Castle Rock, Turtle Rock and the Sphinx – Girraween National Park

I blame the birds. I really do. I’m sure it had nothing to do with any lack of self-control on my part or my obsessive compulsive photograph-taking, or being too lazy to leave a toasty warm bed on a freezing morning. Yes, it was definitely the birds’ fault I started my official walk  much later than expected.

Girraween National Park, near Stanthorpe in southern Queensland, is one of my favourite places but is best walked in the cooler months as it is rocky and exposed. Mid-winter to spring is also when the park comes alive with wildflowers.

Girraween flowers wattle

Girraween flowers

Girraween flowers

Girraween flower

Girraween wattle and bee

Girraween banksia

Girraween purple flowers

Girrween flowers heather

I first wrote about my love of Girraween in the blog post, The Pyramid, the Big Apple and a Little Taste of Italy. Its fascinating rock features, including massive granite boulders and tors, make it attractive to geology buffs, and those who appreciate the spooky atmosphere of walking among towering monoliths. Who doesn’t love a good rock?

Girraween Rocks

Girraween rocks

Girraween rock

Girraween rock


My Girraween walks in the past have always been rushed as it’s  a three hour journey from my home and I prefer not to risk hitting kangaroos or to negotiate the steep winding roads of Cunningham’s Gap in darkness. To guarantee an early walking start and a leisurely stroll, this time I splurged on a cheap Stanthorpe motel room the night before. I would have camped but Girraween is so popular that sites needs to be booked weeks, sometimes months in advance.  With this plan in place, I’d be assured a sunrise start to my walk…

Stanthorpe has the honour of being one of the coldest towns in Queensland. It regularly has frosts and sometimes even snow. I’m a fan of cold weather though and it’s usually not too difficult for me to get out of bed early. Unfortunately, the motel room had an electric blanket that kept me trapped in its cosy depths through repeated phone alarms. Never underestimate the tenacity of an electric blanket’s grip.  They are evil. No-one, especially me,  can escape their seductive delights.  The sun rose without me.

Despite this, I managed to arrive at the day car park and picnic grounds at 8.30am, in plenty of time to finish my walk to Mt Norman and be home before dark.

Girraween walk

It is here that the conniving birds began their onslaught though. It seems the car park area next to the creek is a favourite of many bird species and on this occasion they started to congregate around me.

Laughing Kookaburra

Avian attractions sent me into a dizzying spin and before long I was trapped once again, but this time in a cycle of frenetic camera clicking. Just when I zipped my camera up to turn around and begin the walking trail, another curious bird would appear nearby or call out to tease me. Someone please put me out of my misery. Don’t let me walk alone to be hypnotised in this feathery fashion!

eastern yellow robin

scarlet robin female

When I related this incident to my daughter – how nature thwarted my attempt to keep to a strict and sensible plan – she replied, “Awww, Mum, you’re like Snow White when all the creatures in the woods surrounded her and she started to sing.”

red-browed finch

red wattle bird

White browed scrubwren

white- eared honeyeater

While that image does sound delightful, I can’t remember Snow White ever attracting ticks, mosquitoes or leeches. Nor can I picture her wearing a sensible floppy hat, a baggy old shirt and hiking pants, a thick coating of sunscreen and insect repellent, or being red-faced and dripping with sweat. If you want to test a potential partner’s devotion to you, drag them on a summer walk in the Australian bush. If they still profess undying love  they’re probably a keeper. It’s a good test for all those years of bodily deterioration to come.

Now, where was I? Oh yes. The birds. While I’d like to think it resembled a scene from Snow White (and I wish I could look as enchanting in a corseted dress) I have a sneaking suspicion it was more like a bird’s version of funniest home videos – a comedy where I am the source of entertainment. If you’ve spent a lot of time with pet birds it is easy to believe they do have a sense of humour and spend their time laughing at us in their own fashion. I’m sure they spotted me, a perfect victim, immediately. How can we foil this silly human’s attempts to leave early for her walk?  They also enlisted the help of the flowers and the interesting rocks around the creek line.

