About Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park

Getting there and getting around

Getting there and getting around

Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park is at the end of Cape Pallarenda Road, 10 km north of the Townsville city centre. The park is accessible by conventional vehicle. The gates are open from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm daily.

Park Features

The park features the historic Quarantine Station—established in 1915, to quarantine passengers on incoming ships.

During World War II the American and Australian armies used this area. Camps were set up on nearby beaches and the Quarantine Station was used as a hospital. Visitors can discover more about the station's history at the historic display.

Set in a landscape of open woodland and vine thickets, the park protects a variety of animal and plant life.

Camping and Accommodation


Camping is not permitted in Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Townsville. 

Things To Do

Walking and mountain biking

The Cape Pallarenda trails are a network of shared walking and mountain biking trails in the Cape Pallarenda and Townsville Town Common conservation parks.

The trails range from short easy walks to challenging hikes and cross country mountain bike rides. Consider your fitness level before undertaking the extended trails.


Key to trail standards

The classification system is based on Australia Standards. Please note that while each track is classified according to its most difficult section, other sections may be of an easier level.

Australian Walking Track Grading System


Grade 3: Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections, a rough surface and many steps.

International Mountain Bicycling Association, Australia


Intermediate: A trail with moderate gradients, variable surface and obstacles. May include steep sections. Suitable for skilled mountain bikers with a good standard of fitness and basic off-road riding skills.

Shelly Cove trail      

Distance: 750 m one way
Time: allow 45 mins walking time

Walkers and bike riders share this trail. 

Following an old access road created during World War II, this trail provides access to the beach at Shelly Cove on the northern side of the Cape Pallarenda headland. Large rock steps lead to the beach at the end of the trail. Trail users can return along the way they came or can continue along the Under the Radar trail.

Graves circuit     

Distance: 2 km return
Time: allow 1.5 hrs time

Starting 110 m along the Shelly Cove trail, this circuit winds through woodland and vine thicket behind the Quarantine Station before returning along the Forts walk. It passes a weir built in 1925 and the graves of 13 people who died from meningitis at the Quarantine Station in 1920. Trail users can return along the Forts walk and the Shelly Cove trail.

Forts walk     

Distance: 500 m one way
Time: allow 45 mins time

This walk starts 290 m along the Shelly Cove trail and leads to a number of World War II gun emplacements and a searchlight station on Cape Pallarenda headland. The trail offers sweeping views of Townsville and Magnetic Island. Trail users can return the way they came.

Under the Radar trail     

Distance: 10.1 km one way
Time: allow 5 hrs walking time

This narrow, two-way trail is designed for cross country mountain biking. Walkers must be alert and considerate for mountain bike riders approaching from either direction.

At its eastern end, the trail begins 700 m along the Shelly Cove trail and crosses the northern and western slopes of Many Peak Range. It provides excellent views of the islands to the north and the Coral Sea beyond. At its western end, the trail begins 500 m along the Shelly Beach trail. The Under the Radar trail has rough surfaces and some steep sections. Trail users can return the way they came or may use the other trails and internal park roads to return to their starting point (see Cape Pallarenda map (PDF, 164K)* and Town Common map (PDF, 204K)*).

Picnic and day-use areas

The day-use area is located on the foreshore overlooking Magnetic Island. Picnic tables, toilets and parking are provided.

Historic quarantine display

A small display offers an insight into the quarantine history of the area. The display is open from 9 am to 3 pm, Monday to Friday.


Marine waters adjacent to Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park are internationally significant and are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Zones in the two marine parks—the Great Barrier Reef Coast andGreat Barrier ReefExternal link icon—provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreational and commercial use. Check zoning information and mapsExternal link icon before entering or conducting any activities in the marine parks

Fisheries regulations apply—information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures is available from Fisheries Queensland.

Viewing wildlife

The park is home to many types of birds, wallabies and lizards that are easily spotted in the open woodland environment.

Read more about the natural environment of Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park.

Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park

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