As I drove to Alligator Creek through the early morning showers on a damp and miserable morning, I knew that our aim of summiting Mount Elliot via Alligator Creek falls and returning on the same day would be a big ask as this isn’t a wet weather, same day return hike!
As the sun rose we could clearly see low cloud cover and rain to approx. 100m under the actual summit. We decided to give it a crack in any case and off we went!
Glen’s customary Dad jokes made an early appearance as the showers followed us all the way to the bottom of the falls and above. It was a beautiful start to the morning, walking through the drizzle and the cool early morning temperatures.
It took us double the time it usually would to scale the falls safely due to the wet and slippery surfaces. The views were spectacular from the top of the falls as usual, and looking out to the North East towards Saddle Mountain where adjacent peaks were under low cloud was certainly a highlight of the day.
We made our way over the falls and into the unknown – the group had never ventured into this part of the National Park before and weren’t we in for a pleasant surprise! As I watched Terry rock hopping in his Dunlop KT 26’s I thought to myself how stunningly beautiful the Upper Reaches of Alligator Creek are and how much they remind me of the upper reaches of Ollera Creek heading towards Circle View Mountain. Waterfall after waterfall, cascades, terraces and swimming holes a plenty! Endless Fern Gardens lapping at the creeks edge. Fresh water Yabbies and small Eels galore!
We also noticed some beautiful rock formations and caves close to the creek that would have easily slept half a dozen adventurers if they chose to spend the evening!
We followed the creek for a good part of the morning before stopping for a break to refill our water and turn our attention to the adventure that still lay ahead! I had to keep an eye out for our newest quiet achiever Christine, who doesn’t say much! Although we always have a ‘tail end charlie’, I still get concerned when I haven’t heard an adventurers voice behind me for a while!
We left the creek at an elevation of approx. 720m, and ventured up into the thick, dense and damp rainforest, relying totally on GPS Navigation as we bush bashed our way towards the summit of Mount Elliot, at 1220m.
The going was slow – the barbed wire vine, wait a while and lawyer cane, combined with the loose ground cover, up to knee deep in some places meant that we stopped 900m short of the summit at an elevation of approx. 950m and made the decision to leave the summit for a drier day.
That’s one of the many great things about our group – we make smart decisions. As much as we were focussed and would have loved to have made the summit, the weather hadn’t been kind to us. We were concerned any further showers down towards Alligator Creek Falls would make it extremely unsafe when making our way down in the dark, so we made the decision to leave the summit to another day.
It was hard to watch Debbie nearly shed a tear at the thought of turning back, but after the promise of a wine or two and early mark, the smiles were a plenty.
We had lunch and a few laughs amongst some of the most beautiful flora and dense rainforest I have seen in the Bowling Green National Park, at an elevation of 950m.
The secateurs got plenty of work and a big thanks to Carl (who didn’t have a big night prior to a full day hike this time around) and Glen who helped make this trail significantly easier to find and hike the next time around.
We hiked out and reached the falls just before dark, with more spectacular views. As fate would have it the weather had turned and it was seemingly drier at the falls, however we stuck by our decision with no regrets!
After watching some Grade 5 slipping and sliding as we made our way down, I decided to go for a quick dip in the infinity pool close to the edge of the falls, only to jump out absolutely covered in black fly larvae. These are wriggler-like larvae of flies that live in large numbers on certain types of rock faces or leaf debris in flowing water. They are filter-feeders getting food drifting with the current. They have a suction thing at one end to hold onto the rock/leaf debris and a filter-feeding apparatus at the other end. When you brush against the rock/leaf debris they are easily dislodged and you get lots of them on you and they look like little leeches but are harmless. – so be careful all you instagrammers and bikini models – stay out of the infinity pool!
We hit the campsite and starting point at 7.30pm. We had hiked for 14 hours to an elevation of approx. 950m, with an elevation gain totalling well over 1000m and we’d covered 29.6km on foot.
Ian surprised us with a cold beer each at the finish line, which was the perfect end to an epic adventure.
Another great day of hiking and exploring a remote section of tropical paradise with a remarkable group of adventurers!