Sunday 13th November 2016. A 15 km one day track walk from Paluma Dam to Paradise Waterhole (Mutarnee) via Bullocky Toms track. The promise of waterfalls, rainforest, swimming, a lookout, on tracks and all downhill, attracted 13 bushwalkers.
This hike is a combination of two walks from the book ‘Walks, Tracks and Trails of Queensland’s Tropics’ by Derrick Stone
Assembled at Paradise Waterhole, to set-up the car shuttle. Leaving several cars at Paradise day use area, all squeezing into an X trail and a Troopie for the drive up the range to Paluma Dam.
Started walking at 0930, later than I planned. Get the heart pumping with the usual uphill walk at the start. Stop to admire the tooth billed cat bird bower. At junction 29, join the Crystal Falls track, and meander along the track through rainforest, past another toothbilled cat bird bower, the giant buttress mossy tree, and a toilet paper tree. We cross the highest point of this walk, 1001 metres. Temperature was very pleasant, and the rainforest looked nice and green. Reach Crystal Creek falls at 1100. We have a 30 minute stop, time for a quick swim. If we had started earlier we could have spent more time here.
The two drivers who had to return to the dam to drive the dam cars down to Paradise remained here, plus another walker. At 1135 ten of us moved on, leaving the three mutineers to enjoy more swimming and sightseeing at Crystal Falls. Can’t blame them, it is a fantastic spot worth spending hours at.
Heartbreak hill, 100 metres ascent out of Crystal Creek, 30 minute hike up to the junction of Bullocky Toms track. Half way up I look around, I am by myself. Well, I like to get the hill done quick, get it over and done with . The others meander along and we all rejoin at the tracks junction. Promise of ‘all downhill now’ – well, except for two bits – we walk through lovely rainforest to Gold Creek. Cross the creek using the rope in place as support, although rocks are dry so crossing is easy. Climb out on the track and then along the narrow ridge to arrive at Gold Creek falls at 1220. Grand view from the top of the waterfall. Clamber down to the top pool using the rope, the rope rock face is slimy and slippery. It is only a short climb of 3 metres. We have a good swim and lunch at the pool. The water is very cool and refreshing with good water flow. Some explore and stand on the top of the waterfall drop, a long sheer sided drop.
1310 we get moving. Climbing up out of the pool, but for some the rope had disappeared. Travis was up top, and that had something to do with the disappearing rope. The rope reappeared for selected people. And you had to stop half way up for Gazza to take your photo ‘look up and smile’ as you hang half way up a slippery rock face. Back on track, downhill across the narrow ridge, then a steep uphill climb (‘you said it was all downhill!’). Then it is all downhill along the narrow ridge. Some very steep bits with loose leaf matter therefore bit slippery. We reach Cloudy lookout at 1350 for a break and views down the valley. We move on downhill, the track steeply descends, and from rainforest to drier woodland with some grass trees. Arrive at Cairn Creek for another break at 1500. The temperature is noticeably warmer down here. We are making good time now. Someone suggests we stay in the creek until the next track creek intersection, with promise of a good swimming hole, and avoid the track with its hills. Being an undemocratic society, I said good idea, they look bored and creek walking will excite them. We announce the new plan, some are excited, and some just stare.
We rock hop down the creek, which was good for legs (well, some thought that, others did not) after the long downhill track bit earlier. Some find a small snake which the leading mob had passed. We reach the track intersection, but had not found the promised swimming hole. Maybe that promised swimming hole is on the next leg of the creek ? We decide we have had enough of creek rock hopping, so back on track, and dawdle along the track, cross the creek again, then through grass land and scrub to Lanskeys hut. From here it a short walk to Crystal Creek for the rock hop crossing, the creek is low and rocks dry so we rock hop over easily, then onto the road.
We did the final part of the hike, 1.3 km, on the road to reach the Paradise Waterhole day use area at 1645, hot and sweaty. Most went for a swim at the waterhole, some had a shower instead.
Then we all headed to Frosty Mango for the celebratory ice creams. Back in town at 7 pm.
A very good hot season walk in dry conditions, with flowing creeks and several swimming opportunities, and downhill walking apart from a few short steep uphill sections.
Paluma Dam to Crystal Falls - 1.5 hrs
Crystal Falls to Gold Creek Falls – 45 minutes
Gold Creek Falls to Cloudy lookout – 45 minutes
Cloudy lookout to Cairn Creek cairn – 45 minutes
Cairn Creek cairn to Paradise Waterhole – 2 hrs
Total Distance – 15.25 km
Paluma Dam to Crystal Falls – 5.2 km
Crystal Falls to Gold Creek Falls – 2.4 km
Gold Creek Falls to Cloudy lookout – 1.2 km
Cloudy lookout to Cairn Creek cairn – 1.9 km
Cairn Creek cairn to Paradise Waterhole – 4.5 km
Start Paluma Dam – altitude 901 mr
Highest point - 1001 mr
Crystal Falls - altitude 700 mr
Gold Creek Falls – altitude 750 mr
Cloudy lookout – altitude 549 mr
Cairn Creek cairn – altitude 186 mr
Finish Paradise Waterhole – altitude 83 mr
Total descent : 1282 mr
Total ascent : 448 mr
Elevation Grade : -4.4% (steepest grade was -61%)