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The Bartle Frere trail provides opportunities for fit, experienced and well-prepared bushwalkers to access the rugged wilderness of the Bellenden Ker Range, part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
You will discover the unique vegetation and wildlife of the upland and lowland rainforests as you climb to the summit of Bartle Frere, Queensland's highest peak. On a clear day, enjoy stunning views stretching from the coast to the Atherton Tableland.
Natural, cultural and historical values make this walk special.
Read more about the nature, culture and history of Bartle Frere, Wooroonooran National Park.
The Bartle Frere trail is not for everyone. Be aware that walkers have been lost for several days in this area, despite widespread searches. Walkers must be well-prepared and responsible for their own safety. See things to know before you go and staying safe for further information.
Although well marked, the trail is unformed and very steep. Walkers must be prepared for rock scrambling in places. Only experienced and extremely fit bushwalkers should attempt the trail. For your safety, walkers should always walk in groups and stay on the trail.
Walk times are approximate only. They are based on what an average walker would expect to travel in good conditions. You will need to adjust these times to suit your group's level of experience and fitness. Remember to allow plenty of extra time for rest, meal breaks and sightseeing.
When walking, always follow your movements on a map. Distance markers have been placed along the entire length of the trail at 1km intervals. These indicate the distance to the east or west trailheads for the walk. For example, '3W' means 3km to the west trailhead. This can help to accurately pinpoint your location and monitor your progress.
From the summit you can return to your starting point or continue to the other side. If you plan to walk from one end of the trail to the other, be sure to make private transport arrangements.
Josephine Falls to Broken Nose—10km return (allow 8hr) Grade: difficult
Josephine Falls to Big Rock camp
The walk from Josephine Falls carpark to Big Rock camp is relatively easy, with only a moderate climb (rising 400m over 3km; allow about 2hr).
Big Rock camp to Broken Nose
The trail to Broken Nose branches off the main Bartle Frere trail at Big Rock camp. The climb from Big Rock camp to Broken Nose is steep (rising 400m over 2km; allow about 2hr) and there is no water along the trail. Broken Nose offers excellent views of the coast and the Atherton Tableland. The trail returns to Josephine Falls along the same route.
Many campers choose to leave their overnight packs at Big Rock camp and carry only day packs on the climb.
Josephine Falls to Bartle Frere summit—15km return (allow two days) Grade: difficult
The trail starts at an altitude of 100m and rises to 1611m at the summit; an average gradient of one in five.
Josephine Falls to Big Rock camp
The walk from Josephine Falls car park to Big Rock camp is relatively easy, with only a moderate climb (rising 400m over 3km; allow about 2hr). Many campers choose to leave their overnight packs at Big Rock camp and carry only day packs to the Bartle Frere summit.
Big Rock camp to Eastern Summit camp
This section is a steep climb (rising 1000m over 4km; allow about 5hr). There is a camping pad at Eastern Summit camp that you are encouraged to use to reduce impacts on the environment. Do not leave equipment on the camping pad during the day as the pad may be used to land a helicopter in an emergency.
Those camping overnight will enjoy the beautiful sunset and sunrise, weather permitting.
Eastern Summit camp to Bartle Frere summit
The final ascent (rising 300m over 500m; allow about 1hr) to the broad summit of Bartle Frere requires scrambling over boulders and can be slippery when wet. For your safety, grip bars have been installed to help you through the boulder field. Enjoy fabulous views over the township of Innisfail and the coast to the east. To the west you will see the undulating landscape of the Atherton Tableland.
From the summit, walkers can either return to Josephine Falls or continue on to Junction camp.
Josephine Falls to Junction camp—15km one way (allow 10–12hr) Grade: difficult
The trail from Josephine Falls to Bartle Frere summit is described above. The trail from the summit to the Atherton Tableland is described below under: Walks from Atherton Tableland.
Junction camp to Bartle Frere summit—15 kilometres return (allow two days) Grade: difficult
The trail starts at 700m altitude and rises to 1611m at the summit; an average gradient of one in eight.
Junction camp to North West Peak (5hr)
The trail starts at Junction camp. A short distance from the start of the trail is a turn-off to the picturesque Bobbin Bobbin Falls. The trail to North West Peak is steep (rising 700m over 5km). This part of the trail has occasional rock scrambles and long sections of continuous uphill walking.
North West Peak to Western Summit camp (2hr)
On a clear day, enjoy excellent views of Bellenden Ker and the Mulgrave River valley from an exposed outcrop of rocks 1km from North West Peak. The trail continues to Western Summit camp. This campsite is in a very small clearing beside a creek. The site is suitable as a rest point before the climb to the summit, or as a campsite for an overnight stay.
Western Summit camp to Bartle Frere summit (1hr)
From Western Summit camp it is 750m to the summit. The trail becomes a scramble over and through numerous granite boulders to the broad summit of Bartle Frere. This part of the climb can be very slippery when wet. Enjoy fabulous views over the township of Innisfail and the coast to the east. To the west, enjoy views of the undulating landscape of the Atherton Tableland.
From the summit, walkers can either return to Junction camp or continue to Josephine Falls.
Junction camp to Josephine Falls—15km one way (allow two days) Grade: difficult
The trail from Junction camp to Bartle Frere summit is described above. The trail from the summit to Josephine Falls is described under: Walks from Josephine Falls.