Before I launch into this walk, I must first apologise for my absence. Whilst taking a break from writing I’d still hoped to be able to continue reading and commenting on other blogs, however a few unexpected events have kept me away from the Internet. I will endeavour to catch up on what you’ve all been up to.
And to those trusting people who sent me their addresses to receive postcards, I’m sorry they will arrive late. I was waiting until my handwriting became legible again after a surprise visit from my old pal, rheumatoid arthritis. I can slowly type but holding a pen and forming something other than abstract scratching is challenging. I guess it mirrors receiving holiday postcards these days. Often people receive them well after travellers have returned home. You’ll be receiving mine after my return to blogging.
Now to my recent wanders with my long suffering daughter, Tough Cookie…
Mt Cordeaux or “Niamboyoo” as it is traditionally known by Yugarabul people, is one of two peaks rising on either side of Cunningham’s Gap in Main Range National Park, southwest of Brisbane in Queensland and rises 1,135 m. I wrote Falling in Love with Mt Cordeaux for BushwalkingBlog last year but after a winter visit to the peak with my daughter recently I wanted to share more of its magic. Specific details about this 6.8 km class 4 walk can be found at the Queensland National Parks link.
This walk left me mildly shocked because it actually went to plan. We didn’t get lost or as I prefer to say, take “detours.” There were no bloodsucking critters or roaring bushfires and we started and finished on time despite my complaining joints and the effusive appearance of my camera. I didn’t lose my keys or mobile phone down the long drop toilets, or perhaps I should use the more modest words of le Tour de France commentators, “whilst taking a natural break.” I somehow managed to avoid a tumble from cliff edges and my first close encounter with a stinging nettle was uneventful so I don’t even have an impressive rash to show you.
Although the walk went smoothly it wasn’t devoid of excitement. I risked cardiac arrest at the sight of so many species of fungi along the track.
Fungi fever had me firmly in its gilled grip. I couldn’t understand why other walkers went by without any interest in these spongy delights. Surely there are few things that can successfully compete with such mycological magnificence?
We even tried to be a little “high tech” photographing them. My daughter shone the light from her mobile phone on specimens as my camera flash was too harsh at such close quarters.
What often stands out for me about rainforest walks is the contrast between giant and tiny botanical life. Mt Cordeaux is part of Main Range National Park which is world heritage listed and protects many vulnerable species. On this walk you’ll find towering giants such as hoop pines, giant stinging trees, black booyong, yellow carabeen, scrub bloodwood and gap axe trees. It was difficult for me to capture the scale of these leviathans with my camera.
Here are more modest sized botanical specimens, many of which can be found on the rocky exposed outcrop at the tip of Mt Cordeaux.
Early European settlers often referred to rainforest as “scrub” and it must have seemed like an impenetrable wall of green to them after coming from distant, much tamer lands to eke out a living from labouring, farming and grazing in Australia. My grandfather along with other poor German farmers used large hand saws to remove giant trees before burning or pulling out the stumps. It was part of life and not maliciously done at the time. Thankfully many of our remaining areas of rainforest are protected now.
On a recent walk in Springbrook I came across the remains of this 1000 year old tree. A decaying stump is all that is left of this magnificent New England Blackbutt (Eucalyptus andrewsii), felled because it posed a danger to a small schoolhouse next door.
These words from a Mark O’Connor poem recall how it felt for some whose job was to remove these green giants:
“I think of a patch like a cathedral floor
where I sawed all day in the cool,
never saw the sun; and we walked an hour
to find two trees the same – a world
where you worshipped what you killed
not doubting it would rise again.”
Mark O’Connor, A Queenslander Remembers the Twentieth Century, The Great Forest.
At times the Cordeaux rainforest enclosed us in darkness with only a little dappled light to guide our way.
As the track zigzagged around the side of the mountain we were treated to more light.
On many occasions we were at risk of green overdose and it was easy for the mind to start imagining mystical tales as we passed through hanging gardens and magical mossy kingdoms.
In a few places, landslides or fallen trees opened up the skyline again.
Sometimes the track passed by cliffs giving views of distant ranges. The mountain on the right is Mt Mitchell from my very first blog post.
Here is Mt Greville on the right, where I had a close encounter with a bushfire.
At the exposed rocky top, giant spear orchids clung to the sides and grass trees showed off their crazy hairstyles.
Here is a shot of the tip from a previous walk, which better shows the orchids.
The coastline and distant lakes and mountains on the southern side of the mountain can be viewed, before walking back down again to the carpark and braving the trucks on the highway home. Lake Moogerah can be seen in this first picture.
Here are a few shots from earlier walks to Mt Cordeaux which show the views from the top more clearly. It was less smoky on those days.
At first we thought we’d have the top of the mountain to ourselves. Our hopes were short-lived when a couple arrived and a little later, a whole bushwalking group. I sometimes think we need to invent a few extra words for hiking. The Germans have a name for that feeling of pleasant solitude when walking through forest – waldeinsamkeit. I’d like a word which describes how you feel when you’ve been trudging up a mountain looking forward to the quiet rest and and a leisurely food break at the top but instead you are disappointed and frustrated to find you’re not alone. You can feel the vibes from other walkers who were hoping for the same experience. You are pleasant to each other, recognising that you want the same thing but also slightly annoyed by the intrusion. Inevitably you take the world’s fastest landscape shots and trudge back down again thinking, “Why do I come here? It’s too popular. I’m not doing this again!” But you will do it again because it’s such a great walk and at least you’re less likely to be murdered because there are too many witnesses.
Back at the car park we watched this first truck stall a few times around the steep and perilous bend and then completely stop on the road. A small sedan following was nearly sandwiched when the second empty grain truck came hurtling behind it. The popularity and the sometimes treacherous Cunningham highway are the only aspects of this walk I don’t like.
I shared another hike with my son and daughter at Toohey’s Forest in Brisbane over the university holidays which didn’t run so smoothly so I am now back in mildly extreme mode and should completely recover from the uncharacteristically perfect Mt Cordeaux walk. Sometimes too much perfection reminds us how much we appreciate the imperfections of other people and places more, especially when trying to write an interesting blog post. 😉
For more information about Mt Cordeaux Track and other walks in Main Range here is a detailed brochure.
Thanks for reading and for your patience as I catch up with your blogging activities. 🙂