Updated: Aug 29, 2019
During mid June, on a rainy winter day, we decided to explore the surroundings of Cardwell town. It takes about two hours to drive from Townsville (164 km) on the Bruce Highway. Although we have past through Cardwell before, we have never stayed to explore. Cardwell is a excellent stopping town if you are heading North. You cannot miss it, as the town is situated right in front of the ocean, with a view to the tantalisingly close Hinchinbrook Island. But I am not pretending to give a tourist guide review of the place. There are plenty out there, we are here to tell about the places we found to go bushwalking with kids.
The hikes we did were all situated off the Cardwell Forest Drive, which is accessed from the main street of Cardwell (Bruce Highway/Victoria St), where you should turn away from the coast onto Brasenose St, which becomes the Cardwell Forest Drive which proceeds through pine plantations. There are multiple well signposted turnoffs to the various attractions, and there there are two trail options:
Cardwell Lookout trail
Distance: 1.6 km (return).
Leave the car in the car park next to the trail. The trail is easy to follow. The trail is short but a steep in places, so you actually feel like you are hiking. The path is well built and maintained, and overall a good trail for beginner little hikers. And there are some amazing views along the way and at the lookouts. Although the trail is close to the town and the highway, you feel very much in the wild when walking it. The predominant flora were eucalypts, wattles and cycads. The trail allows you to admire the mountains around you and to the front, the ocean and Hinchinbrook island.
Attie Creek Falls
Distance: 700 m (return)
If you want to see a beautiful waterfall (well another beautiful Fall in North Queensland), visit and hike Attie Creek Falls. Don't let the distance fool you, because it is a steep walk and certain fitness is recommended. The trail goes around the hill and up, with numerous eucalyptus trees and a cycad dominated understory. The trail makes its way up to the Fall and instead of a look out to admire the fall, you encounter a big water hole where the fall drops down to. There are also several other little water holes, ideal for the kids.
We visited the place on a cold rainy day, however because we went in the dry season (yes ironically it was raining that day), the fall was not flowing much. Be aware of slippery rocks! We all slip and fell.
After the walks you can refresh on one of the many creeks along the Forest drive. There is the popular (Well looks popular on instagram) Cardwell Spa pool and dead horse creek. As it has been dry for several months, Cardwell Spa pool was barely flowing and had a warning not to swim due to stagnant water conditions. Dead horse creek was flowing and was a refreshing (quite cold) place to take a dip.