The Turtle Rock Hike (Turtle Head Rock) is a circuit walking track located in the Dinden National Park near Cairns, Queensland. The hike features a spectacular boulder lookout, light rock scrambling and an easy river crossing.
The Turtle Rock Hike in the Dinden National Park is a great morning or afternoon circuit loop for those looking for a quick adventure from Cairns. I walked this circuit for a sunrise trip with my dad as a quick morning microadventure from Cairns and I’d highly recommend it.
In this guide, I’ll detail how to get to the trailhead, what to expect on the track and I’ll also include a few photos that I hope will inspire your trip!
Cairns: Essential Travel Resources
Find Cheap Flights
Still in the planning stage of your trip? Currently, the best and easiest way to find cheap flights are to use Skyscanner. This works by comparing all of the available fares across every airline to help you compare flights in one place.
Finding the Best Deals On Accommodation
Whether you’re looking for hostels, hotels, guest houses, or resorts between Booking.com and Agoda, you’ll always get the best deals. I always search using the map feature to find accommodation in the best locations. Sometimes, if I want to stay in a place a little longer, I’ll use Airbnb.
TIP: For the best hostels, I usually compare reviews on Hostelworld, then check other booking sites to compare prices and deals.
Book Tours and Transport Online To Save Money
You already know that I prefer independent travel. In saying that, sometimes the best and cheapest way to get things done is to just book a tour or package. For Australia, I always use Klook, Viator and Get Your Guide.
Finding a Car in Australia
Having a car or camper is the best way to travel Australia. You can compare rental car deals on RentalCars.com, or use Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and CarSales to purchase a car for longer trips.
Don’t Forget Adventure Travel Insurance
If you’re reading this blog then you’re more likely to be seeking epic cairns adventures over poolside sips. By far, my two favorite companies for the most comprehensive adventure travel insurance is World Nomads and SafetyWing. If you’re on the fence, you can read the comparison article.
Where is the Turtle Rock Hike
The Turtle Rock Circuit is located in the Dinden National Park, approximately 61 kilometres from Cairns on the Tablelands side of the Lamb Range. The trailhead is accessed from nearby the node 3 and 4 campsites on Davies Creek Road. This road is unsealed but is well-graded. A 4WD is ideal but you’ll make it with a regular 2WD sedan or hatchback.
This section of the Dinden National Park shares coverage with the Davies Creek National Park and features eucalypt forest and several freshwater creeks and waterfalls.
There are many adventures to be had in this remote area of Tropical Far North Queensland, many that happen to be some of my personal favourites. These include the Kahlpahlim Rock Hike (Lambs Head), Davies Creek Falls and the nearby Emerald Creek Falls.
How to Get To the Trailhead From Cairns
To get to the Turtle Rock circuit trail, you will need to take the Captain Cook Highway north towards Smithfield. Then, take a left on Kennedy Highway, which climbs the MacAlister Range to reach Kuranda. Continue past Kuranda for another 22 kilometres, where you will see a sign for “Davies Creek”.
Turn left on Davies Creek Road and follow this unsealed road for 10 kilometres, passing Davies Creek Falls on your left. The trailhead access point is on the right. Keep an eye out for the “camping nodes 3 & 4” signs.
This campsite is a wide clearing just beside the creek and the Turtle Rock Circuit trailhead begins here.
The Turtle Rock Circuit
The Turtle Rock hike is best completed in an anti-clockwise circuit. This way, you’ll smash the steepest part of the hike early on, leaving a gentle decline back to the campsite. The track is worn and easy to follow. There are also orange arrows on the trees that mark the route. So, you shouldn’t have any problem finding your way.
Upon arriving at the campsite nodes mention above, walk in the direction of the obvious outdoor toilet cubicle. The Turtle Rock hike begins just 20 metres from here.
The first section of the climb to the Turtle Head Rock begins with a light incline through dry eucalypt forest. After a short stroll, the track steepens and you’ll need to do a bit of light boulder scrambling. This section is pretty steep but it doesn’t last long. Before you know it, you’ll reach Turtle Rock, just 2.2 kilometers from the start point.
When you first approach the rock it’s immediately apparent as to where the Turtle Rock hike’s name came from. The large boulder resembles a turtle with its head out, basking on the edge of the cliff face.
It’s possible to scramble to the top of Turtle Head Rock for epic views over the pristine Dinden National Park. Just be careful as its a sheer drop on the other side.
After taking in the view and resting the legs, follow the orange arrows to the left (looking at Turtle Rock), and enjoy the gentle walk back.
Near the end of the trail, you’ll need to cross “Varch Creek”, which isn’t more than a hop over the narrow section. The trail then back on Davies Creek Road, just a few hundred metres to the right of the campsite. Just continue following the arrows left and you’ll soon arrive back at the camp node.
Turtle Rock GPX MAP
More Photos of the Turtle Rock Hike Cairns
Here are some more photos from the walking track and the boulder viewpoint for sunrise.
Cairns Accommodation Guide – Where to Stay
BRAND NEW HOTEL WITH A VIEW – OAKS HOTEL
This brand new hotel opened in September 2020 and is already rated as one of the best places to stay in Cairns! The location is right on the esplanade and features balcony rooms with a rooftop restaurant and cocktail bar.
BEST 5-STAR LUXURY HOTEL: PULLMAN REEF HOTEL CASINO
If luxury and location is what you’re after, you can’t beat the Pullman. It’s rated Cairns’ best hotel and features restaurants, a pool, live music gigs and even a casino!
BEST BUDGET HOSTEL WITH A POOL – MAD MONKEY BACKPACKERS
The best budget backpacker option in Cairns is Mad Monkey Backpackers. This one has a swimming pool, AC, a complete kitchen and even free bike hire to take you around Cairns. There are also three locations, but we thought that the village was the best. They also organise plenty of things to do in Cairns straight form the hostel.
BEST VALUE HOTEL – RYDGES ESPLANADE RESORT
This hotel offers the best bang-for-buck. In terms of an epic stay for a decent price! Location is perfect, close to the esplanade and the reviews are excellent.
More Hikes and Adventures Near Cairns
If you enjoyed this quick guide to the Turtle Rock Hike from Cairns, make sure to check out some more blog posts I’ve written for more Cairns adventure ideas. If you have any more questions or trail updates, or feedback for the blog, please let me know by leaving a comment.
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