Towering above the fertile coastal plain 70km south of Cairns are the highest mountains in Queensland, Mt Bartle Frere (1622 metres) and its neighbour Bellenden Ker (1593 metres). These mist-shrouded green giants are an important water source for nearby townships and keep the Cassowary Coast looking lush and green. More than 8 metres of rain fall on the summit of Bellenden Ker each year and it has recorded 1140mm of rain in 24 hours - one of the highest rainfall intensities in the world.
This 15 kilometre mountain rainforest trek is extremely demanding. It should only be undertaken by experienced bushwalkers. It is recommended that you allow two days for the ascent to the summit and back to either the west or east (Josephine Falls) sides. If you plan on a one day return trip, remember that it will take approximately 12 hours and need a very early start. There are two overnight campsites and a camping permit is required. Preparation is important for all hiking on Bartle Frere, as it is likely you will encounter variable weather conditions. These may include heavy rainfall, reduced visibility from cloud , cold temperatures and sudden weather changes.
Bartle Frere West is accessed from Atherton Tableland. The trackhead is marked by a sign post and indicated by orange markers along the trail. The track heads through dense rainforest towards Bobbin Bobbin Falls, a good place for water supply. Past the falls, the steep ascent begins and elaborate root systems criss cross the path. As the altitude increases the vegetation thins out, and becomes somewhat sparser. There are spectacular views as you reach open rocky outcrops past the northwest peak and the track gradient evens out. There is a small descent before coming to the West Campsite. The south peak and eastern campsite are a little further on across heathlands boulders.
Safety: *you need to be fit and experienced to undertake this hike. *have the correct maps and a compass. *have adequate food and water. *bring clothing for extremely cold and wet weather. *no fires are permitted, so bring a fuel stove. *give trip details to a responsible person.
The steep walk to the Bartle Frere summit from the west starts from the Atherton Tableland. Take Eacham Road to Topaz Road. Pass Butcher Creek and then take a left turn onto the gravel road to Lamins Hill Lookout. Follow the signs on Gourka Road (7km). Drive safely - this road is slippery when wet. All vehicles except 4WDs should be left at the end of Gourka Road (the national park boundary). If in a 4WD it is possible to drive another 2 kilometres to the trailhead.
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