Category Archives: Queensland

Mt Barney – South-East Ridge to East Peak

Mt Barney is a pair of peaks on the border between Queensland and New South Wales. It’s the third tallest mountain in South-East Queensland. While it’s only 1354m above sea level – a molehill compared to many of the world’s mountains – it’s up there by Australia’s standards.

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For my last outing with my hiking group before I leave Queensland I arranged to climb the lesser known trail up Mt Barney’s South-East Ridge.  The South Ridge is the more common way up for this trip will be our descent.  The South-East Ridge is more difficult as it’s steeper and more exposed in several places.

Mt Barney – South East Ridge to South Ridge Circuit – 16.5km – 10 hours – difficulty: very hard.

The hike has an estimated 10-hour length, so I arranged for the group to meet at 6.30 a.m. outside the information booth in Rathdowney. With 7 of us in attendance, we drove to the car park at the base of the mountain. Thankfully the signs confirmed where we were supposed to be, as the mountain and most of the area was shrouded in low cloud. A bit of a contrast to the fact the temperature was supposed to rise to a muggy 30ºC today.

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The car park is about 3.5km from the beginning of the South-East Ridge trail, along a dirt road that works its way towards the mountain by crossing a couple of small hills. There is only one way to find the South-East trail, the letters SE carved into the trunk of a tree beneath a cross. What the cross means I’m not sure, perhaps an ominous message left by previous climbers?

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The thin dirt track began at a gentle slope but grew steadily steeper as it worked its way towards a rocky spire.

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At our backs as we climbed, the wedding cake topped Mt Lindsey and for much of the morning, cool breezes flowed from the east.

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The climb was anything but easy, and the 7 of us stopped regularly, usually when the ridge came to a flat area every 100m or so. The trail changed constantly, moving between dirt and root steps, to rocky steps cut from sheer gullies with plentiful handholds to smooth rock scrambling.

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At the top of the short flat areas we often looked down on something different, a sheer cliff face here, a long rock gully there or down on top of a mini forest. Each time we’d scramble up to the top of a ridge we’d find the great spire of the next one staring down at us. This gave the sense that the mountain just keeps going, on and on.  But eventually we climbed over a ridge to find we’d run out of mountain.  The top of the Eastern Peak is an open rocky area giving us a total 360º view.

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Unfortunately, because of the early November heat the views from the mountain were hazy. The heat also brought out many bugs that seemed to dance in the air around us.  They seemed quite attracted to the smell of our sunscreen as we reapplied.

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We stopped for lunch before heading down a vague trail that led towards the saddle between East and West peaks.  We climbed down flat rocks with the rocky spire of the more difficult West Peak ahead of us.

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Thankfully for grippy hiking boots the decent wasn’t difficult and we arrived at the saddle in short order. The saddle is a small rainforest and has a space set aside for camping.

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The South Ridge trail, also known as Peasant’s Ridge, was more difficult than the ascent of the South-East ridge. While it wasn’t as arduous, it was far more humid, with the trees hiding not only the sun, but easterly breeze as well.  This meant our descent was in the full humidity, so it was hot and uncomfortable.

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Eventually, we made it to the bottom and headed towards the car park. This was perhaps the hardest part of the day. After climbing the mountain, we were hot, tired and sore.  The four kilometres of dirt road just seemed to go on forever and the two small hills we’d climbed at the beginning of the day seemed each as tall as Mt Barney itself.

Finally, eight hours after we began we made it back to the vehicles, then it was back to Rathdowney for a well-earned beer.  An excellent final hike in Queensland.

The Lone Trail Wanderer.

Moran Falls and Lyrebird Lookout Circuits – Lamington National Park

This week I took my hiking group into the Green Mountains section of the Lamington National Park. I’ve done several walks in the Green Mountains including the Gold Coast Hinterland Great! Walk and the West Canungra Creek Circuit.  There are many walks in this national park and I was looking for a less intense one for the group.

Lamington National Park: Green Moutains section 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.

Getting to the start of the hike was slow along the thin winding roads where some drivers could have gone faster if they got out and pushed. Eventually, my intrepid band of 14 set out along the road heading towards Moran Falls. This particular hike mixed a couple of circuits and included a section off-track.

