Iron Range National Park is now called Kutini-Payamu National Park. Within the National Park the Iron Range is the Lockhart River Resources Reserve, the Scrubby Creek mining site, and the Lockhart River Aboriginal Reserve. It is also referred to as Cape York Aboriginal land or CYPAL. The national park status here is very important because it protects the largest area of lowland rainforest in Australia. Luckily, most of the rainforest is still in a pristine state, so please respect it and the original land owners, who still live at Lockhart River. Use caution in all waterways within Kutini-Payamu National Park as Estuarine Crocodiles live throughout this region. Even though these are the more docile species of crocodile, you don’t want to be in the water with them!
Termite Mounds Kutini-Payamu Iron Range National Park, Queensland. Courtesy of Tourism Queensland
Aboriginal History of Kutini-Payamu National Park
Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival Photo Credit: OzOutback.com.au
Kutini-Payamu National Park Welcome Sign Photo Credit: Flickr
In 2011, the national park’s name was changed from Iron Range to Kutini-Payamu. It is a very remote area of Queensland and was once home to the Kuuku Ya’u people including the Kungkay and the Kanthanampu groups. When visiting here, you will also notice relics from the region’s gold mining past in the 1930’s and 1940’s near Gordon Creek and the abandoned military sites close to the coast. This area was used as a staging post by American troops during World War II.
Getting to Iron Range National Park
Port Douglas Car Hire Map Photo Credit: Budget.com.au
Iron Range National Park Map Photo Credit: Google Maps
Iron Range National Park is in the Far North of Queensland on the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula. You can hire a car or 4WD vehicle in Port Douglas before heading north. Click on the link to get a quick and easy rate quote for the best pricing on vehicle rentals in northern Queensland. When you have your own car rental it gives you the freedom to see the sights on your own schedule. While in the area, check out the other holiday ideas from our blog:
Things to Do in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park
Quintell Beach in Lockhart River Photo Credit: Wikipedia
It is important to note when planning to travel here that there is a distinct wet season and dry season in the north. The climate here is tropical and it is pretty much hot and humid all year long. The wet season is also monsoon season and runs from November to April. During this time, parts of the Cape York Peninsula are almost uninhabitable. Most of the annual rainfall over 2,000 millimetres) falls in the Iron Range in those 6 months. The dry season is from May to October and some cooler temperatures can be experienced in the higher areas. The main things to do in Kutini-Payamu National Park include bird watching, hiking, and camping.
Bird Watching in Kutini-Payamu Iron Range National Park
Kutini-Payamu National Park is a haven for bird lovers and bird watching is one of the pass times here. It is an Important Bird Area as declared by BirdLife International. It is one of the few known sites were the endangered buff-breasted button quail is still found. It is also home to an isolated population of southern cassowary birds. There are a number of other birds that make the rainforest home or migrate through this region each year. In addition to the birds, keep on the lookout for butterflies while here. More than 60% of Australia’s butterflies can be round at Iron Range.
Walking and Hiking in Kutini-Payamu National Park
Kutini-Payamu Iron Range National Park Photo Credit: Wikipedia
There is a 10 km walking trail along the Claudie River call the Old Coen Track. The track starts at the banks of the Claudie River and talks you through rainforest and open woodland. It includes a viewing platform at Mount Tozer. Allow 4 to 5 hours for the trek, which is 20 km round trip. There is a second short marked walking trail at Chilli Beach. It is 729 metres return and takes about 10 minutes. Beware of the waters at Chilli Beach, estuarine crocodiles are present. This is the only place in the park where fishing is allowed; however obviously extreme caution must be used. Remember to take plenty of water and safety supplies with you when walking or hiking through Kutini-Payamu National Park because there are very little facilities available.
Camping in Kutini-Payamu National Park
Giant Ficus, Kutini-Payamu Iron Range National Park, Queensland. Courtesy of Tourism Queensland
Kutini-Payamu National Park Campsites Map Photo Credit: ExploreAustralia.net.au
There are 4 different campsites within Kutini-Payamu National Park. A permit is required to camp anywhere within the national park. All the campsites are primitive camping with minimal facilities so it is recommended only for experienced, self-sufficient campers. All visitors must bring their own water and supplies with them. If you would like to stay overnight in Kutini-Payamu National Park but camping is not your style, then accommodations are available at Portland House, which is a beachfront holiday house for hire on Portland Roads. The four campsites are the Gordon Creek camping area, the Rainforest camping area, Chilli Beach camping area, and Cooks Hut Camping area.
- Cooks Hut Campsite: This is located on the banks for the Claudie River. It is a combination of dirt and grass. There is a hybrid toilet, but no other facilities. There are 4 defined campsites within the space and it is also near the Rainforest camping area. Cooks Hut Campsite is located near the intersection of Portland Roads and Lockhart River Roads.
- Gordon Creek Camping Area: This campground is situated on the banks of the Gordon Creek. It is located at Portland Roads Road approximately 8 km north of the ranger’s headquarters station and less than a km west of Cooks Hut Campsite.
- Chilli Beach Camping Area: This campsite can be reached by 4WD off of Portland Roads Road. Chilli Beach is on the north-east boundary of Kutini-Payamu National Park.
- Rainforest Camping Area: This campsite is also only accessible by 4WD. It is near the Cooks Hut Campsite on the banks of the Claudie River. It is similar to the Cooks Hut campgrounds, which are a combination of dirt and grass with 4 defined campsites within the space.