Tag Archives: Queensland

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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…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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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Dularcha National Park – 4km

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

West Canungra Creek Circuit – Green Mountains

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.

Today I’m out with my hiking group from meetup.com.  Meetup.com is a great way to find hiking groups in your area and they often go to many interesting places.  The downside of meetup.com groups is they tend to attract larger groups of walkers and can be more about being social than the experience of being out in nature.

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This time we headed into the Green Mountains section of the Lamington National Park to do one of the many circuits.  This is also where I began the Gold Coast Hinterland Great! Walk only three weeks earlier.  The hikes start at the same location and use about a kilometre of the same trail before splitting off and going their respective directions.

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The West Canungra Creek circuit has a Class 4 rating but I believe this is only when it is wetter.  Because it was pretty dry and the streams were down,  the crossings were easier and the rating should only be a Class 3.

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The circuit is 13.9km long and meanders down towards Canunga Creek.  It then heads along the stream, with several crossings towards to “Yerralahla” (blue pool).  There were plentiful small waterfalls, downed trees, rocky outcrops and stream beds along the way.

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About half way around the circuit, the track forks, eventually meeting up again a couple of kilometres along.  At the fork I decided to take my leave of the group to get a bit of time to myself in nature.  As I walked I came across a pair of large waterfalls.

Yanbacoochie Falls…

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Elabana Falls…

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I met up with the group again when the trails reconnected.  We continued our way back along towards the end of the circuit, crossing a treetop walk on the way back.

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Overall an interesting walk and talk, I got to speak at length to a guy from Chile about South America, the starting place of my big adventure next year…

Next week, I wrap up the Glass House Mountains and do a couple of short walks at Mount Coot-tha.

The Trail Wanderer.

Glass House Mountains – Mt Ngungun and Mt Beerburrum

While not all of Glass House Mountains are climbable for various reasons – dangerous landslips, suitable only for rock climbing, too steep, sacred to aboriginals etc – I decided to climb all I could and walk the tracks near the ones I couldn’t.   I split my walks over several weekends.  Here are my first couple…

Mt Ngungun

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I decided to climb Mt Ngungun because I liked the name, although at 253m it’s only considered a hill.  On this day, I took along 3 companions, proving that the lone wanderer does not always wander alone.  The climb is rated a class 4 – distinct track usually with steep exposed slopes or many steps.  Caution needed on loose gravel surfaces and exposed outlooks.  Moderate level of fitness.

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 walk through the forest to the base of the mountain was short and easy.  But when we arrived at the base we certainly knew it.  The fairly flat path turned into a steep, perhaps 60º climb up a rocky, tree root laden dirt trail.

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It’s recommending not to climb Mt Ngungun after it has been raining and it’s easy to see why, the rocky-dirt steps would be very slippery.

The initial section of the climb is a wide channel between a rocky outcrop and the mountain.  It didn’t take me long to reach the top of the first climb, the hardest section.  As I waited for my companions I peeked through the trees and got only a hint of the views we’d eventually see at the top.

After a short break, and leaving one of our companions behind, we continued up the next portion of track, another rocky, root laden climb, at perhaps 45-degrees.

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Finally there was a gentle climb along a short ridge to the very top and some fantastic panoramic views.  To the east out past the city of Caloundra and the Pacific Ocean.  To the west the edge of the scenic rim and to the north and south the other jutting Glass House Mountains.

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The climb down was fairly straightforward.  Overall a fun climb that took a total of just over an hour including the break at the top.

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Back at the car, we headed to the location of our second climb of the day…

Mt Beerburrum

Anything with beer in its name has to be good, right?

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.

Mt Beerburrum is a totally different climbing experience to that of Mt Ngungun.  It’s advertised as a Class 4 also, but with a 700m steep walk.  After a gentle climb up to the car park at the base of the mountain, the concreted path took a sharp change, a 45-degree upwards change.  Climbing a 45-degree grade is no problems when there are steps, even rough dirt steps such as was the case on Mt Ngungun.  But Mt Beerburrum has no steps, not a single one, just a concrete path.  And other than several switchbacks in the path it’s hard going with little respite.  For my companions and I this meant stopping every 20-30 meters to break up the relentless climbing of the path.

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It does eventually flatten out and leads to a fire tower.

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Then a simple climb to the first level of the fire tower gives the same amazing panoramic views as Mt Ngungun just several kilometres to the south.  While difficult, for the view the pain of the climb is well worth it.

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The walk down was slow going and the steep path was hard on the knees.  Weaving along the path made it a little easier.  At the bottom, the reason the word Beer in the name becomes apparent and has nothing to do with the nearby township of Beerburrum, honestly.  It’s that we really needed one.

Overall, it was a good day’s climbing.  I could have done more, but I didn’t want to push the limits of my companions, so left it at that.

