North of Townsville, near Rollingstone in the Paluma Range National Park is Hencamp Creek.
The lower reaches of Hencamp Creek are visible as the watercourse flows underneath the Bruce Highway, five kilometres north of the Balgal Beach turnoff.
Due to the lower and mid reaches of the creek line being accessible only via private property, few have been fortunate enough to visit this hidden gem, so as you can imagine we were excited to hike and explore this watercourse on a warm November morning.
The headwaters of Hencamp Creek form east of Circle View Mountain (831m), close to the headwaters of the gigantic Ollera Creek. From the headwaters to the ocean, this impressive creek stretches roughly 15 kilometres with the headwaters forming at 730 metres elevation.
As we made our way into the creekline, we were immediately met with a huge, deep pool, shaded by ancient Melaleucas. We were impressed, but the best was yet to come!
The lower reaches consist of numerous riffles and cascades. The creek bed is filled with cobble and small boulders, however is relatively flat and easily navigated given water levels are low this time of year. The adventurer may choose to hike the creek banks in the lower reaches, however both sides of the creek are teaming with green ants (Rhytidoponera metallica) and care must be taken not to disturb the ants nests, or prepare to be swarmed!
As we hiked into the mid reaches of Hencamp Creek, it’s true beauty was revealed. The boulders become bigger and there are numerous deep water holes and impressive waterfalls along the way, a couple of which are impassible and diversions must be taken. Water Flows in the mid reaches consist of cascades (a series of small falls close together), riffles (fast and shallow flows), runs (fast and deep flows) and glides (slow and shallow flows).
The creek is brimming with aquatic life including Jungle Perch (Kuhlia rupestris), Black Catfish (Neosilurus ater), Longfin Eel (Anguilla reinhardtii) and Eastern Water Dragon (Intellagama lesueurii)
The highlight of the day was exploring a massive slot canyon with a narrow, steep cascaded waterfall which flowed into a deep pool below – the perfect spot for a swim! We could not find the bottom of this pool and will be sure to measure the depth on our next visit!
We carefully hiked around the slot canyon, given the terrain on either side of the creek was now steep and loose underfoot. To our surprise this impressive creekline revealed another 25-30 metre waterfall above the canyon. We also caught a glimpse out over the coastal plain before heading back to enjoy our recently discovered canyon and swimming hole!
We stopped for a swim or two on the way back and all agreed we’d like to visit this beauty again in the wet season when water levels are higher and we could experience even more of the seasonal waterfalls and water features this stunning creek line has to offer.