Conondale Range Great Walk

Date: 17 – 20 July 2010

Walkers: Tom, Myself

We had 4 days to do a walk this time. We had been considering the Cooloola Great Walk but the length and areas that it covered put us off a bit. Plus we didn’t want to deal with taking two cars. So when we looked up this one, saw that it was 4 days and a circuit it was perfect.

Day 1:

The walk starts and finishes at the Booloumba Creek Day Use Area. We left Brisbane northside at roughly 5:30AM and it took about 2 hours to reach our destination despite Google’s directions taking us on a bit of a pre-adventure through the forestry areas near Landsborough. There was three knee deep creek crossings on the road into the day use area. I imagine these could get quite deep after more rain. But they didn’t give the Maverick any problems.

The track started on the day walk system and followed the creek for a while before leaving it below to head higher up the side of the valley. The first point of interest was a small detour to see the entrance to an old gold mine. Not much to see here really except a big hole in the rock and a small sign giving a few bits of information and telling you not to breath in the bat poo.

After rejoining the main track we proceeded further up the valley catching glimpses of the creek below. There were a few small stinging trees beside the track to be careful of. Often cleverly disguised next to Macaranga trees. By morning tee time we had reached the Artists Cascades. The creek was easy to get across here. One thing we noticed was that the little Great Walk arrow sign posts also had little plaques giving distances to the next points of interest. This would have been nice on the Gold Coast walk from earlier in the year.

Artists Cascades

Looking back from Artists Cascades

From here the track headed steeply up the side of the valley before eventually reaching Booloumba Falls and The Breadknife. The falls, although not as spectacular as Purling Brook at Springbrook, were beautiful and The Breadknife was very impressive. It has been formed at the tip of a ridge where two creeks meet. The valley’s in the area have very steep sides. We stopped for lunch here and realising that we only had another 2km to the campsite hung around taking photos and scrambling on the rocks.

The Breadknife

The Breadknife

Tom on the Breadknife

Tom on the Breadknife

The final section of track crossed Booloumba Creek Road before eventually reaching the campsite for the night. The toilet block and water tank were very nice and the campsites were all isolated well from each other. Each one had at least one tent pad and a wooden platform. This was great for sitting on and storing gear at the end of each day. The temperature got fairly low on this night and despite some sort of animal sniffing around outside the tent all night we got a reasonable nights sleep.

Campsite on Day 1

Campsite on Day 1

Day 2

Day 2 was the longest of the walk at 17km so we were keen to get going pretty early. We managed to haul ourselves onto the track by about 8:30 (this is early for us). The first hour of walking was great. It followed a tight track through thick bush and rainforest. Eventually this ended when we reached the first of what would eventually be a long line of forestry and fire management tracks.

As far as fire tracks go these weren’t too bad. Still quite narrow and still picturesque. Eventually we got to a gate and a T-Intersection with a sign post saying Grigors Road. This didn’t make sense so we checked our map and took some bearings and decided that we’d missed a track turn off about 1.5km’s back. Fortunately there was a convenient loop in the roads that led back to the track so we didn’t have to backtrack, although we were still annoyed that we’d added probably 1.5km’s to an already long day.

Massive strangler fig

Massive strangler fig

We felt some minor relief when we did eventually meet back up with the track and saw the familiar great walk sign post pointing us in the right direction. The track stayed on the South Goods Fire Management trail and once reaching it, followed the ridge directly for the next couple of hours. The only excitement during this section was when we came across some (what we assumed were) hunters in a 4wd. We didn’t think too much of it except to hope that we didn’t get shot in the back.

After stopping for lunch in the side of the road we walked for another 30 min before finally turning off the fire trail. The track alternated between new connecting tracks and old logging roads. The biggest surprise came when a big dog walked up behind Tom wearing a breast plate. After deciding that it didn’t want to eat us we figured that the hunters had probably lost their dog and had been looking for it. We weren’t sure how to get rid of it but eventually it left without too much fuss when Tom yelled at it.

Day 2 Campsite

Day 2 Campsite

The campsite for the night was much the same as the first night except for being in more dense forest. The water tank sounded very empty and we were lucky to get what we needed out of it. The only other hiccup  came in the morning when Tom’s collapsible silicone cup that he’d left out to drain overnight had a hole eaten out of it. Hope they had a stomach ache.

Day 3

The third day of walking promised more creek crossings and waterfalls and we hoped it would be more exciting than the second. The track followed more logging roads and passed by the remnants of an old logging arch. This was apparently towed behind bulldozers and was attached to logs to pull them out of the forest. It was still mostly in one piece and still had rubber on the tyres. Shortly after, the track narrowed and went down-hill before reaching Peters falls. Not all that spectacular but still nicer than fire trails.

The track continued further before crossing Peters creek further upstream. We filled up water here and had a quick bird bath before the track headed up hill out of the valley we had just descended into. The track followed the ridge up where there was ample evidence of the past logging era. Eventually the track crossed Sunday Creek Road. The remainder of the track for the day was very nice, with a few creek crossings and no more fire trails. About lunch time it started raining quite heavily so we broke out the rain gear. Luckily this only continued for an hour or so and we were able to strip back the clothes and dry off a bit before arriving at the campsite for the night.

Campsite for day 3

Campsite for day 3

The final campsite for the walk was located only 100m or so from the top of Summer Creek Falls. These were the biggest falls of the whole walk and the cliffs around them provided some great views. The campsite itself was also very nice. It was surrounded by rainforest and had been cleared of lantana and replanted. It stayed dry for the rest of the evening however rained quite heavily on and off during the night. Luckily this cleared up by the morning and we were able to let the sun dry off the tent a bit before heading off.

Summer Falls

Summer Falls

Day 4

The final day of walking started off uphill as we wound our way around the ridge to the top where we met up with some more roads. We passed a national parks sign indicating bees in the area. Not sure what we were supposed to do with this information. Some of the roads we were travelling on doubled as horse and mountain bike trails. The horses had tore up the tracks significantly. Continuing on the roads for the next hour or so made the walking quick. Before long we reached the bottom of the spur track that lead to the top of Mt. Allen.

After making good time in the morning we decided to continue up to the top of Mt. Allen before stopping for lunch. This was a moderately steep climb but was over fairly quickly as we only needed to ascend a couple of hundred metres. At the top was the refurbished fire tower. In the past this was used to spot fires during the logging periods. The view from the top was amazing and let you retrace parts of the walk. We stopped here for lunch before continuing back down the mountain for the final leg of the journey.

From here it was all down hill. We tried to keep an easy pace so as not to destroy our already aching feet and legs but as always when you are near the end of a walk it is hard to stop accelerating. This section did stretch on for longer than I expected and would be a descent day walk starting from the day use area and heading to the fire tower and back again. We eventually made it back and were relieved to see the car in one piece waiting patiently for us. We took off our boots and soaked our feet in the creek for a while before heading back home.

5 thoughts on “Conondale Range Great Walk

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