Tag Archives: Unmarked Trail

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