In 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.
From 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.
I 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.
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
At 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.
For 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.
At 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.
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 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.
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 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.