“Spontaneity is a meticulously prepared art” – Oscar Wilde
Several months ago I wrote Ngungun: Glass House Mountains – Part I. Today’s post continues my memories of this special area with a walk at Mt Tibrogargan and Mt Beerburrum. New followers or those old followers wishing to remind themselves of the geography and history of the region can read Part I here. Or if you prefer, check out the National Parks Site for more information. Mildly Extreme Jane is not feeling very well this week so she can’t guarantee any of this will make sense. I’ve lost some writing mojo, but as they say, “The blog must go on.” Perhaps grab a cup of coffee or something stronger before you start…
I faced my nemesis while visiting Mt Tibrogargan. No, it wasn’t a deadly snake, a sheer cliff, heat exhaustion or the dreaded paralysis ticks. If you really want to torture me, make me drive through busy city traffic on unfamiliar roads. This is what was required of me to finally fulfill a childhood dream to visit the Glasshouse Mountains. In Part I, I didn’t really elaborate on the background to my first trip with my daughter but now it’s time to reveal Mildly Extreme Jane’s kryptonite – driving to the north side of Brisbane through busy city traffic! It’s really the only reason it took me so long to visit this destination.
I spent many years happily driving on isolated bulldust, sand, gravel and stony outback roads while avoiding kangaroos, emu, sheep and cattle, but city traffic is a nightmare for me. I’ve had friends ask me how I coped with not having TV, a reliable water supply, fast Internet, shops and close medical care, but I couldn’t understand how they could cope with busy traffic, noise, lack of privacy, having to lock their doors, and not being able to let their children play unsupervised in their yards. The theme of my previous post probably applies here too. What is a challenge to one person is not necessarily a challenge to another. It’s a matter of perspective.
I hadn’t completely committed to this destination until I was actually part-way along the motorway and approaching the required exit. I had two days free and I’d decided to reward my daughter for her dedication to studies. We left at 10am with overnight bags and hiking gear but with no definite plan. We’d either go south to revisit Springbrook National Park on roads I was familiar with or head north through the city and towards the Sunshine Coast area. As I was driving along the motorway the thought struck me, “Why don’t I just treat this driving business as a fun challenge or fear to be conquered in the same way as I enjoy conquering a hiking challenge such as a steep mountain? It’s still a legitimate achievement.” In fact, driving is statistically more dangerous than bushwalking.
So take the exit north we did and the white knuckle journey through Brisbane traffic began. Now, I had tried to memorise the road map and I did resurrect the dodgy “cookie car” GPS from our trip to the snow but somehow I still managed to take the wrong turn and drive through the tunnel to the airport. We finally made it safely to the Glasshouse Mountains Information Centre after an interesting side journey. After a restorative cup of tea to settle my nerves we were itching to tackle the Mt Tibrogargan summit climb.
The countryside out that way is very lush and green for most of the year and Tibrogargan jutting out from the flat landscape made for some attractive views as we approached.
We stopped by a farm to take photographs and my daughter was curious about the nuts lying on the ground and hanging from the tree. When I was a child, cracking open macadamia nut cases with a hammer was a traditional Christmas event. I hadn’t realised that my daughter had only seen macadamia nuts that had been shelled. Hitting my fingers with a hammer while trying to open nuts was such a strong childhood memory for me that I almost felt guilty that this wasn’t part of my daughter’s memories. Many of my relatives had macadamia trees growing in their back yard so they were such a common sight to me. After being disappointed by how many plants have turned out to be introduced species, I checked to make sure that this plant is indeed indigenous. Yes! My childhood won’t be tainted forever now by disillusionment. I was surprised to discover that macadamias are part of the Protea family. Proteas are one of my favourite Australian flowers.
And here’s a pineapple as well from a farm near Tibrogargan, in case some readers have never seen how they actually grow. I had a few in my yard that produced tiny pineapples for the possums and the rats. Did I ever imagine they’d share them with humans? Of course not!
