A Tale of Two Tortoises: Greenes Falls Rainforest Track – Mt Glorious

rainforest-trees

I contemplated calling this post, “The Slowest Hike in the World” as it took 4 ½ hours to cover a mere 4.3 km. New readers might be thinking it must have been an arduous hike involving rugged terrain, steep climbs or waist-deep mud. Older followers know me better than that. There’s a  reason why I am called mildly extreme rather than plain  extreme.

Rainforest-path

This was a comfortable Class 3 walk along well-maintained rainforest paths on a pleasantly mild day so why did it take me so long? To answer that question we need to go back in time 20 years…

My son with a coccid moth. Notice his wildlife posters on the wall behind him.

My son many years ago with a coccid moth and wildlife posters in the background.

My eldest son was obsessed with insects. Superman may have been able to fly but my lad’s special power was spotting a creepy crawly from metres away and being able to observe it for hours without being bored to death. Most kids have pets like dogs and cats. Our house was a mini-beast zoo.  Checking his clothes pockets before washing was always a little exciting. Finding a scorpion in the toy box was not an unusual occurrence.

Fast forward to 2015 and my grown up son is still transfixed by tiny critters. He happened to be my walking partner on this hike at Greenes Falls Rainforest Track on Mt Glorious, west of Brisbane. I don’t see my eldest son much these days as he’s moved closer to the university and is married to his Phd. Phds are demanding spouses, so I was lucky to  steal him away for a morning in the mountains.

He recently purchased his first DSLR camera and was positively buzzing with lens fever. Given his entomological leanings and having been bitten by the new camera bug, his walking pace matched my three-legged tortoise one. I enjoyed the relaxed pace though and it was a relief to not feel like I was holding up my hiking partner.

It took half an hour just for us to leave the car park due in part to the discovery of this weevil. It’s obviously a very special weevil to receive such attention from two camera-wielding walkers.

weevil

After the  drive through city traffic to pick up my son and then a winding mountain road, I needed a pit stop before continuing. This caused another significant delay as I discovered a fruiting bunya pine on the way to the amenities block.

Shortly after I had walked underneath the giant tree, an enormous cone crashed to the ground. I almost needed another trip to the amenities after that incident. Always check to see if a bunya pine is fruiting before you walk under one! These cones can measure up to 30 cm in length, weigh between 5 -10kg and contain between 30 – 100 edible nuts.

A large bunya cone. Mature ones weigh between 5 - 10kg and contain many edible nuts.

A large bunya cone. Mature ones weigh between 5 – 10kg and contain many edible nuts.

Bunya Pines are conifers but not actually pine trees. They are more closely related to the monkey puzzle tree. The nuts can be eaten raw, boiled or roasted and ground into flour. Apparently they taste similar to chestnuts. Sources vary, but most say that the trees only fruit every 2-3 years. This site gives information on how to remove and prepare the bunya nuts.

Bunya "Pine"

Bunya “Pine” near the amenities block.

For thousands of years, large numbers of Indigenous Australians from many parts of southern Queensland and northern NSW would gather in the Bunya Mountains for festivals to celebrate this event. It would be a time of trade, organisational matters, religious ceremonies and eating. One source states that the last known festival was held in 1902. These festivals were discouraged by European settlers, partly because they feared the power of such large groups of Indigenous people coming together.

The nuts spiral around a yellow core. The nuts can be eaten raw or cooked but this central core can make people ill.

The nuts spiral around a yellow core. The nuts can be eaten raw or cooked but this central core can make people ill. You’ll need to remove the outer wooden shell from each nut.

Eventually, the local population of Indigenous people was dispersed and people were forcibly relocated to missions without any thought for which tribal group/area they belonged to. Here is a short summary about this history which  is not often taught. It saddens and angers me to read about the past treatment of the first Australians and also the inequalities that still exist today as a result of this.

Cone without the core with dead spiky brown leaves and a nut on the ground.

Cone without the core with dead spiky brown leaves and a shell-covered nut on the ground.

Sharp spiky leaves of the Bunya.

Sharp spiky leaves of the Bunya.

