Saturday, 9 July 2016

Whitsunday Great Walk

Tuesday's hike

The Conway circuit has become an extension of the Great Walk Whitsunday, for mountain bikers. When Laurel  and I read the sign below, we were wondering  just how strenuous the day would be. We were doing the trail in the reverse, to to get the steep climbing over and done with for the day. We departed in dim light. Whilst it was a 3 hour slog to the first viewing point, in high humidity and a winter temperature of 21C [70F] at 6.30am, surely we wouldn't require 3 days to walk the trail!

The weather didn’t give us the clear skies we were hoping for. As we climbed the steps, we turned and paused, to soak up the tranquility of Airlie Beach.

Once we had climbed the last step, we had no view at all for 2 1/2 hours until we arrived at Bloodwood camp. 7.4 kms of continuous ridge climbing, accompanied by the chirping, twittering  and warbling sounds of a large variety of birds, seldom spotted.
Bloodwood Camp

View over Airlie Beach
The ridge we followed.
Thick rainforest below us.

The trail was mostly smooth for which we were grateful. Had the elevation we were experiencing been combined with rocks and steps, our progress would have been much slower. As it was, I could often hear my heart pounding in my chest and the sweat was dripping from my face, even at this early hour. 
Much of the trail was covered in thick leaf litter, sprinkled with tiny white star shaped blossoms of a rainforest tree.

These photos of the early trail, do not capture the true nature of the incline.

Some of the trail was littered with small chunky rocks. 

An avenue of palms trees sheltered us from a light rain shower late in the hike.

There were several creek crossings, with all but one having stepping stones for us to cross on.

I was very impressed with Parks management of the trail. There were several points on the trail that had drop toilets, water tanks, and several camping grounds.

11.6 kms saw us at the Mt Haywood lookout, at 11am.
Shute Harbour

Our plan was to have a 15 min rest here, but large numbers of over friendly leeches, saw us leave quickly and in my case, blood  was streaming down my leg.

Mt Haywood was the highest point we had to reach. We were still ridge walking, but transitioning into a mixture of ascent and descent, over shorter periods, allowing us to catch our breathe and increase our pace. 

For an extremely short period [near water tanks] we exited the thick trees.

About midday, in the thick of the rainforest, we thought we were imagining things. But no, the vehicle sound which was growing closer, finally appeared. It belonged to forestry workers, making sure the track was clear.

Not long after leaving Mt Haywood, the sound of water far below, accompanied us until we came to our first creek crossing. With the heavy rain of the previous day, it was surprising to see it so crystal clear.

I pm saw us excitedly arriving  at Little Repulse creek for lunch, foot soak and a well earned rest. Thankfully NO leeches.

 As I lay back on my boulder to relieve my tired back, the sky was a dazzling blue, framed by the rich greens of the rainforest trees. Sheer bliss! My feet, dangling in the water, were beginning to feel that they would get me through the remaining 10 kms.

From here on the gurgling of the unseen Repulse creek continued and the track widened.   

Nearing 3 pm this luxuriant growth welcomed us to Repulse Creek. This was the crossing where we had to remove our shoes, so it made sense to take another break in this magical setting. It was sheer pleasure to remove my shoes. There was no rush. We only had 6 kms to go. I delighted in the beauty of the area, chilled my feet, washed my face, wet my hair, ate a snack and reenergised, strode off. 

The 1st 4 kms passed relatively quickly, but the final two dragged and dragged. 
It didn’t help that Laurel had assured me time and again, that the last section was all but a stroll in the park! 
No we didn’t have to climb the hill that loomed in front of us, but we did have to climb round its base to the car park. I forgive her. The hike had been hard, but it had been a brilliant and satisfying hike down under in north Queensland.

The job done!
Waiting for our transport to arrive.
Two very happy hikers.

I would love to read your comment.


  1. The "avenue of trees" is my absolute favorite! Well done!

  2. Congrats on completing your walk! Looks like a true adventure. Nice views from the ridgetops.

  3. I would be devouring a couple of those chimney cones after this one! Great work on that Great Walk!

  4. Definitely a Great Walk if you can do a 3 day hike in one day! Well done!

  5. What a walk! I would be curious to know if I could manage the hike as well as you did...
    Lovely views, fortunately no photos of the leeches! :)