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About Misty Mountains

Getting there and getting around

The four main walking tracks (Koolmoon Creek, Cannabullen Creek, Cardwell Range and Gorrell tracks) can be walked in either direction. Access to the trailheads for these tracks is as follows:

Bally Knob trailhead—access for Koolmoon Creek track

From Ravenshoe follow the signs to Little Millstream Falls—travel 1.2 km to the Kennedy Highway then south along Tully Falls Road for 0.5 km. Turn right into Wooroora Road and travel a further 1.7 km to the carpark at Little Millstream Falls.

Cochable Creek camping area—access for Koolmoon Creek and Cannabullen Creek tracks

Travel west from Tully along Jarra Creek and Cardstone roads for 40 km. Just before the Tully River bridge, turn right into Cochable Creek/H Road (unsealed and signposted ‘Misty Mountains’), and continue for 9 km to Cochable Creek camping area. Please note that it is not possible to drive between Cardstone Road and Tully Falls Road.

Hinson Creek trailhead—access for Cannabullen Creek and Cardwell Range tracks

From Millaa Millaa travel for 10 km along the Ravenshoe–Millaa Millaa scenic drive (Old Palmerston Highway) and turn left into Maalan Road. After 6.5 km turn left again into Sutties Gap Road (partially unsealed). Travel 7.2 km along Sutties Gap Road to Hinson Creek trailhead.

Alternatively, from Cairns travel south along the Bruce Highway towards Innisfail. Five kilometres north of Innisfail (83 km south of Cairns) turn right on to the Palmerston Highway and travel for about 30 km to K-tree Road, on the left. Follow K-tree Road until it joins Maple Creek Road (past South Johnstone camping area) and continue on to the Hinson Creek trailhead (32.7 km from the Palmerston Highway). The roads in this part of the Misty Mountains are unsealed, unsignposted gravel roads; four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended. These roads may be closed during times of extremely wet weather.

Cardwell Range trailhead—access for Cardwell Range track

From Ravenshoe, travel 1.2 km to the Kennedy Highway and then south along Tully Falls Road for 2.8 km. Turn left into Cockram Road and then follow the Gold Coast Road to the trailhead at the end (2.4 km from Tully Falls Road).

Gorrell trailhead (western)—access for Gorrell track

Travel south from Cairns along the Bruce Highway towards Innisfail. Five kilometres north of Innisfail (83 km south of Cairns) turn right on to the Palmerston Highway and travel for about 30 km to the K-tree Road turn-off on the left. Follow K-tree Road for 12.3 km to South Johnstone camping area then continue for another 2.4 km to the trailhead. K-tree Road is unsealed but, is suitable for conventional vehicles with care as far as the Gorrell trailhead (except during wet weather). Beyond this point four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.

Gorrell trailhead (eastern)—access for Gorrell track

Travel south from Innisfail to South Johnstone and Mena Creek (20km). From Mena Creek, take the partially sealed Mena Creek Road for 10km to the Gorrell trailhead (eastern). Mena Creek Road is suitable for conventional vehicles.

Road conditions

K-tree, Maple Creek, Sutties Gap, Bora Ground and Maalan roads are all unsealed but K-tree Road is well-formed with gravel as far as the Gorrell trailhead (western). Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended and all roads are unsuitable for caravans, motor homes or buses. These roads may be slippery when wet.

Gates at the entrance to these roads may be locked to stop access during times of extremely wet weather or for road works. Contact us to enquire about local road conditions.

Track features

The Misty Mountains walking tracks cross the Walter Hill Range and the Cardwell Range, extending from the coastal plain to the tablelands. The area forms part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and is recognised for its diversity of rainforest types, plant species and outstanding landscape features.

Four long tracks—the Koolmoon Creek, Cannabullen Creek, Cardwell Range and Gorrell tracks—make up the Misty Mountains wilderness walking tracks. Sections of some of the tracks are accessible for shorter walks.

Wheelchair accessibility

The Misty Mountains wilderness walking tracks are not wheelchair accessible.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Bush camping areas are provided at specific sites on the tracks. They are generally small clearings that can at times be covered in long grass and shrubs. If you cannot find the designated clearing you can camp off the track in another suitable site. Only the camping areas at South Johnstone and Cochable Creek have toilet and picnic table facilities.

