Have you ever been so inquisitive about a path and where it led to that you had no choice but to follow it? I suffer from it all the time. I have come to term it natural curiosity. A few years ago I befriended an entomologist (studies insects) who would disappear out field for weeks on end. His profession took him on the hunt, in the wild, for the a needle in a stack of needles to use the expression. But for the most, it wasn’t really the insects that drew him there – it was that natural curiosity to keep walking and get lost.
I have since learnt the value of following his advice and starting my adventures past where the phone screen displays “SOS Only” (no service for you non-phone’ers). For those whose professional subject matter doesn’t dwell on the floor of an untouched bush, forest or jungle, it is a little bit hard to go missing for days or weeks at a time and come back to find you still have an employer. For me, this is the reality of working an adult job, but still having the inquisitive mind of a little kid. So, for the past year I have circumnavigated South East Queensland, where I have lived for a short amount of time, in hope to find the most amazing tracks for myself, and for other part-time explorers.
A lot of the places I have chosen to include in this log sit on a single feature, the Lamington Plateau, which covers an area of more than 200 square kilometres of World Heritage Listed rainforest built along an old volcano site. It’s not hard to see why these are referred to as heritage-listed reserves. When you’re amongst them, on the forest floor, you feel like the size of an ant as the rainforest closes around you and the thick canopy ceiling lets only slivers of light shine through.
Our journey starts at Oreilly’s rainforest, a popular destination for the avid trail walker or plain tourist desiring Australian wildlife and exotic ecosystems. The accommodation centre and retreat is what confuses unfamiliar people to the area. There is a skywalk tour and skywalk near the hotel, but for the real walks – they kick off at an entry point a little further south. For the purposes of this log, Giant #1, Moran’s Falls, is at the end of a very steep track which is about a six kilometre walk. A portion of the track is etched into the cliff side and trails down the side of the mountain before crossing the falls point. Like a lot of these walks, the path reaches a point where you’re walking along a little stream which grows exponentially to evolve into the waterfall source.
When you’ve reached the giant, there’s a small shelf etched out in rock which sits just above the falls and looks out over the canyon and over the dense forest canopy. I did this walk at sunrise after camping overnight nearby and to say the least, the sunrise was beautiful from this spot. It was at this time when I realised why the entomologist would come back so vibrant and refreshed.
The next stop on our journey was to pay a visit to the caves circuit in Binna Burra. Binna Burra itself is a bit further north than the Oreilly’s rainforest and has more recently become an iconic area after the Biggest Loser’s personal trainer Commando started running bootcamps up at the lodge. But our site took us on to the less visited track. The walk itself was only supposed to take 90 minutes, but after crossing the main road and passing onto another path I had severely misjudged the time and found myself walking in the early onset darkness. The forest canopy makes everything go very dark, very quick. Still, the daylight
track took me through a small cutout in a rock wall and into an open cave system in the side of the cliff. I am calling this one Giant #2 as it was an amazing, unique, natural sight.
The caves were caused by wind and rain erosion and are a great spot to stop for a break and a coffee (I did anyway). Plaques indicate that indigenous people used to use the area as shelter and a cooking area as well. Chances are it took them a little longer to make a drink as my gas burner boils water in record time.
The next stop, and Giant #3, is Purlingbrook Falls. I have written about them before but no words do justice to the falls, let alone the tropical journey to see them. Out of all of the areas mentioned in this log, Purlingbrook Falls are the most frequented by not only tourists, but locals. Chances are this is because of ease of access.
I have always hiked these falls with friends who have all commented on the amazing display of ferns, which cover the forest floor in a bid to catch rain drops that make it through the canopy, and fight the same struggle for rays of light. Still, as a bottom feeding plant, the ferns grow so abundantly because of the rich nutrients so common to rainforest floor ecosystems.
I recently discovered the Purlingbrook Falls system is called a horsetail waterfall because of its clean undisturbed fall off the side of the cliff. Upon further research I have seen there is an entire classification system of metaphorical terms to describe flow pattern and make of waterfalls.
The fourth and last Giant #4 in this instalment is the twin falls circuit. It is also one of the shortest walks at four kilometres for a round trip. Appropriately titled Twin Falls, is the
wide, double waterfall system that runs into a large pool. It was summer when I did this hiked weekend adventure so I braved the chilled mountain water for a swim.
This walk was specifically unique because of the red clay earth exposed along the track and the red cutouts in the cliff side where water and wind exposure have carved away shelter-like coves in the molten rock. It almost makes the earth like an artist’s pastel board.
These four giants were easy weekend hikes. For me they were chances to go out into the wild, the path rarely walked, and to hit reset on your mind so as to enter a new week with a fast, active, ready mindset. No one wants to become a drone in a sedentary office-borne environment, so finding marvels like these allow you to “centre yourself” and approach the working week with peach of mind.