Location - Paluma Range National Park, North Queensland, Australia
Distance - 8-10 kilometres return depending on route taken
Time - Allow 5-7 hours return depending on route taken
Grade - 5 (AWTGS)
Many people know of Bluewater for the four wheel driving along Forestry Road, access to the PRB track, and the swimming holes along the lower Bluewater Creek (watch out for crocs), but seemingly only a few know about the gorge. This should not be confused with Pine Creek, which is the little swimming area near the bridge before you head up the range.
The terrain is tough and the bush bashing hard. There is lots of lantana amongst all the vines, through native ginger, long guinea grass, fallen trees/branches, down a small gully and over a dry creek. This is probably why not many people venture here.
Hoop pines and rainforest prevalent in the gorge, with eucalypts and iron barks and other types up top. The gorge itself is about two kilometres long, 300 metres wide, and approximately 200 metres deep. A viewpoint is hard to find from within, though there are several along the perimeter to see the gorge in all its glory. We found a lookout point with a sheer sided cliff, fine views of the gorge. The scouts held outdoor trips teaching navigation and bushwalking skills. The scouts set up camp close to Bluewater Gorge and often explored around the gorge.
You can either do a through walk or walk to the top and return via the same way which is more commonly done. To do the through walk, park one vehicle at the bottom of the range and walk up the old logging road or set up a car shuttle.
How to get there
Follow the marked route (which is not a well-formed track and is currently overgrown) alongside Keelbottom Creek East Branch for 700 metres (GPS straight). Then turn left and head south east for the saddle, through rough terrain, long grass, logs, and fallen trees, cross saddle (lot of cyclone damage this area, previously shredded trees). The saddle is the delineation between west and east flowing creeks. Over the saddle, walk alongside or above a small creek; follow that down until reach the scout campsite. From trail entrance at dirt road, 1.5 hours, 2.5 kilometres walk (2.08 GPS straight line). Campsite is adjacent to small creek (the headwaters of Bluewater Creek) with small cascades, that drops down a series of cascades and falls into the gorge.
The campsite is at an altitude of 559 metres. After a break, explore the area in close proximity to find lookouts and views down the gorge. Walk into the creek and down the cascades and falls to a lovely pool at the bottom. Return up the slope to camp (this trail very steep, loose rocks, loose soil).