Tag Archives: Hike

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.

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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.

Moogerah Peaks National Park – Mt Edwards and Mt French

Happy first day of spring in Queensland! This weekend I’ve driven out to Moogerah Peaks National Park, about an hour south-west of Brisbane, to explore some of the vocalic peaks in the park.  Today I’ll be exploring two of the easier ones, while tomorrow I tackle the more challenging Mt Greville with my hiking group.

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Mt Edwards – 6.5km return
From Aratula, my usual starting point for walks in this region, Mt Edwards’ tree covered cone can’t be missed, it’s right there at the end of town.

To get to the trailhead, you drive about 10 km from town to the Lake Moogerah Picnic area overlooking the lake. The lake itself isn’t huge, but it’s larger than Lake Perseverance in the Crows Nest National Park, where I was last weekend. It’s beautiful although the noise pollution from jet boats can be heard for kilometres around. Mt Greville rises from the far side of the lake with the Main Range Ramparts behind it.

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At one end of the lake is a dam which must be crossed to get to the trailhead. The dam gives better views of the Main Range and Mt Greville, but also of Mt Edwards and it’s companion, Little Edward.

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The trail climbs at a fairly steep angle from the beginning, initially along a sealed path then up dirt steps with plentiful tree roots for stability. The trail cuts through the trees and gives a sprinkle of sun as you go. About a kilometre in, a family came back the other way, with two young boys and their father wearing sandals.

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The steep steps continue, weaving their way through the trees and up the side of the mountain. Other than the vista of Little Edward it’s difficult to get good views during the climb because of the tree cover, with the occasional view back at the lake.

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The trail pushes onwards without respite at the same steepness as it began. This constant climbing is the hardest thing about this walk, but it certainly gets the sweat flowing.

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Towards the top the trail changes, finally flattening out briefly…

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…before emerging at the summit.

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A trail leads along the top in both directions to different viewing points, all giving pretty much the same amazing views north. It’s a shame trees obscure views in all other direction as I would have liked to have seen better views of the lake or along the Main Range ramparts.

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I hung around at the top for half an hour to dry my shirt and have lunch before heading down again. On the way down, I heard a noise beside the path and stopped to watch a foot long grass snake slither past. It was the cutest thing and must have only been young for its size.

I was back at the van 2 hours after I’d started and after a quick stop at the cafe for an ice block, I was off to the next spot for the day.

Mt French Cliffs – 4km return 

Mount French is used by rock climbers as the cliff faces to the north are good for technical climbs.  The top of Mt French is long and flat with a car park at its summit.

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I walked to Logan Lookout and along the cliff tops for a few minutes admiring the views.

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I wandered back along the other side, where there is a short loop and some views of the Main Range.

20 minutes later I was back at the van and heading off again.

Main Range National Park – Palm Grove – 3.6km
With a couple of hours of sunlight to kill before I nestled down for the evening, I decided to head back out to the Main Range and do one of the short walks I hadn’t previously done. This one skirts the cliffs at the base of Mt Cordeaux.

From the beginning it’s easy to tell you are in the rain forest, as the heat of the day just disappears and it feels rather wintery.

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The walk wasn’t hard but to keep warm I had to walk fairly quickly. There were some short views west from the mountains but most of the walk is along the side of a fairly sheer tree-lined bank under the cover of trees. There are some large specimens here although many have been attacked by strangler figs.

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After an hour I arrived back at the van and headed off to the camping ground to get ready for Mt Greville tomorrow.

The Lone Trail Wanderer.

Crows Nest National Park – Valley of Diamonds

Valley of the Diamonds – 13km – 5 hours

The only official walk in the Crows Nest National Park that is commonly walked by the public: the Crows Nest Falls and Koonin Lookout (see map below). The entire trail is 4.8km return and should take about 45 minutes.  The Valley of Diamonds hike I am writing about here is an off trail hike starting and ending on the official trail.  Unfortunately I am unable to modify the map below due to copyright laws.  The actual trail I took contains a well-traveled old trail and there are several trail markers in the early part of the walk.

Crows Nest 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.

I headed off from the car park along a well-groomed path for a couple of hundred metres. I turned at a junction and headed down the steps to The Cascades. The Cascades is an interesting waterfall. There’s a large pool at the top that flows into a channel of rock that acts like a dam. The water enters the channel on the right side, flows the length of the dam and exits on the left on the other side, down a set of cascading rocks. It’s easy to see why it’s a tourist attraction. There’s also a large pool at the bottom where you can swim.

