Outdoor activities: Hiking
Sustainable tourism rating:
Queensland is Australia’s top tourist destination and the Great Barrier Reef (see article here) is the main attraction.
Lacking time or misinformed, most of us live a fairly limited experience of this part of Australia, which has so much to offer for all the nature lovers.
Before heading to explore the coast, we have decided to take a walk in the surrounding mountains.
From Mission Beach, first stop at Paronella Park, the ruins of a magnificent castle built by an Italian for his beloved in the heart of the rainforest. If, like us, you fall in love with this place, you can either spend the night in a luxurious cottage or in the free camping (offered with the park entrance 55 AUD if you have a van or caravan) and make a short but nice walk in the castle’s gardens.
First destination is Millaa Millaa, where you can drive through volcanoes shaped landscape. You will be amazed by the green peaks embracing the blue sky and the sparkling waterfalls drawing rainbows in their white waters.
The loop runs for 16 km and brings you at four lookouts over the waterfalls, each beautiful in its own way. Depending on the direction you choose you can stop at: Millaa Millaa, Zillie, Ellinjaa, Mungalli.
We recommend you to leave early so that you can fully enjoy the beautiful views of the waterfalls and the walks around the peaks. All the lookouts are easily accessible you do not need a good fitness to reach them.
Towards Ravenshoe, if you wish, you can also see two other waterfalls: Souita and Pepina Falls, however, for the first, you must follow a gravel road for several kilometres.
Ravenshoe is a perfect starting point for hikes in the Misty Mountains and numerous walks are offered from several hours to several days. We tested a three-hour hike (return) that climbs to the top of the Majors Mountain.
This hike, very simple at first becomes sportier in its upper part. You will climb through dense vegetation to reach the top of the mountain but you will be reworded with spectacular views.
The trail through the rainforest is refreshing and if you are lucky you might spot cassowaries or tree kangaroos. The top is covered with colourful everlasting flowers.
Another beautiful hike that we have enjoyed is in Malanda.
The path enters an old rainforest and arrives at a lake full with fish and freshwater turtles.
We stayed in the town of Milla Milla but we recommend to the Sportrotters to establish their base in Yungabura. Here you find a lot more friendly housing and delicious restaurants for all budgets. Right next to the tourist office a family walk follows the river where you will see, if you are patient enough turtles and platypus. Is also a perfect place to see birds and the blue butterfly endemic for this region. The walk is free and very easy. (Hint: if you see small bubbles that rise to the surface, it is probably a platypus coming to the surface).
A few kilometres from the village, do not miss the Curtain Fig Tree, one of the largest trees in the tropical North Queensland, accessible to all fitness levels.
There are also two volcanic lakes, not very far from the curtain fig tree, where you can swim with turtles (bathing suit and snorkelling are a must). The walk around Lake Eacham lasts approximately one hour. There are many lookouts through this majestic rainforest on the lake. You can spend the night in the campsite located next to the lake.
The second hike, which goes around Lake Barrine is slightly longer (5km). Do not forget the ponchos because Queensland is sunny just on the cost and in the mountains it rains a lot.
This are just some of the hikes in the region that we have tested for you but if you have more time there are dozens of things to do here.
Many hikes are available in the area and the waterfalls are spectacular.
You can also practice mountain biking on good trails. With a little patience and a bit of luck you can spot platypus, cassowaries, tree kangaroos, turtles, …
The region is one of the wettest in the country: it rains more than 4 m of water each year. Prepare to have your head in the clouds ;).
The region is a bit remote. Check out the travel time rather than distance that may seem short but as you will drive at low speed will be quite long.