Altanmoui Range and inland dunes. Rainforest, mangroves, heathlands, woodlands and grasslands are found here. The isolation of this park means that many plants and animals are found only here and nowhere else in the world; the best-known of these endemic species is the foxtail palm. Bush camp on the eastern side of Bathurst Bay near Cape Melville in one of several camping areas along the beach, or at Ninian Bay camping area on the park's eastern coast. Walk along the sandy beaches of Bathurst Bay or take the short track up to the Mahina monument that commemorates lives lost in the pearling fleet disaster of 1899. Fish and boat in the adjacent marine parks. Take your mountain bike or trail-bike along the park's internal roads and tracks. This park is extremely remote and visitors must be well prepared and entirely self-sufficient. Be aware of estuarine crocodiles (be croc wise) and dangerous stinging jellyfish. Camp only in the designated areas.

Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park

Cape Tribulation, Douglas Area
Free Entry
In this section of the Daintree National Park, steep rainforested mountains sweep down to long sandy beaches and turquoise coastal waters. One of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, this park is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and the coastal waters are within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. At Cape Tribulation, rainforest meets reef, and two world heritage areas collide, in spectacular style! This section of the park stretches in a narrow strip from the Daintree River in the south to the Bloomfield River in the north and the dense upland rainforest that cloaks the coastal range contains many ancient plants and animals. Camp at Noah Beach camping area and explore the park on walks ranging from the 650 metre return Jindalba boardwalk through tropical lowland rainforest, to the 1.2 kilometre return Marrja boardwalk through rainforest and mangroves. Experienced and well-prepared bushwalkers can tackle the 7 kilometre return Mount Sorrow ridge trail. Keep an eye out for cassowaries and drive slowly through cassowary territory. Remember to be croc wise around creeks and beaches.
Free Entry
This iconic remote park has a rich and diverse landscape that features spectacular wetlands and river systems. In the north, grasslands and woodlands, wetlands, coastal estuaries, mangroves and mudflats, are prominent, while in the south, sandstone hills and escarpments dominate the landscape. Lakefield is a wildlife refuge for threatened species including the red goshawk, Lakeland Downs mouse and spectacled hare-wallaby. Hann and Kalpowar crossings are two of the many significant Aboriginal cultural heritage sites found in this landscape. Bush camp beside a waterhole at one of many camping areas. Take your pick from popular busy camping areas with all facilities or camp sites that are remote bush getaways. Visit the Old Laura Homestead for a brush with the pastoral history of the cape. Fish for barramundi in the waterholes. Take your binoculars and marvel at the diversity of waterbirds at Low Lake. Admire the beautiful lotus-lilies carpeting Red and White Lily lagoons. Explore the Kalpowar discovery walking track or take your bicycle or trail-bike along the network of internal roads throughout the park. This is croc country so remember to be croc wise!

Mossman Gorge Centre

Mossman, Douglas Area
From AU$8.5 - 8.5
Visit Mossman Gorge and experience the Daintree World Heritage Rainforest with pristine waterfalls, mountains and vivid flora and fauna, all the while getting lost in its enchanting stories and rich Indigenous heritage. Begin your trip by paying a visit to the Mossman Gorge Centre. Peruse the Indigenous art work, enjoy a light refreshment at Mayi café and book yourself onto one of the award-winning Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks, The walks are conducted by the traditional owners of the Gorge, the Kuku Yalanji people. Be taken on a journey steeped in heritage as you uncover their ancient culture and traditions. After a visit to the Centre, a shuttle bus will transport you into the heart of the Gorge where the adventure begins through this unique wilderness. Whether at your own pace on one of the self guided walks through the National Park or with an expert local indigenous guide on the Dreamtime Walks the Gorge is guaranteed to leave you enthused and inspired.
Free Entry
Michaelmas Cay, part of Michaelmas and Upolo Cays National Park, is one of the most important seabird breeding sites in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Michaelmas Cay is a small, low sand cay, covered by grasses and low-growing plants. Upolu Cay is a low, unvegetated sand cay. From the fenced beach access area on Michaelmas Cay, watch seabirds nesting and tending their young without disturbing them. Marvel at the sight of up to 30,000 seabirds occupying the cay at peak nesting periods during summer. Look for sooty terns, common noddies and crested terns. Admire huge flocks of seabirds filling the sky. Go snorkelling to explore the diverse surrounding reefs. Public moorings are provided for private boats.
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