Location - Townsville, North Queensland, Australia
Distance - ~600 metres for the loop track
Duration - 10 minutes loop
Grade - 2, easy
Approach - 23 km, 30 minutes south of Townsville
Mandilgun on Gurrumbilbarra (Mount Stuart) is the home of Wulgurukaba and Bindal people. Mt Stuart is Townsville's outdoor playground with many outdoor recreational activities like drift trikes, luging, downhill mountain biking, rock climbing, road cycling, and walking or running up and down the bitumen. The ridgelines and atop of the cliff offer spectacular views out across Townsville and the surrounding countryside.
It has an elevation of 584 metres and is used for commercial television transmission. Named for Clarendon Stuart (1833 - 1912), Townsville's first district surveyor. The summit of Mount Stuart is composed of granite formed some 265 million years ago. Granites result from the slow cooling of molten rock which does not reach the surface of the earth. Mount Stuart and other peaks in the area are remnants of granitic intrusions that have become exposed through erosion. The dramatic cliff line is thought to be the result of fault movement.
Several wooded cliff viewpoints along the top with 360-degree views. In the distance, you'll see Hervey Range with the Rhyolite peaks of Frederick Peak and South Pinnacle protruding above the surrounding plateaux. Hervey Range forms the watershed between Townsville's coastal rivers (The Ross River, Bohle River, and Black River), the immense Burdekin River catchment to the west, and south to Mount Elliott that completes the 360-degree view panorama.
The Mount Stuart Road winds its way up through very pretty low woodland and open low woodland, with views across to patches of grassland dominated by Kangaroo Grass and Grasstrees and ridges with gentle slopes down into wooded gullies.
The vegetation around the area has slight changes. You can see one of Australia's signature plants, the Grasstree (Xanthorrhoea johnsonii), also known as Blackboy, with its dramatic flow spikes containing thousands of tiny white flowers. This species of Grasstree is generally low growing with a short unbranched truck of less than one metre, or with no trunk at all. Flowering is more profuse after a fire.
The dominant eucalypts are the White Mahogany (Eucalyptus acmenoides), one of the Stringbarks, and the Pink Bloodwood (Corymbia intermedia). Both these trees are widespread species that can grow into much larger trees in areas with more favourable soil and climatic conditions. Patches of Semi-deciduous Vine Thickets, a type of dry rainforest, are visible from the lookouts - the darker green vegetation on the slope below the summit. The Ironbark Woodland ecosystem dominates the upper half of Mount Stuart is endemic to Townsville. It is not at risk but is classified as vulnerable and only occurs on one other nearby hilltop.
Once you reach the top, there is a small track called the Loop Trail giving unparalleled views out across the landscape across to the Ross Dam and Ross River. The circuit takes 10 minutes and a few peacocks will happily strut their stuff and let you take pictures. You're bound to run into other types of wildlife up there as well.
Downhill MTB - Mount Stuart Downhill Mountain Bike Park
The DH run is approximately 2.8 kilometres long and regularly sees riders hitting 60 km/hr, taking around six minutes to complete a run. There is a total of five kilometres of technical downhill track running on either side of the bitumen public road. Townsville Rockwheelers maintain these downhill tracks at "Mount Stuart Down Hill" and often host events.
To get to the bottom car park, turn off Stuart Drive onto Mount Stuart Road. Just up the bridge is a clearing near a sign saying 7.5 km of the winding road ahead. Park your car here and shuttle to the start of the tracks near the saddle.
Rock climbing, abseiling, and highlining
The main area is often called "The Playground" and is super easy to access, has quality granite and is cool and shady in the afternoons. It's best climbed after 1 pm when the mountain provides shade for climbers, most days will have a good breeze to keep cool. It can be climbed all year round however during the year, the car club holds races on the mountain road and during this time road access is closed.
Park at the first set of gates you see when you reach the top, park a minimum of 5 metres back from the gate otherwise your car may be towed away. Follow a signed walking path near the fence until you come to the edge of the cliffs. Take all rubbish home with you and be aware of loose rocks and other climbers who could be below you.
The other popular outdoor climbing place in Townsville area is Frederick Peak.
Walking and Running
Start at the bottom car park. If you walk right from the bottom of the road near the highway the walk is 15 km return and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. It is 7.5 km of continual uphill then 7.5 km back down. There are no tracks available to the public so you need to walk up the narrow road. It can be a very hot walk, even in winter and there's not a great deal to see until you reach the top. Stick to the road because mountain riders will be down the side trails. The walk is fairly exposed so bring water and sun protection.
Mount Stuart is a perfect place to train for any road cyclist. It's uphill all the way except for a small part on the saddle. Riding down the hill can be extremely fun and rewards you for your efforts. Remember that the speed limit is 40 km/h.
Drift trikes, skateboards, and luging
Many people are illegally riding down this public road which doesn't always end well. Other places people ride include Riverside Ridge which overlooks the city. An 'Australian Drift Trike Event Committee' was established in 2018 in a bid to help legitimise the activity as a sport.
Mount Stuart Foothills
Douglas Mountain Bike Reserve is the perfect place for a morning or afternoon activity. This area is noted, primarily, for mountain biking but also accommodates walking, trail running, and rock climbing.
There are several mountain bike trails near that dam and are only accessible to The Townsville Rockwheelers club members and when they hold public events.