The bush around Cashmere in Queensland Australia has many “hidden” walking tracks although they haven’t been used by walkers only. On my early morning walks I’ve seen a horseman and people on their mountain bike. Even off road motorbikes although these are not permitted. Part of the bushland is Conservation park. I have plotted the paths with my GPS and this morning I spoke to a lady who lived in the area for 12 years and didn’t know about these tracks. So, here is the map with the tracks I’ve walked. Some parts are walked on paved roads. I start normally from the crossing Peppermint Dv/Correa Ct and from there many circuits can be walked with durations from 1/2hr to 2hr depending on your speed. Some tracks have steep sections, so some fitness and good footwear is required.
Fraser Island Great Walk. (1)2013
If you like walking through bush, along fabulous lakesides, wide open beaches or under huge Tallowood and Satinay trees, feel the fresh air and see wildlife, Fraser Island has it all. Last year the track was closed during storm damage and bushfires. To make sure we could go this year I rang the info centre and was told that all the tracks North of and including Central Station were open as were the camping sites. The Southern lakes and walking tracks were still inundated. Our plan was to take the barge from River Heads (Hervey Bay) and start at Wanggoolba Creek. That was our plan in total. The rest was wait and see what happens.
Yasmine had planned all the supplies needed for a ten-day hike and the backpacks were filled to the brim and some of it was hanging on the packs. (thanks for carabiners). We drove up to River Heads, a suburb of Hervey Bay, and went to the boat ramp from where the barge would depart.
While there, we bought the tickets for our transport but had a strange experience with the girl at the desk. As walkers, you don’t have to book ahead and we asked for two return tickets. Fifty dollars each and I paid the money (cash) and waited for the tickets. “You will get the tickets when you return about half an hour before departure time” the girl said. “Ok, can we have a receipt for our payment”? Yasmine asked. “I’ll recoqnise you when you return”, was the answer. She looked surprised when we insisted on having a receipt, but she eventually got us one.
We had to leave the car in River Heads and a couple of days earlier I had arranged secure parking with Shane, a Real Estate agent who also runs a security parking business. It gave us a nice comfy feeling having not to think about leaving the car on the site of the road being subject to break-ins etc. Shane also drove us to the barge where we arrived a bit early. The timetable for the barge left us little choice and taking the 4pm barge to Wanggoolba was a bit late but 10.15am was too early. No departures in between like the barges leaving from Inskip point to Hook Point that run continuously.
Travelling friends told us that you can get a lift from the barge to Central Station or Happy Valley (if you’re lucky) but having seen the few cars on the barge with no space for hitch hikers, our hope was quickly dashed and we decided to walk to Central Station. Besides, we came here to walk. We walked over the 4WD tracks and the sand was very soft.
The last hour and a bit we walked in the dark with a headlight mounted on my head. At an intersection which lead on one way to the dayrecreation area and the other way to the camping two boys were trying to get their car out of the sand. They were there bogged for two hours. We couldn’t do anything to free them but our encouraging words must have helped because they drove past us 50 mtr further down the track and offered us a lift. Something we would have accepted earlier coming from the barge but now gracefully declined since we were almost at our destination. We saw all these lights on the left hand side coming from the campsite but, the entrance was still about 600 mtr further down the track. A sign at the entrance told us that we again had to go back past two general campsites before we arrived at the walkers camp. About 600 mtr back. Finally we found a nice spot to pitch our tent, had soup and chocolate and went to sleep. We walked about 11km through the soft sand and were a bit tired.
Up the next day, we found a cage where you can store food to keep it away from dingo’s but I think bush rats etc. can still get to it so we’ve kept in our tent. Opposite the toilet block was a wonderful kitchen sink with water. Oh well, things you miss when you arrive in the dark.
We fastened our backpacks and planned to walk to Lake Wabby.
Green Mountains 12-02-2012
A bit over an hour and a half South of Brisbane, Green Mountains (part of Lamington National Park) is home to a lot of wonderful walking tracks, most of them originate from O’Reilly’s restaurant and guesthouse, where a rangers office is built as well. We, John and wife Yasmine choose this day to walk a combined track. Starting at the Border walk we headed South over a wide hard surface which changed after a while in just a nice bush path and sometimes to a very small bushpath. 2 km on the track and it split up into two tracks. You have to make a choice whether to follow the Tooloona Creek circuit or continue over the Border track. We followed the Tooloona track. At a small open spot a group of photographers had a shoot with a big tree as a beautiful backdrop. The path got smaller and zigzagging down, we came at Picnic Rock.
