The Whitsunday Great Walk is a great multi day hike that all visitors to Airlie Beach should consider….
I have just returned from a 3 day hike of the Whitsunday Great Walk in the Conway National Park. I had previously written about this place (click here to read) and was extremely eager to get back there and check it out for myself……and I was not disappointed.
Stretching 30kms our small group walked amongst low lying rainforest, through streams, up steep inclines and along a well maintained trail that services both hikers and mountain bikers alike.
Queensland Parks grade this hike as and I can see why. Some of the steeper sections may prove harder going for those less experienced, but anyone who is able to chip away and keep going could easily do them. And to be honest, they really don’t last too long at all.
In terms of navigation, this trail is easy to locate, with no real navigation required.
(Caveat here people – I think it is so important and necessary that outdoor types have at least basic navigation skills)
The walk can be done in either direction. However, finishing in Airlie Beach was a no brainer for us, as this meant a dip in the lagoon to cool off followed by a nice strong coffee or pint of beer (whichever takes your fancy).
Start Point– The starting point is Forestry Road Carpark
Shute Harbour Road connects the Bruce Highway to Airlie Beach. From Shute Harbour Road you need to turn up Brandy Creek Road and keep going until you reach the end of the road where you will find the carpark. Forestry Road begins with the change from tarmac to gravel.
We parked my car here for the three days with no dramas.
End Point – Kara Crescent, Airlie Beach
Kara Crescent is a residential cul-de-sac with limited parking. We parked a little distance away with no problems. This just meant few extra hundred meters at the end.
Forestry Creek Carpark to Repulse Creek Campsite.
This first leg of the trail is really pleasant. Many of the smaller under growth plants are the same as those found in backyard gardens only healthier, with more intense greens. I saw flowers that I never knew existed. The forest changes with every bend and we couldn’t help but comment of how out of place the odd tall palm tree seems.
After setting camp we head to Repulse Creek for a dip. The water is crystal clear, cool and incredibly welcoming. The scent of the lemon myrtle trees drifts in the breeze that surrounds us. All is pleasant and tranquil….until I come face to face with a fresh water eel! He gives me a fright, and I give him his space.
Later that night we explore the campsite and discover the biggest cane toad I have ever seen. These toads are not frightened of anything, we try to scare the big guy but he just sits there. The cane toad is a pest in Australia and has suffocated so many small waterways in our forests and towns, having a crippling impact on many native species. He is easy prey and a poisonous one at that, I just hope no native animal decided to dine and die on him that night.
Repulse Creek Campsite to Bloodwood Campsite
This was my favourite day. I loved walking deeper into the forest and looking off the track at the huge trees and entwining vines that’s are typical in these forests. It feels very prehistoric or straight out of a scene from the Avatar movie.
Today was fungi spotting day. I’m kind of obsessed with hunting for fungi on my hikes, a habit passed to me by my Nan when I was a small girl, and there were a plethora to see on this hike.
Bloodwood Campsite is hidden amongst the trees so you are right there with nature. While we are cooking up our dinner we get a visit from a small native nocturnal mouse unfairly referred to as a Bush rat, but no rat could be that cute.
Later we see a Bilby scourging for food. I can’t believe it, its something I never thought I would see in the wild. We watch him eating ants and searching around for sometime then leave him to it.
Bloodwood Campsite to Airlie Beach (Kara Crescent)
The last day is mostly up hill. It is challenging and makes you hungry for that dip in the lagoon at Airlie Beach.
Plenty of short breaks are necessary as it felt at times that we were continuously walking up. About half way through the track levels out for a nice walk to the finish.
Along the way I i had a close call with a green tree python and we startle a huge goanna sunning himself on the track. As far as wildlife spotting goes, this trail gets a big thumbs up from me.
The finish point is a welcome sight and it’s not long before we are diving into that cool water and enjoying a well deserved meal.
Water tanks are located at each campsite, however you will need to purify it. On day two, you can do a refill about 5 km before Bloodwood Campsite where there are tanks placed for that very reason.
The track is easily identified and well maintained. We took a print out of the Visitors guide (see below) from the National Parks Website as seen above, it served us well.
Each Campsite has boxes so that you can store your food away from animals during the night.
There are no rubbish bins, so make sure you have a system to carry out all your waste.
Each campsite has toilet facilities.
There are three Helicopter Evacuation points along the trail. Makes sense as this trail is popular with mountain bikers.
Parking is limited at Kara Crescent, so consider parking on the main street below.
Pack sandals for water crossings (more prevalent after a big rain or during the wet season).
Camp permits are required, with national parks rangers frequently on the trail. You can purchase them from parks link below.
The walk is closed during the wet season from Feb to Mar each year. See parks website for more details