Kennedy Retrace Trek – FNQ

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  • ATAS Travel Accredited
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Trek Summary

This fabulous trek takes us through country rich in history, from early mining activity and Chinese immigration, to military training activity and following part of the route of the early explorers.

We will trek through the beautiful Atherton Tablelands, supported by pack donkeys, which we as a trekking team are required to care for. Evidently, if the donkey isn’t happy about how it’s being treated, it won’t budge!

We will retrace the route taken by Edmund Kennedy during his party’s exploration of the area in 1848. Looking around the terrain, though we have good equipment, are well fed, and are trekking through land that has been cleared and maintained, we will get a sense of how difficult life was for the early explorers.

We will also learn about the early interactions between the European explorers, and our indigenous communities. In April 1848, a young man named Galmahra was asked to accompany and help guide Assistant Surveyor Edmund Kennedy on an expedition through unknown country heading up into Cape York Peninsula.

On that expedition Galmahra proved his value (including bush skills) and turned out to be a loyal and resilient member of the expedition upon whom Edmund Kennedy increasingly relied until he died, speared by Yadhaykenu people in the northern Peninsula area in December 1848, somewhere near the Escape River.

Following an inquiry into Edmund Kennedy and other expedition members deaths, Galmahra became more generally known as Jacky Jacky: one of the first Aboriginal Australian to be honored for his loyalty, heroic deeds, and general assistance to the expedition.

William Carron also accompanied the Kennedy Expedition as botanical collector. He was one of only three who survived starvation in Camp LXXX near the mouth of the Pascoe River. He kept a journal, had to abandon this when evacuated from the camp due to risk of imminent attack by Aboriginals. After he was rescued and returned to Sydney he re-wrote the journal from memory – this being the only substantial record of the expedition.

The other surviving records include a set of Kennedy’s sketch maps of the route that were placed on microfilm in 1948 and are held in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. All the paper records were affected by water damage during the wet season floods as Jackey Jackey hid the papers in a hollow log after Kennedy was killed. Jacky Jacky retrieved them during the expedition mounted to find Kennedy’s body the following May. This is a story in itself!

Departure & Return Location


Price Includes

  • 9 Day fully escorted tour – GT Leader
  • Pre trek accommodation in Cairns (twin share)
  • All transfers to and from Cairns
  • Camping accommodation during trek
  • Meals as indicated
  • Detailed Risk Management Plan
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Luggage & pack transport

Price Excludes

  • International and Australian domestic flights
  • Post trek accommodation in Cairns (price available on request)
  • Airport transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • All items of a personal nature, including trekking equipment
  • Meals other than those specified on itinerary
  • Any other expenses which are not mentioned on ‘Price Includes’ section.


  • Getaway Trekking quick-dry Walking Shirt
  • Getaway Trekking Certificate of Completion
  • Training Walks in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia & Tasmania
What to Expect
  • Form lasting bonds and friendships with your fellow trekkers
Curriculum Benefits

Cross Curriculum Priorities

  • Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia
  • Sustainability
  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Histories & Cultures

General Capabilities

  • Critical & Creative Thinking
  • Identify issues and develop strategies to assist with preparation and the experience itself, including fitness, teamwork & group dynamic. cultural expectations etc.
  • Intercultural Understanding
  • Appreciation and respect of a different culture and recognition of evolution of cultural groups and identities.
  • Ethical Understanding
  • Exploring concepts including sustainable living.
  • Personal & Social Capability
  • Managing a range of emotions resulting from physical & mental load, developing empathy for others, building relationships, developing self-worth and self-awareness

Subject based

Year 10 Geography
o Environmental change and management
o Geographies of human wellbeing
Year 9 History
o ‘The making of the modern world’ – covers 1750-1918, and the period of the Kennedy expedition.
o The Industrial Revolution and transport requirements for international trade that were the goals for early expeditions
Asia and the world – early immigration to support mining activity, including development of camel trains
o Making a nation
o The extension of settlement, including the effects of contact (intended and unintended) between European settlers in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
o Experiences of non-Europeans in Australia prior to the 1900s (such as the Japanese, Chinese, South Sea Islanders, Afghans)

Health & Physical Education
o Food & Nutrition (FN)Health Benefits of Physical Activity (HBPA)
o Mental Health & Wellbeing (MH)Safety (S)Challenge & Adventure Activities (CA)
Civics & Citizenship
o The challenges to and ways of sustaining a resilient democracy and cohesive society

Learning Outcomes

Understanding of early relationships between indigenous communities and early settlers
An understanding of the sustainability of indigenous communities, including the impact of environmental change
Participation in physical activity to a high level, and the impacts on physical and mental health and well-being.
Transferrable skills supporting development into active and informed citizens.
Increase in confidence through meeting challenges, team work and group work activities.


Day 1Cairns Overnight (optional)

Arrive in Cairns. Overnight: Cairns Hotel (D)

Day 2Cairns to Mt Garnet

Transfer 2.5 hours from Cairns. Many sites enroute, including Rocky Creek WWII Memorial Park, 7th Division AIF Camp at Millstream Falls, and others. Pre-trek & safety briefings and meet donkey team. (B/L/D)

Day 3Smiths Creek, Nymbool – 9km

Trek along disused railway line from Tabo, learning about the history of the history of mining and Edmund Kennedy’s third exploration, begun in 1848. (B/L/D)

Day 4California Creek – 8km

Follow the Camel Track, between Lappa Junction and Mt Garnet. Camels were used to transport supplies during the mining era – the leading cameleer, Abdhul Wade owned between 600 and 700 camels. (B/L/D)

Day 5Garrumba -10-14km

A ‘Kennedy’ day following a part of Edmund Kennedy’s exploration route. Head into Cobb & Co country and into the heads of Reids Creek. (B/L/D)

Day 6Emuford – 7-11km

Trek further along Reids Creek to Denford via disused haul roads and tracks used by the early miners. Along the way, view a pre WWI miners camp, forges used at that time, and the original Denford battery site, operated by Dalzeil Family. (B/L/D)

Day 7Rest Day

Option to visit Greens Battery, used from 1911 and virtually intact today. Alternatively, just chill and spend time with our group – and our donkeys! (B/L/D)

Day 8Gibbs Creek – 6km

Trek through Cobb & Co territory, close to historic routes between Georgetown, Herberton and Petford, and along Emu Creek. View Chillagoe-Mungana Railway Bridge, Wade’s Pub, Dorothy McGrath Bridge and Kennedy’s camp K XXXIV. (B/L/D)

Day 9Emu Creek – 15km

Trek along a disused coaching road north of Emu Creek, continue north of Mt Black past Emerald Hill, to the vicinity of Bluewater Creek.
Visit “ Kennedy’s Rocky Hill” (if time allows), used by Kennedy to observe and plan his route. Richard Boyle, GGG Nephew of Edmund Kennedy has placed a brass memorial plaque at the base of Kennedy’s Hill. (B/L/D)

Day 10Emu Creek Station – 9km

Final day of trekking takes us past more evidence of Kennedy’s exploration, including the Long Waterhole approx. 350m from Kennedy Camp KXXXIV. We continue to Emu Creek Cattle Station, our camp tonight. It is a great spot for kayaking, swimming, fishing and yabbying. (B/L/D)

Day 11Transfer from Emu Creek Station to Cairns. (B)