In 1955, an RAAF Lincoln bomber flying a sick baby from Townsville to Brisbane went down in bad weather, crashing 50m from the top of Mt Superbus. The sole survivor of the crash was a ginger Kelpie.
This week, I took a small team from my hiking group to climb Mt Superbus and find that Lincoln Wreck. This hike wasn’t going to be easy and it wouldn’t help that it was forecast to be 33ºC and muggy or that all we had was a sketchy set of instructions.
As the trip to the beginning of the hike was a long way from our meeting place, I camped out in my van the night before. It certainly made the early start the next day a little easier.
The meeting point is the usual spot, Aratula BP, an hour outside of Brisbane. The hike starts a further 80km into the Main Range along a dirt road with a couple of stream crossings, which could have been more of a hazard if it had actually rained in Queensland over the past months. At one slightly deeper crossing, we were forced to leave half of the cars behind and pile into my van for the last several kilometres to a pleasant looking farm.
Through the gate, we headed along a dirt road which we believed was the beginning of the hike. But after following the dirt road a couple of kilometres we finally discovered a National Park sign and a thin trail that was the actual start point.
We walked through overgrown rainforest for about two kilometres following the thin trail, slowly working our way uphill. Sometimes we taller walkers were forced to crawl to follow the trail.
At some points along the hike we followed pink ribbons attached to trees, but mostly we followed the vague trail. About an hour in, however, the trail petered out and we were left without markers in the overgrown rainforest. And being immersed in trees, there were no reference points, not even the mountain we knew was there. Our instructions directed us south east, so with compasses out, we headed off-trail in search of a more obvious trail.
As we walked we found a downed tree across the gully like a bridge.
We then climbed a wet gully, continuing south east. At the top we located the trail we’d been looking for and followed it. While unsure exactly where we were, we stopped for lunch before continuing along the trail, following it deeper into the rainforest.
The trail ended abruptly at a rocky gully and we discussed our options. It was 1.30pm with sunset due at 5.45pm. We’d been walking nearly 3 hours, so we had to judge how long push on before turning back, allowing ourselves time to return to the vehicles before sunset. After a search around the bottom of the gully, we located a tin arrow nailed to a tree, a marker mentioned in the instructions! We decided to follow the arrow and it led us up the rocky gully.
The rocky gully climbed upwards rather steeply, occasionally forcing us to climb short cliffs and avoid both stinging nettles and Gympie Gympie plants, touching either is not suggested. We scaled a large fallen tree trunk, which posed more of an issue for the shorter legged members of the group. At the top of one short cliff we located the bomber’s engine block.
This prompted us to continue climbing. A little further up we were distracted by some pink markers that led us nowhere, so we returned to the gully and continued climbing.
Eventually after a series of intense scrambles, we found the bomber’s fuselage wreckage, a solitary wing and a mess of other metal.
We stopped for a short break before beginning the long journey back to the vehicles. We would have liked to have continued to the top of Superbus, but with the short winter days, it was best not to.
The climb down was fairly straightforward and on arriving back at the tin arrow, we again located the main trail. We followed it back and discovered where we had lost the trail.
We arrived back at the vehicles as the sun began to set and drove back to Aratula hotel for the obligatory post hike beer.
Overall, while we started late and lost the trail going in, we found the wreck and got out before sunset. A great adventure and an intense hike with a good bunch of people.
The not so Lone Trail Wanderer