Springbrook & Purling Brook Falls

Behind the streets and high rise facades of the Gold Coast, lie a range of hills, valleys, and escarpments that divide the Eastern Seaboard from the Western Plains. It is a different place to the artificial icons found along the southern Queensland shore. You will find none of the theme park playgrounds and man-made canals or traffic-jammed streets here. This is a place of nature. A place where you can wander for hours along steep tracks lined with natural rainforests, see native wildlife in their natural habitat, and bathe in icy cold water holes as the midday sun drives the mercury up the temperature gauge.

From the Gold Coast resorts, it is an easy drive to explore any of the many attractions that can be found there. One such place is Springbrook. One of those towns where, if you blink, you will miss it. So don’t blink.

It was to Springbrook that I decided to go on the weekend that is the subject of this weeks post

Since Cyclone Debbie visited in April 2016 Springbrook has been even more hidden. The main road in has been closed and now one must take the more circuitous route through Advance Town to get there

As with all things adverse, there is a silver lining, as this route takes you past the Heinz Dam and, it was here that I found myself as the sun was going down. After looking about at the base of the dam, I arrived at the top car park just ahead of an officious security guard who “ordered” me off the place as it was closing time. I think he missed the customer relations seminar.

With the dusk closing in, I headed further south until I noticed a side road in the Numinba Valley where I found a quiet cul-d-sac right beside the lake. Another couple was there, enjoying an evening meal, but other than that, I had the place to myself.

Sunset at Numinba Valley where I made camp.

I sorted out the best way to set up the truck and settled in for the night. Being right by the water, the ever-present mosquitos soon made their presence felt, and so I retired behind my mosquito net for an early night.

Nice spot to spend a night in the truck

The following morning, I was up before the sun, hoping for a nice sunrise, but with the surrounding hills, the sun would not show its face until much later in the morning. I was able to get some shots of the early mist on the lake.

Morning Light on the water
Early morning mist rises from the waters of Heinze Dam
My Camping home is the back of my truck. Just enough room to stretch out across the back

The dam was built in 1976 but further upgrades in 1989 and 2011 have raised the height to its current level. The shore where I stayed was bordered with the skeletons of dead trees, drowned with the rising waters of the previous upgrade. While this detracts from the pristine waters that one might expect at such a lake, it is very picturesque because of its brutal starkness.

Skeletons of trees along the edge of the Heinze Dam, drowned after the dam level was raised in 2011

As the sun began to warm the air, I headed off and turned into the road to Springbrook. Although not a bad road to drive, it was steep in places as it climbed the escarpment before descending down the other side into town.

As I said, Springbrook is not a large town, and it was only by accident that I turned into the Main Street where there was little more than a cafe and a post box to mark its importance as the centre of town.

The Springbrook Cafe and Bar. Middle of town

It was a shade after eight thirty and I decided that the cafe would provide coffee and information and was pleased to see the “open” sign out on the street. I wandered along the wide Verandah and tried the first sliding door. It was locked so I wandered further until I found a second door. This time.. sucess. I went inside.

The inside of The Springbrook Cafe & Bar where I waited for my breakfast

The room resembled a small hall, with tables and chairs set about and a serving counter at one end. Along the walls were items of Springbrook memorabilia along with fridges full of drinks, but there was no sign of a waitress, cook or any other human. I selected a bottle of water from the fridge and took it to the counter. To my left was a door that clearly led to the kitchen, and so I stood near it whistling a mundane tune, loudly, to attract some attention. It appeared that there was no attention to be attracted in that kitchen and so, being a patient man, I waited.

After several minutes, a lady arrived at the locked door, presented some keys, and walked inside. She was eying me up as if I was some kind of apparition and asked how I came to be there. I explained about the unlocked door as it became clear to me that the place was not yet actually open, despite what the sign outside might be proclaiming.

Feeling cozy and welcoming, the Springbrook Cafe and Bar is a great place to start out your day on Springbrook Mountain

As for breakfast, I was told that the kitchen didn’t open for some time but was treated to some good information as to how I might spend my day. I also got much of the lowdown on the seedier goings on in town. All a part of the colour that is country living in almost any country in the world.

My hostess turned out to be Gayle Grayson, and she and her husband Peter were the proud owners of the Springbrook Cafe and Bar.

