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 hide the big peaks of Hinchinbrook Island and the crew would not be expecting the 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). A topographical map and compass should be carried.
There is no designated walking track; the whole way is boulder hopping up the creek. 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 interactive map below). Tie your boat off at the sign on 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 rough track.
From here, you'll rock hop up the creek. The creek bursts with butterflies as you walk past the tree. The first part of the creek is very straightforward and the latter part becomes steep and rather technical rock scramble. There are very steep ledges to climb. This is where it because 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 fork creek bed.
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 - I wouldn't trust a rope that's been in the sun for an unknown amount of time. 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. 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. Do not attempt this hike if you have an existing injury particularly in your knees or ankles. I would recommend completing this with someone who has done it before, unless you are a experienced hiker!