Henrietta Creek camping area, adjacent to the Misty Mountains, has a greater range of facilities.

Camping permits are required and fees apply.

Other accommodation

Commercial accommodation is available at Ravenshoe, Millaa Millaa, Innisfail, Tully and the surrounding area. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Things to do

View from Cannabullen Falls. Photo: Barry Schmith, NPRSR.

View from Cannabullen Falls. Photo: Barry Schmith, NPRSR.

Walking

The Misty Mountain wilderness walking track network is intended for visitors with medium to advanced bushwalking and navigation skills. Walkers may be required to find their way along indistinct tracks in remote locations. All walkers should carry maps and navigation equipment. See things to know before you go and staying safe for more information.

Many of the Misty Mountains wilderness walking tracks follow disused logging roads with an open forest canopy. This disturbed and well-lit environment encourages growth of weeds such as guinea grass, lantana and giant bramble. Walkers should expect encroaching, fallen and overhanging vegetation. Long grass, stinging trees and other abrasive plants can make walking slow and uncomfortable in some areas. Protective clothing is recommended.

The track network consists of four main tracks. Sections of some of the tracks are accessible for shorter walks (details under individual track listings).

Koolmoon Creek track (orange track)

Access to trailheads
Distance: 35.5 km one-way by most direct route (including 4 km on Tully Falls Road)
Grade: difficult
Track marker: orange
Camping: Koolmoon Creek headwaters, Walters Waterhole and Cochable Creek camping areas

The Koolmoon Creek track leads through Tully Falls and Tully Gorge national parks from near Ravenshoe to Cochable Creek camping area, north-west of Tully. A series of linking loop tracks, all connecting to Tully Falls Road, provides opportunities for walkers to complete both extended hikes and shorter day walks. Walkers are advised to arrange vehicle pick up from the end of their walk because Tully Falls Road is narrow and winding and dangerous for pedestrians.

Koolmoon Creek track sections

Some sections of the Koolmoon Creek track can be undertaken as individual short walks. These are described below.

Bally Knob walk (5.9 km) Grade: difficult

The nearest walk to Ravenshoe leads to Bally Knob, a high point with good views of the township and the western tablelands. The walk to Bally Knob starts at the carpark in Little Millstream Falls and then crosses the road—look out for the Misty Mountains track marker. It leads through sclerophyll forest dominated by rose gums and casuarina trees for 4 km to the top of Bally Knob. A steep 1.9 km descent then takes the walker down to Tully Falls Road, 7.3 km from Ravenshoe. Alternatively, park here to climb to Bally Knob, 3.8 km return.

Koolmoon Creek headwaters walk (5.4 km) Grade: moderate

A Misty Mountains track sign, 11.3 km from Ravenshoe, indicates a wide track on the left-hand side of the road. Walk through private land for 1.3km to the trailhead; please respect this private land and leave gates as you find them. The Koolmoon Creek headwaters trailhead sign stands at the entrance to the walk, which leads into dense rainforest. After a further 2.4 km you can choose to continue along the Koolmoon Creek track or take a right turn to reach the Tully Falls Road at the Rhyolite Pinnacle trailhead (1.7km), 13.5km from Ravenshoe.

Rhyolite Pinnacle walk (11.1 km) Grade: difficult

From a small parking area on the right-hand side of the road 13.5 km from Ravenshoe, a short track leads across the road to the start of an 11 km walk. About 6 km from the start, a steep ascent leads to the top of Rhyolite Pinnacle (100 m from the main track) and panoramic views of the Tully River valley and the coast. Just 1.3 km from this point, the walker can choose to continue on to Tully Falls Road (3.7 km), 17 km from Ravenshoe, or walk on to Walters Waterhole (3.1 km).

