Walking off trail in NP

Queensland specific bushwalking discussion.
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Queensland specific bushwalking discussion. Please avoid publishing details of access to sensitive areas with no tracks.

Walking off trail in NP

Postby trekker76 » Sat 06 Oct, 2018 1:14 am

Wondered what the laws are like in your state and region. Here it appears to be a grey area. Being recently returned to the region thought I would look into walking a section of the great dividing range in NP. Called NP state and regional offices, they were pretty confused on the issue.

Everything from

Not sure, no one asks that.
No camping in parks except for designated areas( far and few between here, entire ranges may have nothing nearby)
No walking access at all in NP offtrail. (Given the paucity of trails here does this mean most of the localities are no longer accessible?)
You can get special permission to walk offtrail and camp in these NP for scientific purposes only( no luck getting hold of this department)
Ask the rangers in your area,( You'd think the main offices would have more idea of policy but they kept handing me around before giving me some rangers numbers. So far no luck getting any this week, will keep trying next week).

So its unclear whether any overnighters are possible these days( particularly in the case of ascending the taller peaks without trails), whether you can even step into the forest at the foot of the ranges, whether we can enjoy rainforest bordering our backyards (!).

I recall as a former hunter one of the licence questions indicated you can actually take firearms into NP, here as long as you are crossing NP purely to get to hunting land on the other side, and the gun must be unloaded and covered up. The imputation therefore is some passage through NP must indeed be possible- maybe I just need to buy another gun to legally thru-hike? :lol: :shock:

I think this will either be very simply answered or its going to be a case of you shouldn't have asked.
Last edited by trekker76 on Sat 06 Oct, 2018 3:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby ofuros » Sat 06 Oct, 2018 2:58 am

Remote camping/walking is fine in most Qld NPs. Open fires are usually prohibited. Footwear & gear should be clean so your not introducing any nasties from elsewhere. Practice Leave No Trace principles.

NPs are for the protection of landscape & habitat for flora & fauna, so as long as your not putting them at risk, enjoy the wilderness. :wink:

If I need to, i just email/phone the local ranger, tell him I'm going to walk off track to so & so (give him a run down on my walking experience).
He sends me a mudmap of the local access/exit points, phone numbers of any landowners (if you need to traverse their land), updates me on any upcoming burn offs/dangers in the area & says have a safe trip.

Otherwise I just pick a area of interest out on a map, do a little research, throw the pack in the car & go. 8)

Restricted Nature reserves or Indigenous cultural zones will need a special permit though.
Last edited by ofuros on Sat 06 Oct, 2018 9:21 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby Aardvark » Sat 06 Oct, 2018 6:11 am

I once had a couple tell me that they had done all the walking there was to do in southeast queensland.
I prodded a little further and found out that they thought the graded tracks were all you were able to do.
There are relatively few places to walk here if you stick to graded tracks.
Compared to the seventies or the fifties, the number of graded tracks is miniscule. QNP's simply don't have the resources or the will to maintain them.
Copies of old forestry maps around Lamington or Main Range and Mt.Barney offer an insight into places and names you don't see on more recent maps.
I'm sure QNP's remain ignorant in the hope that a lot of areas can simply regenerate and people lose interest.
We come across a graded track at times and think of it as a highway.
I've been out walking for the majority of weekends over the last 40 years. It's a lifestyle choice and i can still occasionally find a route or a version of a walk i haven't done....much or at all.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby Aardvark » Sat 06 Oct, 2018 8:02 am

Tekker76 wrote: Being recently returned to the region thought I would look into walking a section of the great dividing range in NP.


So you're wanting to walk Southern Main Range from say, Cunninghams Gap or Spicers Gap to Teviot Gap?
Perhaps from Goomburra or Mt.Castle to Cunninghams Gap? Or are you thinking Hirstglen to Black Duck Ck? Something like that?
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby trekker76 » Sat 06 Oct, 2018 10:13 am

Ofuros thanks that was my belief and my practice. It was a random conversation with someone that maybe I had it wrong since returning. Calling NP did little to alleviate these fears as they appeared to think the idea of going remote impossible. I'll take to the rangers next week.

Aardvark no I am probably another 1000 miles north of those areas I'd say.

