The alternative, heading from Bowen, would be to travel straight ahead at Strathdickie (towards Proserpine rather than Airlie Beach), and turning left onto Shute Harbour Road, which is more or less the same route you’d take if you turned off at Proserpine. You’d still need to be watchful in the sign department, though. The only indication that you’ve reached the right spot is the sign that points straight down the road, which could be tricky if you happened to have a truck sitting right on your clacker….

Once we’d made the turnoff, the bitumen only lasted part of the way, and was replaced by four kilometres of narrow winding dirt road that could pose a problem if you were unlucky enough to encounter a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. The Corolla made it there OK, but you’d be happier in a vehicle designed for off-road conditions.

Parking the car, we surveyed the notice board at the start of the track, noting that it required a moderate fitness level on some steep sections. I’m always wary of those warnings, based on experience with the Zig Zag track on the south side of The Gorge in Launceston. In that case the route was not recommended for the unfit, and I wasn’t sure that my fitness level was going to be high enough. The notice also advised walkers to be prepared for lots of stairs - an issue that wouldn’t be a problem since I guessed we’d have frequent pauses on the uphill sections while Madam engaged in snapping away. I’d also suggest grabbing a self-guided pamphlet from the box beside the first set of stairs, though you need to keep your eyes peeled for the numbered signs.

Given the need to stay out of shot I’d taken the iPod to keep me occupied while I stood around waiting and figured I was best off ahead of the action, but not too far ahead in case I was needed. The track’s location between rainforest-covered ridges means you’re out of range where mobile phones are concerned, so that sort of concern is one you need to be aware of if you’re with someone likely to be substantially faster or slower than yourself, but it’s definitely worth taking your time rather than viewing the excursion as an opportunity to get the heart rate up and burn off some of those kilojoules you’ve stacked on around the waistline.


 © Ian Hughes 2014