We arrived at Tibrogargan to find that the summit climb was closed. Now those of you who ignore signs such as these may think I should have done it anyway, but with heavy fines and potentially dangerous conditions due to loose rocks, I wasn’t going to take that risk. Emergency services have enough to cope with and I can think of many other uses for the hefty fine. While signs like these may not mean much in some other destinations, at Tibrogargan they are there for legitimate safety reasons. So please check the National Park Site for warnings and closures to avoid disappointment or temptations.
After the initial disappointment (or was it actually great relief?) we headed off to do the class 3, 3.3km circuit walk around the base of Tibrogargan and then moved onto the class 4, 6km Trachyte circuit which took us past the Jack Ferris Lookout .
The base walk took us through blackened gum tree forest punctuated by bright green fern regrowth.
Along the way we came to what seems like hiking luxury to me. Queensland National Parks spoil us sometimes with amenities. These are the best seats I’ve ever seen on a walk in a national park. Usually we are content to perch on a rock or fallen log.
As we walked around the base, Tibrogargan teased us through the trees.
The wildlife was hiding that day though. I didn’t actually see any birds, reptiles or mammals. We’d chosen a busy day to visit. That’s the problem with popular walking tracks. I often see more wildlife in my own backyard.
We came to an eerie section of burnt forest that seemed to have a strange purple-blue glow to it. All at once we both experienced a sense of isolation and my daughter felt it necessary to remind me of a high profile child murder case where the body had been dumped in the Glasshouse Mountains. The complete silence added to the strange mood. For some reason the fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel, popped into my mind.
We moved further along and instead of completing the base circuit back to the car park we entered the Trachyte Circuit. This took us through dry scrubby terrain, including grass trees and native shrubs in grey sandy soil.
The track was relatively easy, but as we approached the lookout, the land became a little steeper and rockier which is why it’s graded as class 4. The Jack Ferris Lookout gave us views of Tibrogargan, Coonowrin and Beerwah.
We saw another view of Tibrogargan further along the track.
Later we entered tall plantation pine forests that reminded us more of Northern American or European Parks. They are due to be harvested in 2020.
The last part of the walk gave us views of yet another side of Tibrogargan.
It was an easy, relaxing hike with little challenge.
I recently discovered that the summit climb has re-opened and was considering going back to attempt it. I no longer have any fears of traffic but after watching this video of climbers, I’ve got a slight fear of falling! Perhaps there will be a part 3 involving the summit but written posthumously…
That evening we were lucky enough to stay at the Ecolodge near Tibrogargan. The owners have converted old railway carriages and a church into accommodation and dining halls and a kitchen. As the name suggests, protecting the environment is their priority. They also acknowledge and are respectful of the traditional owners of this area, the Gubbi Gubbi and the Jinibarra people.
As we watched the last of the sun’s rays hit Tibrogargan, the monolith changed colour from cream to yellow to orange and then red.
My daughter was able to indulge in some nut cracking at dinner although I really think the old hammer-smashing-the-thumb method is more authentically Australian!
The Ecolodge also grows its own coffee.
Someone there has a sense of humour with signage, and this one is certainly true.
The next morning we headed off and did the Ngungun walk discussed in Part 1. Here are a couple of pictures to remind you…
Afterwards we walked up to the Mt Beerburrum Fire Tower. My little old sedan did not like the 1km section of potholed gravel road leading up to the beginning of the walking path but those of you with 4WDs won’t even notice you’ve left the bitumen. The grade 4 walk is a 1.4 km return, very steep smooth concrete path to the very top. I can imagine it being extremely slippery in wet weather. While the surface is smooth enough for a wheelchair, I think it would require great effort to get to the top due to the steep gradient.
Once at the top we were hit by gale force winds which had us looking for shelter. The view was impressive though. You may be able to tell by these photos just how breezy it was. The Fire Tower is used to detect bushfires in surrounding national parks.
The Glasshouse Mountains are really worth seeing but as they are so popular, you really should consider a visit in the off season especially if you enjoy viewing wildlife and prefer quiet solitary walking. The highlight for us was the summit of Ngungun (Part 1). It’s a fantastic walk that I will do again one day. As for attempting the Tibrogargan summit climb, I am still undecided. What do you think? Perhaps you’d like to join me. I’ll probably need someone to catch me…
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