- 1km steep climb (2km return)
- This track is a bush track standard and sturdy footwear is recommended
- Walk starts at the Interpretation Shelter
- Walk alongside Roberts Drive to the track start.
Car parking and track start
Earl Hill Summit Track begins at the corner of Roberts Drive and Flagship Drive, Trinity Park. Signs indicate that there is no parking at the trail head so park the car at Reed Rd and walk to the start.
Car parking is on the left off Reed Rd and the entry is immediately after Debbie Street on the right. If you reach the roundabout at Roberts Rd and Harbour Drive, you’ve gone too far.
In the image below, parking for cars (without boat trailers) is highlighted in yellow and the red line indicates the start of the walk to the trail head.
Cross a wooden footbridge at the eastern side of the carpark and join the footpath along Roberts Drive, turning immediately left after this footbridge.
This is a concrete footpath with some shade in the morning, but mostly in the sun, so make sure kids are sunsafe. There’s a small sign to confirm you’re on the correct trail after about 2-3 minutes.
After 7 minutes easy walk you’ll see the signs for Earl Hill Conservation Park and Flagship Drive
Immediately after crossing Roberts Drive you’ll see the Feather Palms information sign. Crossing Flagship Drive will have you arrive at the foot of the climb to Earl Hill Summit.
Note that there are TWO walks available. The steeper, longer summit walk is the one described here. The other shorter walk is the Half Moon Bay Lookout Track which starts further along Flagship Drive.
The climb itself is consistently steep but whilst it requires effort, it is not relentless, and a steady pace will see you make progress. If you’re familiar with the Red Arrow walking track (the beginning of the Blue Arrow), Earl Hill Summit track is not as steep, although it is certainly longer.
This walk is suitable for many types of people, so it’s an excellent option. We passed (or were passed by) older walkers, families, young couples, and individuals doing circuits.
One point worth making is that the signage is poor in terms of detail, so expect a few unsigned paths. On the map at the start, there is a single line up to the summit. However, we encountered at least THREE junctions.
Having never walked this track before, this was confusing. We stuck to the left and eventually made the summit.
I think all these forks simply provide an alternative option, but ultimately lead to the summit. We arrived at the summit after approximately half an hour after leaving the base of the hill.
Dog walking is permitted on this track but you’ll need to have your dog on a leash. There is a drinking fountain for you and a water bowl for your dog so you’ll be able to hydrate before and after the walk.
Excellent walking surface in the dry
The track was bone dry and hard-packed red-brown clay earth. Plastic moulded steps have been used in regular places to assist the ascent. Because of their colour they blend in well with the rest of the path.
A couple of the switchbacks had a loose surface, but generally the track was excellent and relatively even. It would probably be another story if it were raining – I imagine the track would be very greasy.
The view from the summit
At the top there’s a view north through the trees. A sign indicates you can see all the way to Thornton Peak and Cape Kimberley, although looking back through my photos I can’t see these landmarks. We did have a view over the beach suburb of Trinity Beach and out to Double Island, with Buchan Point also clearly visible.
It’s not the world’s best view, but part of the reason is that you’re within a Conservation Park, and obviously our view takes second preference to flora and fauna, as it should.
The walk back down took almost exactly the same time, although the effort was much less. Leaving the summit, follow the trail past the summit sign. Although it looks like the track is leading down toward Trinity Beach it loops around under the lookout and connects back with the same way we came up.
Earl Hill Summit Walk is a relatively easy walk to do in the morning before it gets too hot for a bit of exercise. It’s indicated as a “steep” walk which I think is fair. However, don’t be put off – this isn’t Walsh’s Pyramid, and not even Red Arrow steep. If you’re reasonably fit you’ll break a sweat but you won’t bust a lung.
The Interpretation Shelter
The Interpretation Shelter has some excellent information on wildlife within the Bluewater area. The signs are on the opposite side of the road to the Summit Track start, but its worth stopping and reading about the habitat you are about to walk through before you set off.
Included below is a transcription of the signage (presumably created as part of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) management of Earl Hill Conservation Park) as well as a gallery of images.
Corridors and Conservation
Earl Hill is one of the largest areas of natural bushland on the coast of the northern beaches.
One of the biggest threats to wildlife in urban areas is the “dividing up of habitat”. Roads, buildings and clearings make moving between native bushland habitats dangerous. Many animals are killed crossing roads and are less able to escape from predators (including dogs and cats) when travelling across open cleared spaces.
Connecting these parcels of habitat with corridors of bush allows animals to seek food, shelter and to nest and breed safely. There are a number of connecting corridors in the northern beaches which help to connect natural habitats.
A Home in The Forest
The open woodland here has many old gum trees, particularly Bloodwoods. These trees contain hollows in their trunks which form in older trees as branches are shed. These hollows provide unique shelter and breeding places for many birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects.
Forests with these older trees containing hollows are scarce in the urban lowlands of Cairns. Many native animals depend on these hollows to nest, breed and raise their young.
The critically endangered Bare-rumped Sheathtail Bat and the vulnerable Rufous Owl, may share these precious nesting trees with more common birds such as the Laughing Kookaburra, the White-breasted Wood Swallow, and the Fairy Martin. Nocturnal animals such as the Striped Possum, the Ringtail Possum and the Sugar Glider use these tree hollows during the day to be safe from predators and to raise their young.
The branches that drop, and begin to rot and the leaf litter in this forest, provide shelter, nesting places and food for the many ground dwellers. Skinks, pythons, goannas, Northern Brown Bandicoots, Orange-footed Scrubfowls, echidnas, and Fawn-footed Melomys are just a few animals that breed, feed and nest in the logs and leaf litter at Bluewater.“A Home in the Forest” signs (x2), Earl Hill Interpretive Shelter, QPWS.
