On this hike, you’ll have to find your way to Westray’s Grave through a forest with spiky vines and venomous plants. I know it doesn’t sound inviting, but experienced hikers will love it – as long as they’re well prepared.
At first, the area does not sound inviting. But I’m glad this didn’t stop us. We had a lovely time walking along Christmas Creek.
Distance: 7.5 km
Time: 3 hours
Westray’s Grave and all the hikes along Christmas Creek are quite different to the usual hikes in Lamington National Park. The paths are harder to find and navigation skills are required, so fewer people wander in this part of the forest.
It surely is not a hike for anyone. But it’s the kind of hike we really enjoy as long as we know what we’re signing up for. My tips below should reassure you or make you decide it’s not for you.
With no time pressure, the right equipment and during the dry season, we didn’t find the walk particularly difficult for experienced hikers.
On this hike, you’ll get tested right from the start. You only have two options to cross the river: rock hopping or walking on a log above the river. If the water is very low, you might be able to cross the creek barefoot. But note this first crossing is a great introduction to the hike. You won’t have to cross the creek again to reach Westray’s Grave, but you will find a few other natural obstacles on your way. Just enough to make it fun and interesting.
From the car park, located about 500 metres away from the entrance of the National Park, it took us 1h45 to reach Westray’s Grave. We were a little bit faster on the way back as we already knew the path and its obstacles. We completed the hike in about three hours in total.
Tips to hike along Christmas Creek to Westray’s Grave
Don’t touch the Gympie Gympie stinger
In Australia and in Queensland, it often feels like nature can be a threat and you have to take extra care when bushwalking. Before hiking to Westray’s Grave, it is important to be able to recognise the Gympie Gympie stinger. They’re one of the most venomous plants in the world – the most toxic of the Australian species of stinging trees – and can cause excruciating pain for weeks.
None was directly on our path so we found it easy to avoid them when we visited.
Wear covering clothes
We managed to easily avoid the Gympie Gympie stingers, but it was another story for the Rattan Palm Vine. They are not dangerous per se, but their spikes are annoying.
Wearing long sleeves and pants will prevent them from scratching you too much. But don’t wear your favourite clothes: these spiky palms pierced my pants and scratched my jacket.
Wait for a dry day and wear good shoes
Roots, rocks and even the ground itself are slippery. It was rather dry when we did the walk so it wasn’t too bad but you still want to wear good shoes with ankle support and a good grip. My partner opted for trekking shoes and I wore my favourite Asolo hiking shoes*.
Don’t climb and leave the creek behind you
The path isn’t always clear so basic natural navigation skills are needed to find the way. It was never a challenge for us and it’s hard to get lost if you use common sense. As long as you don’t get too far from Christmas Creek, you’re heading in the right direction. You will have to go up and down to cross a few gullies, but you won’t have to climb up too far and leave the creek behind you.
When in doubt, look for the ribbons left by local hiking clubs. Be careful not to start hiking up a dry stream as they sometimes look like a path. And always take a path you can hike back.
What you can see at Westray’s Grave
Westray’s Grave is quite simple. There isn’t more to see than a grave and a sign. If you want to learn more about Westray and the Stinson crash, do your research prior to the hike. You may want to read the story as told by O’Reilly, who found Westray and then the wreck.
It’s a good place to take time to reflect on the nature surrounding you and how uncontrollable it can be. The main attractions are the splendid Christmas Creek and rainforest. You’ll pass many lovely rock pools and cascades on your way to Westray’s Grave. If you’re hiking on a hot day, you may be tempted by a refreshing dip.
If you want to hike for longer
Christmas Creek continues to lead to a stunning waterfall, Larapinta Falls. However, after Westray’s Grave, there’s no longer a defined track. You will have to use your skills to find your way in the forest and along the river. Sometimes, you will find a ribbon left by a group to confirm you’re still heading in the right direction. It is only recommended for experienced hikers.
About 500 metres before Westray’s Grave, you will see a sign to head up to Stinson Crash Site. I have never done this hike but I heard it’s very steep, long and hard.
Christmas Creek is an ideal spot for an overnight stay. You will find many accommodation options all the way down Christmas Creek Road, such as for example Wongari Eco Retreat* or Christmas Creek Cabins*. You could even spend your second day exploring one of my favourite national parks, about one hour away from the end of Christmas Creek road: Mount Barney National Park. Hiking to the summit of Mount Barney is very challenging but there are a few options in this region (Mount Maroon, the Lower Portals…) that are beautiful and not as hard. A few mounts in this region made it to my list of the best mounts to hike near Brisbane.
Have you hiked to Westray’s Grave? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where is Westray’s Grave?
Westray’s Grave is in the south of Lamington National Park, accessible from the west in the Scenic Rim region. The hike to Westray’s Grave starts at the end of Christmas Creek Road.
It takes a bit more than two hours to drive down there from Brisbane, and even a bit longer if you have a small 2WD as the end of the road is unsealed and full of potholes. You’ll have to take your time on this picturesque drive with many animals – wildlife or stock – crossing. The adventure started before the hike!
If you’re going with a group, it is recommended to carpool. First, it is better for the environment and cheaper. Also, the car park is limited to ten cars and the road is too narrow to allow cars to park on the side.