This is a six-day trek that traverses parts of the Back O’Cairns. This harsh landscape was explored and prospected by Australian pioneers only 130 years ago. In 1910, the year the railway arrived in Herberton and some thirty years after Herberton was settled, the prolific author, Ion Idriess, and his companion the mysterious "Jungle-man” walked from Herberton to the then tin mining town and industrial centre of Irvinebank via the Ranges.

View from Mount Misery Spur

"Endless Tumble of Ranges"- Looking Towards Irvinebank from the Mount Misery Spur

The route follows the approximate path taken by the two friends. Idriess describes this and other adventures in his book, Back O’Cairns. compiled from his diaries and published some 45 years later in the 1960's.

A team of pack donkeys will carry all the camping furniture, food and your luggage. Trekkers may enjoy the walk without carrying a heavy pack, and enjoy some comforts of safari camp-stretcher beds, dining tables and chairs and even some red wine with dinner that has been cooked over an open fire. We can sit around the fire after dinner and watch Bush TV with a yarn or two and enjoy a glass of red wine or a mug of billy tea.

Rene and Silke With Pack Team

Rene and Silke with Pumpjack and Albert


  • Start: Kalinvale Donkey Depot, KALUNGA (Ion Idriess operated his own tin ”show” near here).
  • Finish: Irvinebank Tavern”
  • See the trek in Every Trail: Jungleman's Walkabout- EveryTrail
  • Distance: approx 36km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Overall Climb/Descent >160m
  • Surface: rough roads, disused pack tracks and tracks/ cross-country in rocky/ stony ground
  • Duration: Six days/ five nights.
  • Catering and rations: Meals will be fresh initially then we will utilise dried foods to reduce weight. The meals will be nutritious and tasty. Our menus are easily adjusted to suit vegetarian or other dietary requirements with notice on booking.
  • Attractions: Access to areas impassable to wheeled vehicles. Swimming, rock wallabies, spectacular scenery, geology, and historical interest including old mining towns and rock art sites, pristine open forest with amazing variety of plants

Rock Art Silver Valley2

Rock Art- Silver Valley


  • Day One. Meet the donkeys and finalise packing, operator briefing and safety points. We leave the farm and follow the Wild River to Bullock Crossing campsite in time for swim and a late lunch. Here we establish Camp One on a sandy beach. We can explore the River, try some fishing or relax and observe the wildlife (no crocodiles, but platypus are regularly observed at this reach of the river) for remainder of afternoon. Or enjoy the wildlife watching you!
  • Day Two. Pack up and load Donkeys for an early start and follow the “Woodliegh - Herberton Stockroute to Camp Two in a pristine site in the Wild River Gorge. Here we have a late lunch and set up camp, before exploring the Gorge and many natural swimming holes. The water is naturally heated as it flows across massive granite rock.
  • Wild River Cataracts Panorama
  • Day Three. Today we continue along the disused stockroute to “The Junction” for our third camp. Here is a large water hole teeming with water birds. We take a break for morning tea at a soda spring. We may explore parts of the Wild River Gorge, or visit the remains of Fitzgerald’s water race used to direct water from the Wild River to alluvial mining operations in the area.
  • Day Four. We give the donkeys a break and explore up the River and along the rapids and waterfalls of Evelyn Creek. There will be time for swimming and bird watching. We take a picnic lunch so we can venture further afield.
  • Day Five. We traverse Silver Valley today, visit the exact spot that Mulligan and his party discovered native silver and hence the valley’s name, rock art galleries and mining history. Tonight we camp on a permanent rock hole (wet season swimming) at the site of Mowbray Camp a long forgotten home of miners that worked the nearby Mount Nolan tin mines.

Waterfall Upper Dry River

Waterfall-Upper Dry River

  • Day Six. Today we climb up over the Great Dividing Range, so it is up early for a hearty breakfast, pack our donkeys, then on to locate an original mule pack track to the top of the Dargo Range (1200m ASL) for some splendid views and lunch before the descent into Irvinebank. We can enjoy a beer at the Tavern and camp here the night or depending on our arrangements, return to Kalinvale the same afternoon. The donkeys will follow by float the next day.

Irvinebank Works from Across the Dam

Heritage Listed Irvinebank Works from across The Dam


  1. Unadorned Rock Wallabies may observed in the Wild River Gorge
  2. The route is an approximation based on the description in Ion Idriess's book “Back O’ Cairns"
  3. Route is subject to change depending on prevailing weather conditions.
  4. This route may be taken in reverse from Irvinebank to Herberton, by prior arrangement
  5. A selection of B&B accommodation is available in Herberton, for details please contact the Herberton Mining and Information Centre.
  6. Participants may wish to camp at the tavern for an extra night at no cost (meals not included). This would allow exploration of the Museum and other aspects of this once important industrial centre of North Queensland.Please advise when booking.