This route will take you through some amazing countryside and to some hidden corners of North Queensland. The road trip begins at Hervey Range and will involve driving to three different locations: Zig Zag Station, Hidden Valley, and Paluma. The exact route and distance will depend on the specific starting point in Hervey Range and the exact location of each destination, but the trip will take several hours, will offer scenic views of the countryside and landscape and has opportunities to camp along the route. The destinations on the trip include rivers, gorges, history, and a small village in the mountains, Paluma.
Stop off at Piper's Lookout.
The Heritage-listed Tea Rooms at Hervey Range are located just a 30-minute drive along Hervey Range Road from Townsville. On your way up the range, be sure to stop and take in the panoramic views from Piper's Lookout. The Tea Rooms are housed in a heritage-listed property that holds a special place in the history of North Queensland. It was originally built in 1865 as the Eureka Hotel, but now serves breakfast and a variety of scones, sweets, and refreshments. The menu includes a wide selection of teas and coffee, including the rare and expensive Kopi Luwak coffee. Visitors can enjoy their refreshments in the beautiful gardens or inside the historic original building.
Keelbottom Creek & Star River
Keelbottom Creek is about a 50-minute drive from Townsville and was a great spot to four-wheel drive and camp before it closed down. You can, however, still enjoy the birdlife and water from the highway before continuing.
Zig Zag Station
Zig Zag Station is a historic property that was originally settled in the 1800s and has been owned by several different families over the years. The property is known for its beautiful scenery, with rolling hills and picturesque views of the surrounding countryside. It's increasingly becoming a popular spot to camp, relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. There are plenty of swimming opportunities on the banks of Running River and also a gorge future upstream of the bridge.
How to book a camping permit
The cost is AUD20 per vehicle per night - subject to change.
Call or email Zig Zag Station to speak with Brad/Rosie Howe.
Running River Camping:
Tel: (07) 47 708 048
Mob: 0428 111 597 (Brad)
Mob: 0429 436 852 (Rosie)
Zig Zag Station, 4497 Ewan Road, Paluma QLD 4416
Running River Falls and Gorge
Running River Gorge is an impressive and beautiful area with rolling hills, epic gorges, and paperbark-lined swimming holes. It is a great destination for camping and stargazing, as the clear night sky offers a perfect view of the Milky Way. The area is home to Running River Falls, which is a popular destination for adventurers who want to explore the swimming holes and waterfalls. It is also relatively unknown and accessible via private property, so visitors can enjoy the beauty of the gorge in peace and solitude. Near the junction of Running River and Puzzel Creek is Saint Peter's Gate and a small set of falls, adding to the natural beauty of the area. Running River Falls and Gorge is best accessed via Hidden Valley Station (Private Property).
Continue along the road and drive through Hidden Valley locale. Experience the rustic charm of Hidden Valley. If you want to break up the trip, Hidden Valley Cabins are a great place to stop for the night. The community cricket field is a great place to stop for a rest and a picnic. Drive across the cloudy blue waters of Pine Creek on your way to Paluma. Also, you can often see platypus near the Running River bridge.
The drive from Hidden Valley into Paluma Range is welcomed by the towering rose gum forests of Mount Zero–Taravale Nature Refuge, or the relative solitude of the rainforest surrounding Lake Paluma.
Mount Zero-Taravale Nature Reserve is a remote and pristine wilderness area located in the Townsville region. Despite its beauty and natural attractions, it is not known by most locals. The reserve straddles the Wet Tropics and the Einasleigh Uplands Bioregion, and is home to a variety of creeks, gorges, waterfalls, and wildlife. Its deep gorges and ranges and hills of granite and massive boulders make it a unique and beautiful destination. The reserve is owned by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, who work to protect its remarkable diversity of wildlife.
