A walk in Springbrook National Park

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Springbrook National Park, Queensland

Springbrook National Park  is located in the Gold Coast hinterland, 45 minutes from the coast and not far from the border dividing Queensland from New South Wales. It is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area and declared by UNESCO. The earliest humans to live in this area were the Yugambeh people, now acknowledged as the traditional owners. Throughout the park you will see signs written in English and in Yugambeh language.

Saturday was the perfect day for a walk in the Springbrook National Park, my friend and I choosing the Class 3 Purling Brook Falls circuit  which is 4 kilometres long and takes the average person 2-3 hours to complete. Add another 45 minutes if you want to visit Warringa Pools. If you’re keen on taking photographs, want to stop for a bite to eat or have a swim then add a bit longer. There are shorter and longer walking circuits plus a couple of lookouts if you just want to admire the view.

Temperatures can be cooler in the park, we wore long pants and a long sleeve shirt and felt comfortable for most of the walk although we did see plenty of people wearing gym gear but they were moving at a much faster pace than us. Wearing long sleeves and long trousers helps avoid ticks and leeches. I also recommend taking a bottle of water and a snack or two plus sunblock and insect repellant, you can still get sunburned walking through the forest and the mosquitoes can be vicious. There are a few locations that are fenced off from visitors, including the top of the Purling Brook Falls and the pool at the bottom for safety reasons and possibly to protect the immediate environment.

Springbrook provides the visitor the opportunity of seeing and hearing a variety of wildlife, we frequently heard the call of the Eastern Whipbird and Bush Turkeys are extremely common. When walking along one section of the park we heard the rustling of leaves as something moved slowly through the undergrowth. Patiently we waited and were rewarded with a glimpse of a goanna, eventually he decided that it was safe to come out of hiding so we watched him as he crossed the path and ventured up the hill and undercover. Lorikeets, kookaburras, wrens and robins are also common, but some of them are so small and move so quick that I didn’t stand a chance when it came to taking a photo. Seeing a pademelon flee from the verge and into the bush as we drove back from the ‘best of all’ lookout was a special treat, it is not often that we get to see this type of wallaby.

Having packed enough nut bars to feed a small school group, we grazed throughout the walk and rewarded our efforts at the end with a visit to The Fudge Shop. The coffee smelled too good to resist and we bought a chunk of lemon meringue and creme brûlée fudge for an extreme sugar hit. If fudge is not your thing they do serve ice cream and there is a small selection of local produce including arts and crafts for sale.

I imagine that Springbrook National Park is really popular in the warmer months, and that the creeks and waterholes fill up with day trippers and families camping nearby. At the Natural Bridge section of Springbrook you can see glow-worms after sunset, their environment is particularly sensitive so there are rules around visiting this location. The Natural Bridge is easily accessed and the walk through subtropical rainforest to see the naturally formed arch over the creek is well worth the effort.

Having been on the Gold Coast for 17 years, I cannot believe that I have not spent more time exploring such a spectacular part of Queensland. It definitely won’t be that long before I return to Springbrook, there are more walks to do and it is a wonderful way to get some exercise and experience nature.

Always something to learn

Today I spent the afternoon at a Blue-Dog Photography class on Mt Tamborine, it was the second half of a workshops recently cancelled due to bad weather and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. We traipsed through the rainforest to a rock pool and waterfall, the path well worn making it reasonably easy to spot snakes sleeping in the sun. Mt Tamborine has a number of national parks that are perfect for short or long walks, it is an area of the Gold Coast that I never tire of although if you visit the main street on a weekend you might wonder why. The main street is known as Gallery Walk and it is extremely popular with tourists, lots of shops and lots of cafes.

Surrounding the waterfall is an environment that is home to glow worms, you can’t see them during the day which fools people into thinking that nowhere is out of bounds as they clamber over the rocks towards the waterfall. Glow worms are extremely sensitive and their environment easily made uninhabitable by hapless humans, our teacher Danielle lets visitors know that it is a ‘no-go zone’ because it is obvious that they cannot read the signs.

Waterfall, Mt Tamborine

Waterfall, Mt Tamborine Waterfall, Mt Tamborine

After struggling with my tripod, my shaking hands and my camera settings I finally succeed in getting some shots that I am happy with. Learning how to use the manual settings on my DSLR is a slow process, but the class has helped immensely and actually having the time to practice is even more important. Today we played with white balance to create a different mood with our images and a slower shutter speed helped get that dreamy effect I love to see with waterfalls, using a remote shutter release helped with the shaky hands. Local wildlife showed up for a brief period, this really tested the brain and gave me the chance to see if I could capture a creature without resorting to the P setting on my camera. I’m pretty happy with the result 🙂

Water Monitor, Mt Tamborine

Playing ladies in Montville

Poet's Cafe and Montville shops

Montville is a lovely town on the Blackwall Range in hills behind the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Here you can visit art galleries, pottery shops, craft shops and lolly shops, it is only an hour or so from Brisbane and very popular with day trippers like me and my friend Shannon. We left the clouds and rain behind, hopped in the car and headed north to ‘play ladies’ which usually involves lunch somewhere nice, a glass or two of wine and time spent browsing shops and galleries.

The Poet’s Cafe is a well known cafe on the main street of Montville, the building overlooks rainforest and you can choose to sit indoors or on the balcony and admire the view. It is certainly not the cheapest cafe, a gourmet chicken panini will set you back roughly $22 and a glass of Pinot Gris was about $11, however the surroundings are worth taking the time out to sit and relax even if you only want a coffee. Underneath the cafe is the Main Street Gallery, the work of local artists can be viewed and purchased from the gallery, there were a few pieces of interest to me such as the work of Christopher Pope and a couple of less interesting works of art but I’m sure someone else will love them.

There are several stores that any sweet tooth will love, Candy Addictions sells rock candy made on the premises, one of the Gelaterias produces all natural Banoffee Gelato which is divine and across the road is a Chocolate Shop. We didn’t venture into the chocolate shop, our senses were overloaded after the rock candy and gelato, instead we went looking at Venetian glass, candles and leadlight lamps. One of the more amusing sights was a sign outside a travel shop, telling any visitors to the store that if children were unattended they would be given espresso and a free kitten.

The Poet's Cafe

The Montville Bowerbird shop

Amusing sign outside travel shop

The countryside around Montville is beautiful, gum trees, stately homes and rolling hills, not to mention views of the Sunshine Coast. Kondalilla Falls is the sight to see after eating too much lunch or sweets, the 3-4 kilometre walk taking you down hill through rainforest and across a strong flowing creek. The rockpools near the falls are extremely popular with people of all ages, locals and tourists and on a hot day the feeling of jumping into cool, fresh water must be exhilarating. Shannon and I didn’t pack for swimming, we played the tourist and took photos before heading back up the hill, through the rainforest until we reached the picnic grounds where bush turkeys were scavenging for leftovers.

There was still plenty to see in the region surrounding Montville and a local photographer does weekend workshops so it won’t be the last time I go to Montville. The drive home seemed to take much longer, traffic was heavy and the closer we got to Brisbane the wetter the weather got, at times I could barely see the lanes of the road, vastly different to the sunny day we had spent walking around Montville. Perhaps we’ll go to Maleny or maybe the Glasshouse Mountains for our next ‘ladies day’.

The walk to Kondalilla Falls

The beginning of Kondalilla Falls

Looking towards the coast from Montville

Two girls, mud and the rainforest

My friend and I have been planning a walk through the rainforest at Mt Tamborine for months, we thought it would be a fun way to get some exercise and develop our photography skills. In our packs we had our cameras, memory cards, muesli bars, water, insect repellent and anything else necessary to traipse through the rainforest, my husband knew where we were going and roughly what time we’d be home – all this for a couple of hours walking in a popular location.

We started off well, the cooler weather meant that snake activity would be less likely and the track wouldn’t be as busy with tourists and locals getting their daily exercise. It was only when we hit the slippery, wet and muddy track that we realised we wore the wrong sort of shoes, even after all the rain of late, the thought of wearing covered shoes never crossed our minds. Still, we trudged on, taking lots of photos of waterfalls, gushing water, pools of water and trees, occasionally having to move out of the way for all the other people who had decided that today was a good day for a walk in the rainforest. One couple were very curious about what we were taking photos of, my friend was crouched down beside a tree and intently focused on the subject matter when they stopped beside her, they moved on quickly when we told them it was only a red berry, chosen because we liked the contrast of the red against the rainforest floor.

We felt like kids again when we had to cross the creek, there was no sign of the track or path that once connected the walk which meant taking off our shoes and braving the fast moving, cool water – something we never hesitated doing when we were children and living in the country. There was some anxiety lest we fall over and drop our camera bags in the water, but when we watched two families navigate across the creek successfully our decision was made. It must have been a funny sight, two adults with shoes in hand and packs on back, inching their way across slippery rocks, laughing and trying not to fall over, but what fun it was and the water felt so refreshing on our muddy feet. The rest of the walk was spent dodging puddles and grasping at roots and the limbs of strangler fig trees in an effort to stay on the track, several times I almost lost a shoe and my feet were caked in mud yet it didn’t diminish the day at all and both of us left the mountain looking forward to our next walk.