Hikers begin 80th anniversary of Stinson hike

HIKERS relived history and retraced Bernard O’Reilly’s footsteps through bushland to the Stinson crash site on February 18.

Last weekend marked the 80th anniversary of Mr O’Reilly’s dangerous hike along the McPherson Range in search for the Stinson Model A airliner.

Hikers had the option of a 37km return hike or a one-way 17km journey to the Stinson Wreck and Westray’s Grave.

About 40 guests at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat began their trek in the early hours of the morning to honour Bernard O’Reilly’s heroic actions and the community’s effort in the Stinson rescue.

Guests arrived at O’Reilly’s on Friday afternoon to attend a history talk lead by Bernard O’Reilly’s nephew Pete, a briefing by local guides and participate in a stretching session in preparation for the day ahead.

Pete, his son Shane and his niece Jane O’Reilly were in attendance throughout the evening.

Jane said it meant a great deal to commemorate the 80th anniversary of her great uncle’s journey.

“I think it’s important for us (the O’Reilly family) to acknowledge the significance of the Stinson and also the walk itself,” she said.

“It’s a big physical challenge and it is an iconic walk, it’s a really good hike for people who are looking for that next challenge and to also appreciate the beauty and the history of it.”

Shane said celebrating the 80th anniversary was a great milestone for the O’Reilly family and the Scenic Rim community.

He said the anniversary brought many people from the past, including crash survivor John Proud’s great nephew, to Lamington National Park.

Some hikers experienced their first Stinson walk while others returned to tackle the challenging journey again.

Claire Ceo said reading a story about the walk in the Beaudesert Times last year sparked her interest in participating for the first time.

“When I saw it I thought this is for me, I like hiking and I really wanted to push myself,” Claire Ceo said.

“The hike is a good thing to be a part of and it’s a great way to commemorate history.”

For Doug Bennett, the walk had been a tradition of his since the 50th anniversary of the Stinson wreck.

“I have been on the hike every 10 years, I went to the 50th, 60th, 70th and now 80th anniversary and I think this will be my last hike,” Doug said.

The Bennett family rallied around Doug with eight relatives, including his sons and grandsons with one as young as 11-years-old, who joined him on his walk for what could be his last Stinson hike.