Updated March 23, 2020. As Australia braces for a lot of unknowns, it’s expected that travel around our stunning country is going to be restricted, attractions will likely be closed down and people encourage to take social distancing more and more seriously. With that in mind, we’ll keep this article constantly updated as any new information comes to light. Note, this applies to domestic travel, as travel to Australia from overseas is restricted, with international visitors and residents returning from overseas must self-isolate for two weeks.
March 20, QLD Parks and Wildlife have closed some facilities across the state. In Tropical North Queensland, Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National has cancelled ranger-guides cave tours until further notice, however the park is still open. Visitors can explore parts of Mungana Archways at their own pace. At Chillagoe, Pompeii and Bauhinia Caves are self-guided.
QLD Park’s official statement says, “In response to COVID-19, the Queensland Government is taking proactive steps to reduce potential risks to vulnerable people in the community. As a result, the Ranger-guided cave tours at Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park have been cancelled from Saturday 21 March 2020 until further notice.”
Other parks throughout QLD have also put restrictions in place on the amount of campers allowed in the campgrounds at each time, which will affect some Easter bookings. Alerts are in place for the following parks, and people with bookings are encouraged to check emails for any changes to their booking. The campgrounds include include:
Paluma Range National Park: Big Crystal Creek camping area and Jourama Falls camping area
Girringun National Park: Wallaman Falls camping area
Tully Gorge National Park: Tully Gorge camping area
Wooroonooran National Park: Henrietta Creek camping area, Goldsborough Valley camping area.
Danbulla State Forest: Downfall Creek camping area, Kauri Creek camping area and Fong-On Bay camping area
Davies Creek National Park: Lower Davies camping area
Koombooloomba Conservation Park camping area
Head to QLD Parks‘ website for more information
As of March 17, 2020, the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council has closed off all non-essential or urgent travel to the area. The NPARC takes in the northern western most parts of the Cape York Peninsula, including Seisa, Bamaga, New Mapoon, Umagico and Injinoo. It’s closure to non-essential travel essentially closes off access to the northern most tip of Australia for travellers.
In a statement the Council has said, “Travel to and from the NPA is to be restricted effective immediately. Only essential or urgent outwards and inwards travel will be permitted as determined by NPARC in consultation with the carriers – each of whom have set their own criteria.” Essential travel will be allowed for people involved medical services, for police, emergency workers, or people authorised by the council. Non-essential travel includes tourists and visitors not invited by governing bodies of the region.
Thursday Island, which can be accessed by plane from Cairns is still open, and QANTAS are still taking bookings on flights to the Torres Straight Island.
The Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation has cancelled the biennial Laura Quinkan Dance Festival for July 2020, while council run, local services in town are reported by the ABC to have been closed. This includes the caravan park and Quinkan and Regional Cultural Centre. The privately run Laura Motel is still open.
Mossman Gorge, one of the Daintree’s most popular attractions has also been temporarily closed as of March 17. A statement on its website give no date it’s expected to reopen, although our instagram post from earlier in the week is now redundant.
Access to travel Cairns, to the Cassowary Coast, the Atherton Tablelands and
travel across the Savannah Way is still unrestricted, pr\ovided you came from Queensland. Cooktown is accessible, and Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park is still closed due to regular wet season closures. We’ll keep updating though, as we learn more things.
If you are planning a trip to Tropical North Queensland, there is still so much to do. More than 90 of the 100 Things To See In Tropical North Queensland we documented in our upcoming book are still accessible, but consider deferring, rather than cancelling your trip if you haven’t already arrived. And wash your hands with soap regularly (soap breaks down the fatty outer-layer of the virus, killing it more effectively than hand sanitiser – read more here).
And if your plans are put on hold, please make more plans to visit the region when there’s more certainty. You’ll need it, local communities will need it, and you’ll all benefit. If you need some inspiration and planning help while you wait, order a copy of our new book.