Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Distance: 4km (return)
Steep walk, shaded most of the time.
Directions: off the Bruce highway, 13km south of Cardwell, turn off on the left side of the road (if driving from Townsville)
On a hot Sunday afternoon, we decided to adventure along the Dalrymple gap walking track while driving back from a trip further north. The heat was intense and I could feel it burning my skin as soon as I stepped out of the car. I couldn't hear the wind or the birds, it was just still and hot. It felt as if we had just arrived in the middle of nowhere in a remote area of Australia's outback. Oh no! this walk is going to be tough! I thought.
I already wanted to go back inside the car with the aircon, but the track promised to be a wonderful walk into the past of North Queensland, like a time traveling trail. I had to do it! Okay, I am exaggerating a bit though. It wasn't that bad, but it was hot indeed.
Dalrymple gap trail, Girringun National Park has a history to tell.
The trail was imprinted on the landscape a long time ago when aboriginal tribes used the passage to travel through the mountaineous country as part of traditional meetings with other tribes. Later, a 'road' was built in the tracks place in the 1860's by European settlers and became a common route for transporting goods between communities on different sides of the range. If you visit this place you find a historical sign at the entrance of the trail.
There are two options a short walk and a long walk. We obviously took the short track option which is a 4km loop in total up to the historical stone bridge and back again to the car park.
We stepped again into the unknown. The trail started by crossing a dry creek bed. As we walked along the trail, I imagined how it would have been to walk on that trail in the past under the hot sun but without modern comforts like ice cold water.
The first part of the track was a forest of short gum trees. The dry track was covered in brown and yellow leaves, indicating that the forest hadn't seen rain in a long time. Soon, we heard zzzzz zzz, the sound of mosquitoes attacking, and they showed us no mercy! Luckily we brought insect repellent which solved this little problem.
As we continued, the track started to head up a steep hill. The canopy of the trees became denser and I could hear more birds tweeting and calling around us in the forest. The landscape slowly changed from a dry tropics eucalyptus forest to a semi-wet rainforest as we ascended. It was quite fascinated to see the trail transforming from brown to green.
There were a few obstacles on the path, such as fallen trees, indicating the path isn't used by a lot of people. Things did get a bit challenging as we continued. The track was very steep for the girls, and the heat didn't help much. There were tears, drama and issues. The girls really struggled during this walk. We stopped many times. We held our youngest daughters hands and also carried her for a while. To reach the end of the trail seemed to take forever, but after a long two hours walking, I could finally see an opening. "The bridge! we made it to the bridge!" I said excited.
The stone bridge connecting the two hills was finally in sight. The bridge was made to cross a gully in the mountain, and was made from stones brought from Scotland. I dropped my backpack to the ground, and sat by the edge of the bridge, observing mother nature. I got the biscuits out of the backpack. Biscuits had never tasted so good! I put my head down on my backpack, using it as a pillow and stretched out my legs. I fell asleep straight away.
Pappa hobbit when further on to check out the track conditions up ahead. Not soon after the bridge, the track leads into tropical rainforest and starts descending down the other side of the hill along a very steep rocky path in a state of disrepair, and does not look suitable for young children. This part of the trail goes through forest inhabited by cassowaries and it would be good to walk along one day when the kids get bigger.
The way down was comparatively easy, after our recharging stop on the bridge. We went down in only 30 mins, back to the car park. If you decide to take this track, do it early in the morning or even better, during winter. It is a bit challenging for kids, especially because we went at the hottest time of the day and in October.
Enjoy time outdoors with your kids!