Here’s a picture of a black male satin bower bird and its bower area decorated with blue bottle caps. The greenish female (lower down) is quite different in appearance and sometimes confused with a catbird.  The bower was right next to the picnic ground carpark, a handy spot for the male to turn rubbish left by humans into treasures.

Satin Bower Bird

Satin Bower bird in bower

Satin Bower bird bower

Satin Bower Bird female

With the whole of nature, living and non-living, plotting against me, it was no wonder it took me TWO HOURS just to leave the picnic area, creek and car park. As I said, I blame the birds. Oh yes, and the marsupials grazing with such furry appeal.

Girraween marsupial

Girraween kangaroo

After deciding the Mt Norman Track would now take too long, I chose to limit the walk to Turtle Rock and the Sphinx, with a short side visit to Castle Rock. This class 3/class 4 trail is  7.4 km return but with the added 500 metre side track to  Castle Rock is 8.4 km. While most of it is a comfortable walk in cold weather, I can imagine it being a very thirsty slog in summer with reflected heat coming off the granite.

Turtle Rock track

I left my hiking poles in the car as they can be a little annoying. This was a stupid decision. Although the track is not too difficult there are plenty of steps, some rocky. It was inevitable the walk would end in knee pain for me.

Turtle Rock track

This track quickly leaves the cooler vegetation of the car park creek behind and as it rises, the area becomes much drier. With few of those pesky birds to slow me down you’d think I’d be Speedy Gonzales, but that’s when those sneaky large rock formations foiled my plans to set a cracking pace. You can never trust a decent rock can you? It’s not that I have an obsessive need to record everything I see. I don’t have a problem, really. It’s nature’s fault for being so annoyingly fascinating.

This boulder reminded me of a porcupine…or maybe a hedgehog…a guinea pig…or a snail…or maybe just a rock?

Girraween Rock porcupine

Girraween Rock

Castle rock

Along the trail to Turtle Rock, I made a 500 metre side detour out to Castle Rock. As I pondered scaling a section of steep slippery granite slab at Castle Rock, I couldn’t help but envy those with normal length legs. One or two steps and it would be crossed. Me? Well, if the birds were still around, they’d have chirped their little beaks off in amusement at my awkward, bottom-in-the air scrambling. Oh well, what I lack in leg length, I make up for in derrière width.

Girraween Rock

Girraween Rock

From Castle Rock I was able to view Mt Norman and my planned destination – Turtle Rock and the Sphinx.

Mt Norman

The Sphinx and Turtle Rock

Turtle Rock trail

It’s unlikely I’ll make it to Egypt to see The Sphinx, so I took plenty of time to enjoy Australia’s own version before moving on to Turtle Rock. Take a close look at the nose of the Sphinx. Can you see the small balancing rock? Did someone put it there?

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

Below is part of Turtle Rock. Once you are next to it, it’s hard to photograph in its entirety. It’s easier to see its resemblance to a turtle from Castle Rock.  By this stage there was no time  for me to explore the surroundings of Turtle Rock or ski down its slippery slopes.This may have been a good thing as an encounter with a slithery beast later made me wonder how many venomous reptiles were hidden in the rock crevices.

Turtle Rock


As I predicted, the return walk was painful. My knees don’t like going down steps and before long I was cursing my stupidity at leaving the hiking poles behind. At this point I wouldn’t have cared if a rare bird hit me in the face. I was too focused on getting through each step without my knee exploding. In this heightened state of pain, I neglected to see a huge venomous red-bellied black snake lying by the path in front of me until it moved slightly and flattened its body in an aggressive/defensive stance.

red bellied black snake

Girraween red-bellied black snake

Red-bellied black snakes are not usually known for being aggressive though. They generally slither off when they sense you approaching. But this one may have already been stirred up by previous walkers and my boots almost standing on it didn’t help. I backtracked and stomped on the ground hoping it would just slither off but it stayed put.

girraween red bellied black snake 9

Girraween red bellied black snake

I couldn’t stay there forever waiting so I took a detour into the bush and made a wide path around it. As I did this, it decided to slither across the path towards me. I’ve read that when escaping, this species will sometimes appear to move towards you as if being aggressive, when they are actually heading to a place behind you for safety.  As you can imagine, this can be slightly disconcerting.