At Picnic Rock
While we hadn’t a big picnic basket with us, we made the best of it and filled our cups with coffee and had a nice snack. The photographers came a bit later and made some pictures (I don’t think they had an image of us in mind) but the hardest thing for them was to cross the right branch of Canungra Creek without their equipment getting soaked. Most of them were successful but one in particular slid off a very slippery boulder and ended up very wet but was able to keep his camera dry.
We spotted a couple of Blue Crayfish. These Crayfish can only be seen in the Lamington NP. Our picnic was over and we continued our way towards Elabana Falls. After about 350 metres, a side track leads to the Falls. The group was already there and the leaders had made a rope between some big boulders to get easier to a good vantage point to make a nice image of the Elabana falls. I spoke with a lady of the group and it turned out that Ken Duncan was having a workshop about waterfall photography. Just the right time, because the weather we had recently was favourable to see the best of the waterfalls.
At Elabana Falls
We were invited to come across but since I had left my good camera at home (not intentional), I made a few pictures from where I was standing with my GPS and followed Tooloona Creek circuit. The path was rather small and winding through the forest. On a few occasions, we had to cross the Toolona Creek which, at times, was not easy.
From Elabana to the Wanungara lookout is a further 4.8 km. More waterfalls on the way and at one we stopped to have lunch. While we were sitting and happily munching on our packed lunch, a Blue Crayfish suddenly appeared and wanted us to unblock his way up the creek. The lookout has beautiful views over the valley and even Mt Warning can be seen from here.
From the Wanungara lookout
We followed the path to Bithongabel, going past Tooloona lookout (1160 m). From Bithongabel, the track makes a sharp turn to the North and continues to meet up with the Border track. 1km from Bithongabel a sign reads WATER. We had a look a couple of metres down from the path and saw some very clear water steaming. Could be a spring but am not sure about that. A bit further up the track crosses with the Albert River circuit but we left that one for now and headed for the end of the track at O’Reilly’s. To end our day we did the tree top walk. A wonderful tasting milkshake was enjoyed at O’Reilly’s before we commenced our trip home. This walk in Lamington National parks was 19 km including the tree top walk and some side trips to see the waterfalls and was very enjoyable.
More Images from John here John’s Art
All written work and images are © copyright John Vriesekolk
Great Walk 2012 Carnarvon Gorge by John and Yasmine Vriesekolk.
For a wile we’ve been planning to go to Fraser Island to do he Great Walk. Bought a topographic map, food for 11 days on the track and planned where to start and finish. The Friday before our departure I rang the Ranger and he told me that there were closed parts of the Great Walk due to bushfires, flooding and other damages. We had to change our travel plans. Bye, bye Fraser Island, hello Carnarvon Gorge where a 87km, 6 days walk was waiting for us. I bought a topographic map of the walk at the same time as the Fraser one, for future references. From Brisbane we drove via Toowoomba, Roma and Injune to the beautiful Carnarvon Gorge. In Roma we had a lunch break at The Queens Arms hotel. Great tasting food although a bit heavy on oils (and stomach). When we left home, the weather didn’t look too bad but at Toowoomba the showers started to come down on us. Between Injune and Rolleston a road to the left leads to Carnarvon Gorge. The last 15 km is dirt road and because of the wet weather we had lately, the road was very slippery and mud started to decorate all sides of the car. Kangaroos, wallabies, cows and the odd Bustard (bird) were a bit of a worry but they slowly moved over to let us go past. Qld Government warned that the road can become impassable after heavy rain and recommends to use the road for conventional vehicles only in dry weather.
Takarakka Bush Resort
We parked the car at the Takarakka bush resort where we had booked an unpowered site for $ 35.00 a night. The attendant showed us where to set up our tent but we were back very quick because he directed us to a powered site which already was taken. Little mistake and after going to the right spot we set up camp at the correct site. A small group walked in. They had walked the Great Walk and did so in the rain for the last two days. Not very promising. I said to the attendant that I ordered sunshine when I booked the site and he said: “I’ll do my best”.
A large coach was parked on the resort and during our inspection round (which you do when arriving at a campnig) we discovered that it was from a company close to our suburb and had a lot of American students on board to tour Australia.
The first day hiking. 10km without side tracks.
At home, most of our needs on the track were already packed in our backpacks and after having the tent and sleeping bags added to the weight we parked the car nearby the visitors centre of the Gorge and went inside where a Ranger was very helpful in explaining what to expect on the track. A steep climb, showing us escape routes in case we run into some trouble and that it will be cold on the thirth and fourth campsite. Not being put off by this, we registered with the Ranger so he knows who’s on the track and when we expect to return. Camp sites have to be booked, which can be done online.
