Packer's Donkey Trekking Adventure
Cairns Queensland - Sun 27th August 2023

Max Participants:
10
Location:
Cairns Queensland
Date:
Sun 27th August 2023
Start Time:
6:00am
End Time:
3:00pm approx
Duration:
7 days
Meals:
6 Lunches 5 Dinners 6 Breakfasts
Hike Rating:
Grade 4
Non-Member Cost:
$3095.00 per person
Member Cost:
$2995.00 per person
Deposit Required:
$500.00
Tagged:
camping donkey trek trekking
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An off the beaten track experience in FNQ designed to challenge, educate & empower you!  Hike rugged terrain carrying a day pack only, alonside a trained & friendly pack donkey who will carry all your gear from camp to camp.  Having a donkey as your companion adds another dimension to this adventure and you'll come away feeling like you've achieved something really extraordinary.

 

The trek we're going to explore retraces the journey of packers and drovers of the thousands of horses, mules and bullocks as they traversed what was known as the "Back O'Cairns" between 1872 and the turn of the century.  The trek commences from Kalinvale Farm, Kalunga some 10km south of Herberton where the donkeys are agisted and visits the once populous and busy mining centres of Watsonville, Rocky Bluffs, Montalbion, Irvinebank and Lancelot ....a circuit of some 90km.

 

We walk Ruffashell Street, the main street of Rocky Bluffs where the rough terrains permitted wheelbarrow access only, we swim in the clear water of the Walsh River, explore the geological curiosity of Natural Bridge, contemplate the fate of those pioneers now resting in the cemetries at Watsonville and Stannary Hills, admire the views from the Dargo Range before plummeting into Silver Valley - the site of the first discovery of silver in Australia.

 

There will be time to quench our thirst at the Irvinebank Tavern and visit Loudoun House which is now a museum but was once the family home of John Moffat, North Queensland's own mining magnate. We will be keeping a close eye out for platypus along the Wild River during the final leg of our trek too.

 

A team of pack donkeys carry your luggage, food and camping gear, exercising the skills and heritage of Australia's many packers and drovers. We will be involved with the donkeys in many ways - leading, loading, unloading and care at the end of the day, all of which will add significantly to the physical challenge, but more importantly, your overall experience. Your donkey will respond to your treatment of it - this is true teamwork!  You will find that the additional requirements, above and beyond trekking, will add to your experience - also helping you sleep soundly at night!

 

Sleep under the stars on a bed in an insect proof "Mossie dome" tent. Fully guided with a carefully researched commentary on the geology, flora, fauna and pioneer histories that we pass. Good food including three course dinners cooked over an open fire and even a glass or two of wine with dinner! 




Please note: To attend this event you must be COVID double vaccinated. Proof of vaccination MUST be supplied BEFORE the event by emailing a screen shot or appropriate document to office@adventurouswomen.com.au

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Gallery

Donkey Team
Setting up camp
Heading off for the day

Location

Please note map locations and route are approximate only

Highlights

● Encounter wildlife including platypus, have plenty of opportunity to observe birds and swim in wild rivers

● Learn & relive the traditions of Australian packing methods used by explorers, drovers & miners since the earliest gold rushes

● Sleeping under a blanket of stars

● Walking off the beaten track carrying only a day pack

● Making friends with the team of donkeys

● Exploring Silver Valley Mining History

● Incredible Views - Dargo Range

● Irvinebank Historic Village

Itinerary

This morning, it's an early start as we are transported to Kalinvale Farm, Kalunga from Cairns, (approx 2.5 hours) where we meet our donkey team.

We will spend some time meeting our donkeys, learning about loading and transfering our gear into their saddlebags, along with other camp gear and the food that will sustain us on our trek.

Our personal items will be added to a pack bag (supplied) and then loaded onto the donkeys before any of the ancillary items and camp gear can be added. The final packing of the donkey can take some time as it's important the loads are balanced - we take great care of our donkeys at all times.

We will enjoy morning tea during the packing and anyone that is interested in joining in the preparations is most welcome.

Around 11.00am we commence trek - 9kms (approx 3 hours)

Commencement of our trek is via the north-west boundary of Kalinvale, travelling along the Tepon-Silver Valley Coach Rd to Western Creek for lunch.

We continue overland to what was once the Cardwell Track to our camp next to a solitary mining dam. Our first task is to take care of our donkeys. Packs need to be unloaded and they will be looking for some grooming, food and water, after a strenuous day.

Join a “walk through the stars “after a three-course dinner, or stay steated for a yarn beside the campfire before retiring for the night at our overnight camp.

Meals: Lunch, Dinner

This morning is our first opportunity to get really involved with the saddling and loading of our donkeys.

After a hearty breakfast and with our donkeys loaded up, we continue cross country following the line of the Cardwell Track. We cross the Great Dividing Range enroute to Straight Shooter Creek - the scene of several murders and substantial alluvial tin mining for morning tea at a convenient dam.

We Continue along Gorge Creek to the Herberton-Petford Road and on to camp at the Community Centre in Watsonville, a prosperous mining town before WWI.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

A challenging, but lovely day today, trekking through some varied terrain from Watsonville.

We begin by visiting a few well known previous locals at Pioneer Cemetery; it is sobering to read about those who died at relatively young ages, including of course infants and young children. From here we trek to ‘Picnic Cave’ for morning tea, before continuing along cattle pads and tracks, mainly undercover. We are exposed to the elements, which does add to the challenges, however our reward tonight is a beautiful campsite on the Walsh River, with clear rock swimming pools to cool off in.

We make time to visit Natural Bridge, a stunning rock formation just a short walk from our campsite. Nature really is incredible!

