Twin Falls Circuit, Springbrook National Park – Serenity

Let me be perfectly honest.  This was certainly no rugged adventure. I didn’t get hurt or lost. There were no epiphanies. I didn’t reach a profound conclusion. There was a risk that I would never want to return home though.

I often describe how a landscape affects me while I am in it. However, landscapes can also impact us so profoundly that they leave us with residual feelings and memories that are just as potent long after we are removed from them.

Many of us have places we retreat to in our minds when our surroundings become challenging – when depressing world news overwhelms us, and emotional and physical pain threaten to break our spirit. Unexpected triggers as well as conscious efforts to remember, can transport us back to sanctuaries visited long ago. Often it is when we are most remote from such a landscape that we find ourselves seeking solace in memories of it.

Childhood landscapes, in particular, may have the power to affect our preferences as adults. Those places we lived or visited during our formative years can leave lasting impressions which influence the way we view the world and how we make decisions. Landscapes can, indeed, be powerful.

My time spent at Mouses House Rainforest Retreat and my walks in Springbrook National Park in February left that kind of impression on me. I’ve made plenty of day trips to the region many times and stayed overnight in inexpensive camping spots and cottages, but on my last trip I spent two nights in a chalet overlooking a cascading stream, surrounded by World Heritage listed subtropical rainforest.

mouses house

stream

I struggled to find the right words to recount this trip, not because I thought it was boring or unpleasant, but because every time I looked at my album, vivid memories came flooding back. I became lost in sensation and thinking took a back seat. Reliving the earthy scents,  the sound of bird calls, waterfalls and rainforest rustlings, and the exhilaration brought about by breathing crisp, pollution-free mountain air sent me into a meditative state not conducive to sentence construction.

For many years I’ve longed to stay in the Mouses House Rainforest Retreat but it felt more appropriate for romantic honeymooners and it seemed well out of my price range.  However, illness and changed plans left me searching for a way to recharge my batteries and escape the bottomless rabbit hole of overthinking.  I also had a less selfish reason. My son was engaged and I wanted to check if the accommodation lived up to its advertising should he and his partner wish to honeymoon there. It did, and given its lingering therapeutic benefits it was more than worth the cost.

rainforest canopy

Due to its height, latitude and close vicinity to the sea, Springbrook National Park has one of the highest annual rainfalls in Australia. In March this year, 1407mm fell in the region, due in part to the effects of Cyclone Debbie.  A whopping 789mm was recorded in Upper Springbrook on just one day. Fortunately, I visited in February before the cyclone caused significant damage to roads and power.  Access to the mountain is still affected so if you intend visiting, please check beforehand which routes are open.

Initially, my intention was to do as much walking as possible, but I didn’t anticipate the spell the Mouses House chalet would cast. From my seat on the porch I could see, hear, smell and even feel the sub-tropical rainforest’s magic. A Queensland summer in Brisbane is usually hot, sometimes reaching the 40s (Celsius), but up on the mountain, situated next to a stream and surrounded by mist-shrouded brush box trees, I needed a coat.

misty morning

brush box

Two trees had grown through the floor and roof of the porch and skinks waited patiently on the trunks for crawling insects.

mouses house

skink springbrook

Birds  flitted around the cascades during the day and at night, short-eared possums (Trichosurus caninus)  made their appearance at my door, demanding attention. I’d left my noisy common brushtail possum neighbours behind only to be kept company by a larger, more thuggish version.

mountain brush possum

It was only recently discovered that these northern mountain brushtail possums in Queensland and New South Wales are a distinct species from the southern mountain brushtail possums,  Trichosurus cunninghamii, in Victoria  Today Trichosurus cunninghamii retains the common name of mountain brushtail possum.

possum

They are usually a grey colour on the back with a dirty white underbelly but  pure black ones such as this male also occur.

black possum

Shy red-necked pademelons (Thylogale thetis) peeked at me through undergrowth.

Pademelon

The chalets are fed by spring water, more gentle on my sensitive skin than our highly chlorinated city supply.  Boardwalks through the forest link the chalets to the main office and provide excellent viewing points.

boardwalks

Eventually, on the second day, I dragged myself out onto the equally magical trails. Rather than repeat the challenging 17km, class 4 Warrie Circuit which I have blogged about previously, I opted for the easier 4km, class 3  Twin Falls walk.