After showing me a coffee table book of photos around Springbrook she let me in on a secret that lived inside the ladies loo. Now, as it was before opening hours, I felt I could follow her into the room, where no gentleman should ever go, in search of the Fat Angel. It appears that she had fallen from grace and had landed, not too glamorously, on the ceiling of the powder room.

I was invited into the “Ladies” to assist in the rescue of the fat fairy who had befallen an accident

Outside, Gayle pointed out all of the options I had for spending a day in Springbrook. The most popular it seemed was the walk down to the Purlingbrook Falls. After posing for me on her trusty cycle, I left Gayle to her day and set out along the road to the car park at the top of the track.

Gayle puts on a show with her trusty bike

Even at that time, the car park was more than half full and there were any number of folk milling around getting ready for the four-kilometer round trip walk. There were backpackers hiking in on foot right through to a busload of tourists up from the coast for the day.

A group of tourists from Korea gets ready to trek down to the falls from the car park at the top of the escarpment

Not knowing what I should expect I packed my photo gear, water, and some food and headed off. The track makes its way along the top of the escarpment for several hundred meters before it begins to descend. There are several lookouts along the edge and a few groups of trekkers were getting selfies of themselves with the amazing view as a backdrop.

A family group showing the relly’s from England, the view from the top of the falls

It is always a shame that whenever there is a photo opportunity, someone in the group has to take the photo. Very few of us will carry a tripod and so there is always one face missing. To this end, I will always offer to take a photo for them so that everyone can all be in the group, and today was no exception. It is also a good chance to meet new people and it is amazing, the places where people are from that you meet along the way.

A group of young tourists from Poland taking a moment for a photo and to enjoy the views from the top of the escarpment before descending the track to the bottom of the falls

To make the descent easier, sets of steps have been placed along the track in the steeper places. Between the sets of steps, the track follows a steady but reasonable slope as it winds down the escarpment to the base of the falls.

The two kilometers went by quickly and soon enough, I came upon the pool that received the waters from above. The first impression that you get as you come along the track is almost surreal. The falls are partially hidden by lush palms and rainforest and all you get is a glimpse of what lies behind. Mixed with the sounds of birdlife and rushing water were the cries of laughter of people already enjoying the pools. The day I was there the flow over the falls themselves was quiet as there has been little rain to feed the streams.

Of stairs, there were many. Over 400 in fact
A lone trekker makes his way down to the Dancing Waters pool at the base of Purlingbrook Falls
Water bounces off the black rocks at the bottom of the falls.
100 meters high and pretty as a picture.

There was quite a crowd there by the time I got there and I spent a few minutes photographing and watching the people do what people do.

Capturing that elusive selfie under the falls at Purling Brook.
Watching the water falling can be a calming way to spend a few moments.
Despite a plea on the sign that folk go on down to the Warringa Pool to swim, many ignore it and swim here anyway. This endangers the delicate balance of nature.

There was a sign describing the significance of the pool, especially to the natural fauna and flora in the area. Tourism places a heavy burden on the natural landscape in places like this and often we forget the damages that we do in our careless pursuit of pleasure. Despite asking that people do not swim here, there were those who chose the path of selfish righteousness and plunged in regardless.

Ignoring the signage is a human thing it seems.

The sign also pointed to a place where swimming was welcome…. Just a kilometer further down the track… I had been speaking with others here who had told me that the walk was well worth the time so I set off down the track.

Warringa Pool

Sure enough, I came upon another pool, this time, filled with people shrieking from the cold. The group from Poland were already there taking advantage of a cool swim in the, now, very warm day.

Pole Jumping…One of the Polish guys takes a leap. He told me that this was quite warm compared to where he came from.
Judging by the look on this woman’s face, the water was a wee bit chilly.

Upstream the creek made its way through rainforest before tumbling over a low waterfall into the pool. The pool was deep enough that you could jump from the rocks above the falls without fear of hitting the bottom. The pool drained out on the other side through large rocks and there was an area where a group of hikers was able to spread out and have a bite before taking a swim.

Taking a rest break, this group of guys who appeared to be from a hiking club took time out for lunch and a swim.

I finally began my trek back, first to the falls and then to tackle the 400 or more steps that lay ahead on the climb back up the escarpment. There were still folk heading down to the pools, even as the heat of the day was reaching its peak. In spite of being in the shade of the rainforest most of the time, the air was hot and I found myself reaching for my water bottle more and more.

