Category Archives: Australia

Bunya Mountains National Park – Barker Creek and Scenic Circuits

During the week I was in Tamborine Mountains National Park, Queensland’s oldest National Park. This weekend I decided to visit Queensland’s second oldest National Park: the Bunya Mountains. The Bunya Mountains is about 3 hours north-east of Brisbane. There are three main walks in the Bunyas, so I have come away for the weekend to walk all three.

IMG_0801

This is also an opportunity to try out my newly purchased ‘sleeper’ van – a van I have set up for a coming three-month trip around South East Australia. So, laden with food and my hiking gear, I set out for my overnight stay in an unpowered camping ground.

Bunya Mountains National Park map

Map is owned by and used with courtesy of Queensland Government.  Please visit that site for more detailed information on hiking in this region.

Barker Creek and Scenic Circuits – 12km
I arrived in the Bunya Mountains just after midday and quickly got myself sorted. My first stop is a camping area called Dandabah which is also the hikes trailhead. On arrival, my fantasy of being ‘lost in nature’ in the Bunya Mountains was broken straight away. The camping ground is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, groups of chalets and far too many people.

Taking my daypack I headed out onto the trail. It’s nearing the end of winter in Queensland and the forest high in the Bunya Mountains is fairly cold. But I’m a quick walker, so it didn’t take me long to warm up. The dirt trail through the forest is wide and laden with tree roots.

IMG_0811

The Bunya Pines stand tall in the forest many with their companion strangler fig trees. One thing is also prominent as you follow the trail, the amount of ferns that cover the floor of the forest. After about 3 km of fairly flat trail a side track appeared with a sign that simply said ‘Paradise 80m’ and an arrow. So I followed!

Of course, ‘Paradise’ is the quaint Paradise Falls.

IMG_0817

The trail then follows the rocky stream through the forest to Little Falls, a smaller but no less quaint set of falls.

IMG_0828

The trail continues on along the stream before meandering away from it to a lookout called Big Falls Lookout. This part of the trail is an open hill face and reminds me a lot of central Australia, rocky, dry, arid but with hardy grass growing everywhere. Perhaps with more rain there might be water in falls but the view from the lookout was only a dry and rocky cliff face. The trail continues to Barker Creek Lookout which looks out to the north across the valley. The most distinct feature of the view is the power station, although it is difficult to see in the photo. There is also a sign that says Noosa Heads 131km.

IMG_0837

The path meanders back into the forest and eventually arrives at the Tim Shea Falls, another quaint set of falls. This is where the Scenic Circuit begins at a large pair of Hoop Pines. The trail then follows a stream with little rock pools scattered along its length until it reaches a lookout built to look at a single massive Bunya Pine.

IMG_0847

The trail continues to Festoon Falls, with its rocky surroundings it is the tallest and most magnificent falls in the mountains.

IMG_0851

The circuit then returns to the trailhead at Dandabah camping ground.

This circuit was listed as 4.5 hours but as I said earlier I’m a fast walker and it only took me 3. It did give me time to set up my van for the night. Tomorrow, the other two hikes…

The Lone Trail Wanderer.

Mt Tamborine National Park

Mt Tamborine is about an hour south of Brisbane by car, 30 minutes north of the Gold Coast. It’s a popular tourist area in the mountains with many arty stores and great views of the coast.

IMG_0714

Mount Tamborine National Park is not a large single park but several smaller ones scattered throughout the region. It has 6 short walks with approximately 20km of trails between them. Today I’ve decided to walk all of them.

Tamborine National Park walking track map

Maps are owned by and used with courtesy of Queensland Government.  Please visit that site for more detailed information on hiking in this region.

Palm Grove and Jenyns Circuits – 5.4km
For my first walk of the day, I chose the hardest of the trails in Mt Tamborine. When I say hardest, I mean in a very easy kind of way. The rocky path meanders through the tall thin trees with plentiful small creek crossings. There are views to the south of Springbrook National Park and The Cougals. In this part of the National Park I saw the most wildlife, with several wallabies feeding near the entrance and an Iguana who started climbing a tree when he saw me before changing his mind and just sitting on the trail staring at me.