Habitats at Bluewater
The forest and waterways here are an example of the types of forest that would once have covered the coastal plain of Cairns. Today very little of this forest combination remains in the urban area. Protection of this area is very important to the survival of local wildlife that feed, breed and live here.
To enjoy this wonderful natural area take the Bluewater walking tracks where you can experience these different habitats:
The closed rainforest here offers fruiting rainforest plants that provide food and shelter for a range of wildlife including the rare Grey Goshawk and the vulnerable Double-eyed Fig-parrot.
Open Eucalypt Forest
A variety of birds, bats and mammals find cosy homes in the older Bloodwood trees where hollows form after branches have fallen. Forests of old trees with nesting hollows are uncommon in the Cairns lowland area. The plentiful Bloodwood blossoms provide nectar for the many different honey eaters, possums and parrots.
Moore’s Gully and fresh water pools
This fresh water creek is home to native water rats, turtles, fish, crabs, and frogs. The forest along the gully provides habitat for the Agile Wallaby, Striped Possum, Sugar Glider, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Echidna, Pythons, Fawn-footed and Grassland Melomys. The freshwater pools that form after heavy rains are an important habitat where many species of frogs and other freshwater aquatic animals breed.
The Mangroves provide a home and food for many species of crabs, birdlife, reptiles, the Rare Rusty Monitor and vulnerable False Water Mouse. The mangroves also provide nesting and breeding hollows, blossoms and fruit – a complete bed and breakfast for the local wildlife.
Half Moon Creek is crocodile habitat for the Estuarine Crocodile Crocodylus porosus.“Habitats at Bluewater” signs (x2), Earl Hill Interpretive Shelter, QPWS.
Creatures of Bluewater area
Amethystine Python Morelia amethistina
One of the largest snakes in the world, Amethystine Python eats small to medium size birds, reptiles and mammals including fruit bats, rats and possums. They prefer to live along stream and river banks in rainforest and mangrove swamps.
Spectacled Flying-fox Pteropus conspicillatus
Northern Bloodwood blossom and Paperbark blossom found here at Bluewater on the slopes of Earl Hill are the favourite food of these noisy fruit bats that also eat nectar and fruits. Colonies of 50-100 are found along the coast of Queensland to the tip of Cape York.
Pied Imperial Pigeon Ducula bicolor
Flocks of these black and white pigeons arrive in northern Queensland and the Northern Territory from New Guinea in August – September. In north Queensland they breed on coastal islands during the summer. Large flocks fly to the mainland daily to feed on fruit and rainforest trees, returning to the islands at night.
Striped Possum Dactylopsila trivirgata
Despite its distinctive black and white striped coat, this delicate, shy possum is one of the least known in Australia. Found in rainforest and woodlands from the wet tropics to the tip of the Cape York Peninsula, it rips away bark with sharp teeth and uses its elongated fourth finger to gather grubs and other insects, also feeding on leaves, fruit, small vertebrates and the honey of native bees.
Fawn Footed Melomys Melomys cervinipes
Found only in areas with a ground cover of leaf litter and logs, this excellent climber rests in trees and eats leaves, seeds, flowers and fruits of the trees in closed forest areas along the northern east coast of Australia.
Spotted Tree Monitor Varanus scalaris
Preferring open forest, closed woodland and rainforest areas this goanna feeds on smaller lizards, frogs, insects and baby birds. Its colour, which varies from green to grey to black with cream spots, can change to match the local tree trunks.
Macleay’s Double-Eyed Fig-Parrot Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana
The smallest parrot in Australia, the Double-eyed Fig-parrot is classified as vulnerable due, in part, to the clearing of lowland rainforest. It is named after the dark blue cheek patches that resemble eyes and its favourite food, figs.
Northern Brown Bandicoot Isoodon macrourus
Found along the northern and north eastern coast of Australia this bandicoot spends the days in a nest of leaf litter and ventures out at night in search of insects and earthworms.
White-lipped Tree Frog Litoria infrafrenata
The mating call of the White-lipped Tree Frog, Australia’s largest frog, sounds like the bark of a big dog. These frogs grow up to 14cm and are found in low-lying coastal areas in north Queensland and New Guinea.
Agile Wallaby Macropus agilis
Common here and along the tropical east and northern coast of Australia, these wallabies live in groups along waterways, open forest and grasslands, feeding on native grasses.
Orange-footed Scrubfowl Megapodius reinwardt
The Orange-footed Scrubfowl, the smallest of the mound-building birds, builds the biggest mound, often two to three metres high and six to seven metres across. Pairs build the mound, and the eggs are incubated by the heat of decaying plant matter. The chicks are independent on hatching and are never tended by the parents.
Brahminy Kite Milvus Indus
Feeding mainly on fish, the Brahminy Kite lives along mangrove-lined coastal inlets and bays along the northern half of Australia.
Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus
Designed to catch insects in flight, this sleek black bird is found all along the east and north coasts of Australia. Many Queensland populations migrate to New Guinea in March – April after nesting and return to breed in October – November.
Forest Kingfisher Todiramphus macleayii
Feeding on insects, spiders, small reptiles, frogs and worms, these hunters use their strong bills to excavate a nest in a termite mound, laying four to six eggs in August to December.
Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus
Flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets feed noisily on nectar, pollen, fruit, seeds and insects in treed areas along coastal regions of northern and eastern Australia. They nest in tree hollows here at Bluewater.Summarised from all signage at Earl Hill Interpretive Shelter, QPWS.