Location: Paluma Range National Park, Queensland; Mount Halifax area, south east of Paluma Township.
Distance: 16.5km with over 1,000 metre ascent & descent.
Time: Approximately 10-15 hours one-way depending on fitness and breaks.
Grade: Very difficult & strenuous.
Type: On-track bushwalking.
This track is certainly a magical part of North Queensland. It's a strenuous walk and you'll need to be fit to climb up some steep hill sections. The bush track is rough and uneven underfoot. It is generally well marked with orange and yellow metal reflective markers, and pink tape but sometimes it's just a marked route with no defined track, or in the creek rock hopping, therefore ensure markers are always in sight. You should take secateurs to cut you way though sections where trees have fallen over.
The entire trip distance is about 16.5km so not very far but you'll need to allow for difficult terrain and very rough track. Mt Halifax is a dominant mountain located near Rollingstone, approximately 50km north of Townsville. It's the highest peak (1,063m) on the mainland north of Townsville until the Tully area. This is the mountain you can see from Bruce Highway behind the pineapple farms. It can also be seen from Castle Hill and other vantage points. The only higher mainland peaks around Townsville are to the south on the Mount Elliot Range.
Godwin's Peak summit is at 782m elevation, about 8 km into the walk. It has a bald summit with vegetation different from the other peaks in the area. The lack of trees gives you a 360 degree panorama. The views from the top of both these mountains are magical offering views of the coast line all the way to Townsville. On a clear day you can easily see Mt Marlow (Pallaranda), Mt Stuart, Castle Hill and Magnetic Island from up there.
This walk is possbile in one day; I suggest going up Mt Halifax and down via Godwin's Peak. I've done it in just over 9 hours including breaks.
Highlights of the walk
- Views from the summits
- Clement State Forest & Paluma Range National Park
- Flat Rock
- Twin Falls
- Pick Falls
- Roli Falls
- Bridal Falls
- Loop Falls
- Rope Falls
- Gorge Falls
- and a few other unnamed waterfalls
Here's an interactive map of the route:
The track details
These marked trails were built by a few Vietnam veterans in the 2000's from Paces Road to the Mt Halifax summit and from the Highway to Godwin's Peak. The group are currently working on the completion of the loop track from Godwin's Peak to Mt Halifax summit. Please note that this is a very steep walk and should only be tackled by experienced walkers with all the appropriate safety gear. Parts of the track have a loose surface.
Follow the forestry vehicle tracks for 4 km. There is good shade for most of the walk once you leave the forestry vehicle track at Godwin TO1. There is good water in the creek at about 5 km into the walk, so just need to carry a litre or so at start.
After 3.7/4.6 k (nth/sth start points) of vehicle track, look out for markers for Godwin TO1. Then it's bush track and creek walking. You then have a 350m stumble through rocky woodland crossing a creek (usually dry, but has water after a bit of rain) then cross the main creek do a right turn to the SW to follow the track parallel to the main creek which will be on your right.
After 350m you will cross the creek for a bit then cross back to the south side for about 500m then cross to the north side then will come across plenty of water. Another 250m gets you to Twin Falls. Another 200m to Pick Falls where the track makers found a miners pick. Another 300m to Godwin Base Camp. This is the last good water point.
You are about 6.5 km in and at 191 m elevation. This is where the steep climb commences; grades of up to 95% near the top on ridgeline. There are 2 choices of track from here, up a steep bank to the N then follow a contour W for 200m where the track drops back into a trib creek or just follow the trib creek from the base camp. The trib creek heads off in a NW direction.
The main creek heads off in a SW direction from Base Camp. The trib creek has a few high ledges to scale at the start but then is pretty easy going. This trib creek may have some water in it. Suggest follow the trib creek up from base camp for 200m, look for creek exit markers.
The track is a bit steep for 200m until it gets onto the ridgeline proper. A steady climb for next 650m heading west when the track takes an imperceptible turn to the NW. Steady climb for next 750m. You will pass an Atemis Tree and King and Cymb Orchids. The last 200m to the saddle is pretty steep and rocky. Once at the saddle, turn right to head 100m NE to get to Godwin's Peak.
From Godwin's Peak, head back down into the saddle and continue onto the Godwin's Twin Peak. You will descend down the other side into a saddle. That's the easy part! Now you will make your way up the steep slopes and onto the fairly flat range. Along the top you will cross Bypass Ck and Cross Ck. Around this area is a hidden 20 m drop off so stick to the marked track.
