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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He likes fungi as much as I do so of course we had to stop to take images of these too.
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.
And speaking of scale, here’s my six foot tall son showing you just how big the trunk of this fallen tree is.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m curious about what species of adult they will become.
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.
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.”