Many of us learned about the great outdoors from our parents. Many of us want to continue to enjoy nature with our parents as they age or, for the first time, for those of us with children, hike with the next generation. Here is a list of short walks, swimming areas, and mini-adventures for both the young and the old, alike. Whether you are carrying an infant in a carrier pack, holding a toddler's hand, trying to keep up with a teen, or enjoying walking beside your parents or grandparents, these adventures will do the job!
Below, we have categorised walks, hikes, and adventures by EASY, MEDIUM, and HARD. For more information about any one idea, click the hyperlink in the subheading title. At the bottom, we have also made a list of weekend road trip ideas that will take you NORTH, WEST, SOUTH, or EAST. Enjoy!
If you haven't already done so, check out the Townsville small garden trifecta or a few of the short walks close to the CBD. A perfect starting point would be any of the three Botanical Gardens. For example, check out Palmetum, Queens Gardens, Anderson Park, or all three. There are plenty of pretty tropical flowers and trees to enjoy, and any of these gardens provide a great venue for learning more about the botanical gardens and tropical flora, in general. For something a bit more physical, you can check out the walks at Castle Hill or Mount Louisa.
This trail is fully paved, and there is even a walkway to the swimming area and lookout. You can even rock hop up the creek a little bit if you feel so inclined. This may be one of Townsville's favourite swimming holes and summertime playgrounds.
Gorge Falls and Rope Falls – at the base of Mount Halifax
Gorge Falls and Rope Falls are both beautiful waterfalls located at the base of Mount Halifax in Paluma Range National Park. They are becoming increasingly popular due to ease of access, and both are nice places to relax and enjoy a refreshing swim in the inviting pools. You can definitely spend a fair bit of time at these falls, especially if you're hot and sweaty and in need of a refreshing swim. Consider bringing a picnic and making a day of it.
Hawkings Point Lookout, Sails Rock, and the Sphinx Lookout are all great beginner friendly walks. Have a look at the map of the extensive 26 km network of walking trails. The array of trails can range from easy, short tracks to those that are longer and more difficult. The trails pass to granite boulders and dry bushland, ranging from wattles, eucalypts to pockets of semi-evergreen forest.
Alligator Creek Lookout and Waterhole
Because it is located right next to the day-use area, this spot is an ideal place to take the kids for a swim or to just have a relaxing day with a book. Moreover, it is not too far out of town, and so it can easily be a last minute excursion. Just remember to bring mosquito repellant, as the 'mozzies' can be ferocious, depending on the time of year.
McClellands Lookout, Witts Lookout, and Cloudy Creek
The views from these lookouts are outstanding! You can also learn about the site's colourful history from the information sign. Then, continue to walk through the rainforest learning about local plants and animals. At the signposted junction, take the right-hand-route to Witts Lookout. From here, the track climbs steeply through open forest before finishing at the lookouts on two rocky outcrops. On a clear day, you can enjoy views of Halifax Bay and the Palm Islands to the northeast.
Note: From the initial car park, a 150 m track leads you to McClellands Lookout. Wheelchair access to the lookout is via the second entrance.
Paluma Rainforest Walk / Sensory Walk
This rainforest walk starts opposite the Paluma Town Hall and finishes 200 m to the west along Mount Spec Road. Look for strangler figs and king ferns as you meander along the track. The track will then take you to a rainforest creek and past an old tin-race, which is a stone-pitched channel made by miners back in the day. All in all, the trail is only 680 m long, but aim to allow at least 30 minutes for this easy walk.
The H track
This walk is 1.1 km in length, and so you may want to allow an hour. You will start the walk on Whalley Crescent and finish the walk on Lennox Crescent; both of these roads are just off Mount Spec Road in the Paluma Township. While on the walk, you will pass through rainforest, following an old timber-hauling or 'snig' track, and you can view loading ramps and old stumps, logging relics of the past. Although fenced for your safety, remnants of an old mine shaft provide insight into how miners first searched for tin. Not only is this a beautiful walk, but it is also an opportunity to take a step back in history.
To get here, take Mount Spec Road from Paluma Township about 5 km before turning right onto Lake Paluma Road. Follow this road for about 7 km until you reach an obvious car park. A short track leads to the base of the falls where visitors can swim in the small pool. Many remark on the crystal clear water here and how refreshing it can be. You can also walk through the rainforest to the top of the picturesque cascades on Birthday Creek. Birdwatchers can look for golden and tooth-billed bowerbirds along the track. A lot of visitors prefer the quietness and remoteness of Birthday Creek compared to the more popular Little Crystal Creek. There truly is something for everyone in Paluma.
