Things to do in Cape Hillsborough National Park. A complete guide to the hikes, flora and fauna found in Cape Hillsborough – Queensland.
Cape Hillsborough National Park is found about 50km north-west of Mackay in Queensland, Australia. This lovely park is home to range of diverse habitats and differing terrain. From mangroves to rocky headlands and rainforest down to sandy beaches, there is a lot to see, do and explore. The wildlife is varied and plentiful too. Kangaroos, wallabies, echidna and all sorts of beautiful birds and butterflies exist everywhere corner you turn. With several tracks and trails, there’s no better way to experience all that Cape Hillsborough has to offer than hiking through this biodiverse national park.
Walks and wildlife in Cape Hillsborough National Park
Andrews Point Track
|Distance: 5.2km |
Trail Type: (return/circuit*)
Time: 1.5-2 hrs
Start Point: Southern end of the beach
Finish Point: Southern end of the beach*
* Depends on the tide – At low tide you can walk back along the beach, rather than retracing your steps saving over 2km of backtracking
We’ll begin with our favourite! Starting at the southern end of the beach, this steepish track offers an awesome array of views from several different lookouts. The most impressive for us was from the Twin Beaches Lookout. In one direction it looks look back over Cape Hillsborough Beach and Beachcomber Cove and in the other direction, out to Wedge Island and Orchid Rock. Coming up to this lookout around sunrise was absolutely stunning.
As we were to find out with all our Cape Hillsborough hikes, there were butterflies everywhere. Apparently the area is home to 25 different species. Coming up through the vine forest there was one in particular that was really abundant – the migratory Blue Tiger.
Continuing on, there’s a few more lookouts to enjoy. The aptly named Turtle Lookout lived up to its name! We saw several Sea Turtles swimming down below. Descending down by the Wedge Island causeway if tides permit, you can head out to the island (see Wedge Island section below) or make your way along the beach to complete the circuit. If the tide is in, retrace your steps and do it all again in reverse!
|Distance: 1.2km |
Trail Type: (circuit)
Start Point: Diversity Boardwalk Car Park on Cape Hillsborough Road
Finish Point: Diversity Boardwalk Car Park on Cape Hillsborough Road
This lovely little boardwalk takes you through some really diverse flora from mangroves to Melaleuca. With plenty of signage, it’s also a really informative walk showing how the Yuibera Aboriginal people utilised this area and these native plants in their everyday life.
And it’s not just the flora, there’s plenty of fauna too, with no shortage of birds and butterflies. As with our other walks during our August visit butterflies were plentiful, particularly the Common Crow and Blue Tiger.
A few colourful birds really caught our eye on this walk too. Olive-backed Sunbirds were abundant and we also saw the beautiful Wompoo Fruit-dove up in the canopy. We kept an eye out for the other equally beautiful Superb and Rose-crowned Fruit-doves as they are apparently regularly seen here too, but we had no luck with them.
|Distance: 2.2km |
Trail Type: (return/circuit*)
Time: 1 – 1.5hr
Start Point: Northern end of the public Picnic Area
Finish Point: Northern end of the public Picnic Area
* Depends on the tide – more on this below
Unlike the Andrew’s Point Track, this walk is more about the flora and fauna than the vistas. There are brief glimpses of views from atop the ridge but for most of the walk you are enveloped by lovely remnant rainforest.
Also known as the ‘Butterfly Walk’, it wasn’t hard to see why! Coming in winter, they were not only numerous but varied. There were lots of different species on show with the Common Crow the most prevalent. However our favourite was definitely this spectacular Orchard Swallowtail.
Purposefully timing our walk with a falling tide, we were able to complete this walk as a circuit returning via the beaches. Coming down from the ridge into the secluded cove that gives this walk it’s name and then continuing past Division Rocks along the sandy beach is a really nice scenic way to finish. The beach was literally covered in tiny sand pellets balled up by the numerous little Blue Soldier Crabs that were seemingly everywhere. We really had to watch were we stepped as they scuttled around us.
