Mt Halifax is a dominate mountain located at Rollingstone, the highest peak (1,063 metres) north of Townsville on the mainland until Tully area (AFAIK). This is the mountain you can see from Bruce Hwy behind the pineapple farms. It can be seen from Castle Hill in Townsville and other vantage points. The only higher mainland peaks around Townsville are to the south on Mt Elliot range.
A marked trail was built in the 2000s from Paces Road to the summit, by some Vietnam veterans. The route is approx 10 km return.
Allow 10-12 hours to complete the walk. It is a 1,000 metre ascent, then 1,000 metre descent.
Much of the bushwalk at lower altitudes is in or alongside a rocky and boulder strewn jungle creek. Along the way there are some small gorges, waterfalls and cascades. Note at present (October 2015) there is no flowing water in the creek. There are diverse vegetation changes along the walk as altitude changes, from woodland, to rainforest, then she-aok and grass trees, bottle brush on exposed ridges, then rainforest at the top. As the track ascends you climb narrow rocky ridgelines to reach rainforest near the top.
Before Rollingstone bridge, turn left onto Pace’s Road, drive until you reach the large orange marker and log book sign in point for the start, park cars on road side before the gate. Vehicles are not to proceed through Paces gate as that is private property.
Paces gate – start point, elevation 92 metres.
Paces gate to Gorge Falls (elevation 171 metres) – 1.4 km, 20 minutes, cross country easy walking. Gorge Falls has a pool that in good times is suitable for swimming. Today the water was dark, rancid and unsuitable. There is no waterflow in the creek today.
Gorge Falls to Rope Falls (elevation 174 metres) – 10 minutes. In good times a nice pool and waterfall here – today no flowing water, and a dark smelly pool. Clamber up right side rock face, rope is in place to assist.
Rope Falls to Flat Rock (elevation 360 metres), via Loop Falls side trip (elevation 261 metres). This section is an undulating hike on a loop track left side of creek that avoids the creek. Steep climb (a side trip to Loop Falls about half way, but we gave it a miss today), then descend to Flat Rock.1.5 hours from start to Flat Rock. Flat Rock is in the creek bed, can have a flowing stream in good times, today was dry.
The ascent really commences.
Flat Rock to Camp 1 (altitude 510 metres). A very steep section. Depart and climb up ‘rocky creek’, yes that is its name. Rock hop up the creek, then leave the creek left side onto ridgeline, and up the ‘rock slide’ a steep scree slope, loose rocks. Rope in place to assist. Above the rock slide, on track with loose dirt surface, about half way to Camp 1 the climb steepens more, rope in place to assist here. 25 minutes, we arrive Camp 1. Side track to the right for 125 metres leads to Bridal Falls, today a trickle of water provided water resupply. This is the last water point on the ascent. Would be a good spot in better times for a nice waterfall.
Camp 1 to Camp 2 (altitude 639 metres). More very steep climbing, 25 minutes, at one point 87% grade.
Camp 2 to Camp 3 (altitude 743 metres). More very steep climbing, 25 minutes.
Camp 3 to Echo Hill (altitude 894 metres). Steep climbing, onto the rocky ridgeline, shee oak and grass tree country, getting great views of the landscape around and below. Godwin’s Peak visible to the south east as is Townsville. Views to east and north of Palm Island group, in the distance is Hinchinbrook Island. Looking west we can see Mt Halifax summit. Slow going as the track is overgrown and needed clearing as we proceeded. A good breeze provided cooling conditions even though no shade on this ridge.
Echo Hill to False Crest (altitude 1015 metres). More along the ridgeline then into rain forest and the False Crest at midday. The temperature noticeably decreases in the rain forest. Had a break here.
False Crest to Mt Halifax (altitude 1063 metres). A fifteen minute walk through rain forest , down a gully then back up, over moist rainforest ground, to reach the summit. 5 hrs 10 minutes to get here. Crowd onto a rocky outcrop for great views and obligatory group photos. Some stay here for lunch, some go to Camp 4 about 100 metres away for lunch. Just past camp 4, quick scramble onto Mickles Lookout, overgrown, but great views. Went to explore for water point 500 metres (or 1 km ?) away, but track is overgrown, and started going downhill, so decided that was not a good idea.
After lunch start the return journey. With the track cleared and going downhill the pace was quicker than the way up. But the steep downhill bits were hurting the knees. Stop at Bridal Falls on way down for smoko. We had thought of exploring the creek line from Flat Rock down, but was getting late so decide to stick with the track all the way. We can explore the creek line on a future day walk to Bridal Falls when the creek has water. Much talk about ice creams, double and triple serves, hot chips and gravy, and so on. We negotiate the rock slide carefully and did not shower those below with rocks ! From Flat Rock, onto Loop Track, by pass Loop Falls due to time constraint, climb up the loop track route, groaning at this climb, then back down and on the flat country, the pace was then on to reach the cars, 4 hrs to come down.
Another great one day bushwalk, tough, but enjoyable. We had superb conditions, it was not hot and no clouds to obscure the views.
Interesting note – in 2009 the Pace family group did the climb up in 3 hrs 20 minutes. That is seriously good time.
Route is well marked. Trail is rough and in some places difficult to discern without the markers – so ensure you are always in sight of markers (metal orange / yellow).
Start early, suggest 6 am. Allow 5 to 6 hours to reach the summit. Ensure you have time to return to finish point in daylight. If you have not reached the summit by midday, turn around and descend to finish.
There is a sign in log book at the start of the walk. There should be detailed mud maps in the box, please ensure you return the mud map at end of walk.
Upper parts of the route have mobile phone reception.
You need to be self-sufficient in remote area rugged terrain hiking for the day. Ensure you have a map, compass, GPS, and safety communications devices. Carry adequate water for the whole day. You need to carry first aid kit, PLB (EPIRB), and be self-sufficient.
An option for a future day walk is just to Bridal Falls (Camp 1), exploring the creek line. The creek line might be interesting earlier in the year with cascades, pools, and the odd waterfall.