A few years ago, Australian Geographic listed the 17.4km, class 4 Coomera Circuit in Lamington National Park as one of the 16 best day walks in Australia. I’m not usually someone who takes much notice of “best of” or “top 10” lists. In fact, I usually avoid them because of their subjectivity. However, in this case I’d have to agree. The numerous waterfalls, creek crossings and lush rainforest justify its inclusion.
It was difficult for me to believe that the city of Brisbane and the bustling tourist resorts of the Gold Coast were only about an hour drive away when I was immersed in dark earthy rainforest and soothed by the constant murmuring and gushing of flowing water. Without a phone signal for several hours my escape from the outside world seemed complete.
On this occasion I was not alone though. I shared this mind-massaging walk with Kevin, Goin’ Feral One Day At A Time. Kevin and his lovely partner Sam had travelled all the way north from Melbourne to relax and do a few walks at the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park.
This particular trip was tentatively planned about a year ago but after recent events in my life, I’d decided to cancel my part in it. While I may be good at making plans, I’m even better at cancelling them, especially when it involves meeting people socially for the first time or having a holiday. There always seems to be work or family crises that take priority and since I’m also a shy person, postponing meet-ups tends to be my default mode of operating. On this occasion though, I was persuaded to do something out of character.
Now if you’ve been following my blog for a long while you’ll know that I have a love-hate relationship with technology. This trip was a reminder to me of my ambivalence. Through the wonders of technology, Kevin and I both discovered hikingfiasco.com blog some years ago. In fact, it was when I first read Greg’s long rambling tales written in his distinctive humorous and self-depreciating style that I contemplated writing my own blog. For an amusing and straight talking summary of his recent 6 weeks travelling through the outback and some beautiful Milky Way shots, click here.
It’s because of our mutual appreciation of Greg’s blog that Kevin and I met up and enjoyed this beautiful hike. Technology is a great way for people with shared interests from across the world to make contact. However, losing my phone signal on this walk and being surrounded by wilderness gave me a much needed break from the constant demands of technology. For a short time I was unreachable. If you want to cut the umbilical cord or should I say, the chains of slavery to your phone and computer screen then head to the Coomera Circuit.
Now, leading up to this meeting I was a little nervous about how I was going to keep up with Kevin. After all, he’s done walks such as Ben Nevis in Scotland, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea and plenty of other challenging walks. With my back injuries, an addiction to the camera, my midget build and very little walking done in weeks, I was expecting Kevin to feel frustrated by my snail pace. It was a relief when I discovered he doesn’t necessarily view hiking as a race from A to B. He also likes to take photos, so for the first time I found myself in the unusual position of waiting for a walking partner to take shots. Without the intrusion of phone calls, a walking companion who wasn’t rushing me and magnificent surroundings, there was little chance I could dislike this walk.
For me the magic of Lamington National Park began earlier in the day, before our walk. While Kevin was catching up on sleep from his long drive north I was up taking a few shots of the changing colours during the sunrise from Binna Burra Lodge on the top of the mountain. I have an internal clock that wakes me around 5am every day no matter how tired I am. It’s not appreciated by family members…
What can I say about the Coomera Circuit? It’s all about the water really. With so many creek crossings and waterfalls surrounded by giant trees, vines, fungi and vibrant green moss, I found myself unable to think or say anything other than “wow,” “stunning,” “beautiful” and yes, even the much overused “awesome.”
The walk is around 18 km long if you add the distance from the carpark and further if you are walking from your accommodation at the Binna Burra Lodge, as we did. Whether you take the walk clock-wise or anticlockwise depends on what you want to experience first. We went anticlockwise but I’ve heard some other walkers prefer the clockwise route with the falls being the climax of the day. I enjoyed getting down into the gorge early on though as I was eager for my fix of waterfalls.
I found the walking paths easy as the switchbacks reduce the gradient considerably, however the multiple creek crossings can be slippery and dangerous depending on how much water is flowing. I discovered that while my new Merrell hiking shoes are great on dry trails, slippery wet mossy rocks are another matter. My short legs meant walking from boulder to boulder was not easy on a couple of occasions.
My memory of the walk is very much a blur of falls, creeks and greenery so I’m mainly going to share photos for the rest of this post. I’ve been told the circuit can be leech heaven in summer but it was winter when we did it so perhaps that’s why we didn’t pick up any.
To be honest, I am someone who can feel overwhelmed and claustrophobic after hours spent in dark rainforests. However, after spending the previous couple of months travelling to dry country areas the lush green rainforest was a welcome change. I returned to do Dave’s Creek Circuit on my own later. It is shorter and if you prefer a wide variety of vegetation, cliff paths and blue skies to solid rainforest, I’d recommend it as a great medium length walk.
For detailed information about Lamington National Park, including walking maps, please check the QLD National Parks website here.
I’ll be heading north-west again this week to sort out some problems associated with my relative’s accommodation. I may not have Internet again so I apologise ahead of time for lack of personal contact. Thanks for reading!