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We left the road and headed along a cemented track down the hill for 2km to the Moran Falls Lookout. At the time of writing it hadn’t rained much in Queensland for a few months, so I was hoping there would be some falls to see. But as we came to a viewpoint across from the falls, we weren’t let down. The Moran Falls drop 80m to a small pool and was a pleasant view so early in the hike.

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From the falls, we continued around the top of the cliffs buried in trees to a bridge across the creek flowing to the waterfall.

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Off-track, we followed the creek…

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…to an open area of rock at the top of the falls where we could stand on the rocky ledge looking down to the base of the waterfall and along the valley.

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In the background is the mountainous Scenic Rim including Mt Lindsey, Mt Barney and Mt Maroon. While we hadn’t walked far, we decided to stop for lunch.

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After lunch, we continued along a steep dirt track up a hill. This was perhaps the most difficult part of the day and during this time the group began to break into faster and smaller groups. We continued following the path along a ridge until it opened up on one side to an unnamed lookout.

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The views of the next ridge were great, as was the tree-lined valley between the two. We continued along the ridge until we came to the Balancing Rock. It had been cordoned off, so we resisted getting too close.

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Beside Balancing Rock the track continued along a more precarious part of the ridge. The group stopped at the lookout as two of us continued along the ridge to a protruding crag at the end called Castle Crag, with views in most directions.

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Returning to the group and we continued up another steep dirt road to a large clearing and along a short boardwalk to Moonlight Crag – a large wooden lookout giving us again great views of the mountain ranges and Castle Crag.

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Again we continued on, diving into the rainforest along the thin track marked by pink ribbons. As we headed in, the group broke in two, the fast and the slow. The front group walked on to a small grotto known as the Orchid Grove…

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…and then on again towards Lyrebird Lookout. Unfortunately, the sign to the lookout wasn’t prominent and we went past it to an open clearing that held the foundations of several buildings from decades before.  It was unclear what these buildings had once been used for. We waited for the other group but when they didn’t arrive, headed back along the trail, making our way through the rainforest to an overgrown track and on to a well attended track. A kilometre further on we arrived back at the start point and waited for the second group to arrive. They weren’t far behind, having found Lyrebird Lookout and returned a different way through the rainforest back to the start point.

Overall, the walk wasn’t a difficult one, but it was an adventure with some great views. Next week, however, I take a group to climb Mount Barney, the most difficult hike I plan to do in Queensland. It’s the third tallest mountain in South East Queenland – the tallest being Mt Superbus from our climb last week – and has a suggested time of 10 hours, 5 hours up and 5 hours down. I’m sure my legs won’t be thanking me, but the views should be fantastic…

The Trail Wanderer

Lincoln Wreck and Mt Superbus – Main Range National Park

In 1955, an RAAF Lincoln bomber flying a sick baby from Townsville to Brisbane went down in bad weather, crashing 50m from the top of Mt Superbus. The sole survivor of the crash was a ginger Kelpie.

This week, I took a small team from my hiking group to climb Mt Superbus and find that Lincoln Wreck. This hike wasn’t going to be easy and it wouldn’t help that it was forecast to be 33ºC and muggy or that all we had was a sketchy set of instructions.

As the trip to the beginning of the hike was a long way from our meeting place, I camped out in my van the night before. It certainly made the early start the next day a little easier.

The meeting point is the usual spot, Aratula BP, an hour outside of Brisbane. The hike starts a further 80km into the Main Range along a dirt road with a couple of stream crossings, which could have been more of a hazard if it had actually rained in Queensland over the past months. At one slightly deeper crossing, we were forced to leave half of the cars behind and pile into my van for the last several kilometres to a pleasant looking farm.

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Through the gate, we headed along a dirt road which we believed was the beginning of the hike. But after following the dirt road a couple of kilometres we finally discovered a National Park sign and a thin trail that was the actual start point.

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We walked through overgrown rainforest for about two kilometres following the thin trail, slowly working our way uphill. Sometimes we taller walkers were forced to crawl to follow the trail.

At some points along the hike we followed pink ribbons attached to trees, but mostly we followed the vague trail. About an hour in, however, the trail petered out and we were left without markers in the overgrown rainforest. And being immersed in trees, there were no reference points, not even the mountain we knew was there. Our instructions directed us south east, so with compasses out, we headed off-trail in search of a more obvious trail.

As we walked we found a downed tree across the gully like a bridge.