Eventually, we left the picnic grounds and the car park and ventured into the cool dark sanctuary of the rainforest. About 20 metres along, my son spotted a moss covered log. He’s quite a moss fan, probably due to his love of keeping terrariums as a child. A nice mossy interior was often highly desired. It seemed like he planned to  camp by the log  for most of the morning until I told him that there were probably another hundred or so more moss-covered logs on our walk that he’d be able to practise on.

Mossy log

red-log-moss

A spider home.

A spider home.

He likes fungi as much as I do so of course we had to stop to take  images of these too.

brown-fungi 2

Fungi-S

fungi-log

It wouldn’t be a Mildly Extreme walk without some tree hugging.  I’m not completely infatuated really but it does help to show you the scale.

Me being a tree hugger.

And speaking of scale, here’s my six foot tall son showing you just how big the trunk of this fallen tree is.

Rainforest-log-path

 The lilly pillies were fruiting and covered the path in places so we couldn’t help but crush them underfoot. They made a rather satisfying popping and squelching noise but since they had started to ferment, the fragrance was a little nauseating. For cooking uses read here.

Lilly pilly fruit

Lilly pilly fruit

My chocolate brain got a little excited when I first saw this red ball. Thoughts of red-coated chocolate Jaffas had me salivating. Sadly, it was just a palm fruit.

Palm fruit

And here my son had to take a picture of my camera taking a picture of another kind of red berry. He mentioned the film, Inception, so those who’ve seen it will know what he is referring to.

Inception

The walk was supposed to take us to Greenes Falls. I’ve been disappointed by falls before though (see my Slaughter Falls post) so I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular. It certainly wasn’t. Greenes Falls was little more than a trickling of water over a rock edge.  However, the rock pools at the top had us bubbling over with excitement. Giant tadpoles taunted us as we tried to capture some images of them.

Water pools

reflections-in-pools

I’m curious about what species of adult they will become.

tadpoles 2

Fallen logs were common on this track. They allow more sunlight than usual to penetrate the rainforest, changing the plant growth in the immediate vicinity.

log-creek

The Greenes Falls walk is not difficult and unless you have an entomology or mycology fan with you or someone with a flash new camera they want to try out,  it shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours. There are some small sections of steps and the surface was muddy in parts but overall it’s an easy one for families and those without a high level of fitness.

 If you’re interested in the walk, here’s a link to more information. For the next few months, controlled burns will be undertaken in D’Aguilar National Park and a weather alert has been issued over impending high rainfall conditions this week so please always check the National Park sites for warnings when making plans to visit the area.

Having very sun sensitive skin, I’ve found that rainforest walks are a great way for me to enjoy the outdoors in summer without having to wear industrial strength sunscreen and a space suit.

I’ll be stealing my son away from his Phd again soon. Since he likes crabs and shellfish, walking along the beach at low tide should provide a myriad of distractions so stay tuned for another hiking tale of the tortoise variety in the future.

My next post though will be about a wander with my daughter, Tough Cookie, as we explored the northern New South Wales coastline. While I may be fond of seagulls, her recent experience did not endear them to her. More about that soon in  a story which could be called “Attack of the Killer Seagulls.”

fallen log

47 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Tortoises: Greenes Falls Rainforest Track – Mt Glorious

  1. That weevil, what a ferocious looking insect. Glad you weren’t felled by a passing Bunya nut and I loved the pictures of the water even if there wasn’t very much. Sorry I can’t do the walk myself but it was good going with you.

    • Hi Susan,
      The weevil does look somewhat intimidating blown up on the screen like that doesn’t it? Fortunately they aren’t that big in real life otherwise I may be a little nervous of them! I was a bit silly walking under that Bunya Pine. I just hope no-one else makes the same mistake. They may not be as lucky as me. I would have enjoyed your company on the walk, Susan, but since we are so far apart, I will have to make do with sharing it via my blog. Thanks for reading. I always look forward to your comments. 🙂

  2. Many years ago, dad bough some raw bunya pine nuts for us to try, probably from someone at the markets. I guess he was given cursory instructions with the purchase because he tried roasting them. Pity the instructions weren’t better (or written instead of verbal) because they were either over-cooked (probably) or bunya nuts aren’t what they’re cracked up to be. We certainly couldn’t cut the nuts with a knife – a hacksaw maybe!
    Next time (if there’s ever a next time!) I’ll try one that’s been cooked by someone who knows what they’re doing!
    Nice post Jane : )