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I crossed a concrete causeway just above The Cascades to the far side of the creek and slipped up a hidden trail behind some trees. The trail climbed hidden around the side of the gorge and across the ridge on the far side.

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You can’t see any of the falls or water from this side. I climbed until I came to a dirt 4WD road and a trail marker- a short post with a luminous arrow nailed to it pointing the direction.

I followed the dirt road for a few hundred meters until I came to a locked gate which I skirted and continued on. Every now and again I would come upon a track marker pointing the way. The road continued for another kilometre before turning sharply to the left. There I found another path and a track marker pointing me along it. The trail opened onto an open dry grassy plain. I continued on until I came to Perseverance Creek. This is the same Perseverance Creek as the one I walked along yesterday, just north of the lake.

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I walked down to the creek and disturbed a massive bird not two metres away – a Wedge Tailed Eagle. That one moment made my entire weekend. If I had been faster, I would have had my camera out and taken shots, but could just stare as it circled into the sky and flew away. This explains the crow feathers I’d found yesterday and the feathery remains I noted in a couple of other places.

High on that little experience, I continued following the trail markers along the creek and south through patches of Lantana – yay! I don’t swear much, but this weed no longer just goes by the name Lantana for me. I have prefixed it with an F word. There wasn’t as much of it as yesterday and I was able to skirt it for the most part. Today I wore only shorts, so my legs suffered a little, but nothing like my arms did yesterday.

After a couple of kilometres and several areas of skirting Lantana and rock hopping, I arrived at a large pool. I followed a 4WD dirt track on the far side up a hill for several hundred meters to a bitumen road and a picnic area next to Perseverance Lake. On the far side of the lake was the ridge I had climbed along yesterday. I took off my boots and sat down for a bit of a relax before beginning the trip back. I should have probably brought some food, as this was the perfect lunch spot and if I knew how long it would take me to get back, I would have.

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After a short break, I retraced my steps back to where I had seen the eagle, but instead of heading back up along the 4WD track I instead headed upstream along the creek.

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No more track markers from here… I followed the creek, avoiding Lantana as best as I could until I arrived at a section classified as ‘rapids’. There were none as it had not rained here for some time. I rock hopped back and forth across the river until the rocks began to get somewhat larger. Rock hopping through a gorge is a slow activity, especially when the boulders are the size of cars.

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I entered the Valley of Diamonds with it’s massive solid stone cliffs and boulders littering the creek bed.

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Flows of waters moved through some areas of the creek. I continued along the valley at a snail’s pace, having to climb and slide down to get to different areas.

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I arrived at a large pool and stopped to read the description in the book. It said, ‘If you arrive at a large pool, you’ve come too far. The escape from the gorge is a gully up the side of the cliff just back from the pool.’ The gully in question is 150 metres tall. I took a drink of my water and it ran out. The climb was not hard, but without water and it being a warm day, I was knackered by the time I reached the top. I climbed a little further to Koonin Lookout and looked down the gorge from whence I’d come.

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Then it was along the official track past the Crows Nest Waterfall and back to the car park where water and food waited. After a short break, I packed up the van and began the two-hour drive back to Brisbane.

Next Weekend I’m off to Moogerah Peaks National Park where I’m taking the hiking group up Mt Greville.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Crows Nest National Park – Perseverance Heights

Perseverance Heights – 10.8km – 4 hours

For my second hike of the day, I arrived at the trailhead at about 2pm.

The trail begins at a locked gate and heads into the National Park on a wide dirt vehicle track. Several tracks lead across the path and I had to retrace my steps a couple of times to ensure I was on the right one. Eventually I found another locked gate on the side of the trail marking my way forward. I continued to the east, passing a junction that according to the map would lead to my eventual exit route from the circuit. I followed the dirt road for about 1500 metres until I came to another locked gate. While the vehicle track ended here, the walking trail continued on the other side. I walked on up a steep hill along a fairly obvious path to a bluff and peered down a cliff.

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There was an obvious trail heading steeply down the side, so I headed down. I came to an area where the trail seemed to fade out and found the remains of a crow. No body, just feathers everywhere. I wondered what could have made the mess. I then wandered back and forth looking for a trail using the mass of feathers as a reference point. With no identifiable track, I made my own and headed downhill towards the creek…

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… and followed it until it began to widen – Perseverance Creek.

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I headed along the Lantana brush covered left bank, trying to avoid the little thorns wherever I could. The trail headed along the top of the bank but was either cut off by a fence or Lantana, forcing me inland through more patches of the scratchy thorny weed. Oh for a machete! I would push through to the trail along the top of the bank only to be forced back inland again. By this time the backs of my hands and forearms were heavily scratched, nothing serious, just war wounds of the hiking kind.