Tonight is a fabulous opportunity for stargazing - with no artificial lights around us, our knowledgeable host will be able to point out many fascinating stars.

Swim before breakfast anyone?

We begin by crossing Walsh River and tackling the Great Dividing Range. And when we say crossing the river, that takes on a whole new challenge with donkeys - who traditionally don't like the water. Cajoling and persuading works for some, others need a little more forceful encouragement with a bit of a push from behind!

We continue on an original pack track to the beautiful Rocky Bluffs campsite on a large sandy beach.

Again we have the opportunity for a walk a short distance from the campsite, learning about the history of the smelters here at the turn of the century. There are remains of some buildings here, along with abandoned ore trucks and chimneys.

Walking along what was called Ruffashell Street provides a fascinating glimpse into our history and how tough life must have been for our early settlers.

Overnight at campsite

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Swim before breakfast anyone?

We begin by crossing Walsh River and tackling the Great Dividing Range. And when we say crossing the river, that takes on a whole new challenge with donkeys - who traditionally don't like the water. Cajoling and persuading works for some, others need a little more forceful encouragement with a bit of a push from behind!

We continue on an original pack track to the beautiful Rocky Bluffs campsite on a large sandy beach.

Again we have the opportunity for a walk a short distance from the campsite, learning about the history of the smelters here at the turn of the century. There are remains of some buildings here, along with abandoned ore trucks and chimneys. Walking along what was called Ruffashell Street provides a fascinating glimpse into our history and how tough life must have been for our early settlers.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

A challenging trek today as we ford the Walsh River, then follow steep and winding tracks out of the gorge and along to Gladstone Dam. Again, we are exposed for a good part of the day - having the proper gear and hydration is really essential on this trek.

Highlights today include parts of the Stannary Hills Tramway and original wagon road. Our campsite is on Jubilee Creek at Stannary Hills. This is a lovely treed area, with plenty of room for spreading out tents and a tethering area for our donkey friends. We can swim if we choose, or simply lie under the trees, relaxing with a book, or simply enjoying nature.

Another wonderful dinner to be enjoyed, cooked over the campfire, following by some relaxation time chatting with our fellow trekkers.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

If possible, we will trek through Montalbion Cattle Station, alternatively we will follow the local road. Enroute we visit Stannary Hills Cemetery, Hales Siding and Bulldog Creek.

A memorial at Stannary Hills provides some insight into the families who came to this area looking to make lives for themselves and their families. Many arrived from the Palmer Goldfields before settling in this area looking to try their luck in the tin mines.

We arrive in Irvinebank to another beautiful shady campsite, this time in the town, directly across from the Irvinebank Hotel. What a treat to enjoy a hot shower and clean up before making our way across the road for a bit of pub grub. (note - hotel is not open every day)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

We will pack up our campsite this morning, and wave goodbye to our donkey friends as they board their transport for home.

Our bus will take us back through Watsonville, Herberton, Atherton and Mareeba, and finally to back to Cairns.

Meals: Breakfast

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Includes

7 Day fully escorted walking tour with historical interpretation

Highly Experienced Guide, Drover & Packer

Friendly trained donkeys - they will be your companion throughout and carry your gear

Adventurous Women Host

All transfers to and from Cairns

Trek accommodation – tents (twin share / single on request) & camp furniture/gear

Meals as indicated

Detailed Risk Management Plan

Public Liability Insurance

6 Lunches

5 Dinners

6 Breakfasts

Excludes

International and Australian domestic flights

Airport transfers

Travel insurance ( Domestic Travel Insurance recommended)

All items of a personal nature, including trekking equipment

Meals other than those specified on itinerary

Accommodation

Each lady on this tour will be provided with her own single person tent, unless they wish to share with another lady from the group.  If sharing, a larger tent will be provided.

What To Bring/Wear

- Gear list will be provided in advance to help you plan & prepare

No Princess Policy

Princess crossed out

This tour by it's very nature is not designed for the 5 Star Traveller. It is for the girl who has an 'adventurous spirit' and is looking for a unique and rewarding 'experience' (Once in a Lifetime)! You should be able to adopt a "Go With The Flow" attitude and be open to being challenged (and rewarded).

You will need to be prepared to work as a team, assisting with the donkeys and around camp - it's part of the experience and everyone is expected to pitch in.  You need to be mobile without assistance and have a very good level of physical fitness or be prepared to train to ensure you're fit enough for this adventure.  The walks are not lengthy, however the terrain is rugged and sometimes along unmarked trails, you are required to pack the donkeys daily and help set up camp.

Cancellation & Refunds

Final Balance is Due 6 weeks prior to departure date. Notice of cancellation must be in writing, with an email as an acceptable form of communication, directly to Adventurous Women with the following conditions:


60 days plus prior to trip departure - Deposit Held in Credit for 12 months to re-book on another Packers Donkey Trekking Adventure  (unless a replacement can be found for you, or you can't travel due to COVID-19 restrictions - Refer to our Covid-19 Specific Terms & Conditions below )

59 - 31 days prior to trip departure - Loss of Deposit (unless a replacement can be found for you, or you can't travel due to COVID-19 restrictions - Refer to our Covid-19 Specific Terms & Conditions below )

30 - 0 days prior to trip departure - Loss of 100% of Tour Cost (Covid 19 - Refer Specific Terms & Conditions Below)

**We recommend taking out Travel Insurance in the unlikely event that you have to cancel your holiday prior to departure for circumstances beyond your control**  We cannot recommend any particular insurer and encourage you to do your research.

No refund is available after departure of a walk or tour has commenced. 


Please see our COVID-19 specific Terms and Conditions if you're impacted by border changes, close contact requirements etc.



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