IMG_0724

Curtis Falls and Joalah Circuit – 4.2km
Similar to Palm Grove, but without the animals. Much of the trail is sealed and was the most popular track of the day for visitors. The trail heads to a lookout at Curtis Falls, then along the stream where it crosses it at two places on concrete bridges.

IMG_0736

Witches Falls Circuit – 3.4km
Witches falls was the first established National Park in Queensland. The rocky dirt trail leads along the road line at the top of the park, past a grave yard before plunging down a steep hill to the waterfall at the bottom. The lookout is set just to the side of the rocky waterfall and gives a partial view.

wpid-img_0757-2012-08-15-07-17.jpg

Knoll Walking Track – 2.6km
The Knoll starts off at the top of a knoll (surprise!), with a lookout to the west towards Brisbane city. The track begins fairly typically to the rest of the National Park, a rocky track heading through the rain forest. It meanders down the knoll to a lookout at the top of a cliff overlooking a waterfall. You can walk around to the top of the waterfall and stand on the rocky edge watching the water flow down to the pool below while looking out across green hills to the west.

IMG_0766

Cedar Creek – 1.2km

IMG_0775

While only a very short and sealed track, the waterfall at Cedar creek is the best of the day. The water holes at the bottom are good locations for swimming in the warmer months (which is most of the year in Queensland). The path meanders down the mountain, stopping at lookouts before arriving at the bottom. A less sealed track continues along the river to another, larger water hole.

IMG_0789

Rainforest Walk – 1.4km
For my last walk of the day, the rainforest walk is just that, a walk around a rainforest. I suggest doing this walk first as beyond the rainforest, there’s not much else to see. In saying that, the short rocky track is not a bad walk and there were a couple of large strangler figs along the way. The rocky dirt track was fairly easy.

IMG_0793

The Trail Wanderer

Mount Cordeaux and Bare Rock – Main Range

After climbing the Mount Mitchell Peaks a couple of months ago, I decided to take my hiking group to another of the hikes in the same area.  I  set this up a couple of weeks before I went to Tonga and on my return discovered more than 50 people had registered.

I set the Aratula petrol station as our meeting place, about 10km from the beginning of the trail, making it easy for everyone to find.  While 50 is a lot for a hike, I expected a third to pull out, but a total of 45 showed up.  I discovered another group of 26 would also be on the trail also, so it was going to be busy.

Because of the lack of parking at Cunningham’s Gap, I suggested car pooling, so leaving some cars behind, we set off for the trailhead. The Mount Cordeaux and Bare Rock trail is 12.6km return or about 4 hours. It’s a Class 3 (well defined wide dirt track) with points of Class 4 (rocky defined path).

There are several trailheads leading off from the car park and I ensured we were heading along the right one before we headed off. The initial trail is a small circuit that connects all of the other trails together.  We walked along this on a wide dirt track to a lookout.

wpid-img_0692-2012-08-16-08-12.jpg

We continued along the circuit trail until we found the turn off to Mount Cordeaux and headed along it. The track began climbing immediately. The track zig-zagged up the side of the mountain to a point where the vegetation cleared and the western peak of Mount Mitchell could be seen across the gap.

wpid-img_0698-2012-08-16-08-12.jpg

About 4km into our climb and at the base of the great rocky face of Mount Cordeaux the trail forked.  We took the path to the right on a rocky path around the side of the mountain to a lookout, climbing stone steps to get there.

wpid-img_0701-2012-08-16-08-12.jpg

The lookout is a fairly large flat rocky area with plenty of room for our numbers. We stopped for a break, enjoyed the view across the valley to Lake Moogerah and Mount Greville – the next group hike I intend to arrange.

wpid-img_0704-2012-08-16-08-12.jpg

After 15 minutes, I led the group back to the fork and we continued along the trail around the other side of Mount Cordeaux on rocky steps.  We continued across a short saddle and into a throng of trees before the trail began to climb steeply.  The climb was fairly brief and we soon emerged onto Bare Rock, a large area similar to the lookout with views north along the Main Range.