The track down to the Dancing Waters pool is steep but picturesque. Often, as it is here, it winds its way between massive boulders.

This track requires a reasonable level of fitness and it is essential to carry plenty of fluids, especially for the trip back up the slope.The information pamphlets suggest that this is a circuit track but Cyclone Debbie has closed off one section and so you must return by the same way that you arrive. It seems that Springbrook is slow to get its recovery effort underway.

The view from the lookout at the edge of the border.

After getting back to the car I decided that I had time for one more experience and so chose to have a look at the Best Of All Lookout. This is found a short drive out of town at the end of Repeater Station Rd. The walk is only 600 meters and the view across the Tweed Valley is astounding, even on a hazy day like this. It lies at a point, almost on the border of NSW and QLD at an altitude of around 1000 meters.

With tired muscles, I eased my body back into my truck and headed back down to the coast to once again take up the day to day life that keeps the wolf from the door.  There are other tracks here that will call me back over the next few weeks while I stay on the Gold Coast.

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A little something I wrote for the festive season with some random photos from the year

Merry Christmas to you..and I’m sorry it’s late

But at last I have finally caught up with this date

It is not something huge, for me in my life

]With family scattered and not having a wife

Fishing off one of the jettys along the Noosa River

I started with coffee at breaking of dawn

Getting news for my blog on this year’s Christmas morn

I was up on the river just near Noosa Sound

Just to drink Old Salt Coffee with rain tumbling down

Rhian and Rhiana creating coffee for the hoards Christmas morning

Then later I took a phone call from son one

Seems he’d had a big night and his head was undone

Some news of concern at the place he did stay

Super typhoon Nock-ten would be landing that day

Aline carefull descends the cliff face at Mt Tinbeerwha during her abseiling course with The Outdoor Education Consultants

Then later a call  this time son number two

And we chatted of things in his life that were new

Then a friend not believing I am happy just me

Insisted that I go around there for tea

Well formed steps help the traveller along the way

Alas there was eating…  ham, jellies and such

By the end of it all I had ate much too much

After Family Feud and then Pictionary

I headed on home and sleep overcame me

Blue Dragonfly on my walk near Kondilla Falls

So that was my Christmas, but what of your own?

Was it big celebrations? Another year flown?

Did you spend the day cooking, preparing the food

Or was it a day spent in lazier mood.

Coolum Hotel, Good Music and Nadia Colbourn

Or maybe some time you spent walking the beach

Your phone in your hand and your arm you’d out reached

To take just one selfie, your record of fame

So in years to come you can think “Oh how lame!”.

A kayak and a paddle board went for a morning swim

And so as I said in my opening line

I wish you good Christmas and good happy times

And as good that in two oh one six it has been

I wish you the best in two oh seventeen 

A Room With A View…. Maroochy River

One Of The Great Australian Walks… Kondalilla Falls National Park

Park Track entranceIn the hinterland behind the Sunshine Coast lies a range of mountains….. Well, hills really, called the Blackall Ranges.  They run from South to North and are dotted with some great walks of all grades.

Today I walked the Kondalilla Falls Circuit track from the top to the bottom and back.  These falls are a part of the Kondalilla National Park and form a part of the Great Australian Walking tracks.

The carpark is really just a large cul-d-sac at the end of the street and from there, one heads down to a grassy area dotted with barbecue facilities and table/chair benches.  There are also toilet facilities here which it is wise to take advantage of as there are non further down.

Bridge Over No WaterFrom the bottom of this area a sealed track take you down a few hundred metres to a small bridge.  This is wheelchair friendly but the bridge is as far as you go.  There are stairs at the other side which would make it difficult

 

 

 

 

 

Here there is a fork in the path.  The left leads down to the top of the falls and is perhaps the easier track to take.  It is also a part of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Walk track. The right fork, a part of Kondalilla Falls Circuit, also leads to the falls but is perhaps a steeper path, although easy enough to traverse.

The TrackI took the right fork, and would recommend this, as the return journey is easier if you come back the other way.  The track wanders through rain forest and you will see Piccabeen Palms and Bunya Pines growing along the way.  You may also see some examples of Pink Ash trees which grow in some interesting shapes.