Paluma Dam & Lake Paluma
Paluma Dam is a large embankment dam that impounds Swamp Creek on the western slopes of the Paluma Range, north of Townsville. The dam's reservoir is known as Lake Paluma and is managed by Townsville City Council. The dam is 255 meters long and has a 60.9-meter-long spillway. It is an important water storage and management facility for the region and is also a popular recreational destination for locals and tourists alike. The surrounding area is beautiful, with rolling hills, forests, and scenic views of the lake and the surrounding landscape.
Birthday Creek Falls & Mossy Falls
Both falls are located on Paluma Dam Road. Visitors to Birthday Creek can take a scenic walk through the rainforest to the top of the cascades. Along the way, birdwatchers can look for golden and tooth-billed bowerbirds. At the top of the falls, a short track leads to the base, where visitors can take a swim in the small, shallow pool. It's a beautiful and peaceful spot, with stunning views of the surrounding rainforest and cascading water. Forgotten Falls is also fairly easy to access from this area.
Camping is available at Lake Paluma via the Townsville City Council website. https://www.townsville.qld.gov.au/facilities-and-recreation/parks-beaches-and-community-venues/parks-trails-and-camping/lake-paluma
Star Valley Lookout
Gaze out across the landscape and Star Valley. Star Valley Lookout is located just off the side of the road, with a small parking area. While it may not be the most impressive lookout in the area, it is still worth stopping by for a quick break and to take in the scenery. It's a convenient and easily accessible spot for those who are already passing by.
Paluma Village is a small town with a rich history and you can learn more at the community centre. The area is known for its beautiful natural scenery, with misty, rolling hills, rainforests, and scenic views of the surrounding countryside. The town itself is relatively small, with a population of less than a hundred people. It is a popular destination for tourists and outdoor enthusiasts, who come to enjoy activities such as hiking, camping, and kayaking. There are a few shops, restaurants, and other amenities in the town, as well as a range of accommodation options for visitors. The town is also located in the middle of the Paluma Range National Park, which offers even more opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration. There are lots of opportunities for walking, so while you're here, stop in for a short walk:
300m (15min) Grade: easy
To access the lookout at Mount Spec Road, turn off onto Loop Road (where signposted) just east of the Paluma township. The car park is a short distance from the lookout and can be reached by a 150-meter track. Wheelchair access to the lookout is available via the second entrance, which is located a short distance further along Loop Road. From the lookout, visitors can enjoy extensive views of Halifax Bay and the Palm Islands. There is also an information sign at the site that provides details about its history and other interesting facts. It's a great place to stop and take in the beauty of the surrounding area.
3km (1.5–2hr) Grade: moderate
To access this track, start at McClellands lookout and follow the 200-meter wheelchair-accessible, bitumen path to the start of the walk. The track winds through the rainforest, offering opportunities to learn about local plants and animals. At the signposted junction, take the right-hand route to Witts lookout. From there, the track climbs steeply through open forest before reaching the lookout on two rocky outcrops. On a clear day, visitors can enjoy stunning views of Halifax Bay and the Palm Islands to the northeast. It's a beautiful and educational hike that is suitable for people of all abilities.
Cloudy Creek Falls
4km (2.5hr) Grade: moderate
This track follows the same route as the walk to Witts lookout but diverges at the signposted junction. Instead of continuing to the right, take the track to the left. It leads through the rainforest to a series of small waterfalls along Cloudy Creek. Some sections of the track are steep and requires careful footing, with many steps and boulder hopping. It's a beautiful and challenging hike that is suitable for experienced and fit hikers.
Ethel Creek Falls
3km return (45 minutes) Grade: moderate
Hussey Road is the shortest and easiest route to reach Ethel Creek Falls. To access the falls, park at the end of Hussey Road and follow the track through the beautiful rainforest. The track leads to the falls, which are surrounded by stunning natural scenery. The descent to the falls is quite steep, but there is a useful rope in place to help hikers navigate the terrain. At the base of the falls, there is a large swimming hole where visitors can cool off before the return journey. It's a beautiful and refreshing destination that is well worth the effort to reach.
H Track, Rainforest Circuit, and School Loop tracks
500m - 1.1km (30min - 1hr) Grade: easy-moderate depending on which track.