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We then climbed a wet gully, continuing south east. At the top we located the trail we’d been looking for and followed it. While unsure exactly where we were, we stopped for lunch before continuing along the trail, following it deeper into the rainforest.

The trail ended abruptly at a rocky gully and we discussed our options. It was 1.30pm with sunset due at 5.45pm. We’d been walking nearly 3 hours, so we had to judge how long push on before turning back, allowing ourselves time to return to the vehicles before sunset. After a search around the bottom of the gully, we located a tin arrow nailed to a tree, a marker mentioned in the instructions! We decided to follow the arrow and it led us up the rocky gully.

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The rocky gully climbed upwards rather steeply, occasionally forcing us to climb short cliffs and avoid both stinging nettles and Gympie Gympie plants, touching either is not suggested.  We scaled a large fallen tree trunk, which posed more of an issue for the shorter legged members of the group. At the top of one short cliff we located the bomber’s engine block.

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This prompted us to continue climbing.  A little further up we were distracted by some pink markers that led us nowhere, so we returned to the gully and continued climbing.

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Eventually after a series of intense scrambles, we found the bomber’s fuselage wreckage, a solitary wing and a mess of other metal.

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We stopped for a short break before beginning the long journey back to the vehicles.  We would have liked to have continued to the top of Superbus, but with the short winter days, it was best not to.

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The climb down was fairly straightforward and on arriving back at the tin arrow, we again located the main trail. We followed it back and discovered where we had lost the trail.

We arrived back at the vehicles as the sun began to set and drove back to Aratula hotel for the obligatory post hike beer.

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Overall, while we started late and lost the trail going in, we found the wreck and got out before sunset. A great adventure and an intense hike with a good bunch of people.

The not so Lone Trail Wanderer

Ravensbourne National Park

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Ravensbourne National Park is a small park only a handful of kilometres from Crows Nest National Park.  The weekend I was here it threatened rain, but I still intended to walk as many trails as I could.

Day 1 

Cedar Block Walk
With the threat of rain I headed up to Gus Beutels Lookout.

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Cedar Block is a very short walk through the rain forest and served as a warm up for the day. I guess if I had to write a description, I would say… ‘there are trees and then it ends’. Warmer after the brief walk, I headed down the road to the beginning of the next walk.

Rainforest, Palm Creek and Buaraba Creek Circuits.
While these three circuits are separate hikes, the Buaraba Creek Circuit traverses both of the others before heading off track and into the forest. Off Track, that doesn’t sound like me? Never.

I headed out from the car park along the trail and into the trees. It was not long before I came to the beginning of the rain forest circuit to the right, so I climbed the steps and headed off around it. While it was a nice walk, all those tree-like things really got in the way of any kind of a view. After about 30 minutes I arrived back at the main trail and continued on.

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It was not long before I came to the Palm Creek Circuit. I headed along this trail and guess what? Trees. While I like walking in the forest, I do find it a little boring. I prefer rocky ridges and mountains for the challenges and the views. But often, hidden away in these forests are cool things, like waterfalls, creeks and caves. And that’s what I found at the end of the Palm Creek Circuit, a series of low caves.

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Beyond the caves an ungraded track continued – the Buaraba Creek Circuit. The trail soon turned into a dirt road that headed further into the National Park. The road slowly climbed towards something, although it was hard to tell exactly what. At a crossroads I turned north to another junction, where the path descended steeply towards the creek.

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At the bottom, I took a break.

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On the other side, I climbed a steep rocky hill until it too reached a junction and I headed back downhill. For most of the walk, I had seen Lantana along the side of the track, but here it started to encroach upon the trail. I fought through some of it as I followed a lesser walked track. But after a fair distance – and only a few scratches – I decided I had gone too far and decided to climb down a thin trail towards the creek. Somewhere along the other side of the creek there was a graded track leading back to the other circuits, I just had to find it.

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It was about then that it began to rain – only lightly at first, but slowly gaining momentum. Thankfully I’d brought my jacket and a bag cover. Off trail hiking in the rain is dangerous; rocks and dirt get slippery and I did end up on my arse a couple of times. I worked my way along the creek slowly and carefully, crossing back and forth I eventually came to a grove of palms and soon after the steps I was looking for.

At the top of the steps I found a rocky ridge line. Yay for rocks!