There are some spectacular views all along the track down to the falls
There are some spectacular views all along the track down to the falls
This couple take a moment to rest on one of the many benches along the track. This one is set at the top of the steepest part of the track when headingback to the carpark
This couple take a moment to rest on one of the many benches along the track. This one is set at the top of the steepest part of the track when heading back to the carpark

Just above the top of the falls, these two tracks merge before you head down a series of steps to come out at the top of the falls.  Here I met a couple who were resting after the long slog back up the side of the hill from the falls.  We chatted for a while about the effects of climate change on the forest before we each continued our respective journeys

The PoolAt the bottom of the next section is the top of the falls and there is a popular swimming hole, just before the water tumbles over the cliff.  There is space here to eat a picnic lunch or relax in the sun on the flat rocks around the pool.

The Road To The BottomFor many, this is the end of the trail but I headed down the side of the cliff face following the well formed Sunshine Coast Hinterland Walk track to the bottom..  Along the way there is a look out where you can see the whole of the falls although on this day, after a long dry spell, there was no water to be seen tumbling down the cliff face.

The Falls

_-2Peaceful TranquilityAt the bottom, the creek bed is strewn with huge boulders and here and there are small rock pools which are home to the beautiful dragonflies that hunt here.Poise

Fellow Travellers
Fellow travellers cross a bridge just below where I was photographing the dragonflies

Heading on I came to another fork.  It is here that the Kondalilla Circuit branches off and returns via an easier grade to the top of the falls.  There is a saying that what goes up, must come down.  In the this case the reverse applied and, having made my way all the way down from the car park, I now had the climb back up to the top.

The track forks off towards Baroon Pocket Dam to the right. The left path takes you back to the falls
The track forks off towards Baroon Pocket Dam to the right. The left path takes you back to the falls

The route is around 4.7 kms and doing it the way I did, the return journey was just a little easier.  Even so it pays to carry plenty of water as the hard bit is at the end.  I had two water bottles and had just opened my second when I started my climb.  It slipped from my hand and split open on a rock and I watched as it all soaked away into the dry soil.

This massive tree has come down across the track enforcing a climb over the roots to gt back to the track
This massive tree has come down across the track enforcing a climb over the roots to get back to the track

Heaven Set

Giving Ground

A Forest View
There are some stunning views from all along the track
The Pool Again
Back at the pool at the top of the Falls
Well formed steps help the traveller along the way
Well formed steps help the traveller along the way

From the top of the falls there is a section of over 100 stairs and this is perhaps the most punishing part of the trek.  Without water, I was in trouble by the time I reached the top and was thankful that the path had levelled out somewhat for the walk back to the bar-b-que area.  The real kicker for me was the short walk from there to the car park.  I was dehydrated badly and the track seemed almost too steep to tackle.

 

 

A Long way to the End
This massive tree had fallen across the track, The track had been cleared but this trunk is left to nature to return to the soil over time

 

Board Walk
Boardwalks along the way make the track an easier traverse

 

A short drive down the road to Mapleton and I thankfully pulled in to a service station to top up my water levels, the first bottle barely touching the sides as it went down

All said and done, it was a great walk and I recommend it to anyone with an afternoon on their hands and wondering what to do with it.  Just head up the Blackall Range from Nambour or Landsborough and you will find the turn off at Flaxton.

 

A Travel Destination At My Back Door

With spring well and truly settled in here in the Southern part of the world, the days are getting warmer and the sun is in the sky longer.  Today I headed north from Maroochydore on the Sunshine Motorway.  The plan was to pick up a friend from Perigean Springs and take a hike in the Noosa National Park.

The park lies between Noosa Beach and Coolum and is divided into sections along the coast.  The section we were visiting today was the Noosa Headland Section which has a web of walking tracks running through and around it making it suitable for almost anyone to access.

As with most National Parks one can find a diverse range of wildlife and plants here.  The list includes  the koala, a ground parrot, the wallum froglet and glossy black-cockatoo.  I have seen Echidnas wandering the tracks here as evening falls as well.

noosa-national-park-walking-tracks
Courtesy QLD NAT PARKS

The Coastal track is a little over 5 kilometers and takes roughly two hours walking at a steady pace.  The tracks are well signed and often cross each other so it pays to take note of which one you are on.