    • Hi Dayna,
      I’ve never actually tried them myself but a relative is crazy about them. He compares them to roasted chestnuts. The outer casings are pretty hard! There seems to be a lot of instructions on the Internet now which makes it a lot easier to try them. You can buy them in local markets or specialist shops. Someone told me they make a nice pesto so I wonder if they taste a little like the small pine nuts. Anyway, I’m keen to give them a go. We didn’t bring any home as it was a national park so I’ll have to wait until I come across them another way.
      When you come up to Queensland, perhaps you could locate some Bunya nuts then and give Stephen a try? Let me know if you do and tell me your revised opinion of them!
      Thanks for reading and for your comment, Dayna. I’m busy building an ark for the flooding post-cyclone. 🙂

      • My sister’s in Rocky – haven’t been there long or I’d say her husband would definitely have built them (and the dog) an ark by now!
        And you know, I’ve never had a roasted chestnut?
        Take care Jane : )

        • I hope your sister and family will be safe. I’ve close relatives is Theodore, Mundubbera and Bundaberg so am hoping they’ll be ok. I’ve tried roasted chestnuts on two occasions. The first lot were awful – I think they were too old. The second time they were quite addictive. Thanks Dayna. 🙂

    • Thank you for those lovely words, John. Yes, I am very close to my son and I am thankful that he still enjoys spending some of his precious spare time with his mother. I am truly blessed to have him for a son. I’m glad the love was obvious to you. Always a pleasure to hear from you. I hope you have a beautiful day. 🙂

  3. These hikes are SO entertaining. This time I think I would have trailed behind snapping photos of you and your son (a couple of rain forest nerds) getting waylaid by insects, fungus, fruits and nuts, and certainly by any oddity along the way! How great is that? I quite agree with John, that the love between mom and son really stands out here… the allowing of long stops and love of environment. I cannot wait to read, “Attack Of The Killer Seagulls”… I find that title highly intriguing!! You crack me up with your very candid look at life on these hikes. I feel like I am walking with you… and I am quite sure I’d be hugging my ribs in laughter! I love the way you express in writing, your photographs are excellent, and I learn so much about your area. Fascinating! 🙂

    • Thanks Lori! I wish you could join us for a walk because I think you’d really add to the fun atmosphere. I’m sure you’d be great company and a photographic essay of mother and son nerdy escapades would probably be something that could be used on a sitcom of sorts. We are a little “different.” The way my son sees an insect or something else, gets in the “zone” and almost runs to it reminds me of a beagle who has picked up a scent. I’ve been delighted that we can still enjoy the outdoors like this and it made some of the past challenges of living in remote areas worth it. Thanks for your enthusiastic praise. I hope you won’t be disappointed by the seagull story. I may have exaggerated it “slightly” by calling it Attack of the Killer Seagull but it was an amusing experience for me. Enjoy your weekend, Lori! 🙂

  4. I’ll remember never to walk under a Bunya pine without a helmet on! 😉

    Sometimes, it’s good to dawdle and take the time to see the sights and hear the sounds of nature as you did on this day. The rewards in the form of photos was obvious, so many wonderful things you two found. I loved the photos of the trees in the rainforest, we have nothing like that where I live.

    • Thanks Jerry! Yes, do be careful when you are walking under all those bunya pines every week to always wear a helmet. 😉 I did feel silly and a bit irresponsible afterwards.
      I’m glad you liked the pictures. I do feel fortunate to live so close to forests of this kind. Despite having seen these tall trees before, I still can’t help but be in awe of their size. Perhaps there was a little emotion in that tree hug… 😉
      I’m really hoping to be able to visit your area one day. I still can’t comprehend the size of the Great Lakes. Your amazing variety of birdlife is something I would like to experience as well. Thanks for reading and your kind comments, Jerry. 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind comments! Sometimes a place doesn’t live up to its name but Mt Glorious certainly does. Slow walking in rainforests means you do tend to notice more and you often get a chance to observe shy wildlife. I am planning to visit Mt Warning in the south and wonder if it will live up to its name also… Thanks for reading and your kind support of my blog. It’s appreciated! 🙂

