The Conway Circuit Walk – Whitsundays, QLD


A 2-3 day hike on Airlie Beach’s doorstep

The Whitsundays, a vacation spot often related to the aquamarine waters that ebb and stream round its 74 islands, is fashionable with vacationers who line up for boat excursions and reef days spent crusing, paddling, snorkelling and related to all issues blue.

The Conway looks like a hidden secret behind Airlie & Shute Harbour (Photo: Caro Ryan)

It’s July and I’ve come to Airlie Beach to not sink beneath the blue, however to dive amongst the inexperienced. 

Leaving behind the frosty winter mornings of my dwelling in NSW, the concept of wandering by means of Conway National Park, the normal lands of the Ngaro and Gia peoples, the place each day temps had been sitting round 22c, was a seasonal no-brainer.

Unlike most multi-day walks I do, I selected to not spend hours researching different individuals’s journeys or falling down rabbit holes of private opinion. Rather than going with solutions, I wished to go along with questions: Why doesn’t the Conway Circuit, a 27 km monitor, billed as a 3-day stroll, not fill many fashionable Instagram or social media feeds? Why was its identify modified from ‘Whitsundays Great Walk’?

And, why (for the pricey love of the mountaineering gods), is it referred to as Circuit? ‘Cos no matter which way I look at it, this track ain’t wherever close to a loop!

Even in dryer instances, water is a continuing companion (Photo: Caro Ryan)
‘diving into the green’ (Photo: Caro Ryan)

The air is glowing with golden afternoon mild, amplified by the sugar cane fields alongside the 35-minute drive from Proserpine Airport to Airlie Beach. I’m struggling to maintain my eyes on the street as I’m always drawn to gaze on the spurs and ridges wearing rainforest coats that lead away to the coast.

‘Ooo! Is that the Conway Circuit?’, I ponder in pleasure. My lack of analysis unwraps my first shock, adopted by the subsequent – there’s no Uber in Airlie.

Day 1 – Brandy Creek Road to Repulse Creek Camp (8km)

The following day I’m dropped in the beginning by the native model of Uber ( and my driver shortly turns the dialog to her favorite topic, snakes. Another shock! There are 70 totally different reptiles in Conway National Park. Good to know most are skinks, lizards and turtles… and only a few snakes (I didn’t meet any).

The carpark on the finish of Brandy Creek Road is on the high of a winding Forestry street and delivers me at 230 metres above sea stage – the best level for the day. All that’s forward of me is a really leisurely 150 vertical descent over 8 km to the primary campsite at Repulse Creek Camp.

It’s a multi-use monitor for walkers, cyclists, runners and even segways (Photo: Caro Ryan)
One million shades of inexperienced (Photo: Caro Ryan)
The first 8km are a straightforward amble (Photo: Caro Ryan)

Ten steps alongside the monitor and the decision of the Wompoo Pigeon breaks the light silence. Their delicate name will probably be my personal DJ for the subsequent two days, mingled with just a few different bush noises, however extra on these later.

Underfoot, the secure two-wheel drive gravel mattress makes for a number of the best strolling I’ve ever encountered while on a multi-day monitor. The rainforest partitions on both facet of this former logging monitor attain ahead forming a verdant tunnel, whereas large tree ferns stand like towering sentinels, competing for daylight above the darkish, multi-layered cover.

I stroll with my head resting again on my pack, permitting my gaze to be held by the pockets of silver sky above. Last night time’s leftover rain drips onto my face; it appears solely proper and pure that I really feel the rainforest with all my senses.

Four kilometres alongside, as I’m feeling the robust lullaby of straightforward strolling’s easy rhythm, I shake myself out of the soporific samey-samey haze and have to remind myself – that is work. I needs to be searching for digicam angles and photographs that greatest inform the story of this monitor.

Everywhere I look, I simply see inexperienced. One million shades of inexperienced.