Girraween red bellied black snake

If Shing Xiang’s words are true, that “At the end of your life it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away” then I strongly suggest a close encounter with a venomous snake to make your life more meaningful.  I’m not sure how long I stopped breathing. From a safe distance I used my zoom  to take a few shots. My photos don’t show how vibrant the beautiful black and red colouration was.

Shortly afterwards, I came up with a brilliant idea. Perhaps the snake appearance shocked it out of me. When you read this I am sure you will be amazed. Instead of my hiking poles, I realised that I could have picked up any one of the hundreds of suitably sized sticks along the path to use instead. I know. My intelligence and creativity are astounding. Who would have thought you could use a humble stick instead of a pair of $70 hiking poles for support. I mean, I bet no-one in human history has ever thought of that invention?  I think I deserve the entrepreneurial award of the year. I always knew there were brains lurking somewhere in that predominantly hollow skull.

Anyway, I made it back in one piece. After some stretching exercises back in the carpark, and swallowing down a few magnesium capsules to reduce muscle spasms, my knee vastly improved. I said goodbye to my new stick buddy and began the three hour drive home. It’s strange how you can grow fond of an inanimate object. I missed my stick. It reminded me of Tom Hank’s affection for his coconut friend, Wilson, in the movie, Castaway.


Queensland National Parks site has detailed information about Girraween walks and camping areas but there is also a fantastic Girraween resource site which has extensive photographic galleries and identification of many species of plants, birds, reptiles and mammals as well as detailed information about geological formations in the area. Please check out this wonderful site to see what Girraween has to offer.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

59 thoughts on “Castle Rock, Turtle Rock and the Sphinx – Girraween National Park

  1. Fantastic!!!!! You have been privileged to meet one of our most beautiful reptiles in its element (and probably my mostest favouritest native species), and you have handled the encounter with grace ( I know you are not a big snake fan) and captured some excellent photos to boot. They can look pretty scary but really are not known for pursuing vendettas against walkers. Good idea not to put a boot on one though, lol!!

    Another great read, oh and the bird shots were wonderful too. We’re pretty lucky to have places where you can so many great feathered things right near the car park.

    Cheers, Rob.

    • Thanks for you enthusiastic and encouraging comments, Rob! 🙂 My son’s favourite Australian snake is the red-bellied black and I’m impressed with their beautiful underbelly colouration and shiny black top too. It had been a very long time since I had seen one. I think the last time may have been when I was a child and my father killed one in our yard. Most of the time I see brown snakes. I also see a lot of gorgeous carpet pythons around here and a big one lives in my garage and house ceiling sometimes and eats the rats and possums. I appreciate the beauty of snakes, but you are right that I am not a fan of coming close to highly venomous ones on walks, particularly when I am alone and don’t have phone reception. This experience is a reminder that winter doesn’t mean no snakes in Queensland. In fact, I am more likely to see them warming themselves on paths in winter where I want to walk. I was quite surprised by how flattened this one was as I know that red-bellied blacks aren’t usually aggressive. I should have been watching where I was walking. I tend to walk softly so as not to scare birds etc but when it comes to avoiding getting bitten by a snake it is far better to have a heavy step and be noisy. Yes, we are very lucky to have wonderful places like Girraween where so many bird species are active near the car park. It’s particularly good for people who aren’t mobile enough to walk the trails. Thanks for your kind support as usual. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thank you! I took hundreds of photos and wished I could have shared more but the blog post was already too long. Even though I was initially frightened by the snake, it was exciting to finally have a few shots to share. They are beautiful creatures even though they are venomous. 🙂

  2. Just superb. Great shots and good yarn. Looks like you’ve had a great time! Used to go their as a kid. Wonderful place.

    • Thanks very much, Ben. I did indeed have a fantastic time (apart from the knee pain) and hope to return to Girraween soon. It’s a fantastic place for kids to explore. I think I’d be quite nervous taking little ones up the Pyramid but I’ve seen others do it successfully. They are probably more agile and have better balance than most adults, I guess! 🙂

  3. Haha you finally figured out the use of a stick! Lol. This reminded me a bit of the inca trail, where entrepeneurial villagers sell sticks to tourists who think they won’t need poles but they do. Thanks for the chuckle. A great day out!

