It’s Easter Sunday and I go bushwalking with my parents. I suggest the walk up Mount Mitchell in the Main Range National Park because I don’t think my parents have walked up here before. The drive to Cunningham’s Gap where the walk starts takes about two hours and the temperature up at the gap is about 5’C cooler than down on the coast, making it perfect for walking.
The walk will take us from 750m altitude to 1,110m altitude over the 5.1km from The Gap to the summit. The walk travels through open forest on the exposed sides of the mountain and in rain forest in others. Along the way we climb many steps. The steps are made of rough local rocks and the overgrowing weeds and plants on the open sections of the trail make the steps look pretty.
Mount Mitchell has two peaks: west and east. The track circles the tree-clad west peak before crossing a relatively narrow ridge to the more exposed east peak, which offers the best views. The track around the back of the west peak travels through cool mossy forest and past large boulders.
I haven’t seen a snake while out bushwalking in a long time but today we encounter five snakes on the track. One is a small green tree snake that slithers slowly out of our way. Three are small black snakes that move quickly into the bush along the track. And one snake is a massive 3m (9ft) long carpet snake. It’s just eaten and is not in any hurry to leave the track. I don’t care that carpet snakes are non-venomous, it’s still a snake and there’s no way I’m going to cross the track with it lying there in wait. Carpet snakes still have huge big fangs that could probably cause some serious damage. It takes a while for us to pass this point and longer for my heart rate to slow back down.
As we come closer to Mt Mitchell’s east peak the track becomes more exposed and the views more expansive. The views north along the Main Range are spectacular. The mountain peak in the front is Mt Cordeaux, which is joined to the rest of the range by a saddle. It’s on the other side of The Gap.
We rest at the Mt Mitchell Summit to enjoy the views (see main image). The west peak is the tree-covered background in this photo. Grass trees grow in wild abandon on the summit and provide what little shade is available.
After summiting we return back down to Cummingham’s Gap. We descend back through the open forest and wet forest of Mt Mitchell before entering the more traditional rainforest of strangler vines that is typical of south-east Queensland’s rainforests. The presence of strangler figs is always a good sign that we are coming back to lower mountain altitudes where the trees grow taller and the soils are deeper.
It’s not until we reach the last 500m of our walk that we start to hear the traffic noise on the highway. It’s a testament to the power of the bush and the thickness of the tree growth that the sound of the busy Cunningham Highway is silent on the mountains.
Total: 10.2km bushwalk