The Trail Wanderer

Gold Coast Hinterland Great! Walk

The Gold Coast Hinterland Great! Walk is a 54km, 3-day hike across both the Lamington and Springbrook National Parks with a 5km road walk in between.

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Day 1 – 21.4km: Green Mountain O’Reilly’s retreat to Binna Burra

The day began in Brisbane at 5.30am.  After much driving I dropped my car off at the Settlement Campground, the endpoint of my hike.  I was delivered to the beginning by my good friend and her lovely but exceedingly strange adult daughter – at least the long drive wasn’t boring!

I headed out from the Green Mountains O’Reilly’s Retreat at 10:30.  I’d estimated the walk at about 6 hours plus breaks with an ETA to Binna Burra at 5pm.  I started later than I intended, but that’s the price you pay for a ‘car shuffle’ on a linear hike (where the start and end are not the same place).

Thirty minutes into the walk and I came across my first snake – a young red bellied black – which slithered quickly away.  It was the last I was to see for the day and only one of two this adventure.  The track overall was fairly easy-going with no steep climbs or descents and the initial 300m climb was not terribly apparent as it was a slow climb over several kilometres.  The hardest part of the day was that much of the track was a muddy mess, meaning traction wasn’t good.

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The waterfalls of Conondale National Park are not repeated here, with only small creeks and run-throughs.  The lookouts over the border of New South Wales were pretty fantastic though with Mt Warning standing out among the hills.  The track continued and after a while, more lookouts, this time out towards sea and the Gold Coast skyline.  Unfortunately, not so clear in the photos.

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As it was the Saturday of a long weekend, the track was very busy.  I saw at least 40 other walkers on trail doing one of the numerous side tracks or day walks.  Then, as I headed downhill towards Binna Burra, my first campground, I saw wallabies!  It was a wonderful surprise but unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough with my camera.

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Binna Burra isn’t a walkers camp, but it’s the only legal camping location in the area.  Just make sure you book a spot in advance.  It’s a full camping park with washing machines, hot showers, fantastic pizza on Saturday night and happy hour!  It’s not really wilderness but a couple of quiet beers after a hard day’s walk never hurt anyone!

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Day 2 – 24km: Binna Burra to Woonoongoora Walker’s Camp

I left Binna Burra along the Lower Bellbird circuit trail and headed quickly back into the forest along a gentle downhill.

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I passed a couple of lookouts which gave great views of Egg Mountain protruding out from the forest in the distance.  As I walked I passed several small waterfalls and a series of awesome cliffs.  At some points along the trail things became a little precarious as I literally had to hang on to a tree to get around one corner.  But that’s what I was there for… adventure!

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To get to Egg Mountain, I had a massive downhill slog.  Steep downhills are the worst as they put a lot of pressure on the knees, ankles and feet.  Weaving down the trail can make things easier, although dry dirt trails can make things slow going, as care must be taken with placing feet to avoid sliding.  I passed Egg Mountain and followed the fence line of Numbimbah correctional centre for a couple of kilometres before arriving at Nerang-Murwillumbuh Rd where I stopped for lunch at the river.

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The trail followed the road for about 5km before coming to the Numinbah café where I stopped for an ice-block and coke.  After walking 18km with a 22kg pack, the last 5km in the open sun, who could resist?  As there is no water at the next camp, I took supplies here for both my cooking requirements and for tomorrow’s walk.

After the cafe, the trail cut back into the forest up a steep hill towards the walker’s camp.  The climb was tough, made tougher as it was at the end of a long hot day and because I was carrying extra water.  I finally arrived at the walker’s camp, a field set out for camping with only a camp toilet and nothing more.  The grass was knee height, which made pitching my tent a little more difficult, but it did make for a softer sleeping spot.  After setting up camp, I settled in for a cool evening.

Day 3 – 9km – Woonoongoora Walker’s Camp to Settlers Camping Ground

Nine kilometres doesn’t sound far, but this part of the walk has multiple steep climbs and descents.  The first climb apparently has 900 steps, about 82 floors of a building, or so the sign said.  I only counted 829, but after climbing with a heavy pack I’m surprised I could still count by the end, so I could be wrong.

A quick stop at a park for a snack after the climb and I was off again into the forest.  The trail follows the Nerang River for a fair distance, crossing it on several occasions and has many small waterfalls.  I knew I was getting close to the end of my walk when I started to see people on the trail again.  Lots of people.  But then it was the Monday of a long weekend.  I must have passed 100 people as I headed towards Purlingbrook Falls.  The falls are spectacular from both the pool at the bottom…

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…to the top, and is the major reason so many people were visiting, although the climb was long even though it only had only 290 stairs and was all concreted.

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Settlers Camp Ground was not far from the top of the falls. I arrived at midday and drive the 100km home.  Overall a Great! Walk indeed!

The Lone Trail Wanderer