wpid-img_0707-2012-08-16-08-12.jpg

Being late winter, I had expected it to be a little blustery, but we’d been lucky up to this point. Once at the top, however, the wind picked up and it cooled down. The group stayed for about half an hour, eating lunch and talking until the wind got too much and we set off down again.

wpid-img_0709-2012-08-16-08-12.jpg

The climb to Bare Rock was not particularly hard and with so many people, was slow going. The trip down was quicker, with most being a gentle meander heading back towards the car park.

wpid-img_0713-2012-08-16-08-12.jpg

The hike turned out to be a success with everyone enjoying themselves. To celebrate, 20 of us headed to the Aratula hotel for a beer – a must following a hike – before heading home.

Next I’m back to my lone wanderings, the many short trails of Mount Tamborine.

The Trail Wanderer.

Burleigh Head National Park

It’s my first weekend back after my Kingdom of Tonga trip and the weather is beautiful, so I decided to get out and do a mild walk. Today I chose Burleigh Head National Park.

Burleigh Head National Park map

Map is owned by and used with courtesy of Queensland Government.  Please visit that site for more detailed information on hiking in this region.

The Burleigh Heads are a section of beach at the southern end of Queensland’s Gold Coast.  The national park is nestled alongside the creek.

IMG_0646

From the Gold Coast Highway, I walked along the trail at the side of the Tallebudgera Creek with people fishing on my side and sun baking on the other.

IMG_0648

 

The ‘trail’ is more of a sealed path and is suitable for wheelchair access, which makes it a class 2 track.

wpid-img_0651-2012-07-29-14-28.jpg

The path either continues around the base of the national park or cuts into it. I cut in and began climbing a fairly steep hill. While much of the national park is rainforest, I liked the great rocky outcrops and boulders alongside the path. After a fair climb up the steepish path, I arrived at Tumgun Lookout and peered out along the coast to the south.

IMG_0652

The climb down from the lookout heads down to the beach and contains several sets of short stairs until it emerges at the end of Burleigh Heads Beach and a view along the Gold Coast.

IMG_0657

I headed back up along the path to a junction and headed around the back of the national park, which is not as picturesque as the other way.

IMG_0658

Arriving back at the creek, I followed the lower walk around the base of the national park for another, lower, view of the beach before heading back to the car and home.

IMG_0661

I was only looking for a short walk today and even though the drive to and from this national park combined was longer than the time I spent there, it was still worth the effort and the sweat.

Next week, a real track.

The Trail Wanderer.

The Cougals – Cougals National Park

The Cougals National Park is a section of the Springbrook National Park on the border of Queensland and New South Wales. It’s a pair of peaks that rise out of the rainforest, rocky and beautiful.  Note, this is different to the Mount Cougal Cascades, which is not connected to the peaks hike.

The East Peak is the most commonly climbed and is a 8.5km return trip with a moderate grade. The West Peak has a hard grade and is a further 750m across a saddle, giving the total hike of both peaks 10km return.

There is no formal trailhead for the Cougals walk. To get to the beginning of the trail from the Gold Coast cross the border into NSW and then back again along a dirt road named Garden Of Eden Road to a gate where there is room for several cars to park. There are local’s driveways nearby, along with a handmade sign announcing the beginning of the walk and demanding hikers to stay on the track.

IMG_0291

The trail heads west along the fence line between QLD and NSW. The fence has barbed wire along it, but whether it is designed to keep the New South Welsh out of Queensland is unknown. The trail climbs uphill through brush with low branches.

IMG_0292

It had rained this last week, so the dirt here was a little slippery. The brush gave way to tall grasses along the trail, which in turn gave way to thin bamboo growths. The grass overhanging the trail sometimes contained thorny branches. I probably should have worn long pants as I sustained many small scratches by the end of the day.

IMG_0293

The grassy path explodes into rainforest with tall trees and the typical Strangler Figs everywhere. The trail follows the fence line, climbing and descending gentle hills. It’s fairly obvious when you reach the first of the Cougals, the trail climbs steeply with dirt and tree root steps making it slippery after the recent rains. While slipping is the ever-present danger, being snagged on the barbed wire makes climbing even more dangerous.  Caution is suggested.