    • Haha, thanks! I’m glad you appreciated my amazing bright idea! I hope that people who don’t speak English as a first language understand that I was joking. Sometimes Australian sarcasm is a bit confusing. Thanks for your Inca Trail story. That made me laugh. I’m glad the locals can make some extra money from we tourists. I can’t imagine getting far on the Inca Trail without a pole/stick! That’s a lot more challenging than Girraween. 🙂

    • Thanks!I’m pleased you appreciate one of my favourite places too. 🙂 There are many walks I haven’t completed so I’m hoping to head back before the really hot weather arrives. Sitting by the creek under a shady tree is more appealing than walking in summer at Girraween. 🙂

    • Thank you. The flowers are beautiful at the moment but will really get blooming in spring. I’m hoping to make another quick trip there again to see them. 🙂

  4. Fabulous post and I recognised so many of my favourite birds and flowers. The Purple Coral Pea has just come into bloom in Melbourne too. Your bird shots are wonderful and I was pleased to see the male Satin Bower Bird as I’ve never managed to get a good shot of him at Melbourne Zoo.

    You’ve also included 2 of my favourite quotes, so all round, the post was a perfect read.

    • Thanks very much, Vicki. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post and it is lovely that we both share an appreciation for those quotes. The male bower birds can be tricky to get a good shot of but the one at Girraween was either very curious or a bit of a show off. Maybe he thought I had a new blue bottle top for his bower? I’ve seen bower decorations in other places and they have contained many types of blue rubbish and items such as wrappers and plastic clothes pegs but there only seemed to be blue water bottle lids in this one. At least it means that people aren’t littering as much at Girraween. I do like the pretty colours of native peas. There’ll be more plants flowering in spring and I hope to return then. 🙂

  5. I do love a good rock. Wonderful pictures. I was just talking to a friend lately about what a good idea not having lots of venomous snakes around here is.

    • I knew you would appreciate a good rock, Tom! 🙂 Thanks for the kind words about my pictures. I do love how easy my new camera is to get close-ups of birds…and now snakes! It really is quite a simple design that suits someone with limited technical skills like me. One thing I have definitely been looking forward to about hiking in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England is the absence of venomous snakes. That seems quite amazing to me having grown up always having to be extremely careful even in my own backyard. Sadly, it seems there are still ticks in the UK though. A friend told me about one getting under their child’s eyelid. I’ve not been brave enough to research if your ticks carry Lyme disease. My son is still waiting to see if he’ll be moving to England next year but in the meantime I am researching walks in Wales and Scotland. Whether my son moves, I would still like to make my first overseas trip to your region. I don’t think you have many venomous spiders either? We certainly have plenty of those. Best wishes. 🙂

  6. Words cannot explain how much I enjoyed this post. It is a great pleasure to read your work and look at your stunning photographs. One scroll through is not enough, i shall have several looks.

    • Thank you very much, Susan. You are too kind. It’s easy to take photographs in a place such as Girraween. It has so much to see and enjoy. I left out a lot of pictures which showed the strange effects of weathering on different kinds of rocks. I will probably go back again before the hot weather returns. It’s especially peaceful during week days. I only saw a few people the whole day I was there. I hope you are well. As I wrote to Tom, I do hope to visit the UK next year or the year after to do some walking in Scotland or Wales. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Haha…thanks very much, Nic. I laugh when I think of me being a Snow White for many reasons. Being dainty is a struggle for me, as is singing sweetly. Yes, Girraween has many drawcards, including those “pesky” birds! I love the place. Thanks for visiting again. Best wishes! 🙂

  7. I am amazed at how many different birds you saw in such a short space of time and all near the car-park! Your photographs are superb, of the birds and flowers especially but those strange rocks are fascinating too! I am so glad you didn’t get bitten by that snake – he was rather large!

