Story & Photos by Graeme and
Isabelle Hurst, SY Quiet Achiever
Your dreams have come true; you have
arrived at the Whitsundays and when safely anchored in one of
the delightful sheltered inlets, you soon see the islands are
every bit as beautiful as your dreams had promised. The handsome
hoop pines and shady she-oaks right down to the water's edge,
the tall peaks, crystal-clear water and white sandy beaches they
are all there beckoning. Now you are eager to get ashore and
stretch your legs, so are there any goods walks to be enjoyed?
Yes is the answer. They seem to be a bit
of a secret, but we have found that some of the islands offer
lovely walks that provide an excellent opportunity to explore
interesting and at times spectacular scenery while also maintaining
a healthy level of fitness. Most of the islands are National
Parks, and have well-maintained paths and viewing areas that
are well-sign posted. The variety of walks will suit all interests
with their abundance of tropical flora and fauna and scenic views
that are the stuff of glossy travel literature. The walking tracks
will suit most levels of fitness and stamina, from the leisurely
coastal stroll to the challenge of climbing a mountain.
We enjoy our walks and took the time to
search out many of them, and would like to share our favourite
locations with you.
Brampton is one of the few islands with
a path that allows you to walk right around the whole coastline.
The track is well maintained and relatively easy, but it is a
longish walk taking about 2 3 hours, so it is advisable to take
some refreshments. Like all the islands in the Cumberland Group,
the moist south easterly trade winds prevail, creating some interesting
diversity in the flora. The south eastern side of the island
is moist, lush and very tropical with its shady overhead canopy,
and a delightful variety of green leafy plants, vines and maiden-hair
ferns. The track passes by beautiful Dinghy Bay on the southern
side of the island, which makes a very worthwhile diversion,
particularly if you remembered your birthday suit! Nearby there
are picnic tables among a stand of tall hoop pine where the breeze
usually provides cool relief as it sighs through the shady trees.
The western side of the island is dry and
more sparsely populated with hardy shrubs and eucalypts that
cling to the arid terrain. Look carefully and you may see a lace
monitor quietly foraging in the undergrowth. In the north-eastern
corner of Brampton is the welcoming resort where you may relax
by the pool with a cold drink, or take a refreshing shower.
Leading off the circuit track near the
airstrip is the summit track that leads up to the highest point
of the island with two splendid lookouts offering magnificent
views of Brampton and the neighbouring islands. The summit track
is all uphill, and may be best planned as a separate adventure.
It takes you through more lush vegetation as you wind your way
endlessly upwards. The views are well worth the walk, and there
are some welcome seats at the lookouts to assist your recovery
in the gentle breeze that often drifts in. Also look out for
the 4000-year-old cyclad near the track in the grounds of the
South Molle Island
The only anchorage at South Molle is in
the northern bay off the resort, so the walks all start and end
from across the golf course behind the resort. South Molle Island
has a number of lovely walks and our two favourites are the Spion
Kopf track, and the walk to the summit.
The Spion Kopf track is possibly the most
exciting walk in the Whitsundays, with much of it cut out of
the side of a steep spur and offering unobstructed views across
the spectacular coastline and surrounding islands. The grass
trees are the dominant plant and their beauty adds to the exhilaration
of this walk. While the 90 minute walk winds its way uphill to
an impressive lookout, it is not a strenuous walk, except for
a steep section near the end.
The walk to the summit is longer and there
is not much shade along the way, but the views across to Shute
Harbour and Daydream Island make the effort worthwhile. Share
the Spion Kopf track to the junction and allow about 2 hours
for the round trip. On the return trip, look out for the colony
of fruit bats in the branches above the track as you near the
Visiting sailors are welcome at South Molle,
and the pool is a great way to cool off after the walk. Consider
planning your visit for a Friday and enjoy the seafood banquet
and South Seas Island floorshow good fun!
Rising up from Cid Harbour, Whitsunday
Peak is the tallest mountain in the area, and the route to the
top is by far the most challenging! While the track appears well-formed
at the start near the camping ground, once you turn uphill at
the junction, it soon becomes a narrow, steep and difficult climb
over some very rough terrain. Most of the track is under the
tall canopy of the forest and takes you past some magnificent
stands of Hoop Pine, perhaps the tallest that remain in the islands
after the loggers went through more than 100 years ago. Cid Harbour
was once the site of a saw mill!
After climbing the first peak, the track
drops down into a saddle before rising again for the strenuous
haul up to the summit. At this stage the track is hard to follow,
requiring you to keep a lookout for the coloured ribbons in the
trees marking the way. The terrain is very rough leading up from
the saddle, and the person who marked the track does not appear
to have put much thought into avoiding the most difficult sections
as you scramble over rocky outcrops rather than skirt around
them. It all adds to the challenge and sense of achievement once
the trees thin out and you reach the pinnacle.
From the summit, the views are magnificent
in every direction, and the whole Whitsunday Group can be seen
clearly. Make sure you bring your camera as well as lots of water
for this 4 hour round trip.
There are two good anchorages at Long Island,
and both are off resorts who make yachties very welcome. To the
north is Happy Bay and the Club Crocodile Resort, while further
south is the classy Peppers Palm Bay Resort in Palm Bay. The
delightful forest walks are accessible from either resort. There
is also the highlight at the Peppers Palm Bay Resort of mooring
close to the beach with the stern of your boat tied to a palm
tree! All the facilities of this peaceful up-market resort are
made available to you.
Leading up to the north of the island is
the 3.5km circuit called the Whitsunday walk, which takes a comfortable
hour to complete. Winding through lush rainforest which is part
of the Molle National Park, the track is well made and features
comfortable inclines. There are magnificent elevated views of
the Whitsunday Islands from the eastern section. An interesting
detour at low tide is a walk out to Pelican Island on the eastern
side of Long Island.
Meandering south is the Sandy Bay track,
which connects the Club Crocodile Resort to the Peppers Palm
Bay Resort before heading south to Sandy Bay. The walk is 5.9
km if you leave from Club Crocodile, and should take 1-1.5 hours.
The rainforest and canopy gives welcome relief from the hot sun
and gives occasional coastal glimpses through the dense foliage.
You may also see a wallaby along the way. There are pretty detours
Fish Bay and Pandanas Bay that are well
One of the shortest of our favourite walks
is the walk up to the aboriginal cave on the eastern shore of
Nara Inlet. It is believed the Ngaro aboriginals occupied the
cave on their fishing expeditions to Hook Island before white
occupation. There are remains of aboriginal artwork on the cave
walls, some of which have been touched up for better display.
There are also some fine specimens of the ancient Zamia Palm
(Calas Media) in the area.
The track continues on past the cave where
there are several good lookouts offering fine views down Nara
Inlet and some great photographs of your yacht at anchor. The
path can be taken right through to the head of Nara Inlet where
it meets a dry river bed that has some rocky outcrops that form
a large waterfall during the wet season. The adventurous can
follow the rocky creek bed for some distance inland.
A dinghy is required to get to the start
of the track which leads off a small beach up some steps that
have been formed into the side of the rocky cliff. The walk to
the cave takes about 10 minutes and is not hard, while you should
allow up to an hour to explore the rest of the track through
to the top of Nara Inlet.
While these are our favourite walks, there
are other good ones to consider at Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach
(Marina to Sailing club take your swimmers for the lagoon), Whitehaven
Beach, Lindeman Island and Tongue Point on
Whitsunday Island with its fabulous view of Whitehaven Beach.
Hope you have as much enjoyment as we did.
There are no doubt many other good walks,
and maybe other Coastal Passage readers would like to share them