Walters Waterhole walk (11.3 km) Grade: moderate

This walk leaves Tully Falls Road 17 km from Ravenshoe. After 3.7 km, turn right at the junction with the main track and continue for about 3 km to an old bridge with views of Koolmoon Creek and Walters Waterhole; this area was nominated as a ‘beauty spot’ by the Queensland Forest Service prior to 1969. Continue for 1.1 km to the Walters Waterhole camping area and turn right to return to Tully Falls Road at the Djilgarrin trailhead (3.4 km), just 1.5 km from your starting point (18.5 km from Ravenshoe).

Djilgarrin section of the Koolmoon Creek track (15.4 km) Grade: difficult

From the Djilgarrin trailhead, 18.5 km from Ravenshoe, a former forestry track leads for 3.4 km through the forest to Walters Waterhole camping area. From this point, the well-prepared walker can follow the Djilgarrin section of the Koolmoon Creek track to the Cochable Creek camping area. This leg of the walk should be undertaken only by experienced and prepared bushwalkers as it is very steep and involves wide creek crossings. Koolmoon and Cochable creeks may be impassable after heavy rain. Because of the steep gradients, it is recommended that you begin this track from the higher Ravenshoe end. Please note that it is not possible to drive between Cardstone Road and Tully Falls Road.

Elizabeth Grant Falls walk (5.2 km; 10.4 km return) Grade: moderate

At Elizabeth Grant Falls, the waters of Koolmoon Creek tumble and crash 300 m down a sheer rock face. Starting from Cochable Creek camping area, follow the main Koolmoon Creek track across the causeway. After about 3 km the main (Djilgarrin) track takes a left turn through an arch formed by two magnificent strangler fig trees. The track to the falls lookout goes straight ahead for a further 2 km. The falls themselves are not accessible; walkers must stop at the lookout and not attempt to get closer. This is the end of the track—return is by the same route.

Cannabullen Creek track (blue track)

Access to trailheads

Distance: 14.5 km one way
Grade: difficult
Track marker: blue
Camping: Hinson Creek, Carter Creek and Cochable Creek camping areas

This track follows the steep ridges above Cannabullen and Cochable creeks, with several creek crossings. A scenic waterfall, Whispey Falls, can be seen from the walking track, 3.5km from Cochable Creek camping area.

Cardwell Range track (red track)

Access to trailheads
Distance: 19 km one way (20.5 km to Hinson Creek trailhead or 26.7 km including side trips)
Grade: difficult
Track marker: red (the eastern end of the track joins the Cannabullen Creek track with blue markers)
Camping: Cannabullen Creek and Hinson Cree camping areas

This track follows the rolling slopes of the Cardwell Range. You will pass through rainforest typical of the uplands of the western tablelands and along the fringes of the Wet Tropics. Bunya pines grow on the western side of Cannabullen Gorge. These trees have not changed since ancient times and this is one of only two areas in north Queensland where they occur naturally. Two side tracks lead to Cannabullen Falls and Majors Mountain lookouts.

Cardwell Range track sections

Some sections of the Cardwell Range track can be undertaken as individual short walks. These are described below.

Majors Mountain lookout walk (3 km; 6 km return) Grade: difficult

Starting from the Cardwell Range trailhead, walk for 2.1km until you reach a turn-off to the right. Continue for 900m to the lookout. Return via the same route.

Cannabullen Falls lookout walk (6.1 km; 12.2 km return) Grade: moderate

From the Hinson Creek trailhead, follow the Cannabullen Creek track (blue markers) for 1.5 km and the Cardwell Range track (red markers) for a further 2.4 km to the Cannabullen Falls lookout turn-off on the left. The lookout is a further 2.2 km along this track. Return by the same route.

Gorrell track (yellow track)

Access to trailheads
Distance: 25.8 km one way
Grade: moderate
Track marker: yellow
Camping: Downey Creek and South Johnstone camping areas

The Gorrell track takes you through the Downey Creek catchment. King ferns, bunya pines, epiphytes and giant strangler figs are features of the forest in this area. Cyclone Winifred passed through the coastal ranges between Babinda and Tully in 1986 and was followed in 2006 by cyclone Larry, with wind gusts of 240 kilometres/hour. Damage to the vegetation and the forest canopy at Downey Creek is evidence of the effects of these cyclones. Please note that Downey Creek could be impassable after heavy rain.