The Coastal track runs from Sunshine Beach in the south, around the headland in finishes at Noosa Beach.  Parking is easier at the Sunshine Beach end as there are several jumping off points whereas, at the Noosa end, the track starts at the day use area and there is very limited parking.  There used to be a bus service from Noosa Beach to the day use area but that has been discontinued and once the small parking area is full it means a 700-metre walk in from the beach.

We opted for the Sunshine Beach end and parked at the end of Surf Street before taking Track 5 (Blue on the Map) which would bring us out on the beach at Alexandria Bay.  This beach is more commonly known among the locals as A Bay and has gained some notoriety as a clothing optional beach.

The day was fine and hot and so we made sure we had hats and a good supply of drinking water. Good walking shoes are also recommended as parts of the track can be a little rough underfoot.

An hours walk from the nearest car park ensures this pristine beach is free from the crowds.
Alexandria Bay.  Just an hours walk from the nearest car park, this pristine beach is free from the crowds.

When we actually arrived at the beach it was quite deserted with only a few folk strolling along and the odd sunbather in the dunes.  I guess it is rather isolated from the rest of the world with a one hour walk in from either end,  there are plenty of beaches that are far easier to spend the day at.

Steep steps lead off the northern end of the beach as we headed up to the actual Headland.  Here there are magnificent views of the coast and over the park itself.

From the Noosa Headland back to Sunshine Beach A Bay is a desrted paradise.
Looking back from the Hell’s Gate back to Sunshine Beach, A Bay is a deserted paradise.

As we approached Hells Gate, a group of young women was sitting on a rock resting and my friend, Peter, suggested that I might like to take a photo of A Bay beach, indicating that the rock would form the foreground to the photo.  He laughingly offered to be in the photo as a focus point.

Pete opened his mouth and offered to be a part of the pictuer with these four lasses from Switzerland. Was shocked when I took him up on the offer and put it to the girls...
Pete opened his mouth and offered to be a part of the picture with these four lasses from Switzerland. Was shocked when I took him up on the offer and put it to the girls…

It was a lovely setting and so, to his horror, I asked the girls if they would mind indulging Peter’s whim.  After some moments of confusion because of a language difference, Peter duly settled himself in amongst the bevy of beauties.  A veritable thorn in the rose bush if ever there was one.

The four girls came from Switzerland and were studying here before heading off to see more of the country.

The rocky headland at Alexandra Bay.
The rocky headland at Alexandria Bay.

The headland is called Hells Gate as there is a deep cutting that channels the sea making a cauldron during rough weather. A similar outcrop at the other end of A Bay is called Devils Kitchen. From here, and indeed all along the higher points on the track, one can often spot a whale or two as they head to and fro between their winter and summer ranges.  Today was not one of those days unfortunately however, we did see a lot of coral spores that had been blown down from the huge coral reefs to the north.

Coral Spore drifts before the wind along the headland
Coral Spore drifts before the wind along the headland

A Bay is around the halfway point and so we headed on around the shoreline checking out the view from the various bays along the way.  There are lookout points at Dolphin Point at the end of Granite Bay and then again at Boiling Pot just beyond Tea Tree Bay.

Halfway between Noosa Heads and A Bay lies Granite Bay. Popular with surfers catching waves from the point
Halfway between Noosa Heads and A Bay lies Granite Bay. Popular with surfers catching waves from the point

Tea tree Bay is a popular spot and is at the end of the paved track that allows pushchair and wheelchair access to the park.  Koalas can often be seen in the trees although again, it was not to be for us this day.

The path along the seafront cters for wlkers, runners and cyclists. There are plenty of places where you can rest and take in the expansive views as in this lookout just east of Granite Bay
The path along the seafront caters for walkers, runners, and cyclists. There are plenty of places where you can rest and take in the expansive views as in this lookout just east of Granite Bay

There are some extraordinary views to be had all along the track with stunning sea views going back into the hinterland behind the coast.

Apaddleboarder waits for a wave to take him back to Noosa Beach
A paddle boarder waits for a wave to take him back to Noosa Beach

We finally made it back to civilization and Peter treated me to a burger and beer from Betty’s Burgers and Concrete which is just over the road from the surf club at Noosa Beach. This had to be one of the best burgers I have had in a very long while.

After the burger and feeling well satisfied we caught a bus back to Sunshine to pick up the car and head home.  A great day’s traveling right here in my own back yard