The Takarakka attendant had done his magic trick. The weather was great. Blue skies over our heads and full of energy we started to follow the signs.
The first challenge to overcome was a crossing over the Carnarvon Creek although, there are big rocks in the creek to step on and compared to what was coming, this was not a challenge at all. There are several side tracks like the Moss Garden, the Amphitheatre (temporary closed), Ward’s Canyon, the Art Gallery and Cathedral Cave. All of them well worth a visit.
To reach the Art gallery (the last side track) we had to cross the creek 18 times. After 15 crossings without getting our feet wet, at the 16th we were not so lucky. The water level was high and I slipped of a rock and landed with both feet in the water but, managed to stay upright, just. The in and outside of my hikers were completely drenched. Yasmine got one foot wet. To reach the Big Bend camp side we had to cross the creek two more times.
Big Bend is a nice flat camping area next to the Creek, with place for several tents and a picnic table. Water is available and there is a toilet a bit far from the tent site. Currawongs (the birds) are a nuisance. They are constantly around waiting for the right time to steal some food.
Day Two 14.8km.
A cool morning but blue skies again. Ideal weather for hiking. We had to retrace our steps (two creek crossings) and then turn right into Boowinda Gorge.
Lots of big pebbles but not too hard to walk over. To get out of the Gorge, after about 1 km, a very, very steep climb had to be overcome. In the bottom boulder some steps were made to get a start and from thereon I had to give Yasmine every now and than a push while she had to pull me up on my backpack to keep my balance. After this climb, the track kept going up and some manmade steel stairs were a good help to reach the top. On this part of the track beautiful views of the Gorge are unfolding.
This climbing took us a long time and we were running late. It was dark when we reached Gadd’s walkers camp. A nice campsite with a shelter, water and toilet. We could set up the tent under the shelter but were asked by the ranger not to use the pins for our tent to not disturb the soil or damaging the underlying water tanks.
Day Three 15.8km.
Still wet shoes and blisters were starting to form. The track was easy to follow. A lot of back burning had been done. At times the track was wet, muddy and slippery, other times nice and dry. Just before the West Branch walkers camp a hanging bridge helped us to cross the West Branch of the Maranoa river the easy way.
Hanging Bridge at West Branch Camping site
At this spot there is a walkers camp (we only saw a tap) and a large camping area. We walked to the campsite and pitched our tent on a nice spot. We heard a koala calling for a mate overnight and the night was cold, very cold.
Day Four 17.3km.
In the morning Yasmine had a hard time to open the zipper of the tent. It was frozen. Ice was on the tent. The ranger had told us that the third and fourth campsites were freezing cold. He was right about the third one. After a concert from the local bird band (lots of lorikeets) we packed up. We have a routine in the morning. Yasmine cooks breakfast, boils water to fill up the themosflask for morning tea and lunch (we eat our dried food midday as dinner) and I pack the sleeping bags etc. and break up the tent. We went back over the hanging bridge and then left to follow the track towards the Consuelo Camping zone. The views along the track were nice. The track went again up from about 800m to 1000m, evens out and then further rise to about 1200m. We still had nice weather.
The Consuelo camp had the same setup as Gadd’s walkers camp. A nice shelter to catch the rain water. Two water pumps, water but no toilet. We were having our dinner when two emu’s came from the woods to forage around the campsite. They didn’t seem to be too nervous about having two visitors in their area. The sunset coloured the clouds red and when we snuggled up in our sleeping bags it started to rain.
Day Five 13.8km.
It had rained overnight but it had stopped in the morning. We didn’t see a lot of the world around us after opening the tent. A thick fog was having a strong grip on the Gorge. We stayed a bit longer in our home away from home. Not a long walk today and a fairly flat one too so, time enough to get to our next destination.
Fog in the Morning
The mist had a nice effect although we didn’t have nice views because of that. The spots where we normally take a break (fallen trees or big rocks) were too wet and here too a lot of back burning had taken place and blackened everything. Some tree trunks still had smoke coming out of them. We decided to only have one coffee break and walking through to the next camp which was Cabbage Tree camping zone where we had lunch, a nice relaxed afternoon and dinner later on. Again a wonderful shelter so a nice dry place to set up our tent. Water but no toilet. The blisters were hurting a bit.
Day Six 15.3km.
Early up, we didn’t want to be too late back at Takarakka bush resort and we also would like to see the Ranger as well. Still a bit misty but dry. Since we did a lot of climbing, now on the last day it went down.