As you meander along this track, keep an eye out for strangler figs and king ferns. The track leads to a rainforest creek, passing an old tin race, a stone-pitched channel made by miners. The track follows an old timber-hauling or "snig" track through the rainforest, allowing hikers to view loading ramps and old stumps, relics of the logging industry. Along the way, you may also spot remnants of an old shaft, which provide insight into how miners searched for tin. It's a fascinating and scenic walk that offers a glimpse into the area's rich history.
Little Crystal Creek
Little Crystal Creek Bridge
Mount Spec Road and Little Crystal Creek Bridge is a historic road and bridge located in the Mutarnee to Paluma region. The bridge, which is heritage-listed, is a beautiful 1930s stone structure that spans Little Crystal Creek. It is a popular spot for visitors to set up camp and offers access to the surrounding tracks and waterways. The area is a great place to escape the summer heat, with plenty of opportunities to picnic near the creek and cool off in one of the many waterholes. It's a beautiful and scenic destination that is well worth a visit.
Devil's Leap, also known as Peanut Falls, is a popular swimming hole that is well known to locals. The falls are easily accessible via an unofficial dirt track that is located just a few hundred meters below the heritage-listed bridge. The area is a great spot for swimming, picnicking, and enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings. It's a hidden gem that is worth seeking out for a refreshing and fun day outdoors.
Lower Little Crystal Creek Falls
These waterfalls are located at the base of the Paluma Range and are the last falls of Little Crystal Creek. The waterfall at the bottom of the range is spectacular, but it is not well-known or visited. The falls offer a beautiful and large swimming hole that is perfect for a refreshing dip. It's a hidden gem that is worth seeking out for a serene and scenic outdoor experience. A short off-track hike is required to visit these falls.
Near Wolfram Creek is a disused road that takes you up into the hills and the old wolfram mines. The track can be a little eroded so take care. This is the original route Bell's Track took up the range.
Wolfram, also known as tungsten, is a dense, lustrous, and hard metal that is grey-white in colour. Tungsten has the highest melting point and the lowest vapour pressure of all the elements on the periodic table, making it highly resistant to heat and corrosion. It is commonly used in high-strength steel alloys, as well as in incandescent light bulb filaments, electrodes, and other industrial applications. Tungsten is a transition metal that is found in several ores, including wolframite and scheelite. It is relatively rare in the Earth's crust but is extracted and refined for use in a variety of products.
Although tungsten has been used in various applications since ancient times, the industrial mining of wolfram as a distinct element began in the 1800s. At that time, several ores were discovered that contained high concentrations of tungsten, including wolframite and scheelite. These ores were extracted and processed to extract the tungsten, which was then used in a variety of industrial applications. In the 1800s, tungsten was used primarily in the production of steel alloys, which were used in tools and machinery. It was also used in the manufacture of incandescent light bulb filaments, which became widely available during this period. Tungsten mining and processing continued to grow and evolve throughout the 1800s and into the 20th century, as new uses for the element were discovered and developed.
Big Crystal Creek
The Paradise Waterhole, also called Paradise Lagoon, is a popular spot for swimming, picnicking, and birdwatching. Located near the Crystal Creek day-use area, this camping area offers a peaceful and relaxing environment for families with children to enjoy the water and nature. A short walk from the day-use area brings visitors to the Paradise Waterhole, where they can spend the day swimming, picnicking, and observing the local wildlife. Nolan's Gully, home to the rock slides, flows into Crystal Creek. In addition to the rock slides, the area around Nolan's Gully and Crystal Creek is a great spot for camping and enjoying the outdoors.
Stop by Frosty Mango for ice cream on your way home. Frosty Mango is a popular tourist attraction located along the Bruce Highway north of Paluma. The venue offers ice cream and other treats and is a popular stopover for travellers. The grounds are bustling with visitors and you can explore the long-established display orchard to see what's in season. It's a great place to take a break and refresh yourself while enjoying the beauty of the Queensland tropical fruit plants.