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The graded track continued ahead of me as the rain grew heavier. And what happens when it rains in the rainforest? Mist. The forest took on a whole different and very beautiful appearance.

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In the rain, I quick marched for about three kilometres back to the car park and dry clothing. Then I was off to the caravan park for the night and a hot shower.

Day 2

Mt Perseverance Circuit
Today it was back to the usual beautiful Queensland weather with no signs of rain.  While yesterday I did the official trails, today I am going to do a trail only found in the book: Take a walk in SE Queensland.

Because it’s not an official hike, finding the Mt Perseverance Circuit became the biggest issue of the day and the entrance is not clearly marked. After driving along gravel roads for a while, I did eventually find it.  It’s near Lot 20. Ignore the old ‘keep out’ sign which near it as it relates to the paddock next to it.

The trail for the entire hike is a wide dirt track and is an easy grade through the rainforest for 7.5km.

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About half way in, the dirt road climbs to Mt Perseverance. It’s not a hard climb and at the end there is a fire tower, but it’s a little anti-climactic as the tower is fenced off and the views are pretty sparse. I stopped for a break before continuing with the circuit. After another 45 minutes I returned to my van.  Over, a good stroll, but not a very exciting walk.

The Lone Trail Wanderer.

Mt Barney National Park – Mt Maroon

At nearly 1000m above sea level, Mt Maroon stands out because of its jagged rocky parapets.

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Today’s my second walk in the Mt Barney National Park, having walked to the Lower Portals yesterday. Similar to yesterday, I arranged to meet the group at the sleepy town of Rathdowney.

Once the small group had arrived we drove to the trailhead. The walk begins at a pond and as ducks frolicked in the water we headed along a grassy path. The path turned quickly to dirt and then to rock as it climbed, initially at a slight gradient before getting steeper.

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The four of us climbed slowly up the slope of the shorter rocky spire beside Mt Maroon. The dirt, rock and root steps led us steadily through the sparse tree-covered slope, giving the occasional peek at the surrounding land and the rocky parapet of the main mountain.

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Grass Trees began to appear as we climbed and the terrain turned more rocky. We climbed around it and over a small series of boulders.

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It was here that the trail changed.  We headed down across the top of a steep gully towards the main rock face. The trail became sand mixed with ash from a fire several years earlier and soon began to climb again. The trail turned quite steep and there were several places we had to scramble over rocks. This was the hardest part of the hike and we quickly made our way up through it, working our way along the rocky wall.

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Small bamboo-like trees began to grow in a grove as we climbed through more rocky out crops until we eventually arrived at the saddle where the trail flattened out.

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To our left, a short path led to a large flat rocky out crop.  We climbed it and at the top we had out first real taste of the views. We also discovered that the rocky parapet we’d thought was the summit was only the middle peak of three.  The top peak beckoned us higher.

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The climb to the top peak was not hard compared with the rest of the climb. More of a scramble over large slabs of rock lying on top of each other. Following one of our racier companions, we quickly climbed the distance to the top and just stood in awe at the view around us. At the top of Mt Maroon, there are few trees, a large cairn…

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…and 360º views across the fantastic landscapes around us.

Just to the south on the state border the peaks of Mt Barney.

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To the side of Mt Barney and across the border is Mt Lindsey with its unique rocky spire.

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To the west we could see Mt Greville, Mt Edwards and Moogerah Lake.

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To the north, the parapet of Mt Maroon, the middle peak being part of a rocky crater.

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The only downside of the Mt Maroon climb was the number of people waiting for us at the top. Several groups had all decided to climb the mountain today and there was a veritable party going on up there.

The four of us kept to ourselves as we ate lunch. Then after 30 minutes of the glorious view the thought of a beer persuaded us to begin our descent. The steeper parts were trickier coming down but didn’t cause any problems.  After about 90 minutes we arrived back at the cars and headed back to Rathdowney for a well-earned beer.

The Trail Wanderer.

Mt Barney National Park – Lower Portals

This weekend I’m heading to Mt Barney National Park where I have arranged to walk two different hikes.  Today, I am taking a group on a the casual walk to the Lower Portals, and then tomorrow, I am taking another group to climb the more intense Mt Maroon.

I organised to meet the group at the little township of Rathdowney.  Once we had all arrived,  we convoyed to the car park at the base of Mount Barney. As we drove we passed the rocky face of Mt Maroon, which beckoned me for tomorrow’s climb.

