Robert O'Sullivan

1 walks ticked

This Year

Number of Walks Ticked
Total Distance Ticked

All Time

Number of Walks Ticked
Total Distance Ticked
Name Date Difficulty Distance/Duration
Mt Bartle Frere - Western Approach (Wooroonooran National Park)
8 Oct, 2017
Very Hard
16km return
12 hrs
Solo 1-day return walk to summit of Mount Bartle Frere by 77yo on 8 October 2017.
In a caravan trip in North Queensland in October 2017 to the Atherton Tableland I saw a map with a walk trail, east of Malanda, to the summit of Mt Bartle Frere, elevation 1622 metres. I remembered my walk to Mt Bellenden Ker from a cane farm on the coastal side, near the Bruce Highway, in 1967 as a surveyor aged 27 in mapping control for the proposed cable-car.
Now at age 77, the walk on Mt Bartle Frere would be solo with no mobile phone signal.
The Malanda information centre gave me a ‘Bartle Frere trail map’ and I took my caravan to Junction Camp with a plan to start the 17km walk next day at 6am, turn round by 12 whether or not at the summit, and be back by 6pm. The Camp has no facilities and was empty.

Next morning, October 8, there was no breeze or rain, the ground dry, light from the full moon, some mist in the trees, and the temperature about 15c, ideal conditions to walk.
At 0545am I left Junction Camp, reached the summit at 1145, had 5 minutes there in cloud, started the return descent and arrived at Junction Camp at 5.43 pm, weary but OK.
I stayed there again overnight in the caravan and then left early for Malanda.

The following list has my walk times to significant features on the trail, up and down. Slow, but may be useful as a time guide:
0545: started walk from Junction Camp (soon saw a black pig, heard bird whip-calls).
0607: track on LHS & heard Bobbin Bobbin Falls.
0629: old blazed tree with a ‘W2’ aluminium plate to inform that the distance west to Junction Camp is 2 kilometres.
0650: another track on LHS.
0704: W3 aluminium plate.
0715: track through arch of 2 large rocks. Took photos until 0720.
0729: hard climb over rocks.
0746: large smooth skinned Kauri pine tree with resin/gum in pile at bottom of trunk.
0804: W4 aluminium plate.
0824: trees smaller, more grass, air thinner.
0841: track through arch of 2 large rocks. Still no breeze, cloud blocks sun.
0904: on a flat 100metres, breeze in tree tops, then downhill over rocks.
0915: uphill over rocks, then down.
0924: in sidling, down over rocks.
0934: on flat narrow saddle ridge.
0940: going up on ridge.
0951: stopped for rest until 0956.
1000: a narrow shelter in rocks on left next to path.
1040: W7 aluminium plate.
1100: at Western Summit Camp, the entry and exits tracks are close.
1145: At ‘Summit of Mt Bartle Frere’ sign, in cloud. Young Cairns group of 6 here.
1150: close to noon, so I started my return down. Cairns group stayed.
1158: W8 aluminium plate.
1229: LHS wrong track (maybe track to Josephine Falls ??).
1247: tadpoles in creek, water running left.
1250: Western Summit Camp site.
1317: W7 aluminium plate.
1443: through rocks in arch. Cairns group overtook me near here.
1600: through rocks in arch.
1645: W2 alum plate.
1708: on right, saw a track and heard Bobbin Bobbin Falls.
1743: arrived at end of the trail at Junction Camp. Weary, the walk took 6 hours each way.

Comment: The track is marked by plastic arrow heads and pink plastic tape but some sections in the top half need remarking, for direction if clouded in. Stainless steel posts and hand rails/chains would help where the trail is on large boulders lying on boulders and there are open voids 3-4 metres below a walker. The aluminium ‘W’ markers 6, 5, and 1 for the distances west, in kilometres, to Junction Camp were not seen but may be there.

This walk was prompted by memory of my walk in 1967, aged 27, from a coastal cane farm near the Bruce Highway to the summit of Mt Kellenden Ker as one of 3 surveyors in a Commonwealth team making a control survey for aerial photography to map the route for a cable-car to service the proposed PMG communication and TV microwave transmission tower on the summit of Mt Bellenden Ker. Mt Bellenden Ker and a cable-car were considered after a hard ground survey the year before found a route for a road on nearby Mt Bartle Frere was not feasible.

Story by Robert O’Sullivan, Townsville, email: