Hells Gate and back – a story of murder and mystery

Heading into Hells Gate, Far Nth Qld

 

 

Hells Gate in northern Queensland Australia has been a location that has escaped me for many years.

 

Where is Hells Gate?

It is in North Queensland, at the base of Cape York. Located approximately halfway between Cooktown and Cairns.

Newspaper entry about the Palmer River GoldfieldsHells Gate is a break in the escarpment near the A old map showing where the goldfields are from CooktownPalmer River Goldfields, in tropical north Queensland and was a major route to the Palmer River goldfields from Cooktown in the late 1800’s by Chinese and European miners. The reason Hells Gate got this name is because during the 1890’s, miners used a bush track  from Cooktown to the Palmer River Goldfields, a distance of about 170 miles. The miners would then travel back along the same route loaded with all their gold.

Each journey they would pass through a break in the escarpment which was feared by all  miners and one church missionary remarked at the time that he thought “it was like passing through the gates of hell to travel such a place”.

The entrance to Hells Gate from the Cooktown side.The track was filled with hazards, from lack of fresh water, heat, crocodiles, deadly snakes, rugged terrain, aboriginals and fellow miners. The miners had to carry everything with them, including water sometimes in barrels. Many miners used wheelbarrows  to carry their belongings but found them unsuitable to the terrain and abandoned them along the way.

The fear of ambush was constantly on their mind, ambush from Aboriginals and fellow miners was not uncommon, some were ambushed for their gold, others for their belonging and a small number for “human consumption”, yes cannibalism. At the base of a long steep ridge, beside a dry creek was a camp where miners would wait until a number of miners had assembled before ascending to Hells Gate, believing there was safety in numbers.

At this camp there were a number of Chinese funeral urns of Chinese miners who had died along the track or were killed by aboriginals. From this camp you wind your way up a arduous ridge, before you have to enter this break in the escarpment, which is “the Gate”. It was reputed that the Aboriginals would wait at this point to ambush the miners as both horse and man were exhausted after the long journey as they lumbered up the precipitous incline and entered the “gate”.

Furthermore, it was concluded that the Chinese were the preferred course on the menu because more Chinese were ambushed. The aboriginals would stun the unsuspecting Chinese miners, bundle them off into the bush. Then tie the Chinese to a branch of a tree by their pigtails, break their legs (so that they couldn’t get away). Then the Aboriginals would eat them at will (taking what they needed from the live person as required). It was believed that cannibalism was commonly practiced by the aboriginals of the area.

 

Sit back and enjoy our adventure.

There has only been about 80 people recorded to have been to Hell’s Gate since the wild old days (at the time we ventured there), it’s just such a place blanketed in mystery that for years no one wanted to know where it was, so its location was forgotten. And in 1998, I was determined to get there. About a week before the trip I meet this fella that claimed that he knew where “Hells Gate” was and that he had been there the previous August. I convinced him to show me on a topographic map where it was, which he did. So I secured a friend, Ken Boland to accompany me on the pilgrimage. We were cautioned that we would have to take our own water as there was none on the track at that time of year and given that it was in May, the temperatures were well in the 40 degrees Celsius range, so we packed plenty of water, I’ll tell you!

We were relieved to find that we could drive by vehicle most of the way over a very rough and faint track which reduced the overall distance to about 25 kms return to walk. Given this information, we allowed three days to complete the trip. We carried very heavy packs filled mostly with water, some food and not much else because we knew that the terrain would be difficult, to say the least.

Leaving Cairns on the Thursday night we drove the 300 kms to the spot we were to make camp for the night. Having arrived sometime after midnight. It was decided that we would just make a fire and roll out our swags. We laid there for an hour or so just talking about the following day and whether it was all a dream that after searching for countless years for this “pimple” in the wilds of north Queensland, whether we would actually find it?

At the crack of dawn the following day, we broke camp and continued along the ever-diminishing track trying to gain as much distance as we could by vehicle. After five hours we reached a dry creek that we were unable to negotiate any further by vehicle, so it was decided to leave the vehicle at that point and to continue on foot.

The country proved rather easy at first, covering the flat ground in good time but after crossing the creek on several occasions only to be confronted by very high spear grass and the steep and deep washed out gullies, that restricted our every attempt to head in the straightest line. We were forced to follow the creek, which was filled with large round river stones, which made our progress extremely slow and difficult. After negotiating several extremely large hills in an attempt to shorten the distance and time it was taking us. We arrived at a location that challenged my map reading  and tracking skills to the fullest.

We decided to drop our packs and do a reconnaissance down a separate creek bed, believing that it was the way we should be travelling. With several hours in not locating any sign of the creek being the correct route, it was decided that we would move further down the main creek for about two hours and make camp. Within about an hour we came upon a large waterhole filled with ducks, which took flight on our approach (I think we got the bigger fright at the intrusion). We decided that after walking for five hours with heavy loads over difficult ground that here was where we would stay on the eve of my birthday. It wasn’t the prettiest place that I could imagine.

That night, we opened a bottle of port after eating a meal from our army ration pack and laid in our make shift beds watching the crystal clear night sky. We talk about anything and everything in an attempt to forget the pain inflicted upon our feet by red raw blisters and sore muscles. The port had no effect in alleviating the pain. Ken and I stayed awake the whole night. We decided some time during the night that the creek we had entered late that previous evening had to be the correct passage through the maze of creeks, gullies and endless oxbows in the creek. The plan was, we would break camp at first light, head back to the spot where the side creek broke from the main creek and continue down that creek until midday at which time we would have to head back to the vehicle. If we couldn’t locate “Hells Gate” on this day, my birthday, there was always next year!

That morning we were making better time than the previous day, following the creek for what seemed like ages (possibly the sore feet made it feel that way). After about 3 hrs, we came upon a open field which showed signs of a scrub cattle pad, which we decided to follow, with thumb in bum, so to speak, we were suddenly staring eye to eye with a couple of very angry wild cattle. Of course we broke ranks and packs and headed for the only tree within running distance. (It must have been quite a sight for the cows to watch two grown men fighting to get up this tree). But the tree turned out to be a godsend because with my eagle eye I noticed broken glass on the ground, which was our first sign that we were on the right track. (So my map reading skills were restored). After the cattle had dispersed, we continue until the foot track became obvious once again. The track opened to a large flat grassy platform of sorts with a number of creeks converging into the main creek channel. We didn’t realise it at the time but this was where the original camp was located before pushing on to the Gate. This is also the location where the Chinese funeral urns were once located, but they have either been destroyed or moved now. This little area maybe interesting to further explore in detail.

At the foot of the last very steep and long ridge we decided to leave our packs in the creek and continue only with water and the last bottle of port up to the gate. We know we would soon achieve something that few had before us, since the track was used by miners.

Wild Country along the way into Hells Gate

Heading into Hells Gate and to the start of the walking section

James Doyle pointing the way to Hells Gate

The escarpment where Hells gate is located

Hells Gate at last, the entrance to Hells Gate

James Doyle looking back at the country we had covered to reach Hells Gate

At about 11.30 am on the 23rd of May 1998 we arrived at the mysterious “Hells Gate”. The thing that first struck me about the place was how small and nondescript it appeared! It was about 20 ft long in a z shape, about 4 ft wide, with walls 30 ft high. Nothing to write home about really. The other thing that I notice upon entering the gate was the sickly sweet smell in the air, I looked about but couldn’t find any indication of where the smell was coming from. Strange hey? You could still see the scrapings of where the buckles of pack saddles had rubbed against the wall, it was so narrow.

Ken and I sat down, toasted our achievement and honoured those miners that endured the whole journey to or from Cooktown with our port.

We stayed at the gate for about two hours before deciding we had to leave if we were to make the vehicle by nightfall, since we would have to cover a distance of about 12 kms in less than 5 hrs.

We got to the vehicle at about 7 PM having made good time. We pulled out two chairs from the vehicle and sat down, that was where we stayed until the next morning being unable to move! We didn’t even have the strength to make a fire to have coffee.

Footnote: As Ken mentions in the comments “The next day we both where experiencing headaches. Must have been from the lack of water.”

So, if you do the trip remember to drink lots of water not Fortified Port 🙂

Hells Gate from the Palmer River side

Ken Boland resting at Hells Gate

Many people have asked both Ken and I, would we ever return to show others where it is. I have to answer honestly with an answer of  “no way in hell”, that missionary was right when he uttered those words:

….it was like passing through the gates of hell to travel such a place….

But in all honesty, I would love to go back and spend more time exploring the whole area. These days though I doubt if I could make the trip due to health.

The State Library of Queensland has a large collection of documents and images of this region and its history.

If you would like to read more about this area and its history, I can recommend the journal of Christie Palmerston North Queensland Explorer and there are many other good books that describe the history of the Palmer River Goldfields. If you stop at the Palmer River Roadhouse, they have some artifacts and information about the goldfields.

If you liked Hells Gate and back – a story of murder and mystery! story, share it around or leave your comments to show your appreciation.

(The photographs were scanned from a very small film camera negatives)

Please note that you will need to travel through private property to walk this track and will require permission to do so.

I have been informed that the land is now owned by the Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and is within the West Quinkan Aboriginal Reserve. If you contact them for clarification or permission, I’m sure they could give you more information about permission.

Update:

I’ve started a Hells Gate Club, in which people who have made the trip into Hells Gate can put their name down and the date they did the trip.

Just fill in this form if you have made the journey to Hells Gate and I will put your name on the list.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below, about your trip. 🙂

 

 

Hells Gate Club – Those that have made the journey to Hells Gate

Name:

James Doyle

Ken Boland

Tarni Squire

Jon Lee

Phil Kanowski

Craig Lemin

Adam Kavanagh

Richard Gischus

Glenn Simon

Alice Buhrich

Ben Kincade

Tex Bryson (RAAF)

Roger Cordukes

Date of Trip:

23 May 1998

23 May 1998

15 April 2017

26 June 2012

26 June 2012

26 June 2012

1 Sept 2017

May 2012 & May 2013

Sept 1987

1995

August 2018

June/July 1974

2001

2018-12-03T05:53:48+00:0039 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Tex Bryson Tuesday, 23 October, 2018 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Hi all,
    Have to start again. I’m amazed that memorabilia we left behind in 1974 is still there. We were the one who left the metal plates and plaque in the gate itself. I have a very long story to tell about that. We also found “Hell’s Kitchen” not far from the gate. The most fantastic aboriginal paintings showing all that James has explained. They looked like they were done yesterday, in the caves and on the walls.

    • James Tuesday, 23 October, 2018 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Hi Tex,

      Thanks for the comment. Never knew about “Hells Kitchen”.

      When I was working with George and Tommy (Local aboriginal elders) we often went out into the bush looking for the rock art sites they remembered as children, before being moved to the missions. George told me that his father was the traditional custodian for looking after the art sites and it was to be passed to him but when he was taken to Musgrave, he lost the knowledge of where many of the sites were. So Tommy was keen to locate them again. We roamed over much of the country south west of Laura looking for rock art sites with Tommy guiding us where he could. I remember one site near Hells Gate where no one had been there since the last aboriginal was there. There was still the grinding stones for crushing ochre and a oven made from a termite mound for roasting the ochre. A pair of message sticks (clap sticks) sitting on a ledge. And amazingly there were bare feet footprints in the dust. The site was in a big wave like overhang with a small native well at one end. We spent the whole day there as Tommy didn’t want to leave. Tommy didn’t know what many of the art meant and suggested we bring George out to the site as he had a better understanding of the art, as he would have been the traditional custodian.

      It is sad that neither George nor Tommy are with us any longer. I miss their friendship, their guidance and the many times we shared a campfire at a location that was special to them.

  2. Alice Buhrich Thursday, 26 July, 2018 at 10:50 am - Reply

    Hi James,

    Thanks for the description of your Hell’s Gate adventure.

    I think it would be useful in this forum to remind people that this is not a public walking track and crosses private land.
    Permission should be obtained first from the landowners, as you would expect if bushwalkers were using your own property.

    Hell’s Gate is within the West Quinkan Aboriginal Reserve, owned by the Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation.
    The road access is through Crocodile Station, an Indigenous Land Corporation property.

    I too have walked into Hell’s Gate, in 1995.
    I hope to get back there one day.

    Alice Buhrich

    • James Thursday, 26 July, 2018 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Alice,

      Thank you for your post. The points you raise are valid and I will amend the article to point this out.

      When Ken and I undertook our trip the area was managed by QNPWS and the head ranger at Maytown was Lana Little, who I had known for many years and we discussed our expedition with her at the time. Also at the time, I was doing field work with Tommy George Snr and George Musgrave, elders of the Kuku Thaypan clan in Laura who were working towards the land being returned to the traditional owners. I had known & worked with George & Tommy since the early 1980’s on various projects including the recording of ethnoecological resources. Both Tommy and George Musgrave gave freely of their time and knowledge to me over many years and we had many adventures together. It was Tommy who told me about Hells Gate and asked if we could relocate it for his people because their knowledge of its location had been lost. Tommy’s age and ill health restricted him from accompanying any expedition to relocate it.

  3. John Hanlon Sunday, 13 May, 2018 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Doug , I am too old to do this track now being nearly 80, but my sons seem pretty interested to see it , it is a pity the track could not be updated a little so people could find it better as it is of great historical value to people interested in this sort of thing and any one doing that sort of walk would surely respect the area although as you said there will always be the odd one , but I am sure most people would respect it . maybe some one or more would be interested in placing some good sign around the place . would you do this track on a quad bike ?

    • James Sunday, 13 May, 2018 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. Not sure if you got the name wrong or not, my name is James, the author of the post.

      I wouldn’t recommend going in there on anything except foot or horse.

      Cheers

      James

  4. Glenn Simon Monday, 2 October, 2017 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Hi James. I was up there in September 1987 (i think). In reading the comments, nobody has made mention of the stone cairns the marked the original track. There was a flat rock on top of the cairn with an arrow that pointed out the travel direction. We found a spoon marked RAN (Navy) along the way, so they may have been in there at some time.

    • James Monday, 2 October, 2017 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Glenn,

      I’ll put your name in the Hells Gate club list. As to the rock cairns, Ken and I never saw any cairns so maybe someone pulled them down at some time. There were metal “plates” nailed to trees and some flagging tape but it was everywhere which confused rather than guided anyone. We did find a plaque somewhere which was professionally made, talking about a airforce expedition looking for hells gate, can’t remember the date on it though. Maybe the spoon you found was from that expedition.

  5. James Doyle Monday, 4 September, 2017 at 9:49 am - Reply

    I’ve been looking at google earth and maps and I’m fairly sure I have some co-ordinates for the start of the long ridge up to Hell’s Gate that might be useful to people going there.

    Now it must be noted that when Ken and I went there, there were no GPS’s and the norm for us was using grid references and compass (being military), so the Lat and Long stuff is a bit new to me but working my way through, I think these coordinates may mean something to people.

    So, if you can find your way to this place you should be able to find the final ridge up to the Gate. Just be mindful that when we were there, there were two ridges very close to each other at the creek, the correct ridge will be the one to the south east, it did at the time have a metal plate stuck to a tree near the creek, once you start climbing the track (cattle pad) becomes fairly obvious.

    Try these coordinates;

    -15.830096, 144.516787

    or

    15°49’48.4″S 144°31’00.4″E

    I hope this helps

    Cheers

    James

  6. richard gischus Monday, 4 September, 2017 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Doug The co.ordinates you have are correct .it puts you at the base of the spur to take you up to the gate ,it will take about 2 hours without packs 40 mins. back good luck ,enjoy.regards Richard.

    • James Doyle Monday, 4 September, 2017 at 8:32 am - Reply

      Thanks for the confirmation about the co-ordinates Richard.

