Location - Hinchinbrook Island National Park, Queensland, Australia
Distance - Approximately 8.5 km loop (not including the zig zagging through creeks)
Time - Allow 8 hours return
Grade - Difficult and strenuous
Type - Remote, off-track bushwalking
On one stormy morning in 1942, a USAAF B-24 Liberator (#41-23825), known as "Texas Terror", slammed into Mt Straloch exploding on impact and killing all 12 people on board. The heavy storms around Ingham and Cardwell hid the big peaks of Hinchinbrook Island which the crew were not expecting while flying over the sea.
Fresh from the factory and heading for the battlefields of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, the B-24 was being flown from Amberley, stopping in Garbutt. Townsville, to the bomber base at Iron Range in Far North Queensland. The B24 had been carrying a payroll for US troops in New Guinea.
Crashed on 18 December 1942, it wasn't until late in 1943 that Aborigines scratching for tin in the island's streams reported to authorities that they had found burnt currency. A search party found the plane on January 7, 1944. The payroll was never found. Shortly after the wreckage was discovered, Australian Federal Police retrieved more than $100,000 US from 2 men in a nearby town.
Much of the mountain area is covered with fragile heath vegetation. To protect the unspoiled nature of the mountains and in the interest of safety, hiking in these areas is restricted. Any group wishing to walk into the mountains will need to apply in writing to Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS).
There is no designated walking track; the whole way is boulder hopping up the creek. A topographical map and compass should be carried. During your climb to the wreckage you are rewarded with panoramic views of the Hinchinbrook Channel and Lucinda. There are many water holes to take a dip in or fill up your water bladder.
How to get there
It's best to launch your vessel from Lucinda boat ramp. Cross the channel and up the creek (see the interactive map below). Tie your boat off at the sign an the mangroves. Follow the surveys tape a 100 meters through the mangroves - watch out for crocs. It's a good idea to have one set of shoes for the muddy mangroves and another for the creek rock hopping. Then about a 200m walk to the creek on roughy cut track.
From here, you'll rock hop up the creek. The creek bursts with butterflies as you walk past the trees. The first part of the creek is very straightforward and the latter part becomes steep and rather technical rock scramble - especially in the wet. There are very steep ledges to climb. This is where it becomes unsafe if the rocks are damp. You will see a rock cairn, a rusty .50 cal and a few bits of wreckage around 300m from the impact zone. At this point you will see 2 motors are in the right hand gully.
From here, you want to head right out of the creek to the cliff faces. There is a rope to assist your ascent up the cliff face; It's up to you if you trust it or not... Continue up to the fuselage and the memorial cross beside the tree.
You'll need good weather otherwise rocks are very slippery and is not possible for most people to do when wet or damp. Though if you do go in the drizzle, it really gives you an idea of what it would have been like the day of the crash. I recommend that you do not attempt this hike if you have an existing injury particularly in your knees or ankles and would recommend completing this with someone who has done it before, unless you're an experienced hiker.