Tag Archives: Lamington National Park

Tullawallal Circuit

At Tallowal by Andrew Gills
At Tallowal, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

After a delicious lunch of Thai chicken patties with salad on wraps, we walked our final track of the day: the Tullawallal Circuit.

I think this circuit is one of the prettiest little walks in Lamington National Park. It is relatively flat, starting on the plateau and rising gently to a small boulder-strewn knoll surrounded by ancient Antarctic Beech trees. The knoll is almost magical; a place of peace.

Not planking ... just playing

Not planking … just playing

More play time

More play time

Peaceful place

Peaceful place

Total: 5km bushwalk carrying 8kg pack (Cumulative total: 16km bushwalk carrying 8kg pack).

My partner returned home from work just before I got home from the bushwalking trip so I joined her on her daily walk, bringing my total for the day to 21km.

Caves Circuit

Caves Circuit by Andrew Gills
Caves Circuit, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

After completing the Gwongoorool track, we walked the Cave Circuit. This 5km track runs from the visitor centre up to the lodge then back down to the visitor centre.

The Cave Circuit starts in open forest on the north-western side of the plateau before reaching a series of large, open-mouthed caves. The caves are shallow but high; probably 20-30m high if not more. Aboriginal people reportedly used them for cooking, eating and sleeping in the times before Europeans came to live in these mountains.

I took some photos and video to share this track with you:

Soft and hard

Soft and hard

Rocky trails

Rocky trails

Total: 5km bushwalk with 8kg pack (running total for day: 11km bushwalk)

Gwongoorool Pool walk

Gwongoral Pool by Andrew Gills
Gwongoral Pool, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

My parents, their friend and I went to Lamington National Park today to do some bushwalking. Most of the walking trails in South-East Queensland are currently closed due to the effects of the recent storms, but the half-day walks in the Binna Burra section were open today. So we linked some together. I’ll share them as three separate posts.

We started with the Gwongoorool Pool walking track. The track wound its way down from the visitor centre to a swimming hole in the Coomera River. Along the way, we passed under volcanic ash cliffs and waterfalls.

The walk down to the pool was 3km downhill and returned by climbing back up the same trail. That is, the whole 3km walk out of the creek is uphill.

Here’s some photos and a video of the trail:

The power of water

The power of water

Mossy steps

Mossy steps

Total: 6km bushwalk with 8kg pack.

Lamington weekend

Mountain views from Beechmont

After the Past Pupils’ Mass I rode my motorbike up to to Binna Burra in the Gold Coast Hinterland to support my friends at the Lamington Classic (and to hang out drinking cider). On my way up the mountain I stopped at Beechmont to find a geocache and enjoy the view of the mountains.

The Lamington Classic is an annual two-day trail running event that is as much race as mega social. On Saturday, runners run from O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra along the Border Track. It’s 21.8km of twisting single track through the rain forest. After spending the night at Binna Burra, they then run back to O’Reilly’s on Sunday morning.

My running friends were running the event so I went up to Binna Burra on Saturday night to hang out with them. We spent the night drinking and talking. I’m not a big drinker, having been a tea-totaller until two years ago. But I enjoyed my three ciders (4.0% alcohol so very light and sweet) while my friends probably drank more beer and wine than was sensible preparation for the second day of running. While I was disappointed not to be joining them out on the course, I had a blast making memories away from running with a group of people who are quickly becoming friends; not just running buddies.

From the Binna Burra Caves Track

I woke at 4:40am this morning and didn’t want to wake my friends, who weren’t due to get up until 6:30am. Instead of hanging around, I made the most of the early morning sun by setting off on the Binna Burra Caves Track. Unfortunately, it was too dark in the rainforest for my mobile phone camera to get good pictures so you’ll have to trust me that I had a great time enjoying mountain views, rainforest scenery and the sound of rainforest birds. The caves themselves were huge and imposing holes in the cliffs and made me feel slightly dizzy.

For the second time this week, I did some light running. I walked a 10 minute warm up then did a 1 minute run / 4 minute walk ratio for 6 repeats. My foot and leg felt good during the running phases but I’m not ready to do anything more strenuous yet.

It was still about 5:50am when I completed the Caves Circuit so I also walked the 1.2km Binna Burra Rainforest Walk. I chose that walk because there is a geocache along it (there was also one on the Caves Circuit). I enjoyed the peace and simplicity of the Rainforest Walk; a short stroll through the bush with nothing to carry and no navigation required. There was no one else out on the tracks except me, the pademellons (an Australian marsupial that is like a tiny kangaroo that gets around on all fours), and the birds.

Jacarandas on the way to O’Reilly’s

After my walk I had breakfast with my friends, helped them carry their gear down to the ute that was taking it all back to O’Reilly’s and saw them off on their run. I then rode my motorbike down the range, across and back up the other range to O’Reilly’s, which took over 1.5 hours. The scenery along the way was amazing and included farmland, mountains and rain forest roads.

Motorcycling through the trees

My friends all ran well today, backing up after yesterday’s epic with a quick run. After a few hours lazing around O’Reilly’s eating and chatting we all set off back down the mountain towards home. The roads up here in the mountains are fantastic for motorcycling (though they are narrow). For the first 10km of the descent I could almost reach out and touch the trees along the road. Then the road opened out and the views of the valleys were superb.

