PACKERS' GHOSTS TREK

Arranged as a circuit, this walking trek visits five heritage North Queensland mining town sites in seven-days. These towns, of which three are now ghost towns, and two are shadows of their former industrial might, were once the heart of the Moffat mining empire. A team of pack donkeys will carry all the camping furniture, food and luggage, continuing the packing tradition of the North Queensland miners, pioneers and drovers.

Relive some of life at the turn of the century when horsepower meant Clydesdales, and pack teams of horses and mules carried everything from flour to stamper batteries. In the late 1880s the main towns of the area were Herberton, Montalbion, Irvinebank, Stannary Hills and Watsonville. Each of these towns at some time probably had a population of 500 people or more. Herberton and Irvinebank have survived.Herberton now with a population of 980 people but Watsonville, once with seven brass bands, has only some 330 residents scattered across the locality and Irvinebank retains a population of only 330.

We rate this walk as Moderate to Challenging due to the terrain on some days.

Loading a Mule with bags of ore, Stannary Hills District

Itinerary

Day One. The group assembles at Kalinvale Farm, introduction to donkeys, final pack, safety briefing. Follow a combination of tracks including parts of the original 1875 “Cardwell Road “ to Watsonville. Camp at the Pioneer Hall.

Day Two. Repack donkeys, return to the Cardwell Road via Watsonville Pioneer Cemetery. Explore the Cardwell Road to Natural Bridge on the Walsh River where we camp. Swim in the smooth granite waterholes and cross the river on the bridge of water ground granite.

Day Three. Continue along the Cardwell Road to Rocky Bluffs Townsite. Camp on an extensive beach and waterhole in the Walsh River. After setting up camp explore the site of this turn of the century smelter and town site where it is said that the only wheeled vehicles  to ply Ruffahell” Street were wheelbarrows on account of the steep terrain.

Day Four. Climb out of Rockybluffs and follow the ranges to the deserted townsite of Stannary Hills where we camp near the site of the railway station and town weir.We follow a stretch of the Bi-Centennial trail from the Gladstone Dam.

Day Five. Follow the Stannary Hills – Irvinebank tramway to Irvinebank visiting the Stannary Hills cemetery enroute. We camp on the Irvinebank town common , conveniently close to the tavern for dinner.

Day Six. Ascend the Dargo Range, highest part of the Great Dividing Range in this area for extensive views. Continue to Silver V where we will camp either at Newellton or Lancelot depending on progress.

Day Seven. We visit an extensive rock art gallery at the Bluffs, then follow well defined cattle pads back to the Wild River for lunch. Then return to Kalinvale via the Wild River.

Group and Pack Team at Stannary Hills

Rock Art Gallery- Lancelot