    • Thanks very much, Clare. I had quite a few other bird pictures but they were a little too blurry or just showed a fluffy rump. I saw white winged choughs, a thrush and another couple of honeyeater species as well as a few water birds at the creek. Girraween has a lot of dry rocky areas so the birds do tend to congregate closer to the water sources. Fortunately the carpark and picnic grounds are right next to one. On my actual trail walk I hardly saw any birds. I’m also glad I didn’t get bitten as I had no phone reception and you are meant to stay as still as possible. I still have to buy a personal locator device for such emergencies. If you look where you are going and make enough noise, snakes are usually not a problem. I was too focused on my knee pain and was not being careful enough. It was rather a large specimen! Thanks for reading and commenting, Clare. Best wishes. 🙂

      • I have begun to get knee pain when I walk, especially if I need to go up steps. I was talking to a nurse at the hospital about it recently and she made a couple of suggestions, both natural remedies that don’t interact with any other medication. I’m not sure if you would be able to get them in Australia but I don’t see why not. They are fairly expensive but will last a long time, apparently.
        The first one is Flexiseq I have no idea what the particles mentioned in the link consist of!
        The other suggestion was Zacin cream which is made from chilli peppers.
        I have also heard wonderful things about the efficacy of turmeric, either adding lots of it to food or as tablets.
        Best wishes, Clare xx

        • Thanks very much for taking the time to share those suggestions, Clare. I will certainly look into them. My knees are usually pretty good as long as I use poles on steep country, Going down a mountain on rocky ground puts the most pressure on them. My physio has told me to keep doing stretches as my calf and thigh muscles get tight and pull on the knee joint. I’ve also heard about the benefits of turmeric and try to add plenty to cooking. I probably need to look at taking it in capsule form though. Since taking extra magnesium three times a day my muscle spasms have decreased as well. Thanks for being so caring. Best wishes. xx

    • Thanks very much, Terry. It certainly is a great destination for those who love birds, flowers and big rocks. Spring is snake mating season so I assume that I might see more of these beautiful reptiles if I make a return visit then. Next time I’ll try to stay more focused on where I put my feet though! Best wishes. 🙂

  8. Wonderful photos and story! I have to say, I’ve had the same problem with a red bellied black snake, and I put it down to their love of sunshine and unwillingness to give up the very best basking spot 🙂 As for the poles, if you’d had them with you the whole way you might not have taken so many photos, so perhaps the sacrifice was worthwhile. Have a wonderful week 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Tamyka. You’re probably right about the snake not wanting to give up its sunny spot in preparation for a chilly night! Interesting that you’ve had a similar experience. You are also right about poles reducing the number of pics I take. They are quite awkward to juggle with a camera. I should use them to give longevity to my knees but I often leave them behind. The stick was actually more comfortable! Happy travels! 🙂

  9. Hey Jane, a top notch post as usual, big rocks and red belly, if you’d managed to fit in a skinny dip as well it would of been the perfect day out for me 😉 Your posts maybe few and far between but like Mr Fiasco they’re always worth the wait. Cheers Kevin

    • Thanks, Kevin. The water in the rock lined creeks was freezing! It’s probably quite refreshing in summer though. I’m not sure the world is ready for me to reveal all by skinny-dipping! And I’m not sure my poor skin is ready for that amount of sunlight either. I know you love a spontaneous clothes-shedding swim though. I’ve actually got plans to write a few quick blog posts in the next two weeks. I’ve had good intentions before though. I have Crow’s Nest, Red Rock, Bribie island, Bare Rock, Gap Creek Falls and my stay at the Mouses House to write up before I forget them completely. We’ll see how I go. Best wishes. 🙂

  10. Great post Jane, loved your bird, wildflowers, rocks and of course snake. We recently had friends we took on walks surprised to find the Red bellies do not necessarily hibernate., being surprised to find them sunning by the track. The other thing is if they approach you they may be returning to their nest behind you, and if this is the case they may attack if you do not move. Love your story, and yes the birds in car parks is one of the famous statement of well known birders, such as Sue Taylor and myself ( not so well known) Car parks are one of the best birding places because they come for food from human trash and the opening in the trees makes for easy photography and bird foraging. Hope you are doing well, it is good to hear from you again. Have a great week!

