Mt Zero-Taravale Nature Reserve is home to many beautiful gorges and creeks, not to mention it's wildlife. Previously it was two separate cattle stations which was purchase by a nature sanctuary, Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Its 59,029 hectares is home to many rare and threatened plant and animal species, some of which are found only on Mount Zero-Taravale. Mount Zero-Taravale is also a birdwatchers paradise. Straddling the Wet Tropics Bioregion and the Einasleigh Uplands Bioregion makes it an ideal place often visited by research groups. The scenery is spectacular; deep gorges regularly penetrate the valley rim and beyond the escarpment, to the west, is a world of disorganised ranges and hills of granite, where the stark skeleton of the country is often revealed in bare rock pavements and massive granite boulders. It encompasses entire catchments of a series of the major tributaries of two rivers. The Mount Zero section of the property includes over 60 'peaks'.
Home to trees like bushman's clothes peg tree (grevillea glauca) and scraggly silver/blue leaf tree (I think it is Shirley's silver leaf ironbark [eucalyptus shirleyi] or Silver Dollar Gums), the trees and the old grass tree 'forest' look magical. In June and July months, a lot of wattles blume in the drier areas of the property.
If you plan to check out this area, you will need to contact and check in with the caretaker at the homestead before venturing into the land.
Star River, as well as Running River, contribute sizable proportions of flow in the Burdekin River. Many of it's tributaries make up a sizable water flow which carves the lands and presents adventurers with many gorges and waterfalls to explore.
Hell Hole Gorge
To get to Hell Hole Ck, you will need to pass through Taravale property checking in with the caretaker. The gorge is only a few hundred meters from where you park your car so it's relatively little effort for such an impressive sight. It takes about 30 minutes from the car park to the first gorge and waterfalls.
The minerals from the rocks dissolved in the water which gives Hell Hole Creek a beautiful aqua colour. In the dry season, the creek still flows but you will not see the waterfalls to their maximum potential. There are two sets of the gorges, the upper and lower; be sure to visit them both when you're in the area. Hell Hole Creek flows into Star River.
If you want to sleep overnight, there are plenty of places to camp in sandy creek bed. Check weather forecast before you go as the smooth granite rocks are very slippery in the wet! Wet rocks only mean that you will have to climb out of the creek and walk along the top. The eastern side and western cliffs have side gullies that might impede your progress; Otherwise you may go a long way inland to avoid them.
To get to the bottom of the gorge you will need to scrambled down the top waterfall to the base. From here, go along the base of the cliff face if capable or scramble on friable surface along the western side, which is challenging in itself (probably more risky as well). The walk along the creek is easy rock hopping, through great creek gorge terrain. Reach top of the second waterfall, further along is pink gorge which should allow half a day to get to. There a few sand banks along the way to set up a nice camp site or to rest. There's an amazing view of the waterfalls and gorge for the cliffs if you have the energy to climb up the sides.
Other sights to see
Just south of Hell Hole Creek is what is known as Button Hole Rock. If you want a day's want, a good walk is from Hell Hole Gorge to Button Rock. Other creeks and gorges in the area are Return Creek and Narke Creek.
Also, just upstream from Star River is Miners Creek which is where the Blue Gum Circuit & Triple Falls are; access via Paluma Village's H Track.
Photo Credit Keith Dyson
Photo Credit Keith Dyson
Here's an interactive map of the area:
I host advenutres every weekend around Townsville. If you are fit and capable, join us on these expeditions by visiting Townsville Advenutres.
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