One of the walks I would like to do is walk up Mt Bellender Kerr, its Qlds second highest mountain, also one of the wettest peaks in the world, 30+ ft of rainfall per year. The lower coastal rainforest type is older than the amazon and 4-5x heavier going than the Daintree. Its a very arduous type of trek and you lose a bit of skin along the way, but being there are no trails up the mountain, and no recent records of people walking it I thought it would be interesting. I called all the relevant authorities and they all said " but no one walks Bellenden Kerr" to which my reply was "Exactly".
Last edited by trekker76 on Sat 06 Oct, 2018 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby Aardvark » Sat 06 Oct, 2018 11:09 am

Bellenden Kerr also caught my attention when i was up there last. Once again i only had the weekend and did the usual Walsh's Pyramid and Bartle Frere. Paid a brief visit to the trail from Babinda Boulders to the Mulgrave river.
I would expect the best source of information would be the landowners. If i cut a trail from my land, even part way, i wouldn't necessarily tell National Parks.
Maybe there is something on a local bushwalking club website.
From my experience up there, i wouldn't expect anything from the sources you've named.
I would expect anything near the cable line running up from the east would be riddled with regrowth. The long ridge from the north over Mt.Sophia is likely to have been travelled in the past by some. It is so obvious and as a result is also likley to have vegetation problems. I'd love to know about that one. Isn't the whole area likely to be riddled with Lawyer vine? Those looking for gold in the past would have covered every square inch.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby tomh » Sat 06 Oct, 2018 11:30 am

A document that may help is the 'Remote bushwalking advice and notification' guide from QPW
https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/policies/pdf/pg-pk-vm-remote-bushwalking-advice-notification.pdf
which assists
'Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) staff in consistently managing visitors who bushwalk in remote locations. (my emphasis) Remote bushwalking locations include class 5 and 6 tracks and off-track areas'
Note there is no requirement to obtain permissions - the policy/procedure form provided is for safety reasons only.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby Aardvark » Sat 06 Oct, 2018 12:30 pm

Tekker76 wrote: I called all the relevant authorities and they all said " but no one walks Bellenden Kerr"


Said by someone who expects those who want to walk it to complete a form (almost pointless to the person walking) put out on a website they may or may not visit.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby trekker76 » Sat 06 Oct, 2018 3:10 pm

Aardvark wrote:Bellenden Kerr also caught my attention when i was up there last. Once again i only had the weekend and did the usual Walsh's Pyramid and Bartle Frere. Paid a brief visit to the trail from Babinda Boulders to the Mulgrave river.
I would expect the best source of information would be the landowners. If i cut a trail from my land, even part way, i wouldn't necessarily tell National Parks.
Maybe there is something on a local bushwalking club website.
From my experience up there, i wouldn't expect anything from the sources you've named.
I would expect anything near the cable line running up from the east would be riddled with regrowth. The long ridge from the north over Mt.Sophia is likely to have been travelled in the past by some. It is so obvious and as a result is also likley to have vegetation problems. I'd love to know about that one. Isn't the whole area likely to be riddled with Lawyer vine? Those looking for gold in the past would have covered every square inch.


Good post aardvark, sounds like you hit all the good sights. Yes a lot of lawyer vine and impassable mess, It will be an extremely difficult slog with a lot of backtracking being cutting paths is not allowed as it was in the old days. Funnily enough the mountains are probably not actually the worst of it, closer to the coast and the swamp/hybrid types its even heavier going. A lot of the canopy got smashed in the 2000's era cyclones and the low level growth got solid. I can physically access the mountain easily enough but it was more if I were to post it online making sure I hadn't broken any rules. Its a bizarre situation as a former local not being able to answer these questions definitively and neither can any of the locals, everyone has a different take on it. Which is often -just don't tell anyone what you are doing ;).
Last edited by trekker76 on Sat 06 Oct, 2018 3:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby trekker76 » Sat 06 Oct, 2018 3:16 pm

tomh wrote:A document that may help is the 'Remote bushwalking advice and notification' guide from QPW
https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/policies/pdf/pg-pk-vm-remote-bushwalking-advice-notification.pdf
which assists
'Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) staff in consistently managing visitors who bushwalk in remote locations. (my emphasis) Remote bushwalking locations include class 5 and 6 tracks and off-track areas'
Note there is no requirement to obtain permissions - the policy/procedure form provided is for safety reasons only.


Thanks a lot for that link tomh, I'll take this along to the local QPW office when I ask to see to rangers. in case they maintain the same position everyone did by phone, that its not doable. I might even mail it to all those people I talked to last week to educate them.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby trekker76 » Mon 08 Oct, 2018 8:46 pm

Well I met with the senior ranger today. After some discussion the verdict is while they have safety concerns, there is no problem walking and camping light in the NP here. They wanted a courtesy email of details of any walks I planned to do. Again no one here really bothers doing this, hence the surprised looks when I started asking the questions. Its only as I planned to post treks online I wanted a solid opinion- dont want to get pinged if someone decided a tent in a particular park was illegal. Anyway time to start planning some treks I can talk about. :)
Thanks again for the comments above btw.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby Aardvark » Mon 08 Oct, 2018 9:28 pm