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The river is beautiful as it curves around through the land. I followed it around on a thin trail avoiding the bushes and hanging on to grass so as not to fall into the water. I edged around to a tight bend in the river where a gully climbed between a pair of ridges. I headed into the gully but was confronted by wall to wall Lantana. Yay! Already covered in scratches, I rolled down my sleeves and pushed through until I came to a path crossing the gully. I ignored it and continued up the gully but the Lantana became too harsh. I backtracked to the junction and followed the path to the north until it hit another wall of Lantana.  I retraced my steps again and pushed to the south.  While this hit a thinner wall of Lantana I decided to push through as I was running out of light.  With the Queensland sun setting early in winter, I didn’t want to be caught on the side of a bank or halfway up a ridge at sunset.

Past the thin wall of Lantana, I headed along the side of the bank and around towards the ridge line. I walked for some time above the Lantana line with an awesome looking rocky ridge above me. I love rocky ridges. With the eastern face I was on already blanketed in shadows I hurried on.

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I rounded the side into the sunlight and pushed on further. Atop the ridge the rocky buttresses climbed into the sky with wind blasted small caves formed in their sides. There is one cave in particular which is an attraction of this hike and one of the reasons I was here.

The cave did eventually come into view high on the ridge and I climbed up to have a look. It didn’t take me long to reach the aptly named Wind Cave with its sandy floor.

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I stopped briefly then pushed on to the top of the ridge where I took a rest. I turned to look back from where I’d come and for the first time saw the glittering blue of Lake Perseverance stretching away. This is the reason I love to hike, the unexpected views.

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Then behind me at the top of the ridge I found a dirt 4WD track. The track was wide and easily followed for the rest of walk. With still a kilometre or so to go, the sunset leaving me in deep shadows surrounded by forest.  Thankfully I always carry my head torch and spare batteries. Soon after I arrived back at the junction I’d seen on my way in and shortly after arrived back at my van.

Overall, an adventurous day of blood and sweat. I was looking forward to a hot shower, so headed off to the camping ground. I’m going to be sore tomorrow for my third hike of the weekend.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Crows Nest National Park – Perseverance Creeks

Perseverance Creeks – 8.5km – 5 hours (Unmarked Trail)

The Crows Nest National Park is just north of Toowoomba city, about two hours West of Brisbane. Lake Perseverance is part of the National Park and separates the two areas I will be walking this weekend. I drove up on Friday night to give myself plenty of time to walk the tracks I wished to.

Today I will be walking in the southern end of the National Park. There are two hikes in this area and both are untracked and unmarked, however, guided by the book Take a Walk in South East Queensland – my SE Queensland hiking bible – I should be fine.

I should be fine… famous last words. Following the instructions of the book I headed south along the fence line down a small gully and uphill to another road. This is where things hit a snag. After the gully I came across a line of vegetation that I couldn’t get past. It was early in the hike so I decided to backtrack to beginning and instead followed a short road to the east.

When the track finished abruptly I noted a pink ribbon on a tree – generally a sign of a marked trail – so I followed it. As expected the pink ribbon led to another pink ribbon and to a third. I kept following through a series of pine and ironbark trees. The area between the trees was light and grassy, with some sandy areas. The pink ribbons turned north at the top of the cliff over Perseverance Creek and I followed until they stopped abruptly. After there being one every ten metres or so along the trail it was odd that the ribbons would just stop. I skirted around in each direction looking for the signs of the next ribbon but found nothing.  So taking a guess, I headed north.

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The book has a map of each hike showing the trail and giving a written description. Based on the curve of the creek I placed myself at a certain point, so I followed the description in the book. I followed the cliff line north, watching the curve of the creek below. At a not so steep gully, I made my way down. I could hear cars on the road to the south as I briefly checked out a gorge before I continued north along the side of the creek.

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After a short walk along the river’s edge, I came to a barbed wire fence that spanned the river and headed up the bank. I followed the fence inland for a while until it turned off and headed back into the river.

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I continued north, checking the map with my compass to ensure I was on the right path, or at least what I thought was the right path. I headed north and crossed through a large patch of Lantana. Lantana is a weed with little thorns along the length of its long thin branches that catch on to everything. Lucky there wasn’t much in the patch and I pushed through it easily and continued down the rocky bank to the creek.

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I walked along it for a little bit before crossing at a four-wheel drive track. I headed up a hill and came to another vehicle track, which I followed.