  5. I did not know about the dangers of walking under the bunya pines! Thank you for that! I so love that you get to do these walks/adventures with your kids. It’s just so precious. Thank you for sharing the peace of your hikes with us. Xx

    • I’d heard about the dangers but really didn’t have them in my mind. Since the tree is right next to the picnic grounds I am wondering if a warning sign may be appropriate. After all, I am sure that many visitors wouldn’t know about it. Imagine a little child being hit by one of those! Eek. I’m glad my post will warn readers. I’d hate to think of you or your family getting flattened. I do enjoy the rare times I get to go on walks with my kids. After this year all three will be in their 20s so I need to make the most of it before they fly off to distant lands and I don’t see them for 10 years. 😉 I hope all is well with you and your beautiful children. Thanks for reading and kindly commenting. Safe travels and lovely days. XX

      • We are doing well – it helps to be in one spot for two months! We can get some routines happening and catch up on sleep. And we are finally back on the east coast – as we crossed the Divide and the humidity hit me for the first time…I nearly burst into tears! And after this we are heading homewards – another sit immediately after, and in “home soil” – so glad.

        • Yes, it must be a relief to be in one spot for a while. It can be exhausting to have to keep packing up and moving on frequently. I hope it’s a relaxing house sit. It’s a good thing you aren’t up here in Queensland at the moment with this cyclone and rain business happening! So glad to hear life is improving and that you’ll be in “home soil” again in the future. It’s been a difficult and challenging experience. I couldn’t have done it. X

    • Thank you! The tadpoles were beauties. Here in Australia we have a nasty import called the Cane Toad. It was brought in originally to control the cane beetle, but it has caused a lot of damage to local wildlife which die when they eat it or attack it because it is very poisonous. Many of our reptiles and mammals were affected and it also competes with native frog species. We’ve tried to contain its spread but its extremely difficult. It’s quite depressing to only see cane toads in the back yard for months on end. This is one reason we get so very excited when we see other frog species and tadpoles. I’ve been told the ones on our walk are not cane toad tadpoles and since they were enormous, they must be a good size as adults. I’m curious about what they are now. Thanks for reading and commenting. Your blog posts are always interesting. 🙂

  6. Such a grand and wonderful walk…I go with the horticulture people from time to time and have come to realize they can spend an hour going 20 feet. I am teaching them about the importance of goals and they are reciprocating by teaching me to thoroughly enjoy the moment; it seems to be a good working relationship.

    • Hi Charlie! Sorry to take so long to reply but your comment somehow found its way into the spam folder! I only just found it now. Thank you for your lovely comments. Yes, I can imagine that horticulture people would be slow walkers. So many things would grab their attention. Having had a lot of contact with scientists in my life I’ve noticed that a few of them can need help with organisation of other aspects of their life as their passion for their topic can sometimes override everything else, such as the need to eat and look after themselves! So I can understand the mutually satisfying relationship between you and your group. Slowing down is something I had to learn as I used to be someone who couldn’t relax. I always felt I had to be doing something. I’m glad you enjoyed the walk. Thanks for reading, following and taking the time to comment. 🙂

    • Thanks! You are most welcome to join the tortoise-pace nature appreciation club with us. There is always a place on my walks for more tree huggers. I would love to share this special place with you. I hope you’ve been able to venture outside for more walking. I know your winters can linger for quite some time though. Looking forward to more of your beautiful photos from Montana – such a contrast to my own area. I’m so glad you enjoyed our hike. 🙂

    • Hi! It’s funny how different tiny creatures can look magnified. Some look quite cute, some look funny and others like this weevil, can look a bit scary or wicked. 🙂 Tough Cookie is a blog nickname I have made up for my daughter. People tend to think she looks fragile however she has a lot of mental and physical strength – much more than me! She was great at helping me get fit again after a few years of illness – she was firm but gentle. Very good at giving me a push when I need it sometimes! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Have a lovely weekend! 🙂

  7. What a wonderful walk (and great photos, especially that fungi).
    It would have taken me days to do that walk as I probably stop and linger for nature observation and photos more than anyone.

