Location - Paluma Range National Park, North Queensland, Australia
Distance - Approximately 55 km one way (not including side trips)
Time - a multi-day trip
Paluma Range National Park has much to offer for adventurers like us. This trail goes along the old Bluewater Forestry Road to the Paluma township. On the south side of the range it follows the Bluewater Range Track which is an old logging road that was frequented by four wheel drivers and on the northern side it joins onto an old Paluma logging road. The logging operations were shutdown before they could connect the two logging roads together leaving a ten kilometre stretch of bush bashing.
After the Mount Halifax Track was completed in 2006 by Trevor Cheeseman, Dave Dunk, and Stan Redman, then Michael Mohring came onto the scene in 2007 to work on Trevor Cheeseman's dream to make a track from Bluewater to Paluma. The work on this track started July 2007 and they completed the Paluma-Rollingstone-Bluewater (PRB) track in December 2009. Then Leo came onto the scene and together the team of three have been working on a 100 kilometre network of tracks in the area. The Godwin's Peak Track was started August 2016 and completed June 2017. The track to connect Mount Halifax was started August 2016 and finally the clearing and marking was completed on 7 September 2019. The network is still under construction with the goal of having seven trail heads to access the 100 kilometre of track to have many day walks and multi day hikes. All of track were destroyed by Cyclone Yasi in 2011 and no one has walked it in it's entirely since. About twenty kilometres of the Forestry Road end has been cleared by private four-wheel drive enthusiasts and about ten kilometres on the Paluma side by bushwalking enthusiasts. There is still about a ten kilometre stretch in the middle that is yet to be cleared, as well as the side tracks.
The track is being recut from the northern end by National Park Volunteers to Smith Creek Falls. Once fully completed, the track is hoped to be turned into one of the great walks, much like the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island. Until this track is fully reopened, which is expected to be at the end of 2022, I do not recommended attempting this track unless you are a very experienced bush walker and have all the safety and navigational equipment and skills. The cyclone knocked out the canopy so it is super thick and slow going. Expect speeds of 200 metres per hour or less in the worst spots.
Townsville Rockwheelers and Townsville 4WD Club use to frequent the loggers hut and caravan, however Cyclone Yasi made it impossible to get there on a vehicle until the road was cleared, which took many years. Past the logging cabins, the logging road hasn't been used for few decades. It is well and truly overgrown and you will need secateurs to cut your way through the bramble, lawyer cane, barbed wire vine, and bladed grass.
- Fruit Salad (a pretty gully)
- Smith Falls
- Four Ways (a point where four creeks run together)
- Ollera Valley Lookout
- Old loggers huts
- Bluewater Forestry Station
- Beautiful creeks
- Tracks to Circle View Mountain (Ollera Falls and Big Rock), Mount Halifax, and Roly Gorge Falls
There are several side tracks along the PRB Track:
There are two tracks that go into Ollera Creek. The Tube Creek track passes Tube Falls and ends up just downstream of Big Ollera Falls. The other track from "Three Ways" tracks along the ridgeline down into Ollera Creek upstream and is the easiest way to summit Circle View Mountain. You can also access Big Rock along the ridgeline from Circle View Mountain. Read more about Circle View Mountain & Ollera Creek.
Mt Halifax & Godwins Peak
This track follows Roly Creek down through Roly Gorge and by Roly Falls ending up near Paces Road, where the Mt Halifax Track starts.
- Sleeping gear (hammock, tarp, mossie net, sleeping mat, sleeping bag). A hammock with a mossie net is recommended as finding flat and clear ground can sometimes be difficult. Use a sleeping mat to stop the hammock from hugging you too tightly and for insulation as well as a sleeping bag.
- Water carrying capacity for two days (approximately 3 liters per day). Bring a large bladder or collapsible bottle to fill up for the bush bashing part. Some way of treating your water that you collect from the creeks [boil, UV, chemical, or filter]).
- First aid kit and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) (also consider a satellite phone, mobile phone coverage is very poor)
- Topographic map and compass / GPS unit
- Snacks and dehydrated or freeze-dried food for the seven to ten days.
- Cooking utensils, stove, gas, etc... (Can share with someone else in your group). Open fires are prohibited in National Parks.
- Secateurs for cutting through the rainforest as it get very dense
- Torch and/or head lamp
- Warm clothing as it can get cold at night
- Wet weather gear
- Rubbish bags. All rubbish (including food scraps) must be carried out.
- Mossie repellent
- Sunscreen and sun protective clothing for the open bushland parts.
- A small trowel for burying faecal waste. Bury human waste and toilet paper at least 15 cm deep and 100m from camp sites, tracks and watercourses to guard against pollution and the spread of disease. Use toilet paper that breaks down (not wet wipes as there are made of plastic)
- Camping permit: "Mount Halifax remote bush camping"
What to expect
- Other wildlife
- Gimpe Gimpe (Stinging Tree)
- Lawyer cane (Wait-a-while)
- Barbed wire vine
- Bladed grass
- Trip hazards
- Slippery wet rocks
The basic plan as the track is currently
- Get drop is off at the Bluewater Forestry Station (end of Forestry Rd)
- Walk along the red, muddy four-wheel drive track for several kilometers walking approximately 15 km a day for the first two days, crossing several creeks, following the logging road to the end.
- Then navigate your way through the 10 km section that leads up on top of ridgeline where water may be scarce. It's recommended to carry an additional bladder or collapsible bottles with another 3-6 L of capacity for this part of the route. This is the 10 km stretch between the Bluewater Range Track and the Paluma Tracks where we will be cutting our way through the rainforest. So day three you will start the bush bashing where you should aim to travel about 5 km a day.
- Join up with the old logging road from the Paluma end and continue along to Paluma Village.
Here's in an interactive map of the area.
This trip involves remote bush hiking and camping south of the Paluma township. Only experienced and well-equipped bushwalkers should undertake remote, off the track hikes. You must be self-sufficient and you may want to treated the water collected from creeks before drinking.
The volunteer track maintenance group will continue to cut our way through the rainforest and this track will be opened as a multi-day walk in the future.
We would like these historic sites to be remembered, and we would like the relics and artefacts to stay at the site and not fall victim to collectors and trophy hunters. There are few places remaining like this in Australia, let alone the world, to explore that have not been pillaged. There is no reason to remove objects from any of these sites. Please be responsible, respect the history, and respect the importance of this site for future generations. Take photos and leave only footprints.