  7. Ken Boland Tuesday, 11 April, 2017 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    Good to see so many people interested in the trip to “Hells Gate” that Jim and I did. I can attest to everything that Jim wrote and yes the port did absolutely nothing for the aches and pains we both felt. The next day we both where experiencing headaches. Must have been from the lack of water. 🙂

    As for the “Gate” itself. Call me superstitious but I remember the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end when I realized I was at the entrance to the gate. I have only had that sensation once more and that was at the old mine outside of Georgetown in North Queensland. I had read the “River of Gold” prior to the trip so I had an idea what the trip was going to be like, maybe that had something to do with the strange feeling.

    For me it was a one in a life time experience. I would love to say I would do it again, but I would be lying. 🙂 I take my hat of to anyone that has done the trip more than once.

    Thanks Jim for convincing me to go with you. Your a great mate.

    • James Doyle Tuesday, 11 April, 2017 at 4:44 pm - Reply

      Thanks Ken, as hard as the trip was at the time, I look back and think of it fondly, couldn’t have done it with anyone else, two mates on a adventure!

    • Adam Kavanagh Friday, 14 July, 2017 at 7:59 am - Reply

      Hey mate. I am going to attempt the hells gate walk. Ive read and done alot of research. But id love to speak to anyone that has actually done the gate journey. Love to gather some more info before i set off. Thanks for any help.

      [email protected]

  8. Greg Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    I had read hector Holthouse’s book, River of Gold, in 1970 and decided I wanted to see Hells Gate. But nobody knew where it was. I tried to work it out from the descriptions in the book but without any luck. Years later after Percy Tresize had found it I chanced upon a clue which led me to a person who had been there. In August 1993 I set off with my two children. My memory is much as James describes. It was hot and there was little water. What water there was in the waterholes had been fouled by wild pigs. Those were the days before GPS so I did it with a 1:50,000 map and a compass. We too left our packs by the side of a creek and climbed up to the Gate without them. In those days there was a Visitors Book through the gate but it probably long gone. We camped over night on the way in and I cannot describe how that cold beer felt at Laura when we were back in civilisation. It is a great memory for my children who were 15 and 12 at the time.

    • James Doyle Wednesday, 4 November, 2015 at 5:44 am - Reply

      Hi Greg,

      Thanks for the memories about your trip. The guest book was there when Ken and I made our trip. There was only about 10 names in it when we were there. From memory it was a old school exercise book.

      We should start a “hells gate club”, membership for anyone that had made the trip. 🙂

  9. Trevor Wright Tuesday, 9 June, 2015 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Hello again James.
    I have not visited your blog for more than one year. Now I see there has been considerable activity from folks interested in walking to Hell’s Gate.
    For the general information of prospective travellers I have previously marked a number of features in this area on Wikimapia.
    Marks included are Hell’s Gate, the Wild Irish Girl, Maytown, N Palmer River and features along the Old Coach Road.
    If readers take a look at the text included with the descriptions they will see coordinates of the feature, listed by Wikimapia. I assume the coords are on grid system WGS84 which GPS uses. Travellers should arm themselves with a topographic map = 1:50,000 series SUSSEX RANGE available from map shops such as The Miners Den in Cairns. Entry to HG requires crossing private land owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation and managed by Crocodile Station, Lakeland. The correct action is to phone the Station and ask for consent to cross their grazing land. Disturbingly some irresponsible visitors have littered the track to Hells Gate recently. It is horrifying to come across such callous disregard for the historic significance of this region.
    Please don’t do the same.
    Regards, Trevor Wright.

    • James Doyle Tuesday, 9 June, 2015 at 12:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the added information Trevor. It is definitely a shame and alarming to hear about the trash and disregard for the area. Sounds like the “Been there got a photo brigade”, where the only thing that matters is them. This is one reason I am very reluctant to share my knowledge of the area. A few months ago someone was asking about the area and my trip, which caused me to look for my old notes and maps and reacquaint myself with the area. Funny how and what one can remember. 🙂

      Anyhow thanks again for sharing your knowledge Trevor. Stay in touch. Cheers James

  10. Bernadette Becher Monday, 30 March, 2015 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Fascinating! My partner, Steve, has read the history of Hell’s Gate and we would love to see this place. We live in Blue Mtns but have family in Cairns. Your trip notes have reignited out interest. Thank you for
    the post. When we make it there, we’ll share our journey.