Gorrell track sections

One section of the Gorrell track can be undertaken as an individual short walk. This is described below.

McNamee Creek walk (3.7 km; 7.4 km return) Grade: moderate

From the eastern Gorrell trailhead follow the track markers to this pleasant creek-side picnic area.

Driving

The Misty Mountains road network

A 36 km scenic drive winds through picturesque rainforest from the Palmerston Highway, via the K-tree, Maple Creek and Sutties Gap roads, to the Ravenshoe–Millaa Millaa scenic drive (Old Palmerston Highway) about 10 km east of Ravenshoe. A shorter route is via Bora Ground and Maalan roads but this route is more likely to be boggy after rain.

All these roads are unsealed but K-tree Road is well-formed with gravel as far as the Gorrell trailhead (western). Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended and all roads are unsuitable for caravans, motorhomes or buses.

Gates at the entrance to these roads may be locked to stop access during times of extremely wet weather or for road works. Contact us to enquire about local road conditions.

Things to know before you go

Essentials to bring

Walkers must be well prepared and responsible for their own safety.

Equipment recommended for day walks includes:

  • hat and sunscreen
  • suitable clothing and sturdy shoes—expect scratchy or stinging plants and periods of hard walking through encroaching vegetation
  • wet weather gear
  • sufficient non-perishable food and other supplies
  • plenty of drinking water
  • bags for rubbish
  • insect repellent
  • suitable first-aid kit
  • topographical map, GPS, brochure and compass—sections of tracks may be indistinct
  • at least one form of communication equipment. Satellite phones and Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) are the most effective. Mobile phone coverage is generally not available.

Additional equipment recommended for overnight walks includes:

  • waterproof tent, poles and pegs
  • bedding
  • fuel stove, fuel supply and waterproof matches (open fires are prohibited and collecting firewood is not allowed in national parks)
  • cooking utensils
  • equipment for treating water
  • torch.

Opening hours

These tracks are open 24 hours a day but may be closed during extreme weather conditions and for maintenance.

Permits and fees

Camping permits are required and fees apply. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your campsite.

Pets

Leave your pets at home. Domestic animals are not permitted in national parks.

Climate and weather

This area is one of the wettest in Australia and during the tropical wet season (December to April) is subjected to numerous heavy downpours, low cloud and mist. Extra caution is required when walking in wet conditions (which can occur at any time of the year). The tracks can be slippery, leeches are very active and creeks may rise rapidly and flow swiftly, making crossings dangerous. Tracks and access roads, such as the Sutties Gap, Maple Creek and K-tree roads, may be closed at this time. Temperatures and humidity can also be uncomfortably high during the summer.

April to October is a much more pleasant season for walking although, in this mountainous area, rain can fall at any time and walkers should be well prepared. The tropical climate of north Queensland is tempered somewhat by elevation, and temperatures at night and during wet weather can be quite low.

For more information see the tourism information links below. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available at Ravenshoe, Millaa Millaa, South Johnstone, Mena Creek, Innisfail, Silkwood and Tully. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Staying safe

Walking in the Misty Mountains. Photo: Ann Chalmers, NPRSR.

Walking in the Misty Mountains. Photo: Ann Chalmers, NPRSR.

  • Walkers must be well prepared and responsible for their own safety.
  • Inform a responsible person of your walking plans, including anticipated starting and finishing times, and check in with that person on your return.
  • Mobile phone coverage is not available. Carry at least one form of communication equipment. Satellite phones and Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) are the most effective.
  • Plan your walk to reach a suitable campground or pick-up point before dark.
  • Wear sunscreen, a hat and sturdy footwear.
  • Ensure you carry adequate food and plenty of drinking water.
  • Beware of potentially slippery tracks and roads. Be careful at creek crossings—stones are often slippery, water levels can change rapidly and creeks become impassable during wet weather which can occur at any time of year; see track notes.
  • Stay on the marked tracks.
  • Stay away from cliff edges.
  • Wear protective clothing and insect repellent for protection against scratches, stings, leeches (which can be very active) and insect bites.
  • Cassowaries (large flightless birds), feral pigs, snakes, ticks and stinging trees are potentially hazardous. Do not feed wildlife. Leeches and march flies can be very irritating.
  • At times designated bush campgrounds will be covered in long grass and shrubs. If you cannot find the designated clearing you can camp off the track in another suitable site.