More inexperienced, anybody? (Photo: Caro Ryan)
Markers tick off every km (Photo: Caro Ryan)

No editor will probably be impressed (not to mention the astute Great Walks readership!) if I submit 20 pictures, variably described as ‘Rainforest – Conway Circuit’.

I begin to surprise: if this starvation for the brand new or totally different is what fast-changing multiple-tabs, incessant swiping and doom-scrolling, have been surreptitiously instructing us. Leading us to consider that what’s fixed, what’s the similar, might not solely be what some name, ‘boring’, however maybe not ‘Great.’?

Is this why the Conway Circuit, previously often known as the Whitsunday’s Great Walk, had a reputation change?

Wait, my coronary heart quickens; right here comes the ford the place the monitor crosses Repulse Creek. Something totally different! Quick seize the digicam!

I dance across the creek, so targeted on taking pictures the ‘new’, that I’m oblivious to the musical layer the water has added to the Wompoo and Silvereye refrain.

Impulse Creek (Photo: Caro Ryan)
Approaching one of many two primary fords (Photo: Caro Ryan)
Feeling the Conway between my toes (Photo: Caro Ryan)

It’s solely once I sit right down to put my footwear on and choose the location worthy of an early lunch, that I gradual myself down to absorb what else I see.

My respiration slows and the quiet unhurried lifetime of the place washes over me. Standing to proceed, I see no purpose to fall again into something aside from a strolling meditation; a tempo and presence afforded by the simplicity of the terrain. I really feel no want to take a look at my toes which carry me alongside the multipurpose monitor, proof of its various audiences of nature lovers: bushwalkers, birdwatchers, mountain bikers, path runners and even (for the primary 4 km) Segway riders. I see none of them on my journey.

Managing my expectations, I don’t anticipate the hypnotic tempo and groomed gravel to final endlessly. Rumour has it that this green-graded mountain bike monitor turns into a difficult black-level route pretty quickly after tonight’s campsite at Repulse Creek Camp. 

Looking downstream of Repulse Creek (Photo: Caro Ryan)
Crossing Repulse Creek (Photo: Caro Ryan)

Crossing Repulse Creek, I spy an overgrown slender monitor main south-east, that dives headlong into the verdant jungle. Forever the curious navigator, the QTopo map appears to recommend it leads up a 200 m excessive knoll and I ponder if it goes. A hunch tells me, ‘not anymore’, because it betrays the historical past of the Conway Circuit from selective logging that passed off on these ridges up till 1993. 

Today, it’s not solely my schedule that retains me on monitor however the sight of a Giant Stinging Tree; they all the time give me the ‘none shall pass’ shivers.

Emerging from the rainforest tunnel, I’m birthed into the Repulse Creek Campsite. It’s laborious to work out if the trimmed grass below unusually open skies is as a result of work of the rangers I handed as they headed in direction of the trailhead in an ATV or hungry mammals.

Repulse Creek Campsite (Photo: Caro Ryan)
There are patches of telephone protection from the tops, however not a lot wherever else. Happy to have my ZOLEO onboard. (Photo: Caro Ryan)

Wandering up a ramp to the composting bathroom, I begin to surprise if this web site was constructed for a good higher variety of customers, making it accessible to TrailRider wheelchair customers.

If publicity to this a lot sky was an excessive amount of of a shock, I may have chosen certainly one of a handful of rainforest campsites, set amongst the forest like a Bower Bird’s walled-haven. All of the campsites characteristic a timber platform for conserving gear (not tents) off the bottom and are helpful for cooking or stress-free on.

Camp Bowers at Bloodwood Campsite (Photo: Caro Ryan)
Tentacles strangling and reaching (Photo: Caro Ryan)

Day 2 – Repulse Creek Camp to Airlie Beach (19 km)

Throughout the night time, I think about the pitter-patter rain on my tent because it begins the lengthy journey to the coast and the Great Barrier Reef. As I set off within the morning, the light tinkle coming from the creeks I had heard yesterday, is changed with a refrain of decided stream – in moist season this light melody could be a full orchestra. 