Note that during high tide the beach is inaccessible and you have to return the way you came.
Yuibera (Plant) Trail
|Distance: 1.2km |
Trail Type: Return/Circuit
Start Point: Yuibera (Plant) Trail Car Park on the Hidden Valley Road*
Finish Point: Yuibera (Plant) Trail Car Park on the Hidden Valley Road*
* Getting to the car park involves a 1km drive on Hidden Valley Road which is 4wd/high clearance vehicles only
As stated above, getting the 1km from Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park is for 4WD/high clearance vehicles only. But fear not, it’s a nice, easy walk if you’re without a 4WD. In fact ,we probably saw more wildlife on the walk along the road than we did on the Trail itself, especially Rainbow Bee-eaters.
As with the Diversity Boardwalk, this short walk also provides loads of info about the Yuibera Aboriginal people and the plants they used for food and medicine. Taking you along the coast and through both open woodland and rainforest, the varying vegetation is home to plenty of birds and butterflies like this Great (Varied) Eggfly.
The highlight for us on this walk was seeing the country’s most widespread native mammal. Just after starting on the track we heard some rustling in the woodland and were super excited to see the smallest Echidna we’ve ever seen materialise out the tree debris. Having just seen plenty of Duck-billed Platypus in Eungella National Park it was great to see Australia’s other mysterious Monotreme – the Short-beaked Echidna.
Cape Hillsborough’s Wedge Island
More of an add-on than a separate walk, as mentioned above if the tide is out you can make the short walk over to Wedge Island and Orchid Rock when you descend down from the Andrews Point Track. From the Island there are nice views back along the mainland.
About two hours either side of the low tide, a causeway materialises out of the blue as the tide falls, leaving an obvious walkway directly to Wedge Island. Just remember to keep an eye on the tides for your walk back. You don’t want to get stranded!
We were about a month too early to see Orchid Rock at its finest. We’re told in late September the island really lives up to its name, as the beautiful Golden Orchids come out in full bloom. But there were still rock pools to explore and Herons and Egrets busy fishing away.
Cape Hillsborough sunrise on the Beach with the Kangaroos and Wallabies
Cape Hillsborough is perhaps best known for the kangaroos and wallabies that venture down to the beach at sunrise. During our visit both Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Agile Wallabies came down to feed as the sun rose up from out at sea.
We had read that ‘Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Wallabies make their way to the beach front each morning to feed on seaweed and mangrove seed pods which have washed up from the overnight tides’. So when when a ranger turned up and started coning off an area and putting feed down for them we were a little surprised!
Although very photogenic it wasn’t quite the ‘wild’ experience we had expected. We really weren’t sure what to make of it all as it seemed more of a staged feeding rather than a natural wild event. Each to their own, but it’s not really our sort of thing.
Wildlife in and around Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park
We camped in an unpowered site at Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort Park. There’s a variety of accommodation types here and something for everyone. The location is also perfect to take in all the walks and wildlife of Cape Hillsborough National Park.
A common bird found foraging around the campsite is the Pacific Emerald Dove. Though not quite as flamboyantly coloured as the aforementioned Fruit-Doves, it does have nice simmering green wings and chocolatey-brown body. And you can’t help but notice the noisey resident Laughing Kookaburra’s when they begin their early morning cackles.
In and around Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort Park you won’t miss the wallabies. During our short 2 night stay the habituated Agile Wallabies seemed to permanently hang around grazing in the grassy area between the pool and the laundry.
Around the grounds and picnic areas outside there’s plenty of other birdlife too. Some of the most obvious ones we’ve not already mentioned are the Australasian Figbirds, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Bush Stone-Curlew, Masked Lapwing and a multitude of shorebirds.
The walks and wildlife of Cape Hillsborough did not disappoint! So if you’re looking for a really satisfying flora and fauna fix then this is the perfect place to find it. Numerous tracks lead you through a diverse range of habitats full of amazing plants, colourful birds and butterflies and provides some stunning views.
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