Atop the steep climb, rocky outcrops stand tall above you with dark brooding caves along its face. We walked along the base of the major outcrop until we found our way to a path that climbed through it. The trail up the rocks was obvious as someone had tied a rope to aid with handholds.

IMG_0311

Once above the rope line, it was an easy climb to the top of the East Cougal and fantastic views of Mt Warning to the South,

IMG_0300

…the rocky face of West Cougal to the West, out to the coast towards the city of Tweed Heads out to the East and Springbrook National Park to the North. On this sunny day, the climb was well worth the effort.

IMG_0299

My companion and I did not stay long, however, deciding to push on before lunch. We climbed down to the saddle between the peaks with only one steep troublesome and slightly precarious climb. The trail crossed the saddle, but unable to find a suitable place to stop we proceeded around the great rocky outcrop known as the West peak, looking for an easy path up.

IMG_0303

The West peak looks to be a hard climb with its many rocky faces. We skirted around it passing a couple of rocky climbing places marked with pink ribbons until we found a dirt path through the undergrowth. It was a little slippery but surrounded by plants that gave plentiful handholds. While finding the route up was not the easiest, climbing up it was fairly straight forward.

Unlike the summit of the East peak, which is small, the West Peak has a large area with meandering pathways and what appeared to be a camp site. We stopped for lunch at the fire pit.

 

IMG_0308

The descent passed quickly, as it always seems to, and before we knew it we were slogging our way through the tall grasses and back to the car.

The Cougals is an awesome hike and I would recommend it to any fit and capable walker. It’s going down as one of my favourites in this region.

The Trail Wanderer.

Mount Mitchell Peaks – Main Range

The Main Range National Park is a section of South East Queensland’s Scenic Rim – a quarter circle of mountains attributed to the prehistoric Tweed volcano that existed here over 23 million years ago. The Main Range is about 115km inland from Brisbane and has plentiful walking tracks along its length.

IMG_0259

This last weekend, while passing through the Main Range, I had a free morning so stopped at Cunningham’s Gap – the location where Cunningham Highway cuts through the mountains. Cunningham’s Gap is the starting point of several well-defined and more casual walks.

IMG_0262

The Major Mitchell Peaks is a 10.2km, 3.5 hour walk, perfect for the time I had. The beginning of the trail starts opposite the car park and meanders its way up the side of the mountain along a forest path.

IMG_0265

The closeness of the forest gives the illusion that the trail is fairly flat, but it’s not.  It’s only the last few hundred metres that the trail begins to climb more steeply, with steps cut into the rock.

IMG_0277

The views to the east are fantastic with the road winding through the forest.  Lake Moogera can be seen between Mt Greville on the right and Mt Edwards.

IMG_0281

To the north, Mt Cordeaux.

IMG_0274

The trail heads back into the forest as it rounds the Western peak and emerges at the top of the Eastern peak, a short pinnacle of rock that’s been paved to prevent further erosion. I basked in the winter sunshine eating lunch with views in both directions.

IMG_0286

I would have stayed longer but the occasional icy gust quickly chilled me. The return walk passed quickly and the tranquillity of the trail was broken by the harsh sounds of trucks going past on the Cunningham Highway.  On reaching the highway, I returned to my car and continued on my trip.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Mount Tunbubudla East

Glass House Mountains National Park – again.

After spending 3 days wandering the trail of the Glass House Mountains, I’m back to climb one that doesn’t have one.  This time I’m walking with my hiking group and the mountain is Mount Tunbubudla East, a 300m tall, off track climb and is rated hard, mainly due to it being trackless.

Getting to the mountain is a mission in of itself. The old ‘major road’ that it’s off is actually a boggy dirt road and is untraversable without an off-road vehicle.  We parked at the entrance and as a group walked about a kilometre to the muddy starting point. We waited for others to arrive and find us before we headed off into the untracked grass at the base of the mountain.

I led the way, pushing a path through the long grass for the others to follow.  At the beginning there was a vague track, but this soon disappeared. The initial portion of the climb was up tree laden, broken ground. With no track, I had to evaluate each step and find suitable gaps between tree branches.