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I was supposed to go several hundred metres up the hill to a lookout, but found neither the top of the hill nor the lookout.  Would I have found it if I had kept going? I don’t know. But I decided to head back and when almost back at the crossing, I went down the grassy hill to a set of cliffs and another rocky gorge.

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I crossed and headed north along a vehicle track with the creek heading north as well. The problem here was that the book and its map did not show any creeks running north, at all. I continued walking north for several hundred metres along the creek before finally deciding to head back.

At least it wasn’t difficult to retrace my steps back along the trail to my van. While I didn’t walk the exact trail the book had suggested, I still got a good hike in for several hours and perhaps covered ten kilometres. I arrived back at the van at 1pm, had a bite to eat before heading to the location of the afternoon’s hike, stopping for a quick coffee on the way.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Bunya Mountains NP – Westcliff and Cherry Plains Circuits, and Mount Kiangarow

Today was my second day in the Bunya Mountains and after sleeping the night in my van, I was up early and preparing for two 4-hour hikes followed by a 3-hour drive home.

Today’s hikes run into each other at the Cherry Plains Lookout and could be combined, but I chose to separate them and stop for lunch in between.

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.

Westcliff and Cherry Plain Lookouts – 11.4km
This hike begins at Paradise Carpark, an area I came close to on yesterday’s hike past Paradise Falls. Yesterday’s hike was on the northern side of the Bunya Mountains, today’s hikes are both on the southern side.

The walk began in a forest similar to yesterday’s.  I quickly came to a place called Little Pocket, a small glade in the middle of the forest.  It would make a great place to camp or for a picnic.

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The trail continued on the other side of the pocket with many ferns growing on either side. The trail meandered through the forest with the typical sound of the whip birds singing to each other.

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A slanted, tree laden cliff face dropped away on my left giving vegetation obscured views of the plains to the south heading to Toowoomba. I soon arrived at the Westcliff Lookout which gave me clearer views of the plains.

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I walked back into the forest and eventually came to a burned area with new green shoots. The land is hardy and while I think this was burned as part of Queensland’s back burning campaigns for the dry summers, it’s always amazing to see the new green shoots pushing up through the blackened ground. At the far side of the of the area I emerged into the Westcott Camping area where I’d spent the night.

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I continued along the trail and headed downhill towards the Koondali Lookout and then on to the Valley View Lookout.  Both gave the same sprawling views to the south.

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The trail led back into the forest, but this time the vegetation along the sides had changed. The ferns had been replaced with the sharp spiky leaves of stinging nettles and cacti. I’m glad I wore long pants today! The trail eventually winds its way back towards the road. So far much of the walk had been fairly flat or slowly heading down, not what I expected in the mountains.

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When I got back to the road, I followed it towards Paradise Carpark, some 3.5 km away. This turned out to be the hardest part of the hike as the road climbs steep hills directly to the carpark. The trail is suggested to take 4.5 hours, but it only took me 2.5.

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Mount Kiangarow and Cherry Plain Circuit – 10.7km
I drove from Paradise Carpark to Burton’s Well Carpark and stopped for lunch. I then set out along the trail which quickly came to a junction at the bottom of Mount Kiangarow, the tallest mountain in the National Park. While it didn’t take long to climb the 1.1km trail, it was actually nice to be climbing something, albeit rather gently.

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At the top the lookout is rather small with only a slim area to view from. A little disappointing, but you often get that.

Back at the junction I headed south and then east along the cliff line. As per the end of the last hike, the vegetation at the side of the path was mainly nettles around the trees. The path again headed downwards, this time a little more apparent than earlier today.

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The Ghinghoin Lookout gave the same views south as much of the other lookouts.  The trail then began to climb, not harshly, just long enough to keep the body working. While walking around the edge of the cliff, a bluff came into view and I could see a lookout platform on it.  It was not a harsh climb, but after 16km of walking today my legs were starting a quiet burn.

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The lookout was surprising easy to get to and I sat for a moment to give my legs some time before heading back up along the path. My last stop before the road was the Cherry Plain Lookout which was overgrown and I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking out over.

The trail then joined the one I’d walked this morning and made its way for 1km to the road. This time I only had 2.4km of road to walk but again it was the steepest and hardest part of the hike.

I arrived back at the van ready for my trip home.

Overall, the Bunya Mountains are a beautiful place to walk with greatly varying vegetation depending on which side of the mountains you are on.

Next weekend I’m heading off to Crows Nest National Park.

The Lone Trail Wanderer