    • James Doyle Tuesday, 31 March, 2015 at 7:25 am - Reply

      Thanks for the comment Bernadette. The trip is certainly an adventure, that’s for sure but well worth the effort. I’m sure many will look forward to reading your story about your trip, when you make it.

  11. Doug English Tuesday, 12 August, 2014 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    I am planning to hike to Hells Gate but would like more specific directions if possible please. I have been given some GPS readings viz
    Base Hells Gate Ridge 55L 02 34 114 and 55L 82 47 850 which I have to decipher a bit.

    • James Doyle Tuesday, 12 August, 2014 at 5:25 pm - Reply

      Doug, I honestly can’t remember much of the details, it was 20 odd years ago since I went there.

      I remember we turned off the Hwy to the left, half way between Lakeland and Laura at a bridge. We followed a dirt track for many kms and crossing the creek many times, at some point you drive along the creek.There was also some very old signs along the way, giving hints of being on the right track. At some point you will get to a rocky creek where there was a “turning ring” at the end of the track. You park there and cross the creek on foot and turn left, there was a cattle pad which you follow. At a point not far from the car park you climb a long steep hill (along a track). Basically, you follow the main creek but the “trap” is that you have to turn off on one of the many side creeks to get back onto the right course. The gate is about 12 kms from where you park the car but due to the terrain I would definitely recommend giving it 2 days if you don’t know the way.

      If you get there let us know!

    • Tom Freeman Thursday, 14 August, 2014 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      Doug are those GPS figures 55 degrees (S, South), if so you’ll be 1,000 miles south of Hobart.

      • richard gischus Thursday, 11 June, 2015 at 2:42 pm - Reply

        tom.the 55 you enquired about ,would be the grid area which is 55l not a latitude positon maytown is in grid 54 so hells gate just makes it into grid 55l.the grids travel from west to east around the world from grenwich(England).similar to longtitute readings regards richard

        • James Doyle Friday, 14 April, 2017 at 10:04 am - Reply

          Thanks for the clarification Richard, I wouldn’t have worked that out LOL. I’m a old map and compass type of navigator.

  12. Craig Tuesday, 8 July, 2014 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    I also was fascinated by the story of Hells Gates and had plans of doing this hike but to date the plans have all fallen over. Others that are interested always have commitments etc. But as for information about the location and it’s approach I would recommend the book written by Percy Trezise. ‘Last Days of a Wilderness’. Google earth might even be helpful ?

    • James Doyle Tuesday, 8 July, 2014 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      Craig, one of the problems with finding the “Gate” is that it is so small really amongst all the rocks of the escarpment. Even if you have good directions it is easy to miss it. You don’t even realise you are there until you are about 50 feet from the entrance.

  13. Trevor wright Friday, 21 March, 2014 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    Thanks for writing up this story of your adventure James.
    Even if you did so 15 years after the event.
    I frequently search for info on Hells Gate. There has been very little of substance written about the trek in.
    I will make my fifth visit to HG this May. For the information of new chums it is essential to have a map of the trek marked on a topographic map and also to use GPS. Best is to have another walkers correct course on your GPS. Apart from that the old track is marked by rock cairns and small aluminium plates nailed to trees.
    The country is absolutely delightful but hard going. Standing water is available if you know where, until late August. Daytime temps are too high from September onward.
    Each year I improve my course with shorter or easier sectors.
    I always camp out for two nights to soak up the solitude.
    Credit is due to Mr. John C Hay of the ‘Friends of the Palmer River’ for maintaining the reference material and visitors book at Hells Gate.

    Cheers, Trevor.

