Address: Jardine River QLD 4874
Phone: 13 74 68
About 900km north of Cairns, on the tip of Cape York Peninsula. This vast, remote wilderness, encompassing much of the catchment of the Jardine River, is rich in Aboriginal and European cultural heritage. This vast, remote wilderness is an ancient sandstone landscape. Sediments laid down when the area was a shallow sea have been shaped over millions of years of weathering to form today’s gently undulating landscape. Clear fresh water is abundant, not only in the mighty west-flowing Jardine River, which dominates the landscape, but also in swamps, boggy gullies and numerous smaller streams. This, along with the absence of food for horses and cattle, prompted early European explorers to call this place the “wet desert”. The area features a diversity of plant communities. Heathland, grassland, rainforest and woodland grow on low broad sandstone ridges separated by swamps, while shrublands and vine thickets cover massive coastal sand dunes. Animals are an interesting mix of species – relicts of ancient Gondwanan rainforests, endemic species that evolved from Gondwanan ancestors during long periods of isolation and climate change, and more recent invaders from New Guinea, which arrived via ice-age land bridges. The area has a rich Aboriginal and European heritage. For thousands of years the area has been occupied by Aboriginal peoples known as “sandbeach people”, who gathered food and resources from the seas and surrounding “sandbeach country”. The area has links to early European travellers to the Cape: Edmund Kennedy was speared on the Escape River, at the northern end of the park, in 1848; the Jardine brothers were involved in skirmishes with Aboriginal people during their overland expedition in 1865 and later during their settlement at Somerset; geologist Robert Logan Jack encountered local Aboriginal people on the east coast in 1880, at a place known today as Captain Billy Landing; and a telegraph line was completed in 1887 to provide communications with remote Cape York. Today this line forms the western boundary of the park and reserve.