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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Woondum National Park, QLD

Woondum National Park is 16 km south-east of Gympie. There is no camp ground in the National Park but I have heard many enthusiastic reports about Cobb & Co Nine Mile, a nearby private campground. After travelling two kilometers on a dirt road we arrived at a car park and the Rock Pools Day Use Area. There are toilets, picnic tables, water and wood fired barbecues (bring your own wood). The picnic area overlooks a beautiful boulder creek with pools suitable for swimming. Lace monitors are known to frequent the day use area.

View from the Rock Pools Day Use Area

Our focus for the morning was conquering the summit of Boulder Mountain. The Boulder Mountain Hiking Trail is a Class 5, 3.2 km, 2 hour hike to the summit of Boulder Mountain. This walk is only for the very fit. You know you are in trouble when you see a sign like this:



We climbed up and up and when we were nearly at the top we were greeted by this encouraging sign:

From Steep to Very Steep

Unfortunately the view at the top was largely overgrown.

View From Boulder Mountain

 And the summit was singularly unattractive

Boulder Mountain Summit

We made our way down again and had a picnic lunch in the excellent day use area.

Going down looks good

We wandered along the Turpentine Circuit, a Class 5, 500 m, 20 minute loop alongside the boulder strewn creek.

Turpentine Circuit 

On our return to the picnic area we noticed that the forest road was signed as "Easy 4WD". We decided that it was about time we got some 4WD practice in preparation for our National Park Odyssey and a rated track seemed like a good place to gain experience. We asked a guy in a 4WD ute what the track was like and he assured us that he had previously driven his Commodore sedan along the forest drive without problems (ha ha, very funny). Since buying a 4WD we have only driven at Mt Mee on an easy and a moderate 4WD track so we decided to try this one out. The biggest challenge was the large drainage humps across the road and some exposed rock; making it unsuitable for vehicles with low clearance. Fortunately, there were no other vehicles about and we slowly proceeded until we eventually came out of the forest at Tablelands Road. With a big sigh of relief we headed home. Somehow I don't think we are 4WD enthusiasts at heart.


Woondum National Park Forest Trail

Next time we visit Woondum National Park I think we will skip the summit climb and the forest trail and do what everyone else does; enjoy a scramble along the beautiful Boulder and Woondum Creeks.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bora Ring and Axe Grinding Site, Glass House Mountains, QLD

With the exception of rock art it can seem hard to see evidence of the early history of Aboriginal people in Australia.  However, in the Glass House Mountains region of Queensland there are two interesting sites that are easy to visit if you know where to look.

Turn off to the Bora Ring on Johnston Road

It seems largely unknown that there is a Bora Ring (also known as a Durn) off Johnston Road at Glass House Mountains. There is a sign on the turnoff to the Bora Ring and it is a short drive on a gravel road to a small car parking area right in front of the ring. The Bora Ring is in good condition but today it is crammed in by a forestry road on one side and a pineapple farm on the other.  It is my understanding that Bora Rings consist of a large ring connected to a smaller ring by a track of 100 to 400 meters. There is no sign of the smaller, more sacred ring. Bora Rings were used by Aborigines for gatherings, dancing and ceremonies such as male initiations.

Glass House Mountains Bora Ring

Several Glass House Mountains can be seen from the Bora Ring site.

Mount Tibrogargan

We walked along the gravel track to the Bora Ring and saw Grey Fantails in the forest, small flocks of Red-browed Finches on the road and Red-backed Fairy Wrens in the fields.

Red-browed Finch
Not far away, in Landsborough, there is an axe grinding site at Little Rocky Creek on Old Gympie Road. There is a small car park and a sign with information about the grooves and some Cobb and Co wheel tracks that can be seen in the sandstone beside the creek.

Infomation Sign at Axe Grinding Grooves Site

If you miss the entry to the small car park, you can park in front of the Rocky Creek Scout Campsite which is right next door. It is only a short walk to the creek where you can clearly see the grooves that were formed in the process of making axes.

Grinding Grooves on the Creek Bank

Little Rocky Creek is an attractive place to explore.

