The Honeyeater Trail behind Airlie Beach provides a view over Airlie and Cannonvale from the top of the Conway Range. The hike is tough but very rewarding. With an elevation of 378m, the views are spectacular.
There are two ways to start this trail. You can either drive up Kara Crescent and hike the 8.2 km trail or drive up Seaview Drive then turn right near the top into the new estate at the top of the hill. Apologies for forgetting the name of the road, luckily it is very easy to find. There will be a sharp left turn up an extremely steep road which will take you to a dirt patch. See the map below.
On the map, the red line starts at Waterson Way and heads up Seaview Drive. The red line indicates the roads to follow after that. The red and black star indicates the dirt patch you need to drive straight through. The red ‘X’ indicates where the hike starts from.
Providing the gate is open, you can continue to drive straight and most of the way up the hill. If the gate is closed then walking from here is still much shorter than the official start of the track on Kara Crescent. If you manage to drive all the way like us, then your return hike will be 4.1 km.
The full track that starts from Kara Crescent is 8.2 km and will take you around 3 hours depending on your level of fitness and the conditions on the day. The shorter track took us 1 hour and 30 mins total walking time, return.
Look for a cool morning with clear skies. Rain days means slippery surfaces and leeches! While the track is almost completely shaded, there is little to no breeze. This is because Airlie Beach has a near-guaranteed southeast breeze that is elevated by the ground temperature before it hits the face of the Conway Range. Meaning the breeze won’t help you much.
Winter is, of course, the best time for hiking in Queensland anyway, so plan it right and visit Airlie when it’s not stinking hot summer.
Time of day is actually pretty irrelevant for this hike with the obvious exemption of making sure you either have torches or are back at your car before dark. Incredible views and superb photo opportunities will present themselves all day long.
There is a pretty serious lack of mountain hiking trails near Airlie Beach. This is probably because Airlie is a drinking town with a sailing problem and most of the locals don’t care much for hiking. Even scrolling through Alltrails, Aussie Bushwalking and Google, you can see that there is a really low number of reviews from people who have hiked it.
Luckily, the Honeyeater Trail is one of the best I’ve ever done. It is steep and it can be hot, but the views! Airlie Beach looks over Pioneer Bay which has some of the most turquoise water you will ever see.
There are islands off in the distance like Double Cone, Hayman Island, Arkhurst Island and more. Combined with the ability to see right over to Northerlies Beach Bar and around to Grimston Point on the edge of Woodwark Bay ( Paradise Cove Resort ), to call this view expansive would be an understatement.
As mentioned, it’s pretty tough. Don’t make this your first hike. If you are used to walking up hills are work in a physical position then you will be right. If you have a heart condition or something that could turn serious quickly then probably avoid it.
You are a long way from the nearest hospital ( Proserpine ) and a helicopter rescue would be difficult due to the tree coverage. Rescue helicopters in Airlie and The Whitsundays are also dispatched from Mackay, which means they will always take at least an hour to get to you.
As always, take heaps of water and maybe some snacks for those of you that suffer from h’anger. You shouldn’t be able to get lost on this trail and there will most likely be someone coming up behind you within an hour or so. Wear decent shoes.
Trainers are fine as long as they have some grip left on them. Hiking boots are definitely not needed on this trail.
As always, take your small first aid kit. This is mostly to help with snake bites and rolled ankles.
There are snakes, spiders and wild pigs to watch for. The snakes generally are just pythons but there is, of course, the possibility of something a little more terrifying like a Coastal Taipan.
The spiders will leave you alone if you leave them alone. They don’t seem to make webs across the track, so if you stay on the track you should be fine.
Wild pigs are everywhere in the Queensland mountain ranges. They are not a threat to you unless you are a threat to them. They don’t eat humans so they have no intention of fighting us. There are some pigs up this way which is made obvious by the council sign that notifies us of baiting operations. Apart from the sign, I actually didn’t see any of the normal wild pig marks on the ground.
If you are visiting Airlie Beach and manage to drag yourself out of the pub long enough to get this hike done, you will thank yourself. Most people visiting the area are there to see The Whitsundays, which is the right thing to do. It is spectacular out there. We certainly recommend giving yourself an extra day to explore what Airlie has to offer.
The views from the Conway Range are spectacular, to say the least, and hikes are relatively easy compared to the ones around Cairns and the far north. If you are super into your hiking then perhaps you should take the Honeyeater to the next level and continue along the Conway circuit which is the 28 km trail that follows the ridge around Brandy Creek and along to Shute Harbour.
If the Honeyeater is all you have the energy for, then it will not be wasted energy.