About half a kilometre after leaving camp, a beneficiant rock-rimmed swimming gap in Little Repulse Creek revealed itself by means of the timber. If this was a hotter day, it could solely take a minute for me to indulge within the first of many jungle swims.

There had been extra causes than simply the climate that was urging me to maintain my tempo up: Rather than taking 3 days for the 30 km-ish monitor, I used to be fairly satisfied after trying on the contours of the map, that it was achievable in two.

Had I made a poor alternative, pulling up stumps after a brief and straightforward day one, slightly than pushing on to the second campsite at Bloodwood Camp and getting the 400 metres of vertical ascent out of the way in which? Maybe. 

Little Repulse Creek (Photo: Caro Ryan)
I’m strolling a 3 day stroll in 2. Have I been foolhardy? (Photo: Caro Ryan)

It didn’t take lengthy for the harder terrain to seem on the inevitable ascent in direction of Mount Hayward after Parks Queensland’s tell-tale signal. The path shortly grew to become technical 4WD terrain because the partitions closed in in direction of a cosier single-track. Gravel gave technique to clay, the place proof of pig digging signalled one of many challenges that Queensland Parks face on this space. I startled a few porkers, who answered my calls of, ‘Hey, Bacon!’, (as I paid homage to TV’s US Alone collection common name of ‘Hey, Bear!’) with grunts and snorts as they ran off into the forest.

Arriving on the Hayward Lookout, I’m afforded a small window out to the islands of Tancred and South Molle. Mildly underwhelmed, I’m startled by the vivid blue distinction of a tragic Ulysees Butterfly that lays useless at my toes; reminding me of elements of the color spectrum that I’m lacking. 

The underwhelming Mt Hayward Lookout (Photo: Caro Ryan)
Ulysees Butterflies can dwell as much as 8 months (Photo Caro Ryan)
Their wingspan reaches to 10.5 cm (Photo: Caro Ryan)
Do pigs have knees? (Photo: Caro Ryan)

Recovering my jaunty gait after summitting Mount Hayward, my thoughts went to a type of essential questions that solely seem when strolling solo for days: do pigs have knees? I attempted to think about a stumpy-legged porcine attempting in useless to climb steep terrain and puzzled if that explains why the monitor was so good from this excessive level onwards. 

Loping right down to Bloodwood Camp, I answered the burning query of my campsite alternative. Happy to have chosen the open skies of Repulse Creek camp, Bloodwood’s nest-like areas within the rainforest, with safe meals containers, ran an in depth second and the close by lookout received hands-down for excellent lunch spots with views over Airlie Beach.

Excellent lunch spot atop lookout close to Bloodwood Camp (Photo: Caro Ryan)
Rainforest cover (Photo: Caro Ryan)

Views proved tantalisingly unrealised, because the monitor hugged what I knew was the sting of the escarpment, to the junction of Honeyeater Lookout monitor. The rainforest re-focusing me as soon as once more to the wonder to be discovered inside her embrace.

This junction marks the brink of fashionable day stroll territory and the multiday Conway Circuit that I used to be taking. From right here, the well-formed and maintained monitor braces me for the disco-knee wobbles that the 350-metre descent into the vacationer vibes of Airlie Beach brings. On the way in which down I go 5 teams of hikers puffing their technique to the highest; I haven’t seen anybody till now and their perfumed cloud jogs my memory that I have to stink.

Past Honeyeater Lookout Junction the monitor improves close to Airlie Beach (Photo: Caro Ryan)

My muddy footwear (and socks betraying a lone leech chunk) carry me straight to a chilly beer on the waterfront, the place throughout me is motion, color, and sounds. Everywhere I look there’s something new to gaze upon.

I shut my eyes and relaxation, taking my thoughts again to the inexperienced seemingly sameness of the Conway Circuit understanding that each footstep in nature is totally different, new and there to shock.

Birthed out of the Conway Circuit I arrive on the finish and stroll to my resort by way of the pub (Photo: Caro Ryan)

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