I , for one, look forward to getting a better understanding of the conditions there.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby Neo » Mon 08 Oct, 2018 9:44 pm

In NSW I've found POM (Plan of Management) documents online for the parks and reserves I've looked into. These are PDF and usually have a section related to use of the area. Forget the wording but somewhere in there under use/activities is written 'self-reliant camping permitted' ie you have some idea, a map and water! Or reserves may state it's not permitted.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby ofuros » Tue 09 Oct, 2018 7:02 am

Great outcome...bypass all those middlemen & go straight to the man on ground.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby dkselw » Tue 09 Oct, 2018 11:06 am

Neo wrote:In NSW I've found POM (Plan of Management) documents online for the parks and reserves I've looked into. These are PDF and usually have a section related to use of the area. Forget the wording but somewhere in there under use/activities is written 'self-reliant camping permitted' ie you have some idea, a map and water! Or reserves may state it's not permitted.

Unfortunately it looks like some of that information is out of date.
For example the Maryland National Park Plan of Management https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Parks-reserves-and-protected-areas/Parks-plans-of-management/maryland-national-park-plan-of-management-020095.pdf states "Vehicular Access The only practical access to the Park is across private property. There is no constructed public access road to the Park.". I believe this NP has been extended and now includes Maryland Cullendore Rd. Current borders can be seen on this map https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/maryland-national-park.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby trekker76 » Tue 09 Oct, 2018 10:58 pm

I'm taking a drive out to the Bellender Kerr cafe on the highway tomorrow to have a look at the mountain. If I can work out how to post pics I will put some up
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby flingebunt » Thu 20 Dec, 2018 5:00 pm

I am a bit late to this discussion, but here are some rules that are useful.

1. Firstly the national parks like to encourage people to stay on tracks, avoid hiking in large groups and camp in official camp sites. Note, sometimes this is for legal reasons, because if you are not on an official trail and you are injured, you can't sue.

2. Lots of people do off trail hikes, especially those that involve rock hopping up creeks. Some are marked by bushwalker trail markings, such as the one to The Pinnacle off the Warrie Circuit in Springbrook.

3. There are also a range of trails that are not really marked or sign posted, but are not closed off and can often be found on topographic maps.

4. Some national parks have remote bush camp sites. These are official camp sites but not on a clearly marked trail. This gives you the idea that there are official trails as well as non-official ones.

5. The big restriction is camping and some places it just makes no sense to try and find a bush camp in the middle of the rainforest, but in other places, especially in drier areas, it is easy enough to find a spot beside a creek or river to camp without damaging vegetation.

I think you can apply some common sense to these. Firstly, large numbers of people going off trail is not a good idea. Lots of hikers know of the non-marked trails and in some national parks you see a car parked randomly beside an access road, because they know the local path down to a secret swimming hole. Basically be sensible, start with the rough bush camp sites and build your way up.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby trekker76 » Sun 30 Dec, 2018 9:47 pm

Thanks for the reply flingerbunt. In this case the mountain is completely untrailed, heavy coastal forest which means to move and camp you are flattening the vegetation a degree. Since it was made park in the 80's which meant no machete use it became extreme difficulty to access, even the locals haven't hiked it for 30 years(with the possible exception of illegal gold prospectors and dope growers). Its several times thicker than daintree or subtropical type, you are pushing into layers or even burrowing on all fours. After a lot of querying to local rangers they verified offtrail camping in the rainforest can be done as long as you do your best to minimalise impact. I said I would be laying down a 1 man inner where ever I can fit it to sleep and draping a tarp over it and they were satisfied with this. Obviously no fire or cutting bush allowed. Still planning the walk, probably after wet season as I need to be home if cyclones form.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby logicalor » Tue 08 Jan, 2019 2:47 pm

For those curious about Mount Bellenden-Ker, here is an account of the first survey of Bellenden Ker by a group led by Archibald Meston, 1889, including a remarkable account of witnessing, from above, a thunderstorm travelling through the Mulgrave Valley.

Report by A Meston on the Government Scientific Expedition to the Bellenden-Ker Range (Wooroonooran), North Queensland

The group did indeed traverse the Northern ridge via Mount Sophia, as mentioned earlier in this thread.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby trekker76 » Wed 09 Jan, 2019 9:53 am

Great one mate, thats one I have been looking to add to the collection. Meston was no fool, he hit it in winter.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby logicalor » Fri 11 Jan, 2019 2:18 pm

Tekker76 wrote:Great one mate, thats one I have been looking to add to the collection. Meston was no fool, he hit it in winter.