Little Rocky Creek, Landsborough


The Rocky Creek Scout Campsite is open to the public for camping and is in a great location for access to the Glass House Mountains region. As an added bonus there is an excellent produce stall across the road.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Moogerah Peaks National Park QLD: Mount Edwards, Mount French and Frog Buttress Camping Area.


Moogerah Peaks National Park is about 100 km west of Brisbane and consists of four separate areas near Moogerah Lake: Mount Greville, Mount Moon, Mount Edwards and Mount French.

Moogerah Lake and Mount Greville

In June we spent a day at the Mount Edwards and Mount French sections of Moogerah Peaks National Park.  We would like to have camped at the Frog Buttress camping area at Mount French but as it was a Saturday in the school holidays and right in the middle of the winter abseiling season we decided that it would be prudent to check the camping area out before making a booking on line.

Mount Edwards

We drove to Moogerah Lake via the Cunningham Highway and parked at Lake Moogerah Picnic Area off Moogerah Connection Road. This is a lovely, large, lakeside park next to the dam wall. Our aim for the morning was to walk the Mount Edwards Summit Track, a Class 5 walk with a suggested time of 3.5 hours.  Access to Mount Edwards is via the dam wall. Please check the access times before planning your walk as the gates are closed from approximately 6 pm to 6 am. At the moment, (until December 2014) there are restrictions on entering the dam wall due to upgrade works. Current information about closures can be found at http://nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/moogerah-peaks and clicking on Park Alerts.  The views from the walk are stunning.

Lake Moogerah Dam Wall Walk

I had always thought that the Lake Moogerah Caravan Park was situated here but it is in fact further around the lake. The caravan park can be seen in the distance from the dam wall and certainly looks like it would be a lovely camping location.

Entering Moogerah Peaks National Park 

We ascended the stairs on the other side of the dam wall and as soon as we entered Moogerah National Park we could hear and see Striated Pardalotes, Golden Whistlers and White-throated Honeyeaters.

White-throated Honeyeater

Spotted Pardalote

Good fitness is required for the steady climb to the summit of Mount Edwards but we enjoyed the walk as unlike all the Glasshouse Mountains we are used to on the Sunshine Coast the walk didn't get suddenly steeper and harder at the top. Our efforts were rewarded with a cool breeze and magnificent views over the valley below.

View from the Summit of Mount Edwards

More Views from the Summit of Mount Edwards

After a rest and a snack we returned via the same track to the picnic grounds. We selected a table with views over the lake and enjoyed a late picnic lunch.

Picnic View

After lunch we drove to Mount French. When we arrived the parking area was full and we were lucky to squeeze into a small spot. As we had suspected the designated camping sites at Frog Buttress camping area were all full. Indeed, there were several tents erected in non camping areas. There are two vehicle camping sites at Mount French and these both had four cars in them. Before we left home we had checked the bookings on line and only about half the sites were booked. I checked again when we went home and still only half the sites were booked. 

Mount French Day Use Area

The campground looked like it would be very pleasant if you could manage to camp at a quiet time. However, the rock climbing season is from Easter to October and it apparently gets very hot at Mount French in the summer.There is an amenities block with flushing toilets, non-potable water and a day use area adjoining the car park. No generators or pets allowed. There are fourteen separate, defined, unnumbered sites about 100 meters from the car park and there are two designated vehicle camping sites out near the car park. The camping area is not suitable for caravans as it is walk in and there is nowhere to park a van. The road in is also narrow and steep.

View from Logans Lookout, Mount French

North Cliff Track is a 720 m, 15 minute, Class 3 track that is accessed from the car park near the amenities block. This is a return track to Logans Lookout to see the stunning views.
We had hoped to walk the Mee-bor-rum Circuit, a Class 3, 840 m, 25 minute walk but the track was closed due to a pathogen infection. I always check "Park Alerts" before travelling to a national park because it is handy to know of any closures, burn offs or other hazards before driving long distances to a park and being disappointed. I have usually found this system works well but in this case the closure was not listed.