Where is the Track
Some parts of the track were overgrown and hard to find but the arrows on the trees showed us the way. From the track nice views towards The Devils Signpost (Mountain) and wide views over the landscape can be enjoyed. The Great Walk Track and a track towards Boolimba Bluff lookout come together. The last bit is marked with ladders and steep steps before joining the track that brought us back to the visitors centre. The Ranger was on patrol and we met a couple that were friendly enough to take a picture of the adventurers. Between the visitors centre and Takarakka is the Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge where we enjoyed a coffee and booked a table for the night at their restaurant. Lateron we heard that we were very, very lucky. The weather had been very bad and the tracks were closed for two days. We had only rain on one night and didn’t have to walk in the rain.
Some walkers notes:
Water should be treated before drinking.
No rubbish bins along the track. Take out what you take in.
Topographic map from Qld Gov online bookshop: https://www.bookshop.qld.gov.au/ProdSearch.aspx
Great Walk Campsites booking at: https://www.derm.qld.gov.au/parks/iaparks/gds/IAGDS450.jsp?newGWId=19
Takarakka Bush resort: http://www.takaru.com.au/takaru/splashpage.cfm
Carnarvon Gorge Wilderness Lodge: http://www.carnarvon-gorge.com/default.htm
More images by John here: http://johnsart.redbubble.com/
Day 5. 9 km.
I slowly opened one eye, immediately followed by the other. Looking at the window, a smile formed on my face. The weather again has changed. Not that the temperature had risen but the rain was gone. This start of the new day was very promising. After having walked for about an hour we reached Du Cane hut. This hut is only to be used in emergencies. It was such a beautiful serene spot that we could not resist the temptation and had an early coffee break here, against our normal rite. Sitting on a tree stump in the shining sun, a nice cup of our beloved drink, this must be heaven.
The track changed to myrtle. Tree roots were popping up on the track. It made walking a bit harder and slowed us down. Halfway we came to a sidetrack which leads to the Hartnett Falls. We left our backpacks at the intersection were other walkers had left theirs and followed the track to the falls. It took about twenty minutes to get to the falls where I had a good opportunity to take some pictures.
Back to where we left our backpacks we had lunch and after having finished our ‘luxury banquet’ we followed the track to the Windy Ridge hut. About half an hour before we reached the hut, we met Chris (son of Ben), he was already been to the hut but his parents were missing (they split up at the sidetrack). He didn’t go to the falls but they did. On the way back they took a wrong track and would have been hopelessly lost if it wasn’t for the fact that they went the same way back to the falls where Chris found them.
The Windy Ridge hut was very cosy. Everyone was busy talking and some were playing cards. The hut was not that big and most walkers set up their tents. In the evening they came inside to say goodbye. For most of the walkers, this was the last hut before they reached the ‘end’ of the track. For them, the last day was a walk to Narcissus hut and then with the boat back to Lake Saint Clair. A few others would go to Pine Valley to stay there another night, to go with the boat the next day. Our plan was to walk past Narcissus hut and stay our last night in Echo Point hut to walk the last day.
Day 6. 14 km
After a clear and cold night (the sleeping bags were nice and warm though) we said goodbye to everyone and headed to Narcissus hut. It had been freezing and the timber boardwalk was slippery with ice. The path was easy going. A few hours later we reached the side track leading to Pine Valley. Here we took a rest and just before we wanted to leave we met another Dutch couple who made a daytrip starting from the other side. They left for the Overland track a week before us but the weather was very bad. They were confronted with storm, rain and very cold weather and returned the second day. Hadn’t we been lucky with the weather? We continued our walk and saw more day-trippers. Most of them very friendly but for one. he rushed past us as if he was on the run for something. He almost pushed me off the path, which wasn’t too wide and I don’t think he really enjoyed the beauty of the surroundings.
Around midday we reached Narcissus hut, had lunch and said goodbye (you keep doing that) to the people who waited for the boat. We followed the track to Echo Point hut. The map showed an easy walk. That’s the map. Reality was different. The first kilometre or so was easy walking over boardwalks but then, they disappeared and the track went from easy to hard. Because a lot of people wend back with the boat, surpassing this part, the track does not get the maintenance required (I believe).
Later in the afternoon we reached Echo Point hut and what a small world it is. The Dutchies we met in Pelion Hut were already here, together with another young fellow. The hut was very small. it could sleep 8 (it said). There was a logbook and someone wrote that overnight rats may pay a visit. There was a steel cupboard in which we stored our food so not to encourage the rodents. We lightened up the wood stove. The hut was beautifully situated on the edge of Lake Saint Clare and in the evening we saw a platypus frolicking in the water. From here also, the boat could be taken to the endpoint and the other couple went with the boat the next day while the lonely fellow went past us doing the last bit by foot.
More pictures of Tasmania click. works
The last day walking.