Stinging trees

Never touch stinging trees. These dangerous native plants grow throughout the Misty Mountains. Leaves and other parts of stinging trees are covered with tiny, needle-like hairs that inject a toxin into skin on contact. The sting is extremely painful and can last for several months.

These plants have distinctive heart-shaped leaves with serrated edges and raspberry-like green to red fruits. Their numbers have increased considerably since cyclone Larry opened up the forest canopy in 2006. Stinging hairs can be removed using adhesive products such as sticking plaster, tape or waxing strips. If you are stung and symptoms are severe, seek medical advice.

For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

  • Everything in these national parks, living or dead, is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.
  • Take all rubbish away with you.
  • Do not use soap or detergents in the creeks.
  • Bury human waste and toilet paper at least 15cm deep and 100m from tracks, campsites and waterways to guard against pollution and the spread of disease.
  • Leave your pets at home. Domestic animals are not permitted in national parks.
  • Please stay on the track. Shortcutting damages vegetation and causes erosion, and may misdirect other walkers.
  • Please do not feed the wildlife—it can affect their health and alter the natural population balance.
  • Do not fossick in, take from or cause damage to cultural sites.
  • Use fuel stoves only. Campfires are prohibited.

Phytophthora

Phytophthora cinnamomi is a destructive disease blamed for causing ‘forest dieback’ by feeding on plant tissue and killing its host by interfering with its ability to take in and circulate water. It is spread easily by water and moist, infected soil that may be carried on vehicles, earth-moving equipment, camping equipment and footwear. To prevent its spread, visitors are asked to wash mud and dirt from all vehicles, clothes, footwear and tent pegs before and after visiting the Misty Mountains

Frog chytrid fungus

This is a water-borne skin disease that is common in stream-dwelling frogs within the Wet Tropics. It is particularly virulent in the cooler, upland areas. To prevent its spread, please do not handle frogs or tadpoles or transport them from one area to another.

See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

The Misty Mountains wilderness walking tracks traverse sections of Tully Gorge, Tully Falls and Wooroonooran national parks. They also lie within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Declared in 1988, the World Heritage area stretches from Townsville in the south to Cooktown in the north, and contains some of the oldest continuously surviving rainforests in the world.

These tracks, part of the Queensland Heritage Trails Network were constructed under a unique partnership between the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, the then shires of Eacham, Herberton, Cardwell and Johnstone, Traditional Owners, and volunteers from Conservation Volunteers Australia. Officially opened in August 2003, they were severely affected by cyclone Larry in March 2006; disturbance to the forest will be evident for several years

Tourism information links

Tully Visitor and Heritage Centre
Bruce Highway, Tully Qld 4854
ph 07 4068 2288
fax 07 4068 2858
email: tullytourism@ccrc.qld.gov.au

Ravenshoe Visitor Centre
www.ravenshoevisitorcentre.com.au
24 Moore Street, Ravenshoe Qld 4888
ph 07 4097 7700
fax 07 4097 7700
email info@ravenshoevisitorcentre.com.au

Atherton Information Centre
www.athertoninformationcentre.com.au
Corner Main Street and Silo Road, Atherton Qld 4883
ph 07 4091 4222 or 07 4091 7394
fax 07 4091 5828
email: athinfocentre@trc.qld.gov.au

Innisfail Information Centre
www.innisfailtourism.com.au
Corner Bruce Hwy and Eslick Street, Innisfail Qld 4860
ph 07 4061 2655
fax: 07 4061 2199
email: innisfailtourism@ccrc.qld.gov.au

Malanda Falls Visitor Information Centre
www.malandafalls.com
Atherton Road, Malanda Qld 4885
ph 07 4096 6957
email info@malandafalls.com

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see www.queenslandholidays.com.au.

Further information

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Last updated
9 June 2011