There are many ways to choose a bushwalk. Some of my methods include picking based on the destination, conditions, the challenge, the journey, or extra curricular activities including photography, swimming or rock climbing opportunities. As is often the case though, Maree and I picked our latest venture in Conondale National Park based on a combination of factors.
We started with the park. Chosen because Maree had never visited Conondale, and I knew that the type of walking would provide some relief from the rapidly approaching hot weather. Second was the journey and other activities. We wanted to walk up the creek for the opportunities that it would provide for photography and swimming. Finally, the destination of Artists Cascades was a worthy one and the walking track that also passes this spot would provide an alternate route back to the car.
Conondale N.P. is located roughly 2 hours North of Brisbane on the other side of Maleny in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The walks are accessed from either the day use area or any of the campsites. There are 3 creek crossings needed to access the day use area. All of which we negotiated without any troubles in a 2WD Hyundai Tucson. That said, the creeks weren’t very high. Worst case, you can park before the first crossing and have to walk an extra 2km to the start of the tracks.
Booloumba Creek was wide and flat at this point, and provided plenty of evidence of the small amount of rain the area, and indeed the state, has had this year. Water was only found in the deepest pools and along some sections where it trickled over small cascades. Elsewhere it found its way underground.
Escape from the creek would have been difficult by this stage due to the steep banks and thick vegetation lining them.
As we traveled further up stream the water pools, despite still being disjointed, became more frequent and even with the lack of flow the green moss covered rocks lying beneath the crystal clear water was a feature of the walk.
Eventually, we heard the familiar sound of a larger cascade up ahead and soon arrived at Artists Cascades. The name is certainly appropriate, with various viewing angles providing text book composition opportunities.
The first half of our walk to this point took us roughly 6 hours (we took the slow way remember). However, in actual fact, the walking up the creek was less strenuous than taking the track and the reasons for our lack of speed were mainly due to the many points of interest along the way.
The return track was easy to spot with abundant signage due to the Great Walk. This section of the track still follows the creek, but from a much higher vantage point. The result is plenty of loose ups and downs with little grading.
The final point of interest took us by surprise. The signs for the “Strangler Cairn” did nothing to elude to its size and uniqueness. I will leave out my photo of this in the hope that the reader who, like us, wasn’t aware of this landmark might restrain from looking it up beforehand and therefore experience this same surprise. Know that it is definitely worth the walk up the small side-track.
Our final approach to the picnic area at dusk was made even more pleasant by a procession of Australian Logrunner’s and Scrub Turkey’s scratching in the undergrowth beside the track.