There is only a rough cut and mark for the 1.5k section of the track from the Godwins end to the water source near Mt Halifax. The last 1k to the water point is well marked. It is pretty steep and thick coming up to the 1100m ridge after crossing the saddle between Godwin and Mt Halifax. From the Mt Halifax end the first 700m is well marked as it goes to a reliable water point 130m down from the junction.
You will have to carry about two litres of water to get up to the saddle and onto the Mt Halifax water point. Animals may have removed a lot of the tape makers.
Some sections very thick and may be easy to lose rough cleared track.
It's not far now the the recommended camping area. It's right next to the water source shown on map. You will past through beautiful vegetation and moss covered rocks. The suggested camping area is not too far from the water source and can accommodate a tent or two and a few hammocks.
Much of the bushwalk at lower altitudes is in, or alongside, a rocky and boulder-strewn jungle creek. Along the way there are some small gorges, waterfalls and cascades. Note: around October there is no flowing water in the creek.
There are diverse vegetation variations along the walk as the altitude changes; from woodland to rainforest, then she-oak and grass trees, to bottlebrush on exposed ridges, and then rainforest at the top. As the track ascends you climb narrow rocky ridgelines to reach the rainforest near the summit.
If you want to do just Mt Halifax, it's about 10km return, allow 10 to 12 hours to complete and just Godwin's Peak is about 14km return, allow 10 to 12 hours.
Some sections of the trail have a loose surfaces with ropes in place to assist you clamber up or down very steep sections of the trail. The challenge of conquering these high and dominant summits is very rewarding with the great views from all directions. There's a huge variety of the walk environment, and it's fantastic being able to enjoy and experience this special environment. Surprisingly, not many people know about this place.
The drier months of the year are the best time to go. Otherwise there will be wet slippery rocks to deal with. After heavy rain some of the creeks would be challenging to cross.
What to bring?
You need to be self-sufficient in remote area rugged terrain hiking for the day. Ensure you have a map and compass (or GPS), and safety & communications devices like a first aid kit and PLB (or EPIRB). Carry adequate water for the whole day or refill in the creeks and sterilise. If the summit is clouded in it can be wet and cold up top, even in summer, so take a raincoat and jumper.
Depending on time of year, water resupply may be unreliable and you may need to carry water for the day. At Camp 1 (510m altitude), there is a water point at Bridal Falls which may not be flowing well (In October 2015 there was a small trickle down the rockface).
THe Bluewater Forestry Rd to Mt Halifax track has not been maintained since Aug 2010. Once The PRB track is recut, it will be an easy to get to Circle View mountain via Three Ways. However from Tube Corner to Three Ways will need a lot of clearing to get through.
Dave Dunk and Trev and Stan were the main team that did most of the Mt Halifax track in 2008/6. Glen helped with the last bit from Camp 3 to Mt Halifax. You will see signs with "Glen's Way" and "Dave's Way" to mark which part of the track they cleared. Trev and Mickle have been making other tracks in the area since then, the first was the Paluma Bluewater Rollingstone track which we completed late 2009 and 3 others in the inaugural Paluma to Mt Halifax walk in May 2010. They marked a track from Tube down to Ollera then rock hopped to the falls.
The Mt Halifax walk is also the Kokoda Challenge Track it is a one-off test after all other training. It can be broken down into sections e.g Camp 1 return. There is water you can hear it from this camp. From Camp Water up to Mt Halli is a good wide well marked you may have picked up some old markers on fallen trees but from Camp water they cannot be seen. We have to clear properly and mark to Godwins peak from Halli.
The Forestry Track we have not been there for a long while and maybe a little overgrown. In time a run from Bluewater to Paluma or Over Halli to Paces or start there. This is big plus getting the Army to assist as well. These are the best tracks around Townsville.
The first generation markers have all been replaced with illumination markers so can be seen at night. A torch is a must for all tekkers.
After your hike, make sure you check yourself and your partner for ticks and leeches. Be also cautious of snakes when walking; learn how to handle a snake bite and carry compression bandages.
I organise adventures every weekend around Townsville. If you are fit and capable, join us on these free expeditions by visiting Townsville Advenutres.
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