After so many, ehh, too many weekends with rainy days, we finally had a weekend weather forecast that was promising. Yasmine and I had both three days to spend together and we decided to pack the car and headed to Conondale National Park. This park is located just West of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast with Maleny and Kenilworth the most interesting townships in the neighbourhood. From previous experiences we knew that the camping where we wanted to go, can only be reached by 4WD, especially after a lot of rain. There are 4 area’s to accomodate visiters. Three camping site’s and one day use area. To be precise, one camping area (24 places) with showers, another (24 places) no showers and the last one is a field for caravans, trailers and tent with no allocated spots to put your camping either of them. We choose the latter. Pre-booking is essential and thanks to modern technology, you can apply for a permit and pay online via the Queensland government website.
After having crossed a couple of creeks we found the camping area and a good spot to set up our tent. During lunch, a Lace Monitor slowly walked in our direction but after I got up, he/she decided that a view from above was as good (if not better) as trying to fill its stomach with part of our delicious midday meal. We strongly adhere to the wishes of rangers not to feed wildlive. Along the path a three people were exploring the site and stopped for a while at a particular spot. The boy ran back to their caravan to get his dad. They looked at a thing but I could not make out what it was. I walked to the place where they pointed at and discovered a carpet snake nicely rolled up in the grass. Only about 40 metres from our tent. We left it alone.
In the afternoon we headed to Booloumba Outlook, walking over Booloumba Creek road (dirt road 4WD) from the camping is a very steep climb, up to 22%. The views at the lookout were nice but nothing special. The return trip was about 3.5 km. Downhill was a lot easier. Just before we reached campsite, a building to the left had our attention. It was the toilet block for the number three area and Yasmine discovered a track that started at the back of the block. Giving in to our hunting instinct, we had to follow it. The path led us to a creek crossing and on the other side of the Booloumba creek we saw some stairs leading into the bush. The depth of the water was so that we if we didn’t want to walk the rest of the day in soaking wet socks and boots, we had to go naked (from the knees down).
With shoelaces in a tie, we draped the boots over our shoulders and crossed the wild water. Thanks to the grinding effect of the water the rocks were very smooth so without cuts or bruises we reached the western bank. Yasmine climbed the stairs but a very low hanging branch hit her hard on the head. We stopped for a while. When our feet felt dry, we laced up again and continued our way up to see signs telling us that a goldmine was 1.6 km away. Not greedy but only interested in mines we decided to follow this track. What a disappointing sight. The mine was closed. Outside the old mine we couldn’t find any traces that it has been a GOLD mine but, according to the sign, it was worked in the early 1900’s and is now closed. Common Bentwing and Horseshoe bats have set up camp in the mine.
On the return trip we walked to the day use area to discover that, to get to the campsite, we had to fight another creek crossing which didn’t look as friendly as the first one plus the walk would be a lot longer. We went back to the first crossing and from there to our tent. Today we covered around 11 km.
It was a fresh morning, the summer was gone and that surely was noticed. Not that we were shivering but after used to 25-35 Celsius, 14 degrees feels cold. After having finished our cornflakes and muesli, the thermos flask with hot water, cups, soup and snacks, sunscreen, mozzie repellent and our gps with maps were stashed in our backpacks (sounds like we had about 40 kg each) and we headed to the same spot to cross the creek again to pay the Artists Cascade a visit. According to the sign on the creek bank, it was 5.3 km. Following the track to the turnoff to the goldmine was easy but the track got a bit heavier after that. About two km on the track, we came across a strange sign which we had not seen before. We followed the sidetrack to see what it meant and came face to face with something you do not expect in a National Park or any bush setting for that matter. An amazing artwork in the form of an egg.
I took one or two, maybe more photo’s and walked back to the original track, still amazed by the discovery of the egg. We followed the path which became smaller but still good to walk on. After a bit over two hours walking, we reached Cascade Falls. It was an amazing sight after the last rains we had. The plan was that, if we were early we would go on to Booloumba Falls. For that, we had to cross the creek again and from friends we had the information that it was easy but, that was when they crossed in a very dry period. Now it looked like a raging river and didn’t look safe to cross in this situation. We had our morning coffee break here on natures footstep. What a great spot to relax and inhale the fresh air.
At Cascade Falls
Hiking is a great experience especially on this day. On the return we came across a family. On the track everybody greets one and another and we started talking to this family, mum, dad, two boys and an older looking man (granddad?). We were having a lot of leeches attacking us and one of the boy’s said. “My dad is a leeches magnet”, which brought a big smile on our faces. Yasmine mentioned the egg which we had passed and said that we really liked it. How small is this world. The dad said “I’m glad you liked it because I was one of the guy’s who helped building it”. He told us the story and it tuned out that a British artist named Andy Goldsworthy was commissioned to create “STRANGLER CAIRN”.
We returned to our camp where a familiar face turned up to see if there was anything of his liking.
Kookaburra’s are always on the lookout for an easy feed.
We took some wood from home and got the campfire roaring, dinner was served and for the rest of the day we relaxed.
The last day.
Some campers were up very early and we heard the car leaving the campground, we were in no hurry and try to sleep in. The “problem” with ‘sleeping in’ in a tent is that, as soon as the sun gets up, you are awake and can’t sleep anymore. It’s not a real problem because the early morning is the best part of the day. Crisp clean air and the light is the great for photography as was it this morning. A clear sky, apart from a few white fluffy dots shattering the bright blue. No threat of rain and although we didn’t have any rain overnight, the tent was wet as was the grass. The air must have been very damp. We had our breakfast, packed the tent and other stuff in the car and drove to the other side of Booloumba falls (8.5km) to visit the place from there.
Around a bend in the road I hit the breaks. This huge beast was staring at us but only for a few seconds, then it ran of. It was a wonderful encounter with a big dear, antlers and all. We parked the car on the P place and started walking towards the Falls. An easy walk to the falls (2.5km return). Somewhere along the track was a sign with the promise of a lookout. We couldn’t find the site where nice views could be taken in but went a bit further over the great walk-track to see how the track was for future reference. It has our approval. Tracing back and taking the site track to the Booloumba Falls. Some other people were there as well and they decided to go for a swim. Another group with kids arrived to take a dip.
It seems that this place is very well known by the locals as a great swimming place although I was assured that the water was quite chilly. We returned to the P-place and after having enjoyed our coffee, we drove further along the dirt road to Peters Creek car park. (4.7 km). At some places, the road was still wet and mud was pushed up by several 4WD’s passing this part of the road.
At peters Creek is a nice forest walk with signs explaining what sort of trees and other flora are growing in the area. Although the signs show some heavy wear and tear which make them hard to read. Returned the same way and had lunch at the Booloumba P-place. While we were enjoying the sounds of the forest, bird whistles and calls, another raw sound was closing in. Moments later a 2WD sedan (Holden SS) raced past the P-place. Later we saw the car at the camping, the front was very wel damaged. Mate, the warning at the entrance of the park said, “high clearance 4WD only”. Some times I don’t understand people. Ignoring the signs and damaging a beautiful car. They could have been stucked as well. Time was up and home was calling.
For more info, click on the links below.
Camping at Conondale
Conondale Great Walks