Wilderness Expeditions offers bushwalking treks and expeditions in Tropical Queensland. They use pack donkeys to carry equipment and supplies. Treks may be themed to retrace the earliest explorers, pioneers or visit rock art sites and ghost towns; and can be overnight or extended to suit your requirements.
Their donkeys enable exploration of remote and rugged areas of Cape York and the Atherton Tablelands of Far North Queensland in comfort. The pack teams carry basic camp furniture and your luggage. Trekkers do not need to carry heavy backpacks. During their walks they encounter wildlife, observe many species of birds and swim in crocodile free wild rivers. The donkeys add a further dimension to your adventure as hardworking, loveable companions
They continue the traditions of Australian packing methods used by explorers, drovers and miners for hundreds of years. They specialise in finding places little visited by others, so they enjoy their own space.
Wilderness Expeditions' treks have been developed during 12 years of operation. They use good quality, insect proof tents; beds and other camp furniture. Tasty meals are cooked over open fires using authentic camp ovens.
Their treks are an authentic experience of natural travel in the Australian bush and outback.
Ludwig Leichhardt is the first European overland explorer of Northern Australia. This pack donkey expedition retraces Leichhardt's route from Valley of Lagoons and the headwaters of the mighty Burdekin River, across the Great Dividing Range and through the rugged Lynd River gorges.
Leichhardt named both these rivers for sponsors and benefactors of his 1844-45 expedition that traversed northern Australia from Brisbane to Port Victoria Settlement, north of today's Darwin. He used horses and pack bullocks. The modern route will be similar to that of 1845. Travelling in similar fashion, using the Wilderness Expeditions donkey pack team to carry supplies and equipment. Many of Leichhardt's campsites will be identified, and where possible his actual route will be traversed. Rate of travel will be similar.
A a copy of his journal and his field notes will be taken, from which comparisons of his and this journey can be made.
The trek is offered annually as a complete 32 day expedition or three shorter sections:
The Land of The Lotus Eaters (nine days), Search Over The Ranges (six days) and Descent of the Lynd (17 days).
Sections may be booked separately or in combination. The meeting place is Cairns or Ravenshoe.
Edmund Kennedy was the second European overland explorer of North Queensland. Of 12 men that landed with Kennedy, nine perished and Kennedy died of spear wounds at the Escape River. Jacky Jacky, his Aboriginal guide, William Goddard and William Carron were the only survivors. Trek dates are set on anniversary dates of the original 1848 journey.
This trek retraces Kennedy's route from near Mount Garnet (Camp XXIX) over the Great Dividing Range into the headwaters of Emu Creek. There will be time to visit the Emuford Stamper Battery which remains in the turn of the century operating condition. They will pause to resupply and adjust their party at Emu Creek Station, the site of a landmark recorded on Kennedy's maps and home to elusive rock wallabies.
Then follow down the Walsh through the ironically named "Featherbed Ranges", the walls of several enormous prehistoric calderas. Spend a rest day at some hot springs surrounded by rugged ranges. They will finish at Camp XLII, close to the Bourke Development Road, transfer to Chillagoe's Observatory and Eco-lodge to settle back into civilisation overnight. There will be an opportunity to explore some of Chillagoe's sights. Celebrate at dinner. Transfer to Cairns the following morning.
Australia's favourite adventure writer, Ion Idriess, briefly lived in the Herberton area before World War One. The Jungleman's Walkabout trek explores an adventure described by Idriess in his book "Back O' Cairns" published in 1957, from his diaries compiled some 46 years earlier.
The Cairns Railway had advanced to Herberton, John Moffat's mining empire was reaching it's peak, and new towns were springing up as new mineral wealth was discovered. The Jungle Man invites Idriess to explore this bonanza "then we can follow right up the divide, and drop down on Stannary Hills or Irvinebank. An easy walk...."
Over a thousand pack mules toiled throughout the region.
The building from which Idriess purchased his notebooks is still on the same street corner in Herberton, but now houses a unique camera museum. Remains of mining endeavours reported by Idriess are scattered along the way. Irvinebank is no longer the exciting and busy industrial centre he records, but a quaint remnant hidden in the hills.
This walk retraces disused pack tracks, explores the Wild River Gorge, visits a rock art gallery, provides views over rugged ranges, including the Dargo Range (1400 metres) and an opportunity to explore Loudon House Museum in Irvinebank.
This trek is named for the packers and drivers of the thousands of horses, mules and bullocks that plied the "Back O' Cairns" before motor trucks took over the carriage of ore, machinery and goods. This trek uses old pack and dray routes to visit ghost towns that came and went with the discoveries of mineral wealth.
From Herberton return, via Rocky Bluffs, Montalbion, Irvinebank and Lancelot, a circuit of some 90 kilometres. Swim at the geological anomaly- Natural Bridge, and admire views from the Dargo Range before plummeting into Silver valley. There will be time to quench thirsts at the Irvinebank Tavern and visit the Loudoun House Museum, once the family home of John Moffat, North Queensland's own mining magnate. An inspection of a rock art gallery in Silver Valley and a search for platypus along the Wild River during the final day.
Pack donkeys carry your luggage, food and camping gear. Sleep under the stars on a bed in an insect proof "Mossie Dome". Bring your own sleeping bag, or hire one for a nominal cleaning fee. Fully guided,with a carefully researched commentary on natural and pioneer histories that they pass.
This is an introductory two-day walk along the Wild River following cattle and brumby pads, winding through impressive "old man" Forest Red Gums. There are opportunities to observe platypus along the river and at the campsite. The bird list for this area is 127 species.
Two days, one night camping, fully guided by an experienced donkey packer. The pack donkeys carry your luggage, food and camping gear. Sleep on a bed, under the stars in an insect proof "Mossie Dome" tent or use the fly-sheet in cooler weather. Sleeping bags can be provided at a nominal hire to cover cleaning or bring your own. A hot shower in nature's bathroom can taken pioneer style using traditional shower bucket, or enjoy a swim before dinner.
A tasty dinner is cooked over an open fire using traditional Bedourie camp ovens and served with a glass or two of wine. A short walk to gain an understanding of local geology history and ecology of the area follows a cooked breakfast of bacon and muffins or eggs Benedict. Return via the same route with lunch along the track.
A three day, two night walk, an extension of the Wild River Ramble:
Day One. Meet and finalise the packing of the donkeys. Then a short day though river flats and stands of Forest Red Gums to camp at "Bullocks Crossing" on the Wild River. They will have some time to explore the local history, settle into their camping routine, and perhaps be fortunate to witness the platypus in the waterhole next to the camp.
Day Two, after repacking the donkeys, they follow an original packing road to the "Triple Tree" campsite with a short morning tea en-route. Hidden on a bend on the Wild River, this pristine campsite is unknown to others. They enjoy a late lunch then have time to explore the cataracts and swim in the many clear pools.
Day Three. Rejoin the pack road to detour around the Wild River Gorge, boil a billy at a spring, and then push on to lunch at a waterhole at The Junction. See an example of bush engineering - a water race built at the turn of the century; and enjoy a final swim before a vehicle transfers trekkers to Kalinvale through the historic mining area of Silver Valley.
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