    • Thanks very much, Ashley. Yes, unlike people in some regions we still have to watch out for snake species in winter. I usually notice them more in mid-winter actually when they are more likely to be sunning themselves on paths. It can be rather disconcerting when a venomous snake moves towards you, whether or not they are being aggressive. 🙂 Yes, it’s certainly my experience that I often see more bird species in car parks of national parks than on the walk itself. It’s a delight to be able to spot so many birds in such a small area. Thanks very much for reading and for taking the time to comment. I always appreciate the encouragement. I hope you have a lovely week too. Best wishes. 🙂

  11. Thanks so much, Jane, for another wonderful post. Girraween is also one of our favourite destinations. Your words are as equally delightful as your pics. Love it. Tony S

    • Thanks very much, Tony, for the encouragement. I’m so pleased you also share a love for Girraween. It’s such a wonderful place to explore, isn’t it? I’ll have to return soon. I also enjoy the local attractions, such as the cheese factory, the apple orchards and the wineries. It’s easy to write about such a great spot. Thanks again. 🙂

  12. Worldclass photos and laughs, again. Congrats to you: Being still alive and breathing life-enhancing breaths. Hopefully your knees are super sound again (or else let me tell you about knee workouts!).
    BTW: A couple of years ago I hiked Kilimanjaro – and we used simple wooden poles, too 😀

    • Thanks very much, Marina. Haha…it seems expensive hiking poles may be over-rated. I like how they can be adjusted to different lengths, have moulded handles, and may be transported easily, but I must say my wooden stick buddy was perfect on this walk! I would have liked to have taken it home but National Parks have rules about removing material (for good reason). Yes, the beautiful snake left me temporarily breathless and I have lived to breathe many more breaths. It was a wonderful walk, indeed. Best wishes. 🙂

  13. Hey Jane, wonderful piece, brilliantly written. Those damn bird always get me, too! The image is wonderfully romantic; Queensland’s answer to Snow White. That just seems weird to even type that. 😀 Your bird shots are a triumph, but I’m really taken by those rocks. It is like Jurassic park, minus the dinosaurs. Although it looks like you encountered a feisty reptile. That is a lot of attitude from the Red-belly. I encountered one of those in NSW. What a beautiful snake. As with most things, it appears even the snakes in QLD are more aggressive than their NSW cousins. 🙂

    • Thanks very much, David. Yes, those pesky birds can be terribly distracting! 🙂 Haha, yes, it’s hard to imagine a Queensland hiking Snow White really. My daughter’s comment was very tongue-in-cheek. The rock formations at Girraween really make it a special destination. The boulders scattered around or balancing on the top of other rocks look like huge marbles played with by a giant. I love walking amongst them. There’s a real feeling that you’re going back in time somehow or that you are walking with the ghosts of the past. That was my first encounter with a snake that reacted in that manner. Generally they slither off quickly or just lie in the sun without moving. Haha…I have found kangaroos to be a little crankier up here in Queensland. Maybe it’s the heat, or maybe the local human population gives them more trouble. It’s lovely to hear from you again, David. Best wishes. 🙂

  14. Another great read to get my funny bone fix! We hillbillies in Oklahoma do not buy a special stick… we forage for one and usually the uglier, the more admired! And, after your encounter with that snake (which would have found me absolutely TERRIFIED) I would have found comfort in a nice, sturdy stick. Sheesh, you are more than “mildly” extreme in your hikes! Still… I would jump at a chance to go hiking with you just for the humor. You absolutely delight me with your hiking stories! 🙂