    • James Doyle Saturday, 22 March, 2014 at 8:07 am - Reply

      Hi Trevor, thanks for the reply. It certainly was an adventure and knowing you have done it four times already makes my story seem old and irrelevant now. 😉 When Ken and I did the trip, there were some “markers” nailed to trees but they were confusing as almost all the creeks had them lining their banks. As to GPS, in 1998, GPS for civilians was only just coming onto the market and it’s accuracy was questionable, so we had to rely on good old map reading and deduction. 🙂

      I didn’t realise there was a “Friends of the Palmer River” group, at the time we thought the visitor book was maintained by National Parks, as I vaguely remember NP Ranger Lana Little (I think that was her name) had written an introduction in the book we signed saying it was provided by NP’s. It was stored in the red tube you can see in the photo above of Ken sitting under a ledge.

      Trevor to be honest, I don’t think I could even remember the route to Hell’s Gate we took anymore, I did have some grand idea several years ago to follow the whole route from Laura all the way to Palmer River Goldfields but I couldn’t convince anyone to come with me. And I am getting a bit old for such a journey now.

      Good luck on your next trip Trevor!

      Cheers

      James

    • James Gowan Sunday, 8 June, 2014 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Trevor,
      Myself and a Mate are considering doing the walk, do you have the map series and grid reference for Hells Gate? it would be much appreciated as I know how long someone can spend walking aimlessly, any information you could provide would be very much appreciated.
      Cheers

      • James Doyle Monday, 9 June, 2014 at 8:37 am - Reply

        James,

        I did this walk nearly twenty years ago and my memory isn’t as good as it once was. I honestly can’t remember the exact location but Trevor may read this and be able to help. Or you could ask at JCU history department in Cairns, they may be able to help you. Good Luck.

      • James Gowan Saturday, 26 July, 2014 at 4:21 pm - Reply

        Trevor, can I obtain a copy of your waypoints please? it would be greatly appreciated.
        Cheers

    • Steve Heise Thursday, 29 January, 2015 at 5:47 pm - Reply

      Hello, Have been curious about that area for many years, are you able to give some co-ordinates and track routes,or if your going up that way again sometime could I burn alongside.

      • Richard Gischus Tuesday, 17 March, 2015 at 9:45 pm - Reply

        James in 2013, I walked into hellsgate with probably the best bushman in Nth Qld. We spent 3 nights in the bush. It can be done faster, I am 76 so a bit slow. We went in at end of may as to have a better chance of water, which was no problem at that time of year. Quartz creek can get very dry as it is seasonal, there is water at the rockhole and a spring along hells gate creek and also where you leave hells creek but don’t rely on that source when you leave hells creek, it is 2 km. Climb up to hells no water at all. I am looking at going back this year hopefully. It’s not a long walk but demanding with a pack for me but I absolutely loved it. Regards Richard (dick)

        • James Doyle Wednesday, 18 March, 2015 at 7:46 am - Reply

          Thanks for your input Richard. Good luck on your next trip and have a good time in there. If I wasn’t living in Brisbane these days, I would probably do another trip myself. 🙂

  14. David Wright Wednesday, 4 September, 2013 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    Good memories of our trips up to that region…. Hope there are similar adventures in the future

    • James Doyle Thursday, 5 September, 2013 at 8:32 am - Reply

      Hi David,

      Remember when you and I went looking for Hell’s Gate? We were miles from the actual location, possibly about 30 miles southeast of where it really is, so we would have had quite a walk from where you and I were. 🙂

  15. Bronnie Hayes Wednesday, 4 September, 2013 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    James,
    What an incredible journey that you and Ken undertook. !!
    I would loved to have witnessed the pair of you scrambling for the one lone tree to evade the cattle..
    Thank you for the incredible history lesson..
    I look forward to the next.
    Bronnie.

    • James Doyle Wednesday, 4 September, 2013 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks Bronnie, it certainly was an adventure which I don’t think I want to repeat in this lifetime. I guess now that I can sit back in a chair and reminisce it wasn’t that difficult of a trip. 🙂

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