Just a non-committal drive from Cooktown, Rinyirru is of deep historical and cultural significance to the Aboriginal clans of the region, with no madness in the method it seems as the park continues to endear itself each year to the ebb and flow of visitors.
Closed during the wet season due to inaccessibility, throughout the dry season the footprint of the big wet not only remains in Rinyirru, but characterises it. With deep lagoons and yawning rivers, it is a true paradise for fishermen and wildlife lovers, as barramundi dart around in the shallows and crocodiles laze on the riverbanks. Birdlife is omnipresent within the park too, with the idyllic ecosystem supporting a huge array of different bird species that colour and animate Rinyirru. Meanwhile, tall eucalypts and twisting paperbarks dominate the open woodland areas to house a swathe of mammals, reptiles and marsupials, with the chance of sighting protected or threatened wildlife presenting a real thrill for many an explorer.
Many of the bush camps hug the rivers and creeks that cut through the park, coaxing explorers to cease their wanderings and settle down with a rod and a swag. Though with vitality surging through Rinyirru just like its own rivers and their tributaries, visitors are bold to suppress the urge to discover as much of this green and dusty haven as possible. Epic bulldust, endless plains of upright termite mounds and an enticing mix of wooded regions and lush floodplains characterise the park, elevating it from Cape York precursor to a head-on adventure in its own right.
LOCATION: 100km from Cooktown to the entrance to the park.
CAMPING: Bush campsites: Horseshoe Lagoon, Lake Emma, Laura River, Six Mile Waterhole, Twelve Mile Waterhole, Kennedy Bend, Mick Fienn Waterholes, Hann Crossing, Saltwater Creek.