Location - Paluma Range National Park, North Queensland, Australia
Distance - Approximately 54 km
Time - a multi-day trip
Paluma Range National Park has much to offer for adventurers like myself. 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 10 km stretch of bush bashing.
This track was first established by old Vietnam veterans a few years ago and is known as the PRB track (Paluma Range Bluewater Track). All of track was destroyed by Cyclone Yasi in 2011 and no one has walked it since. About 20km of the Forestry Road end has been cleared by four wheel drive enthusiasts and about 10km on the Paluma side by bushwalking enthusiasts. There is still about a 10km stretch in the middle that is yet to be cleared.
Currently, the track is being recut from the northern end by National Park Volunteers (namely Wilfred and Jamie). 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 2019, I do not recommended attempting this track unless you are a very experienced bush walker and have all the safety and navigational equipment & skills. The cyclone knocked out the canopy so it is super thick and slow going. Expect speeds of 200m 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. 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.
Here's my first attempt of the track:
- 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 & Big Rock), Mt Halifax and Roly Gorge Falls
There are several side tracks along the PRB Track:
Circle View Mountain
There are two tracks that go into Ollera Creek. The Tube Creek track passes Tube Falls and ends up just down stream 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 & 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
- Get drop is off at the Bluewater Forestry Station (end of Forestry Rd)
- We then 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. I recommend an additional wine bladder or collapsible bottles with another 3-6 L of capacity for this part of the route. This is the 10km 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 soon.