The climb became steeper before flattening out the higher we got, but because of the thick tree cover we were unable to see the views. As we approached the top we came to a large rocky area which did allow us a better view, north across the other Glass House Mountains.

IMG_0257

We reached the top and sat for lunch at the rocky cairn. I surveyed the route leading towards the West peak but found it too steep to descend. Alone it would have been fine, but with a large group in tow I made the call to return the way we’d come. This disappointed some, as the climbing down in that direction would have led to the climbing of the smaller,  steeper twin.

IMG_0256

The climb down held the same issues as the climb up – a lack of trail – and it’s also harder to see where you’re putting your feet. I again led, picking our way down the side of the mountain. We arrived at the base in short order and walked across the needle covered grass until we reached the muddy road. We could have climbed the other peak, but the mutual decision was not to. A kilometre later we were at the cars and headed off for a well-deserved beer at the Beerwah Hotel.

Trail Wanderer

D’aguilar National Park

16 June 2012

Rainforest Circuit, Cypress Grove and Greenes Falls.

Maiala

Maps on this page are owned by and used with courtesy of Queensland Government.  Please visit that site for more detailed information on hiking in this region.

While I much prefer harder and rockier walks, there were several walks in the D’aguilar National Park that I had on my list to do. D’aguilar National Park is mainly forest, so it’s trees, trees, trees, and the tracks are well-defined and not terribly difficult.

IMG_0228

To cross them off my list, I headed out with a friend to the Mt Glorious section and walked into the rainforest. It was an entertaining walk in the cool morning air, with large strangler figs in many places.

IMG_0224

The Rainforest Circuit and Cypress Groves were fairly standard fare. Greenes Falls was a great place for a sit down and a chat.

IMG_0236

The falls are fenced off, but this didn’t stop me from climbing the fence and rock hopping down to the edge of the falls.

IMG_0240

Western Window Track

Across the road from the Cypress Grove walks is another tree laden walk along the side of a steeply sloping cliff.

IMG_0246

Morelia Walking Track and Atrax Circuit

manorina

Another slow meander through the forest, climbing fallen giant eucalypts and walking through great burnt out trunks.

IMG_0254

The trail eventually led to the Mount Nebo lookout, and while there is only a limited viewing area, Moreton Bay is visible in the distance.

IMG_0247

Overall, the trails in the D’aguilar National Park aren’t very taxing, but if you enjoy walking in the woods, this is a good place to spend a few hours on a warm sunday afternoon.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Mooloorah River NP, Dularcha NP, Tibrogargan Circuit

Today was my third day walking in Glass House Mountains.  On Day One I climbed Mt Ngungun and Mt Beerburrum, while on Day Two I climbed Mt Tibrogargan and Wild Horse Mountain. Today I won’t be climbing any of the mountains, instead walking several of the other short walks in and around the Glass House Mountains.

Mooloolah River National Park, Jowarra Section 1.5km

Mooloolah River National Park maps

Map is owned by and used with courtesy of Queensland Government.  Please visit that site for more detailed information on hiking in this region.

There are two short tracks in the tiny Jowarra Section of the Mooloolah River National Park and together they are only 1.5km long.  They are both only class 2 with concrete tracks and no climbing at all.  It was a cool morning when we arrived and much of the beauty was in the mists that hung about trees.  The two simple loops took little time to walk and before we knew it we were back in the car and off to Dularcha National Park.

IMG_0199

Dularcha National Park – 4km

The main draw card for the Dularcha National Park is an old railway tunnel about half way along the trail.

IMG_0201

The trail is wide and easy to follow as it runs alongside the new railway tracks.  Horses and cyclists regularly ride along the trail and while here we saw two different families on their bikes.  This class 3 trail rose and fell slightly as we walked but remained fairly flat.  While not a difficult walk I did break a sweat but more from the direct sunlight than how strenuous the trail was.

IMG_0204

The train tunnel was pretty cool, although was only fairly short.  There are reportedly micro bats living in this tunnel which I was keen to see, but we didn’t find any.

