Have you ever been on the four wheel drive track from Bluewater up into the Paluma Range National Park? It's a fantastic getaway into the middle of nowhere and it's so close to Townsville. If you don't mind some red dirt on your truck, put this on your list as you explore the World Heritage listed Wet Tropics Rainforest. It has some great views from the range.
This track is a former route for logging vehicles and after many years of neglect and weathering, the dirt road surface can make for an interesting and sometimes challenging track. Rumor has it that it's possible to go all the way to Paluma Village on this trail.
How to get there
Head North from Townsville on the Bruce Highway to Bluewater. Turn left just after you cross the Bluewater Creek bridge. You could use the park space here, as a meeting point with your mates.
From here, it's dead simple. Stay on Forestry Road and keep going. You will leave the suburb of Bluewater Park, and eventually hit a dirt road. This road will start leading you towards the hills, and a magnificent drive up the mountain range into Paluma State Forest. The road is quite corrugated and dippy at places.
The views and countryside scenery are spectacular! The drive takes you through Savanna woodlands with heaps of grass trees on the hillside.
If it has rained recently, on the left side before you hit the range, there you'll find a clearing to a lovely patch of running water.
At the top of this mountain, you will pass through an open gate near the old forestry hut and then you are pretty close to where the action and fun starts - depending on the condition of the road and the weather.
Once in Bluewater State Forest, the road keeps climbing, and there are plenty of places with steep drop offs from the track, so extra care will need to be taken.
Allow a good few hours to reach the flowing, crystal clear creek. This is typical of what you would expect to find in tropical North Queensland rainforests.
From Keelbottom Creek, the logging road stops but you'll be able to continue on bike or foot along an old caravan. In 2011, Cyclone Yasi damaged a fair amount of the trail with numerous trees blocking the old track. Along the track you will experience big climbs, old log bridges and steep rocky descents.
If you are precious about your paint work and don't want to get any scratches, then this track is not for you. The rainforest encompasses the track, and you will be driving through all sorts of overgrown trees, vines, and lawyer cane. If you have a chainsaw, throw it in the back of your truck in case any old trees have fallen across the track.
Remember, there is no mobile phone coverage out there and no access past Keelbottom Creek by 4WD to bail you out. So take care and bring a topographical map, compass and/or a GPS if you plan on exploring the caravan past Keelbottom Creek.
As you will be entering a national park, you can not bring your family pets; including dogs.
UPDATE 01 Jul 16: The Bluewater Range track at the end of Forestry Road is now closed to motorvehicle access due to vandalism and irresponsible behaviour. This was a great recreational reserve for 4WDs, motorbikes and ATVs to explore. Access is still allowed via foot
All locals don't want to give this track up and some are not easily deterred: