Tag Archives: Conondale Range Great Walk

Conondale Range Great Walk Day 4: Homeward Bound

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We’re old hands at hiking now. Our packs are like trusted old friends that we are used to loading, adjusting, hoisting and carrying. Other than the Deuter 40+10 Mum borrowed off my friend, our packs are 65L budget brands retailing for about $100.

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The first kilometre of the trail climbed steeply to the top of the range, leveling out at 450m. It was delightful and helped us warm up.

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I enjoyed the walk. This open country is magnificent. I felt totally refreshed by the scenery and climb.

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I took a typographic map of the walk with us and used the walk to practice my navigation skills. The whole walk is clearly marked so you don’t need a map but having a map allowed me to check my accuracy. I found myself being quite accurate, which was a good feeling.

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Again the track wound through a.mix of open forest and rainforest.

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The first half was predominately uphill until we got to the Mt Allen fire tower. From here we could see the mountains we walked up on day 2 far in the distance. You can see the peaks in the photo above.

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The door into the fire tower was tiny. It was a bit tough ducking through the doorway after carrying a pack so far.

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After the fire tower we walked downhill for 5km through the last of the rainforest to Booloumba Creek.

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It was a brilliant walk. Mum and Dad also enjoyed it. I highly recommend it.

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Conondale Range Great Walk Day 3: Finding a Rhythm

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I woke just before the dawn and lazed in my tent daydreaming about life on the trail. And then I saw light outside and heard birds singing so I got up. It was magnificent.

After another hearty breakfast we set off for Summer Creek Falls Walkers Camp.

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After 1.2km we dropped our packs and walked down a steep 200m trail to Peters Creek Falls. It was a perfect rainforest location, complete with an infestation of leeches. It would be a delightful swimming hole in summer.

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We crossed Peters Creek further upstream, taking off our goes to keep them dry important the shin deep water.

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We climbed out of the creek to 600m altitude where we stopped for a 5 minute break. The bush opened out here on the ridge. I sent Mum and Dad ahead for a while to walk alone. Not to be antisocial but just because I am used to hiking alone.

After another hour we stopped for a morning tea of home made banana chocolate chip cake I’d baked for the trip. It was leech central on the rainforest floor but we had little choice so we sat on our bright yellow pack covers and enjoyed the serenity.

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At 11:20am we reached a beautiful and dry clearing that was leech free. We’d already covered 8.8km and only had 6.5km left to walk so we lay down under the Tallowood timbers to rest. It was such a peaceful experience.

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The trail dropped down to Summer Creek, which we had to cross twice in quick succession. After the second crossing we stopped for lunch of salami and crackers on the bank of the gurgling intercourse under a tall stand of palms.

After lunch the trail climbed steeply back to the top of a 400m high ridge. We were back in bellbird territory; their church song creating an amazing soundtrack to accompany the sound of he water rushing down Summer Creek below and the wind in the trees above us.

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Summer Creek dropped over a series of cascades. The first were small steps fanning out across the rocks. This was followed by a longer volumous drop before the water plunged hundreds of metres to a deep blue pool way s
down in Summer Creek Gorge.

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Summer Creek Falls Walkers Camp was pretty. I was able to pitch my tent on a small patch of grass to insulate me from the cold. I really must get myself a mat if I’m going to hike more often; my new tent doesn’t insulate me as well as my old tent did.

We pigged out on food to reduce weight for the final 12km. I was a bit sad about it being the final night because I love hiking like this. I could keep going for weeks.

Total: 15.2km @ 3kph.

Conondale Range Great Walk Day 2: Leeches and Hills

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We started the day with a hearty breakfast of Backcountry bacon, eggs, hashbrown and baked beans meal with Belvita breakfast biscuits. Then we filled our water bottles, packed our gear and hit the trail.

The trail didn’t muck around. It started climbing almost immediately and didn’t let up for almost the whole 17km that day.

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We travelled through open grass forest and rainforest. The forest type changed depending on our altitude and which side of the range we were on. We crossed small rocky palm lined reentrants, and walked under impossibly tall eucalypts and bunya pines.

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The 17km were tough. The hills seemed to go forever and the fire trail sections were rough underfoot. But whenever I felt tired I though about how privileged we all are to be walking here in this beautiful wilderness area. It means we have health, freedom, leisure time and access to such bushland.

We spent the day being accosted by blood sucking leeches. There were little black ones and big brown monsters with yellow stripes. By days end we all had patches of blood on our shoes and trousers.

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Tallowood Walkers Camp was calm, peaceful and pretty. It was set amongst tall timbers. Someone who camped here before us laid out lots of bark as a mattress so I pitched my tent on it for insulation from the cold.

Total: 17km @ 3kph.

Conondale Range Great Walk Day 1: Waterfalls and Heavy Packs

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We parked at the Booloumba Creek day use area under threatening skies. Mum and Dad helped each other hoist and adjust their packs while I swung mine on my back. This was my parents’ first overnight hike so loading heavy packs was a new experience to them.

The trail started with a climb out of the day use area. We wandered along for about 2km before we all had to stop to take off our jumpers and adjust our packs.

The trail followed Booloumba Creek, staying about 100-200m away from the creek bed. It was tough going, with the trail climbing a lot of short steep hills. But it was worth it for the views into the blue water in the rock pools below.

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We reached Artists Cascades on time for lunch. The stunning little falls were thundering away. We ate egg sandwiches, apples and mandarines on the rocky creek bed. It was a beautiful introduction to life on the trail.

After lunch we stripped down to our underwear, took off our shoes, linked arms for stability and waded through the cold, fast-flowing, knee deep water. The rocky bottom was slippery so we had to work together to stay upright.

The trail climbed steeply out of the creek bed to the top of Booloumba Gorge. At the top, the forest opened out and we entered open eucalypt forest.

Booloumba Falls were amazing! The water dropped a long way down stepped falls before plunging into a pool at the base of the gorge. The water took various paths down the waterfalls. In the gorge, the water formed a moat around The Breadknife; a tall rock formation the has resisted the water’s carving its way through the gorge.

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The last 2km to Wongai Walkers Camp took forever. The first day of a hike is always tiring as our bodies and minds struggle to adjust.

The camp was comfortable. National Parks have provided platform tables, toilets, toilet paper and tank water.

After a good meal of Backcountry honey soy chicken we shared 2 Mars bars and pretty much hit the hay.

Total: 11km @ 3kph.

Packing for the Conondale Range Great Walk

Ready to rock and roll with my 20kg pack

Tomorrow’s the big day. I’m finally taking my parents on their first overnight hike. They’re seasoned bushwalkers and have walked almost every day walk in the South-East Queensland area but have never done a through walk. That’s going to change ¬†tomorrow when we set off to walk the 56km Conondale Range Great Walk over the recommended four day period.

The food pile

Today my parents and I went out to make all the last minute purchases: self-inflating matts for my parents, gas for cooking, food and a pocket knife. Tonight I went around to my parents’ place to help them pack. It was mildly chaotic because my parents aren’t used to traveling with backpacks; they have an awesome camper-trailer set up so usually have plenty of space for what we are calling ‘luxury items’. That was the phrase of the night ‘it’s now a luxury item’, as we came across progressively more things that didn’t fit into our packs. Things that I wouldn’t normally take anyway that I associate more with car camping.

Though we do have some luxury items with us, including a solar powered battery charger so that we can have phones and GPS devices. That means I will at least be able to get my daily writing outlet; even if I don’t have internet coverage I can still draft my blog posts from my tent after lights out.

Mum has borrowed a 40+10L pack from my best friend. It’s big enough for her clothes, both my parents’ sleeping bags and Mum’s water. Once packed, Mum’s pack weighed 13kg. It fits snugly and looks comfortable.

Dad has a borrowed 65L pack from one of my cousins. It’s big enough for his clothes, my parents’ tent and self-inflating mats, and a few other bits and pieces. Once packed, Dad’s pack weighed 16kg. It’s a reasonable fit and will do the job for our hike.

I have my old 65L pack. I have my own tent, sleeping bag, clothes and water. I also have all our food (for all three of us), billy, gas stove, gas, toilet paper and navigation equipment. When I stood on the scales, the pack came in at 21kg. It’s been a long time since I did a multi-day pack hike (exactly six years on 29 June to be precise). I know I’m going to struggle with the weight by the end of the first day but I also know I’m fit and strong right now. I have a pair of hiking poles that I’m going to bring with me to spread the load.

We leave at 6:30am tomorrow for the three hour drive to the trail head followed by an 11km hike to the Wongai Walkers Camp. I’m looking forward to getting out bush for a few days. And to finally testing out my new tent.