Location - Bowling Green Bay National Park, North Queensland, Australia
Distance - 11.5 km return
Time - 4-6 hours return
Difficulty - Easy to moderate; off-track hike with rock hopping and rock scrambling.
This rock hop, boulder scramble and bush bash is a good beginners walk and might earn you a sense of accomplishment. The view and swimming hole at North Falls / Sandy Falls are quite a nice place to visit. From my experience that section of creek between the fig tree pool falls and the top falls is fairly rugged. It is only 873 meters as the crow flies (but 200 metre elevation increase), and takes up to 1 hour of steep bush bashing to get around the large boulders and drop-offs – unless you're a comfortable boulderer. This walk provides a few good waterfalls and mountain creek scenery.
You'll most likely see Brumbys (wild horses) in this area. That's definitely a highlight for many. It's also very easy to follow their tracks.
There are a few fantastic day walks you can enjoy:
- Walk up North Creek with the ridgline and down the spur into Cockatoo Creek via Cockatoo Rock
- Walk up North Creek to the saddle and then down Alligator Creek on the other side, back to the track via the falls.
How to get there
Started walking at 8 am from Alligator Creek day use car park. Walk past Cockatoo Creek along the track take the right to go along the powerline maintenance track to reach North Creek. Up the creek rock hopping to reach first waterfall, climb the rockface to reach next waterfall and a short break. Up the next rockface, in the next hour there are several good waterfalls and rock faces to climb, the usual the Townsville Bushwalking Club route. At the fig tree pool & waterfall there are two options, to go up or go around. I recommend going along the right side rock face which saves time and negates a scrubby scrambly bush bash.
Creek's Large Boulder Field
From here there's 873 metres to go, 200 metres up and now the hard slog starts. Continue along the creek, which gets bouldery now, always climbing. The Townsville Bushwalking Club usually exit the creek around here to get to the western ridgeline and the 'easier' route. But if you are good at climbing and have good weather on your side, continue into the boulder field – they will get bigger and the creek gets a bit harder to progress.
Western ridgeline route
Steep scrambly climb out of the creek, up to the western ridgeline and onto the blue tape trail. Follow this to the top falls, a steep climb, got the heart pumping.
Reach the top falls usually before or around lunch time (530 metres altitude). It's about 1 hour to get there from the fig tree pool. From here you can decide to go upstream for some extra rockhopping or head back down via the Western ridgeline route. Nice creek scenery, fairly flattish part of the creek. A few nice ravine type scenes, then a nice waterfall. Creek remains flat up here for some time, so no need to go no further. Return to top falls.
Another short rest stop. Walked through bush for 50 metres, then descend down the slope, then onto open sloping rockface onto a narrow rock platform at base of falls and a fantastic pool. Great views to the falls above, and of cascades and creek below. Have a good swim and lounge around here for a break. There's some good water soloing here - climb up the sheer rockface above the pool. At the bottom of the cascades below you'll great view looking back at the waterfall system (a mini Jourama type view) - well worth the effort to get there. Rock hop downstream, to reach a massive drop off. You'll be perched on top of massive boulder with sheer vertical drop long way down. You can either continue down the creek scrambling you way or take on the ridgeline path for the route home. Any further down the creek in this area is very rugged and slow, and getting out of the creek would be difficult.
Scramble out of the creek to the western ridgeline, a short climb up, find the blue tape trail and follow that down the ridgeline. Coming off the final hill descent, head further west on faint horse trail to reach powerlines track and avoid the hills on that track. Short walk back to Cockatoo Creek.
What you need
- Mossie spray & sunscreen
- Water for the walk in
- Snacks and food for the day
- First Aid Kit & PLB
Here's an interactive map of the area