After an enjoyable day we made our way home via the Ipswich-Boonah Road which we found to be more relaxing than the Cunningham Highway.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pelican Forest Track, Pelican Waters, Golden Beach, Caloundra QLD

View from  Pelican Forest Track

Pelican Forest Track consists of three short tracks that combine to about 3 km in the Pelican Forest Rehabilitation Project. The track starts off at the northern end of Tweddle Drive, however there is no parking area. We usually combine the walk with a visit to an excellent small park at the very end of Bond Street, where there are a couple of parking bays opposite the million dollar houses. As the streets are new, this whole area can be hard to find on a map or car GPS so you might find this GPS co-ordinate helpful S26 48.944  E153 06.613

In the park, there is a picturesque sheltered picnic table overhanging the canal.


 A large bird nesting platform has been erected here and is occupied by Ospreys.

Osprey

An amazing number of birds live in this small park. There are White-breasted Woodswallows living in the hollows of one of the larger trees. We have seen Cuckoo-shrikes, White-faced Herons, Pale-headed Rosellas, Australian Pipits to name just a few. On one visit we enjoyed watching a pair of Willie Wagtails waiting to be fed by their parents.

Willie Wagtail Chicks

From the park we walk along Marmont Street, then take the boardwalk to Tweedle Drive. If the ospreys are not at their nest they can often be found in this area. From here the Pelican Forest Tracks start. The Pelican Forest Rehabilitation Project has only been undertaken since 2012 and it is still common to see work being carried out here. There are several distinct flora areas and a “macropod meadow” has been created for kangaroos and wallabies to graze.



Callistemons planted along the tracks.

Pelican and Lamerough Creeks support a variety of water birds and a turtle and Wallum Sedgefrog habitat. There are information signs and picnic shelters along the tracks.




One morning we noticed a Black Swan sleeping on the creek bank. This swan appeared to be immature as it had not developed full black colouring. The curious thing was that it had greenery draped over the inside of its neck. We have tried researching Google to see if this is a trait of Black Swans but were unable to find any references to this behaviour. The Black Swan certainly blended into the creek bank and although a large bird it was quite hard to see with its head tucked out of sight and the reeds draped over its neck.


Sleeping Black Swan
Black Swan 

We have often sighted delightful Double-barred Finches on our walks here.

Double-barred Finch

Some of the other birds that we have seen on the tracks include Variegated Fairy-wrens, Striated Pardalotes, Brown Honeyeaters and Peaceful Doves. The most common water birds are Egrets, Black Swans and Pacific Black Ducks.

Pacific Black Duck
Great Egret

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lamington National Park, Green Mountains Section

In June, we camped for two nights at Green Mountains Campground in Lamington National Park. The Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park is often referred to as O'Reilly's because of the history surrounding the O'Reilly family, the Stinson crash and the famous O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat. Two nights was definitely not enough for such a wonderful destination but the opportunity came up so we grabbed it. We drove up through Canungra where we stopped at the information office and the lady there was very helpful. The road from Canungra to Green Mountains camp ground is only 35 kms but it takes 45 minutes to an hour to drive because it is steep, narrow and windy and contains several short one way sections.


Green Mountains Campground

The campground has hot showers and good pit toilets but fires are not allowed and there is no cooking shelter which seems an oversight for an area that has high rainfall. There are BBQs and tables in the picnic area opposite O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat but they are not lit at night. The campground is on a slope and has small gravel pads provided for tent camping. The camping area is separated from vehicle parking by bollards. There are also a few motorhome sites, however, only sites 1 and 2 are suitable for motorhomes of any size and they back onto the fairly busy road to O’Reilly’s. The road from Cunungra is not suitable for caravans and big rigs so I guess the camping sites reflect that.

View from Morans Falls Track

After setting up our tent we drove down to the start of the Morans Falls track but the small car park was full so we drove back to camp and walked about 700 m down the hill to the trailhead. The Morans Falls track is a 4.4 km return, Class 3 track. Python Rock track leaves from here as well, but it was closed when we were there. There is an excellent constructed lookout at the end of the trail with views of the Morans Falls. It was only about 4.30 pm when we got to the Morans Falls but up in the forest on the mountain it was rapidly getting dark so we had to hightail it back to camp.