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From the car park it’s 3.7km to the Lower Portals, a set of stony passages where water passes when it comes down the mountain. With Mt Barney above us to the south, we headed into the light forest on a rocky trail.

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We climbed over small hills on the way through the forest. To be honest, other than the occasional view of Mt Barney through the trees, the walk wasn’t very interesting.

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But the group made up for that and after 45 minutes we stopped at a rocky stream for a break.

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After our break we crossed the stream and walked south along the bank for another 10 minutes before trail ended abruptly.

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Massive boulders blocked our path further along the stream and we figured we had reached the Lower Portals.  It was all very anticlimactic.

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Until… We located a gap in one of the rocks and climbed up through it.

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Like a secret garden, the true beauty of the Lower Portals appeared. Beyond the boulders and perhaps a dozen metres along, the stream opened up to a pool with a gorge on the far side.  And at the far end of the small gorge, the Lower Portals.

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The tall rocky sides of the gorge were beautiful as a backdrop to the pool and stream.

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We hung around for half an hour more, taking in the views, before returning along the same trail to the car park.

Tomorrow, Mt Maroon.

The Trail Wanderer.

Moogerah Peaks National Park – Mt Greville

Today I arranged for my hiking group to join me to climb Mt Greville. Mt Greville is across the lake from Mt Edwards and has a harsh looking rocky side.

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The mountain is also known as kangaroo mountain, as from certain angles it looks like a grazing kangaroo.

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For my last group hike I ended up with nearly 45 walkers.  With Mt Greville being a more difficult climb, I decided to limit the numbers. This time 16 people registered and of those, 13 arrived at the usual meeting place in Aratula, where we drove as a convoy to the car park.

The initial part of the walk is a vehicle track heading across the grass at the base of the mountain. The vehicle track quickly turns into a rocky trail and cuts up a gently slope to a sign pointing us towards Palm Gorge. This would be the last sign we would see today. From here the track gets very rocky and steep. Thankfully most of us are in hiking boots.

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The slope intensifies and we begin to see a stone cliff wall ahead that looks to block our progress.  As we approach the wall, we notice a small channel of rock to the right leading to a rocky gorge.

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There are trees dotted around and dead palm fronds everywhere. We pick our way up through the gorge which at times is barely two metres across.

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There was a deep sense of beauty during our climb and a sense of being small. Before we even reached the top, this gorge helped to make Mt Greville one of my favourite hikes in South East Queensland.

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We emerged from the gorge covered in sweat and rested for a few minutes to let the stragglers catch up.

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When we set off again it felt like we were somewhere else. The rocky gorge gave way to a tree-lined dirt trail with grass along either side.  We could see the top of the mountain vaguely through the tree canopy to the north. The climb continued more steeply and we quickly arrived at a lookout giving views across to the ramparts of the Main Range.

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As we neared to summit, Grass Trees began to appear as they tend to do near the top of most peaks in this region. We pushed on and before we knew it we arrived at the large cairn at the top, where we shed out bags and rested.

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The views from the top were minimal, hidden behind the trees, but a couple of short tracks lead down to viewing points on either side. To the north, I got down to a rock slab that gave me good views along the Main Range and Mt Edwards beside Moogerah Lake.

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Along the short southern track I was awarded with views over the mountains to the south, including Mt Barney in the distance – the site of my next walk with the group.

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On the way down, we retraced out steps to the top of the Palm Gorge but took an alternate route. The South East track leads through some dense bush and open rocky slopes. It can be a little confusing going down, but with plenty of eyes, we easily spotted the trail of cairns and orange arrows. This slope proved more picturesque and allowed for a view to the south, west and occasionally to the north.

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We stopped here and there to look down a gorge or from the top of a cliff. The slope was sometimes steep, but you gotta love the grip of quality hiking boots. We soon dropped back into the forest and followed an easier track until we came to the previously mentioned sign. From there it was fairly flat and easy-going back to the car.

Mt Greville was a most enjoyable climb with a great group of people. I highly recommend this climb to anyone who is fit enough to climb it.

Afterwards the group stopped in to the Aratula Hotel for the obligatory post hike beer.

Next week, a bit of a rest and a couple of minor walks in D’Aguilar National Park.

The Lone Trail Wanderer.