In July this year, ambitious Queenslanders Lisa Marshall and Luke Edwards, started an epic adventure – to hike Queensland’s 10 Great Walks in just 10 days. The Q10. Stretching from Currumbin to Cooktown the pair travelled 4000km overland and over 250km on foot with the support of Queensland National Parks and The National Trust of Queensland.
- 1 year in the making
- 8 months of training and planning
- 6 crew: 2 runners, 2 drivers, 2 film crew
- 250+km on foot 295,290 steps
- 4000km by road
- 1 flight
- 4 boats
- 1 kayak
- 2 campervans
- 1 park bench
When Brisbane-based expedition leader, Luke Edwards asked me to join him on this epic adventure, I didn’t hesitate! But after looking at the logistics of the project, I realised just how much preparation lay ahead of us.
I’m a Mum of two, the founder of Trek Coach where I prepare keen hikers to get trek ready and have hiked trails all over the world. Hiking is my absolute love, but I knew by looking at the itinerary that the only way we would get through the distances each day, was to run most of it. This was going to be challenging for me, not having run much at all since having my daughter two years ago.
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It’s All In The Ps: Planning, Preparation & Perseverance
In the six months leading up to the expedition, Luke and I trained on local trails, tested gear, sourced sponsors, planned our food and rest stops, poured over maps, and laid out a step-by-step, hour-by-hour itinerary. This evolved into a multi-page spreadsheet that would scare even the most avid list planner! We weren’t just setting out to capture the best of the Great Walk trails on foot, but also on film. A film crew videoed us live on each trail, for a series of short films and a documentary.
‘Not only did we have to run more than a half marathon each day, but we also had to factor in access for our film crew, capturing the best sights on film, rest time for our drivers, and allowing enough time to drive to the next location.’ – Luke Edwards
Luke’s passion for making the Q10 happen was vital – he brought together a great team of six to rise to the challenge.
Adventure Teaches Us To Be Resilient
As with any adventure, there are always unexpected challenges and realisations that happen along the journey. The first three days went almost exactly to plan, as we explored the Gold Coast Great Walk, the Sunshine Coast Great Walk, and then Fraser Island, K’gari. We couldn’t believe how our timing estimations and filming itinerary were all running to plan. Our bodies were holding up well too, despite my initial fear of not being able to take on that amount of trail running, back to back each day.
The whole crew made it onto the 3.00pm ferry off Fraser Island, less than 24 hours after we’d arrived there the day before. We set off on the longest of the drives, estimated to be around 11 hours to Carnarvon Gorge.
‘We always knew the middle two days of our schedule were going to be pushing it in many ways.’ – Luke Edwards
Stranded On A Park Bench
Later that night, due to unforeseen circumstances outside of our control, we suffered a major delay. With no mobile reception, and nowhere to stay, about an hour and a half from our intended destination of Carnarvon Gorge, we were forced to grab a few hours of sleep on the picnic tables in a local park, wrapped in our sleeping bags, at -1℃.
Local policeman Nathan, came to our rescue early the next morning and drove us out to Carnarvon Gorge so we could get out on the trail, and then work out how to readjust our schedule to get back on track.
It was such an emotional night, and with very little sleep and concerns that the expedition might be grounded, we were pretty exhausted both mentally and physically. Despite the setback, we actually laughed at the craziness of the situation. The silver lining was that we got to spend the day exploring the stunning trails and sights in Carnarvon Gorge. The whole crew was blown away by how the local community came together to organise us a lift out the following day and get everything back on track.
Rewriting The Excel Spreadsheet
The second half of the expedition required more tweaking and rescheduling to make up for lost time. We spent our travel time in the cars planning the next 24 hours, calling campgrounds, organising alternate accommodation, rescheduling Park Ranger interviews, checking weather forecasts, posting social media and live to camera footage from the day, writing trail reports and of course trying to consume enough calories to replace what we had used up running the trails. Not much time left for recovery.
‘Luckily our planning and training had paid off. We didn’t have any blisters, we had quality gear, and were vigilant about refuelling our bodies with real food, which was tough considering we didn’t have access to shops in many locations, and were eating in the cars.’ – Luke Edwards
Finishing On A High
The highlight was the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island. A gem of an island, wild, and untouched, which can only be reached by boat from the mainland. This 32km multi-day trail, delivered views and natural beauty by the bucket loads. Though I felt mentally and physically tired before I started out on the trail, and nervous about how we were going to finish a multi-day trail in half a day, the excitement of exploring the island took over, and carried me through to the end. We finished the trail in 5.5 hours, even managing a dip in the stunning Zoe Falls.
We reached Cooktown on day 10 for the final day of exploration, on the Gamaay Dreaming Track. The Q10 team, along with representatives of the National Trust Queensland, were welcomed by the Deeral family, of the Gamaay Warra people, to the land of their ancestors. Their country stretches from the Endeavour River in the south to Nob Point in the north. The family hope to develop the trail as a place for visitors to come and explore the wild beauty of this land.
For all of us, the expedition delivered way more than we had anticipated. Being immersed in magical wilderness each day, in a new location and with a tight schedule to stick to, meant we came away with a new appreciation of how much adventure can be crammed into a day, with some careful planning and a great sense of humour.
Read More: 5 Reasons You Should Go Hiking In Queensland
The Q10 Itinerary: From South To North In 10 Days:
- 18 July – Gold Coast Great Walk
- 19 July – Sunshine Coast Great Walk
- 20 July – Fraser Island, K’gari Great Walk
- 21 July – Carnarvon Gorge Great Walk
- 22 July – Mackay Highlands Great Walk
- 23 July – Whitsunday Great Walk (Conway Circuit)
- 24 July – Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail
- 25 July – Thorsborne Trail, Hinchinbrook Island
- 26 July – Goldfield Trail
- 27 July – Gamay Dreaming Track
To see highlights of the Q10 and keep up to date with the screening of the Q10 documentary, check out Trek Coach.
Beaches, mountains and rainforests, oh my!