Rock Slides (Nolan's Gully) and Paradise Waterhole (Big Crystal Creek)
Paradise Waterhole is only a short walk from the Crystal Creek day-use area. Here, you can relax and unwind while the kids jump into the water and have a swim. The rock slides are located in Nolan's Gully, which flows into Crystal Creek. Camping is also available at Big Crystal Creek.
From the historic stone arch bridge, which was built in the 1930s, and for which Little Crystal Creek is well-known, you can take in some breathtaking views. This area, of course, is known for its the cascading waterfalls and one of the best freshwater swimming holes. However, if there has been a heavy rain, take some time to explore some of the smaller falls coming off of Mount Spec Road or Hervey Range as well.
This one is less predictable. If you can find your way to the powerline track, this spot is for you. Access was originally through Palm Creek Eco Park, but it is hard to say if that will be an option again. If you do make it to this site, enjoy these incredible rockslides. This is surely one of the bests outdoor playgrounds.
It is only a short walk to Chunda Rock – commonly known as Bald Rock or even Elephant Rock. You will likely encounter some marshy terrain on your way, however, and so either be prepared to take your shoes off or wear appropriate footwear. When you arrive, you will have an immense boulder field on which to play. Atop Chunda Rock, you can enjoy views across the mangroves all the way to the coast, and you can even see the mountain ranges behind you. While you are out this way, consider visiting the Billabong Sanctuary and maybe even camping at Cocoa Creek.
Major Creek Swimming Hole
This area is in Bowling Green Bay National Park but on the opposite side of Alligator Creek Falls. During the wet season, especially after a good rain, there is an easily-accessible swimming hole here that you cannot miss. Check this one out if your aim is to escape the heat.
Wallaman Falls has all the wows! Its known for having the tallest, single drop waterfall – at 268 m – in the entire southern hemisphere and does not disappoint. Plan a short road trip so that you can camp overnight at Wallaman Falls. You can park your vehicle at the top lookout for this magical view, and if you are up for more of a challenge (see below) you can even take some time to walk down to the base of the falls for a swim.
Blencoe Falls and Herbert River Lookout
Another good idea for a road trip and overnight camping venue is Blencoe Falls.
This area is extremely family-friendly and good for short walks, swimming, and camping.
It takes about 2 hours to hike down to Crystal Falls, but it is via a well-formed trail. If you would like a shorter walk, have a look at Wilfred's Lookout and Toresten Rock Garden.
While the path is slightly rough, the track takes you down to a beautiful waterfall with a majestic swimming pool at the base. This walk is via open bushland, and so be sure to wear clothing that will protect you from the sun. Although the name would contradict, these falls are unforgettable.
Getting to the lower Little Crystal Falls only requires a short off-track adventure down to the creek and may be quite a bit quieter than some of the other spots in this area.
Bottom of Wallaman Falls
As mentioned above, if you are up for a bit more of an adventure, take a walk down to the base of these majestic falls. The track is paved and well-formed, and you can cool off from the mist of the falls as soon as you near the base and even hop in for a swim.
Mount Fox Crater
Rising above surrounding eucalypt woodlands, the conical Mount Fox is an ancient volcano with a large crater. Interesting geological features include large volcanic boulders known as fusiform bombs.
This adventure will take you quite a bit longer than the Alligator Creek Lookout but is still via a well-formed track. Start at the Alligator Creek day-use area. The track then winds up to the beautiful Alligator Creek Falls. Once you reach the Cockatoo Creek crossing decide if you want to proceed onward. It is quite a beautiful one, but wear good shoes and bring your mosquito repellant.
To get to the very top of Jourama Falls, follow the rough track that goes beyond the national park lookout. You will ascend steeply up through open bushland, but then the track will proceed down into the creek above the falls. The views are 100% worthwhile!
Paluma Lake Loop
There is a trail that goes around Paluma Dam that can be done on foot or via mountain bike. Camping is available here too, and you may even consider going for a paddle if you have a kayak.
Are you after a weekend road trip?
Here are some quick ideas to inspire you.
Northwards are several stunning places like Tully Gorge, Misty Mountains, Cardwell Pools, Murray Falls, and the Atherton Tablelands.
Inland, are Big Bend, Flat Rock, and Tower Hill Lookout in Charters Towers. You can also check out the Undara Lava Tubes and Porcupine Gorge National Parks.
Check out Cape Bowling Green near Ayr, Mt Inkerman Scenic Lookout, Bowen beaches and lookouts, Airlie Beach trails, and Cape Hillsborough.
Out to sea are Magnetic Island and the Great Barrier Reef. Swim in Alma Bay, hike to the Sphinx Lookout, Sails Rock, and the Forts, or visit the seasonal waterfalls.Cover photo by @mamanacestach