A bunch of us from Brisbane Bushwalkers popped up to Forest Creek in August '18 and took in a couple of the attractions including Mt Pieter-Botte, Mossman Bluff and Devils Thumb. We were keen on Thornton Peak as well but it seems access to the approach is problematic. Will be aiming to solve that before a future jaunt.

I'm also very interested in giving Bellenden-Ker a go at some point in the future, but there is next to no information about it. I'm pretty sure that a bit of googling some time ago revealed a group from Tablelands Bushwalkers had been up there at some point in the past, but I can't find any leads now.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby trekker76 » Sun 13 Jan, 2019 1:31 pm

Nice areas those mate. Let us know if you are ever back in the area , would be good to discuss .There are scientific groups who browse around the top of bellenden kerr thanks to the benefit of the communications cable car to the South peak. I visited the base station and asked if anyone can take a ride and the answer was as expected no. The reason most the cassowary coast including bellenden Kerr is rarely done is limited trails and scrub too hard. Coastal rainforest is different animal from more popular northern stuff. most people put it in the too hard basket.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby misty_d » Wed 27 Mar, 2019 11:19 pm

trekker76 wrote:Well I met with the senior ranger today. After some discussion the verdict is while they have safety concerns, there is no problem walking and camping light in the NP here. They wanted a courtesy email of details of any walks I planned to do. Again no one here really bothers doing this, hence the surprised looks when I started asking the questions. Its only as I planned to post treks online I wanted a solid opinion- dont want to get pinged if someone decided a tent in a particular park was illegal. Anyway time to start planning some treks I can talk about. :)
Thanks again for the comments above btw.


Whereabouts online did you plan on posting trek notes? And for what purpose?
There’s 3 reasons I can think of that Bellenden access is not promoted anywhere.
1. There is some serious infrastructure up there the govt. most likely wants to keep hordes of civilians away from.
2. There is a lot of scientific research going up up there due to its isolation and subsequent environmental significance and value.
3. Keeping people away from there stops info from spreading virally online that influences more people to trample up there. Potentially people that have no regard for No’s 1 & 2.

I assume you’ve been up Bartle? See how busy it is and the impact that has? (Track and vegetation degradation, human waste, vandalism, impacts on wild life, rubbish, Ill prepared individuals that chew up resources getting rescued)

Cheers
- Misty
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby trekker76 » Sat 27 Apr, 2019 4:40 pm

misty_d wrote:
trekker76 wrote:Well I met with the senior ranger today. After some discussion the verdict is while they have safety concerns, there is no problem walking and camping light in the NP here. They wanted a courtesy email of details of any walks I planned to do. Again no one here really bothers doing this, hence the surprised looks when I started asking the questions. Its only as I planned to post treks online I wanted a solid opinion- dont want to get pinged if someone decided a tent in a particular park was illegal. Anyway time to start planning some treks I can talk about. :)
Thanks again for the comments above btw.


Whereabouts online did you plan on posting trek notes? And for what purpose?
There’s 3 reasons I can think of that Bellenden access is not promoted anywhere.
1. There is some serious infrastructure up there the govt. most likely wants to keep hordes of civilians away from.
2. There is a lot of scientific research going up up there due to its isolation and subsequent environmental significance and value.
3. Keeping people away from there stops info from spreading virally online that influences more people to trample up there. Potentially people that have no regard for No’s 1 & 2.

I assume you’ve been up Bartle? See how busy it is and the impact that has? (Track and vegetation degradation, human waste, vandalism, impacts on wild life, rubbish, Ill prepared individuals that chew up resources getting rescued)

Cheers
- Misty


As to where I aimed to post trekking notes, why here of course.

As to what purpose, to share trekking notes. There is a sub forum for this. :roll:

As to the rest of your post, its not about lack of promotion or protecting secret government compounds. Bellenden ker is almost impassble, because like the rest of the great dividing range and hills here, tropical rainforest is almost impassable.

Without cutting a trail 99% of people won't take it on, there is no danger of people running amok all over scrub this heavy. Even locals don't venture into it for fun.

I was not lobbying for tracks anyway, so bartle frere has no relevance to the discussion. For the record I don't think visitors do that much damage to that mountain anyway. And yes I live in the region btw.

The thread was about any permits needed for those very few of us( and I am talking about 1 in a million) who want to pick through the toughest vegetation on earth by hand. And as it turns out the parks are okay with it, they were just suprised anyone wants to do it. I suggest you read the whole thread next time, these points were covered several times already.
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Re: Walking off trail in NP

Postby awildland » Tue 30 Apr, 2019 2:24 pm

I am looking forward to seeing those future posts. Sounds like a great adventure.
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