Dularcha National Park map

Map is owned by and used with courtesy of Queensland Government.  Please visit that site for more detailed information on hiking in this region.

The track is linear and after 2km you’re required to walk back along the same trail to the beginning.  On reaching the car, my companion waved the white flag, so I dropped him home and set off alone to do the last couple of more difficult tracks.

Tibrogargan Circuit and Trachyte Circuit – 7.3km

I climbed Mt Tibrogargan on a previous foray into the Glass House Mountains, but around the base of the mountain are a pair of tracks that when joined together are over 7km long.

Glass House Mountains walking track information and maps

Map is owned by and used with courtesy of Queensland Government.  Please visit that site for more detailed information on hiking in this region.

The Tibrogargan circuit (‘a’ on the above map) leads around the mountain to a T-junction where one branch heads back to the car park, the other is where  Trachyte Circuit (‘b’ on the above map) begins, cutting across the valley towards Mt Tibberoowuccum to a lookout before returning to the car park.  The trails are class 3 and class 4 respectively with a short climb to the lookout on the Trachyte Circuit.

IMG_0209

The views from the trail consist mainly of trees with the occasional creek crossing.  I stopped in several places to peer through the trees at one of the neighbouring mountains, but most did not give clear enough views to take photos.

IMG_0210

The most difficult part of the walk was the 100m section up to a Tibrogargan Circuit, where I chatted to some English tourists about New Zealand.

IMG_0211

The remainder of the track was fairly gentle and after a total of about an hour and a quarter I returned to the car park.

It was a good day of walks on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and while I hadn’t planned any further walks in the Glass House Mountains National Park, my hiking group had other ideas. In a month they plan to climb the Tunbubudla Twins, a pair of small peaks at the southern end of the National Park.

Next I head to The Cougals for something more difficult hard to dig my teeth – or feet – into.

The Lone Trail Wanderer.

D’Aguilar National Park – Mt Coot-tha section

Mt Coot-tha is the tallest ‘mountain’ in Brisbane and is popular with tourists as its top lookout gives great views of the city and surrounding land.

20140403 - Mt Coot-tha Forest Park track map-2

Map is owned by and used with courtesy of Brisbane City Council.  Please visit that site for more detailed information on walking in this region.

I’ve been to the lookout numerous times and have walked the lookout trail a couple of times also. On the northern slopes of Mt Coot-tha there are several less popular and less scenic walks I decided to explore.

Powerful Owl Track – 2.8km

IMG_0185

Powerful Owl Trail is a short track that climbs the north side of Mt Coot-tha.  Initially I was expecting a fairly straightforward walk in the woods, but shortly after beginning I got quite a surprise.  Not far after the beginning the trail turns quickly upwards  and climbs fairly steeply.  It certainly gets your muscles working and my calves felt it when I arrived at the top of the ridge.

IMG_0186

At the top of the ridge I followed the trail around to the left, through the forest until it began to descend down mud and roots steps.  After the steady downhill it didn’t take me long to emerge at a grassy reserve just around from the car park.

IMG_0188

Overall a good short walk although beyond the trees, not much to look at.

Simpson Falls and Eugenia Circuit – 4.1km

Beyond the Lookout Walk, the Simpson Falls circuit is one of the more popular on Mt Coot-tha.  It’s for this reason the trail leading to the falls is well presented and designed for casual walkers.  The trail climbs in switchbacks up the north-east side of the Mt Coot-tha with plentiful steps.

IMG_0193

Simpson Falls is a quaint little rocky area that during a wetter season would likely be more than just a trickle with small rock pools at the top and bottom of the rocky outcrop.  This was to be expected as it had been plentifully dry around the time I walked here.

IMG_0197

The Eugenia Circuit continues another 2.8km up the mountain from the Simpson Falls.  The path turns rockier and is less walked, crossing the stream twice on stepping-stones.  At a couple of points on the track I could make out suburbia over the trees, but no grand views.

IMG_0196

There was one other track I did not make it to – the Kokoda Trail, named after one of the men who walked the actual Kokoda trail.

The Lone Trail Wanderer.