White Mountains National Park is characterised by white sandstone formations and complex gorge systems that cover 112,000 ha of rugged terrain. For much of the year this vast area is an arid landscape but during the wet season it becomes a water catchment for streams and rivers which eventually feed into Lake Eyre in South Australia and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Encompassing a total of 14 different ecosystems, winter and early spring transform the landscape as the native plants bloom into a palette of colour. White Mountains National Park is very remote and undeveloped and is only suitable for well equipped, experienced bushwalkers and campers. Access is from the Flinders Highway 107 km east of Hughenden or 140 km south-west of Charters Towers. Camp site bookings are available by phone or online, or at the Flinders Discovery Centre.
The park turnoff is approximately 106km north-east of Hughenden and 140km south-west of Charters Towers, on the fully sealed Flinders Highway. For directions to the park entrance see “Location”.
Burra Range lookout is on the highway and is accessible to all conventional vehicles.
The access road to Canns Camp Creek camping area, when dry, is accessible to all high clearance vehicle types with care. It is accessible for camper trailers but not caravans or buses. During the wet season, between November and April, ( the road can be closed) and occasionally at other times, the road may be boggy and inaccessible.
Covering an area of 112,000ha, this rugged wilderness park features spectacular white sandstone bluffs and gorges, and diverse plants and animals. A further 12,000ha are contained in the resources reserve on the eastern side of the park.
The park protects a total of 14 different ecosystems within the Desert Uplands Bioregion, making it one of inland Queensland’s most botanically diverse parks. Lancewood forests, open woodlands, laterite pastures, heathlands and spinifex grasslands are found around the white sandstone outcrops, white sand dunes and sandy flats occur in the Canns Camp area. Brilliant wildflowers and a host of animals can be spotted throughout the park.
A vast arid landscape for most of the year, the park is transformed in the wet season, when streams come alive with the deluge of rainwater. The park contains the headwaters of streams flowing into three major catchment areas. Waters flow through several smaller streams into the Burdekin River and then to the east coast. The Flinders River flows north into the Gulf of Carpentaria. Water also flows through the channel country of western Queensland, eventually feeding into Lake Eyre in South Australia. White Mountains National Park is a major infill area for the Great Artesian Basin.
During winter and early spring, the park is transformed as native plants of all shapes, sizes and colours bloom across the landscape. You can see golden-orange, cream and red grevilleas together with wattles of all shades of yellow and the white clustered flowers of the ironbarks. It is rare to see such diversity and colour within the borders of one national park.
Plants and animals
White Mountains National Park is one of Queensland’s most botanically diverse parks, encompassing 14 regional ecosystems including two classed as endangered. Approximately 430 plant species contained in 10 vegetation communities have been identified on the park. Eucalypt, acacia and melaleuca woodlands, and a mass of heathland species dominate the vegetation.
About 30 plant species, normally affiliated to southern Queensland, have also been recorded in the park. White Mountains National Park is the northern extremity of their range.
The park is a haven for a variety of wildlife, especially reptiles, which are well suited to the rocky landscape. Fifty-one species of reptiles have been recorded in the park. Some may be seen sunning themselves on rocks or branches, relying on the sun’s heat to warm their bodies. The rocky outcrops and spinifex grasslands provide perfect homes for frilled lizards Chlamydosaurus kingi, and spiny knob-tailed geckos Nephrurus asper.
A full bird, mammal, reptile and flora list is available at the Flinders Discovery Centre.