Updated: Nov 6, 2019
Before you start
Trail name: Alligator Creek falls
Distance: 9 km (one way). Realistic time with children 4 hours one way (with lots of stops).
How to get there: Follow the Bruce Highway South of Townsville. Turn off the Bruce highway on to Alligator Creek road, which has signage for Bowling Green Bay National Park. Follow Alligator Creek road all the way to the Alligator Creek picnic area.
Welcome to the Alligator Creek Falls trail!
Have you ever thought about hiking alligator creek falls with children?
Hidden amongst the Bowling Green National Park, a massive waterfall originating from the top of Mount Elliot streams down over a rock wall, its name is Alligator Creek Falls.
Alligator Creek falls attracts adventurers whom search for remote areas to relax and enjoy nature. Exploring this area of Bowling Green National Park was something we always wanted to do since we arrived to Townsville four years ago, however, the length of the trail kept us away from exploring this place.
From all the information on the web about this place, we couldn't find anything related to exploring this trail with children, so I was a bit sceptical on doing it. Would it be too far for kids to walk? or too steep?
Preparing for the trip
We thought then, why not walk there, camp overnight, then hike out the next day? So we took my old hiking tent from Norway out of storage, and dusted it off. We found our old hiking backpacks and decided what to take for one night (read below for more information). We booked a night at the camping site and went to bed looking forward to start our adventure the next day.
A long day ahead...(are we there yet?)
Next morning, with our gear ready we drove to Alligator Creek, left the car at the carpark and started our walk around 10:00 am.
The first 2 km of the walk were familiar to us, as we have done Cockatoo creek trail several times. We did our first stop here, and jumped in the Creek to cool down. After passing the Creek we followed a road surrounded by long grasses and sparsely wooded spaces. As we walked, dozens of butterflies emerged from the grass colouring our way. We passed several river crossings but the most challenging crossing was the one half way. The creek was deep (above waist height thanks to our recent rains) and we decided to walk further down river where we found some shallower areas to cross. We had our first long stop here to have lunch.
We continued along, the trail was easy to follow, and the landscape didn't change much until about 8 km from the start. Here we saw the sign to Alligator Creek Falls, which took us from the access road we had been walking on, on to a narrow path through a forest. In this part of the trail, the forest slowly changed from a dry sclerophyll forest into a subtropical rainforest The sound of the waterfall grew stronger as we continued along the trail, which became increasingly steep.
The girls did very well for about 8 km but as we passed the forest bit their mood started to change, they were really tired. We eventually made it (using a sugar boost with the kids to finish the last leg), and rested in the camping site. Once we arrive to the camping site we found out we needed to walk for another 30 min to reach the falls. That didn't sound encouraging so we decided to instead leave this part of the trail for the morning, and instead visit the Creek closer to the campsite.
The walk was long and tiring not only for the girls but also for us. I carried about 15 kg of weight on my back and I haven't done this for at least ten years. But the trick to succeed was to have long stops and several doses of chocolate.
The trick to succeed was to have long stops and several doses of chocolate. Stop, refresh and continue.
Camping night: a Mosquito nightmare
Camping in the forest surrounded by nature is something I always enjoy. I enjoy the simplicity of it. The minimalistic camping lifestyle. I enjoy it because it makes me feel isolated and like you are going back to your origins. I enjoy it because when you go to sleep, the only sound around you are the ones coming from singing crickets and a roaring waterfall. However camping in the wild can also be challenging, especially if there is mosquitoes waiting to attack any exposed skin at a moments notice. Despite the annoying mosquitos buzzing on your ears and biting any exposed part of your skin, which was covered in 80 % Deet, we enjoyed the night at Alligator falls.
Going camping binds us because it makes us realise how amazing is to be together as a family, especially when we need to share a tiny tent and sleep so close together.
The experience for children was great too, they thought the walk was tiring but they also had tons of fun. They kept their exploring spirit along the way.
So if you haven't experience hiking and staying overnight in the mountains with your children, this is a great place to start. We totally recommend it. It would definatley be best to do this walk during the cooler months, and when everything is lush and the waterfall full of water, thus between April and July at a guess. We did this walk in April and did not find it too hot, especially given the multiple swimming spots along the way. I wouldn't recommend this walk during summer!
A morning in the magnificent fall
After a not-so-good sleep, we got up to continue our search for the waterfall. The trail from the camping site to the fall is rough and steep. It takes about 30 min to reach the main water hole, and this is as far as we went. We jumped in the cool water and had breakfast while watching the waterfall, with no one else around. After a while, we returned to the camping site, packed everything we had and left back to the Alligator Creek day use area.
Was it hard? Yes it was indeed, but we made it. This trail needs your patience, and plenty of time to make sure you can make it there (and back if you are returning same day) before nightfall. It is a rewarding and spectacular place to visit in this part of North Queensland, a hidden gem.
Essential things we took on the trip
For 2 adults and 2 children
Two backpacks: over 30 L
One tent for four (light weight and waterproof)
Two mats (for sharing)
Four light weight sleeping bags
Two sets of clothing: t-shirts, long trousers, socks.
Hiking boots preferably but any running comfortable shoes would do.
A long sleeve warm t-shirt or a fleece jumper. It is not that cold but it protects you from mosquitoes.
Enough water (at least 15 L, about 2 L person/day)
Two chocolate bars
Sandwiches for lunch
Tin of beans in tomato sauce
Hot tea in a thermo
Home prepared dinner (we made a rice full of veggies and tuna, packed it in a container)
Peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast
Tin food for lunch with rice crackers.
Insect repellant, tropical strength!
First aid kit
Communication device. We found that mobile phone reception was available throughout the area we walked
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Writing by Sofia (Miss Sofi F.)
Edited by Sam
Photos: Sam and Sofia, P&F photography