Morans Falls

Red-necked pademelons are common around the camp ground. 

Red-necked Pademelons

That night we noticed that there were a couple of bandicoots making their tell-tale conical holes in the campground grass.

Long-nosed Bandicoot

The next morning we got up early and walked to the trail head opposite O’Reilly’s. The West Canungra Creek Circuit was closed so we walked the Box Forest Circuit, a Class 4, 10.9 km walk that branches off the Border Track after an easy 1.7 km walk.  We took the recommended clockwise direction. We hadn’t walked very far down the Border Track section when we saw a Logrunner.

Logrunner

Then we saw a male Albert’s Lyrebird displaying. Or to be more accurate, the bird was behind a large mossy log and we could see the tail display. A first for us.


Albert's Lyrebird Tail Display.

We turned left into the Box Forest Circuit and entered an amazing wet rainforest wonderland. The track is narrow and wet, with some quite long drops off the path. It zig zags down and down past amazing ancient trees and ferns. This area is known as the Giants Garden.



As we approached the Yanbacoochie Falls we encountered a Lamington Blue Spiny Crayfish walking towards us on the track. It was about 11 cm long but it reared up, waved its claws at us and hissed quite loudly so we thought it prudent to give it right of way.

One of several Waterfalls on the Box Forest Circuit

We crossed the creek by jumping from boulder to boulder and on the other side we encountered a second Spiny Crayfish emerging from a hole in the mud bank. 

Lamington Spiny Blue Crayfish  Euastacus sulcatus  

We took the short detour to Box Log Falls where the creek thunders through a narrow rock gorge. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

Box Log Falls

We decided we weren’t game to negotiate the rock scramble to the Elebana Falls as it was quite wet and made our way to Picnic Rock where we naturally stopped for a well earned picnic.

Picnic Rock

As we made our way back to the Border Track we were overtaken by some hikers who had been behind us doing the same walk and they were very disappointed to have not seen any Spiny Crayfish.

Back at camp we had afternoon tea and made our way to the Tree Top Walk which is in the O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat grounds but is free and open to the public. There were hordes of very noisy tourists on the Tree Top Walk and we saw no birds at all. We had a quick look at the Botanical Gardens on our way out.

Tree Top Walk, O'Reilly's

Tree Top Walk, O'Reilly's

In 1937, Bernard O'Reilly found the wreck of a Stinson and two surviviors ten days after it crashed. Today there is a Stinson and a memorial at O'Reilly's commemorating his remarkable acheivement. The book "Green Mountains" by Bernard O"Reilly is an excellent read about the early history of O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat and the Stinson rescue.


Stinson at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat

Stinson Memorial at O'Reilly's

In the O’Reilly's Rainforest Retreat grounds there is a bird feeding area, for paying customers, and on the other side of the road there are National Park signs asking people not to feed the birds. We have seen this conflict between National Parks and commercial interests at Bunya National Park as well. This area is usually good for viewing birds. Although we didn't feed the birds we couldn't resist taking a photo of a King Parrot that was being fed when we walked past.


Australian King Parrot, male

We were amused to see a Crimson Rosella walking along a small branch on the ground. 


Crimson Rosella

There was an easy to find Satin Bowerbird bower in the picnic area, opposite the bird feeding area.

Satin Bowerbird Bower

Around the campground, Yellow-throated Scrubwrens and Eastern Yellow Robins were common. There were plenty of Satin Bower Birds and a male was keeping his eye on a bower in a garden near the path to the main car park. Wonga pigeons walked around the campground road edges in the afternoons. They bob their heads so much that we had trouble getting a photo of one without a blurry head.


Eastern Yellow Robin

Wonga Pigeons

Next morning we got up early and did the Tree Top Walk again; still no birds. Then we did a short walk along the Border Track where we saw another male Logrunner, had two sightings of Rufous Scrub-bird, saw two Albert’s Lyrebirds wandering, together, along the track and I believe a Hastings River Mouse, all outstanding sightings which will entice us back again. 


Logrunner, male