    • Haha…thanks very much, Lori. I’m glad it gave you a laugh. I probably shouldn’t admit it but I may have possibly used one or two sticks in the past before the pressures of conforming to the hiking culture marketing got to me… 😉 When I realised how silly I had been not to pick up a stick and use it earlier in the walk, it got me thinking about how living in the city has changed me. When I lived in more remote areas I am sure I was more practical minded. We couldn’t just go to the shops easily. We invented something out of what we had. We reused items in different ways to what their original purpose was. The idea of buying hiking poles back then would have made me laugh! What a waste of money, I’d have said. Now here I am, having bought hiking poles finally, and being oblivious to the practical uses of sticks on the ground. Living in the city or in a materialistic world can reduce that practical, creative mindset. When everything is easily available, you don’t need to think about how to make something by yourself as much. We thought more about how to deal with our rubbish and about preserving water in remote areas. Imagine if everyone had to deal with their own rubbish in the city? If the water stopped running out of their taps when it reached a certain limit each day? We’d probably choose food products more wisely and reuse rather than throw out things. Back to the days where people collected rubber bands, string, jars etc to reuse. I would love to take you hiking with me, Lori. We’d probably scare away any snakes with our laughter. Love hearing from you always! 🙂

  15. I’m not sure what I liked better, the birds or the rocks. I can do without the snake. What causes the odd rock formations? What I love about this post is how very Australian it is–so different from anything I’d see here. And the walking stick made me laugh.

    • The rocks really fascinate me too. The area is part of what it known as “The Granite Belt”. Here is a link to the starting page that will take you to other pages that describe the many weathering and erosion processes involved in the formation of the interesting boulders, arches and domes found at Girraween. I was going to try and describe it myself but it’s actually more complicated than I realised.

      Weathering occurs through fracturing following unloading, exfoliation (shedding of outer layers), freeze-thaw, kaolinisation (dissolving of granite) and biological processes. And then there are also the processes that describe the specific term “erosion.”

      Here’s part of how the rounded boulders at the surface are formed:
      “As the great weight of the older rock sitting above the Stanthorpe Granite was gradually eroded away, immense pressures were released, allowing the upper face of the granite to expand upwards and then crack. These cracks are called “joints”. Some of these joints – “sheeting joints” – ran roughly parallel to the land’s surface, resulting in large slabs or “sheets” of granite breaking free from the mass below. This process is called “pressure release” or “unloading”. The granite sheets may be between one meter to several meters thick. As the granite expanded, vertical joints broke the horizontal sheets into blocks. Subsequent weathering has widened the joints between the blocks and worn away the sharp corners and edges. Over time, the roughly rectangular blocks are converted into accumulations of rounded boulders.”

      I could spend weeks at Girraween enjoying the strange rocks and wildlife. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post about an area that is rather unique and my walking stick “invention” made you laugh. I hope to return soon. Thanks so much for reading and commenting again. Best wishes. 🙂

  16. Hi Jane. I think it was a good idea staying the night in a motel so you had more time to enjoy Girraween Park. You had the flexibility to enjoy the attractions of the creekside as well as adjust your planned walking route. So much to see and do…..and the snake was an added bonus.

    • Hi Margaret,
      Yes, in the end staying in the motel wasn’t a waste. As you say, it meant I had more time to enjoy all the birdlife at the creek and car park and linger over the interesting rock formations. I may not have made it all the way to Mt Norman but I certainly saw enough to excite me and leave with a happy heart. It was a wonderful day and I enjoyed sharing it in a blog post. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I don’t expect it but certainly appreciate hearing from you. I’ve been reading a few articles about cycling in Newcastle this last week. It certainly seems popular. It made me think of you. I’m planning a car trip south again in the future. I’ve never been to Newcastle but may end up passing through. I hope you are well. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thank you. I highly recommend the Canon Powershot SX60. I didn’t have the money to spend on a DSLR (or the technical skill) but this camera has a lot of great features, one being the great zoom lens. Suddenly I could take clear pictures of birds that in the past were just a blur. 🙂

  17. Loved reading your blog.. I’m going to Girraween this week for the first time, and reading your version,I’m looking to going even more.We are staying overnight hoping to get some sunset/sunrise photos as well as the wildflowers and birds.. I must take my hiking poles.. LOL. Great photos and very inspiring.

    • Thanks, Helen. I hope you have a wonderful time. The wildflowers should be beautiful right now and they will attract a lot of nectar and insect eating birds. The mornings should still be quite cool which will be great for walking in the exposed sections. Say hello to Mr Black Snake for me if you bump into him! 😉 Best wishes! 🙂

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