    • Thanks! It’s nice to know there are other slow walkers about! As I wrote in reply to someone elses comment, perhaps I should start a tortoise-pace nature appreciation club. 🙂 There are so many little (and big) treasures to photograph in a rainforest. I’m hoping to visit forests in Tasmania and in Northern Queensland one day. Thanks for reading and commenting. Lovely to hear from you. 🙂

    • Thanks Brittany! My daughter was just reminding me of all the gruesome nature documentaries she used to watch as a very young child. You know the ones where you watch a cute little animal get born and start growing up and then it gets attacked and eaten by another creature! They can get pretty gory sometimes. There weren’t any killings in this post (although I suppose the bunya pine could have squashed me) but the next one may actually include a bit more drama of the intimidating greedy-eyed creature kind. Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Brittany. 🙂

  8. Very nice of you to take us along on this enchanting hike…imagining summer in Australia is a nice diversion from the bone-chilling cold of our Michigan winter. Thanks for visiting my blog so I could “discover” yours!

    • Thank you, Kim! I’ve been reading about your bitterly cold Michigan winters. I saw a news report about Niagara Falls freezing over again in the chilly temps! I can imagine our summer pictures must be a real contrast for you. I enjoy following people from other countries for this reason. I find it fascinating how we can be experiencing such different weather and landscapes. Reading about the wildlife and plants in other countries is also very interesting. Thank you for reading, commenting and following, Kim. I look forward to experiencing your own area through the magic of blogdom! 🙂

  9. Really enjoyed this Jane! I think I have a bunya pine near my work – one huge cone fell to the ground recently but I forgot to grab some nuts! The pictures of the forest and the fungus are beautiful. How wonderful to enjoy a walk with your grown-up son!

    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m hoping to buy some bunya nuts soon and try out a few recipes. I’m just glad I didn’t get a cone on my head! It was a lovely slow wander with my son. I do enjoy the time I get to spend with my grown up kids. Thanks for reading and for the lovely comments! I really enjoy your blog too. 🙂

  10. Jane, I’m so glad you came to visit me today. If you hadn’t I would have most likely missed this beautiful post. What a lovely sojourn for you and your son that day! The photographs were worth the slow hike, and thank you so much for sharing them with us.
    It seems we have a similar history here in the US with our own aboriginal peoples. It is so heartbreaking to think of what our ancestors did to them. Knowing we can’t change it makes it all the more difficult to contemplate.

    • Hi Lynda, I’ve been a little busy lately and haven’t had as much time to read my favourite blogs and make comments but I’m at home today and trying to catch up, hence I popped into your blog. Thanks so much for stopping by, reading and the kind comments. I’m very glad you enjoyed the post. It was a lovely outing and I hope to steal my lad away again one day soon.
      Yes, it is heartbreaking to know what has been done to Indigenous people in our countries. All we can do is acknowledge the truth, ask for forgiveness and do our best to make amends to future generations by removing the inequalities that exist today. Although improvements have been made, unfortunately in my country there is still a great deal more work to be done in this area, especially in regards to health and education.
      It’s lovely to hear from you again. I hope you enjoy your snow treat! 🙂

  11. What a wonderful walk. I thoroughly enjoyed traipsing along with you.
    Isn’t it funny how things come at the right time. I didn’t even know what a lilly pilly fruit was until yesterday when we took my in-laws up to check my SIL’s farm (she’s OS at the moment). MIL pointed out that the lilly pilly tree had fruit and since it was fenced rather well (to keep the goats out) the Garden Gnome had a little difficulty in reaching the fruit but he did pick some. My MIL got me to taste it and it really is quite nice. Crunchy with a sort of tart, floury apple taste.
    Very cool indeed.

    • Thanks Suze,
      Before I forget I must apologise ahead of time for not keeping up with reading people’s blogs. I’ve had a really chaotic week now that the Uni semester has started and the family are all trying to mesh travel times etc. I am struggling to get any blog stuff written too. Anyway, that will settle down eventually.
      I haven’t actually tasted the lilly pilly fruit yet despite seeing them about so often. Now that you have tried it and described it I must give it go! Yes, it is funny how we can read things and experience things associated with them almost right after or vice versa. That often happens to me
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post and it’s lovely to hear from you! I hope you have a good week. Thanks. 🙂

    • Hi! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and there were new things for you to see. There are often new things for me to see on my own walks too! Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m enjoying your blog as well. 🙂

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