For the last time on this track, we packed our backpacks, (since most of the food was consumed, they were a lot lighter) and went on our way to the end of the track, Lake Saint Clair.
According to the description, this last bit would be an easy walk. No hills or mountaintops to climb and with that in our mind, we headed South along the lake. Never ever trust descriptions. The track became very bad and in some places was almost impassable. Crossing landslides and at two stages having difficulty finding the track back but, the last few kilometres were good to walk again. Ahh, the end, the building where the rangers had their office with some souvenirs and a restaurant to indulge ourselves.
Having lived on dry food etc. the last seven days, this was the first place to go to have a taste of real cooked food. We ordered schnitzels with fries and gravy. Normally being very conscious of what we eat, this time it didn’t matter how much fat or calories the food contained and I can tell you. This was the best meal I’ve ever had after a hike.
With our tummies full we headed to our patiently waiting car, had a shower on the camping ground for a real good scrub in seven days ( I was wondering why people were avoiding us) and with still half a holiday in front of us we pointed our automobile towards Strahan.
To get to Strahan we again had to go through Queenstown. This was the fourth time we used this road. In Queenstown the fuel gauge told me that, to reach Strahan, the car needed some refined oil, so we stopped at a servo where the attendant informed me, (after I told her our plan to go to Strahan) that all the accommodation was booked because of a conference.
According to her, a better option was to stay in Queenstown and go the next day. I had the idea that this lovely girl was sponsored by the local tourism body and she would undoubtedly know a good place to stay for the night, not too far from a nice restaurant and after we had our dinner we could have a nice after-dinner drink in the local pub, also not too far from the previously mentioned hotel. Unfortunately for this, very helpful girly, time was a factor and we followed our plan.
Driving through Strahan though, I started to realise that our helpful attendant could have been right.
Hotels, motels, caravan parks, everyone was showing the FULL sign.
The next day we saw why. We specifically had chosen this time of the year. Outside the school holiday, it would be quiet. However, looking around we saw all these people who obviously had the same idea. Everywhere we saw oldies and other pensioners strolling along.
After having driven around for a while we concluded that our wish to sleep in a nice bed in a hotel or B&B (after having slept in our tent the last week) could not be fulfilled and we stopped at a camping which was the last option. A spot next to the camp-kitchen and close to the toilet-block, this was not too bad a place to spent the night. At least we (the missus) could cook a meal and in the evening had a nice cuppa in the kitchen with some other guests.
More pictures of Tasmania click. works
Cold morning. We dug up beanies and other warm weather gear and after breakfast we jumped in the car to warm up and headed for the harbour where we wanted to book a cruise over the Gordon River. Lady luck again was not to be seen. We planned to go on the morning cruise but that was fully booked but the afternoon cruise still had some spots available so we decided to go for this trip. A nice gesture of the lady behind the desk was that, if someone didn’t turn up for the morning cruise she could give us a ring. “Do you have a mobile phone?”, she asked. “Yes we do.” Unfortunately in this region Telstra had the monopoly and since I did the telecommunication with another company, that option was no longer available.
Back at the camping we made coffee and left for a tour in and around Strahan, which is a lovely place.
We took a stroll in the “PEOPLES” park to see a wonderful waterfall (Hogarth Falls) and visited the woodworking workplace and gallery (Beautiful handmade artwork). To contact our home base we went to an ‘internet cafe’. They were still on “dial-up”. Cost, $2.50 per fifteen minutes. It took about that long to get connected and since we did not have all the time in the world, we had to be at the boat, we left without sending or checking emails.
The cruise was a real eye-opener. We really, really enjoyed this trip.
First they sailed towards “Hell’s Gate”, which is the only entrance to Strahan (from the sea). On the way we saw some disorientated sperm-whales who went on to the river. One already had died but there were a few more and helpers tried to lead them to sea again. We later heard, they were successful.
We sailed on a boat called ‘Lady Jane Franklin 2’ and were wondering what had happened with ‘Lady Jane Franklin 1’ and when we reached ‘Hell’s Gate’ the captain informed us that, during heavy weather ‘Lady Jane Franklin 1’ had hit some rocks and sunk which is not a very comfortable feeling when you are at that particular spot. Fortunately the weather and sea were very calm, helping us to keep control over our nerves.
From here we went on to the Gordon River. On both sides the cool and very impressive rain forests of Tasmania.
At Sarah Island ( a convict settlement operating from 1822-1833) a tour-leader was waiting to show us the remnants of the settlement and tell the horror stories about this place.
After having had dinner on the boat we arrived later than expected ( dark) back in Strahan.
More pictures of Tasmania click. works