My wonderful weekend was topped off with a 2km walk with my partner after I got home.


  • 5km rainforest trail walk / run
  • 1.2km rainforest walk
  • 2km walk around my neighbourhood
  • 7 geocaches found.


Lower Bellbird Circuit

View of Numinbah Valley

The sun shines brightly in a clear blue sky. It’s a perfect day for walking.

I hoist my backpack onto my shoulders and set off down the Lower Bellbird Circuit at Binna Burra. It’s a 12km track along and down the northeastern escarpment on the Lamington Plateau. I leave the upper carpark and enter the rainforest. The ground beneath my feet is muddy, staining my white running shoes brown. All the rocks and logs are covered in green moss. It looks homogenous but isn’t; there are different varieties.

I stop at each of the three lookouts over the Numinbah Valley. It stretches all the way to the ocean, way off in the east. Egg rock juts out awkwardly, a huge rock dwarfed by the surrounding mountains. At about 750m above sea level the mountains are barely hills compared with the mountains enjoyed in other parts of the world but here they are a tall range in an otherwise flat land.

The track takes me through a mix of rainforest, dry open forest and a short section of old grazing land. The rainforest is wet and fed by waterfalls that run the length of the cliff-faces. They don’t carry heavy flows and aren’t spectacular but they are long. The dry forest contains a magnificent mix of grasses and flowering wattles. The grazing land is being repaired by the rangers who are planting new trees for future generations.

The bush is alive today. Whip birds call their mates, who respond by whistling twice. Bell birds toll; their name obvious when you hear their song ringing through the trees. I startle a goanna sunning itself on the track, which runs hastily up a tree. No doubt it will find more eggs in the trees anyway. Fortunately I don’t see any snakes today because I’m not in the mood for panic stations.

Most of the walk is unchallenging and relaxing. But the last 2.5km are a tough uphill grind as I climb from 450m back up to 780m in altitude. This is when I start to really feel the 6kg of water I’m carrying in my backpack. That’s the weight my training plan required me to carry on this walk as I train to develop the strength necessary to carry both Mum and my gear for a 5 day hike in late July.

Rain forest

Careful: Steep cliffs next to the track

Young grass tree

Varieties of moss

Imposing cliffs

Mossy rocks

I have to walk all the way back up there

Total: Glorious 12km hike + 2 geocaches

Daves Creek Circuit bushwalk / trail run

Views across the range from Daves Creek Circuit

The rain stings my face as I ride my motorbike down the freeway. The sun hasn’t yet come up and everything around me is grey. I try not to let the cold wet weather affect my mood but it still takes all my inner strength to force myself to keep riding. I know that if I turn around I’ll be disappointed. I don’t want to go back to where I was a year ago in a time when I would find any tiny excuse to stay inside playing Second Life on my computer instead of actually living this life. So I keep riding because what’s the worst that can happen? I get a bit wet? This is the subtropics where the weather is usually warm enough to safely explore the bush without too much preparation (okay, it’s often too hot to be safe if you are unprepared in summer but you know what I mean).

By the time I find two geocaches up at Beechmont I see that there are spots of blue sky to my south, where Binna Burra sits atop the cliffs. That’s where I’m headed; to the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park where I’ll walk the Daves Creek Circuit and up to Tullawallal. Both caches are in beautiful scenic locations where there are usually superb views of the Border Ranges. While there are too many clouds to enjoy the views, I still enjoy being up on the range where the air is cool.

Fungal life on the track

I swap my motorbike gear for shorts, technical T and joggers then set out along the track. The rainforest is alive with bird song. Whip birds call for mates as the song of the bell birds rings through the trees. Paddymelons and small wallabies bounce loudly through the undergrowth; crashing through the vines and wait-a-while. There was plenty of fungal life too. It’s colours and shapes add highlights to the otherwise green canvas.

A gap in the clouds to show part of the view

I walk and run my way along the Border Track, keeping my heart rate between 65% and 75% of my maximum heart rate. I find my heart beats too slowly when I am walking for aerobic benefit (52% – 58% MHR) so I run some of the track to keep my heart rate up. After about 3.5km of running along the muddy rainforest track I reach the Daves Creek Circuit. The forest opens up almost immediately as I cross onto the south-eastern side of the range. Where a few metres earlier I was walking through ancient Antarctic Beech trees I am now walking through grass trees and eucalyptus. This walk usually offers amazing views over to the Springbrook Plateau but today the clouds were rushing up the mountain instead, making me feel quite exposed. The exposure feels  more intense when I clamber up Surprise Rock to collect my third cache for the day.

Rocks at Tullawallal

After completing the Daves Creek Circuit the track winds back into the rain forest, rejoining the Border Track about three kilometres from Binna Burra. Instead of heading back I aim to collect my fourth cache of the day  up at Tullawallal. This is another place I’ve never been before. While I’ve done all the day walks on the Lamington Plateau, I’ve not done all the short walks so this is the first time I’ve been to Tullawallal. It’s a beautiful little grove of Antarctic Beech trees and moss-covered rocks at the top of a small hill. I was successful in finding the fourth cache and enjoyed the experience of being in the Tullawallal.

I am glad I decided to go up to the mountains today. Even the long 1.5 hour motorbike ride home in driving rain didn’t reduce my pleasure.

Total: 12km bushwalk / trail run and 4 geocaches