Top of the World: Passage Peak

There’s no denying the power of a place with a view.

There’s no denying the power of a place with a view that you have to put forth a little effort to see it.


Such was the case with a hike to Passage Peak – the highest point and moderate bush walk of Hamilton Island in Queensland, Australia. It was our final non-traveling day in Oz. After a few days of steady rainfall, the morning began in a misty, tropical haze, but showed promise of clearing. Time for a bush walk. Finally.

The trail begins inconspicuously behind the Reef View Hotel. It’s rather unexpected – preparing for beautiful nature walk – and passing behind the scenes of a massive commercial building. Reminded me of that song… They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.

Halfway through the journey up, I came to the disappointing realization that I had over-estimated my fitness – it was exhausting! Despite my youth, energy & good health, this became a tiring hike. Kudos to my heavy backpack full of camera equipment & water to add to the challenge. Good thing I had a travel companion: when the backpack got too heavy, Eric took responsibility. When Eric got too hot from the backpack, it switched back to me. Teamwork. Or true love.

Amid the uphill trudge of burning thighs & calves, we admired the abundant nature of the island –  flowers, butterflies, greenery. I finally fulfilled a lifelong goal of hearing a kookaburra laugh in the wild (big dreams, right?). Immediate regret bringing that “emergency” umbrella – the trees were natural umbrellas from the periodic drizzle that threatened our trek. I remained constantly over-alert throughout the hike, training my eyes to recognize movements of brown snakes or creepy spiders. Never saw them. Though we did see these sights on our ascent:

The last half mile was the confidence killer. Steep & unforgiving, by that point most of my energy had been expelled in the previous hour. Surely the top will be after the next hill. No? Okay, then the next steep climb? No? Another? OMG ARE WE THERE YET?! A family with kids laughed when they told us we still had a ways to go. Then told us if their small children could do it, we could do it. Ouch.

These "stairs" knocked the wind out of me.

These “stairs” knocked the wind out of me. Not short-people friendly.

But when we arrived at the top, the views made every step worth it.  The clouds cast a muted shadow over the horizon, giving a soft, ethereal view. Like Mother Nature selected her own natural filter. Like I was admiring through a sheer curtain of mist. This vantage point of the Whitsundays would have been worth ten hikes up. Seeing those islands cut like dormant tropical kingdoms through the ocean was more than any words or postcards could capture.




Bring water, but remember there are no bathrooms.

Wear good hiking/climbing shoes. Flip flops are a bad choice.

Wear light & pack light. Don’t weigh yourself down.

There is a nice picnic area at one point along the trail.

Pace yourself.


See the highest point in the photo above? That’s where we hiked to. This photo was taken from the balcony at Reef View Hotel, where we began. A long trek, but worth it!

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