Twin Falls may only be 4km but it is probably one of the best value short walks you can do in Queensland. It boasts multiple waterfalls and impressive lookouts as it zigzags through lush sub-tropical rainforest. Walking under rock overhangs, through rock clefts and behind waterfalls makes the trail feel like more of an adventure than the short distance would have you expect.

cleft

cave

Along the paths you’re likely to spot interesting fungi like these as well as a variety of reptiles and birdlife.

I believe this to be  Boletellus emodensis  or Boletellus deceptivus.

fungi Springbrook National Park

fungi springbrook

Here’s another picture of one kicked over on the path, showing its underside.

fungi Springbrook National Park

This may be Strobilomyces velutipes.

fungi Springbrook National Park

I’m not sure about this one either. Perhaps it is a ghost fungus which glows at night or a Chanterellus.  I was far too comfortable in the chalet to go back and check. Yes, even I have limits when it comes to the personal sacrifice I am willing to make for fungi.

fungi springbrook national park

Here’s an  eastern water skink, Eulamprus quoyii. The females give birth to between 2 and 9 live young in spring.

Eastern water skink Springbrook

I may be known as a directionally-challenged hiker, but over the years I’ve discovered many other lost souls trying to find their way. In fact, I am often asked for help. Sometimes I think I need to hang a sign around my neck or wear a ti-shirt that reads, “Please don’t ask me, I’m as lost as you!” It may save everyone much time and embarrassment.

On this occasion though, I was almost a Twin Falls guru, having been there numerous times, so when I came across a foreign photographer who was lugging an enormous tripod and camera and staring despondently at a damaged sign, I was actually able to help.

Since Mr LensCap couldn’t speak English, he tagged along with me for a while, no doubt taking far superior shots with his heavy and extremely expensive equipment. Waterfall shots are my nemesis so I gave up trying to get a good shot. Being a little hot and sweaty from the humidity and exertion, I enjoyed the cooling effects of Twin Falls while Mr LensCap clicked away at the surroundings.

Twin Falls

There were plenty of views to enjoy along this short walk. The Gold Coast is visible in the far distance. It’s difficult to believe such a pristine area of wilderness  is less than an hour’s drive from the city

Springbrook

view over the gold coast

I said goodbye to Mr LensCap with a combination of hand gestures and exaggerated English and he simply bowed and smiled. I have no idea if he understood anything I said but he seemed in awe of his surroundings and I was glad that at least on this rare occasion I could be of some help.

falls view

Instead of having to drive the narrow winding road home, it was a joy to return to the chalet for a relaxing spa and a snooze before enjoying a nocturnal visit from my new possum friends.

spa

I’m happy to report that my nature loving son and his new wife holidayed at the Mouses House also. Their opinion of the location? “It’s amazing!” In fact, when you read through the guest book, many couples have loved it so much they return again and again for anniversaries and other celebrations such as the impending birth of their first child. Some bring back their children who were conceived there. It makes for interesting reading.  I’ve no doubt that being immersed in such beautiful natural surroundings away from electronic distractions and the materialism of the modern world nurtures human relationships. My only complaint is that the cost makes it unaffordable for many people who probably need it the most.

“Anyone who lives in a city will know the feeling of having been there too long. The gorge-vision that the streets imprint on us, the sense of blockage, the longing for surfaces other than glass, brick, concrete and tarmac….I have lived in Cambridge on and off for a decade, and I imagine I will continue to do so for years to come. And for as long as I stay here, I know I will have to also get to the wild places.”
― Robert Macfarlane

For more information about Springbrook National Park and trail maps please check the Queensland National Parks website.

You can find out more information about the Mouses House Rainforest Retreat here.

54 thoughts on “Twin Falls Circuit, Springbrook National Park – Serenity

    • Thank you, Susan. Yes, the price is the only drawback to the Mouses House. While I don’t think it is overpriced for what can be experienced there, I know that it is completely out of the price range for many people who really need it the most. There are inexpensive camping grounds near the Purlingbrook Falls walking tracks in Springbook and other less expensive options for people to stay overnight though. In my case I’ve wanted to stay there for years. When I was a uni student and was married so many years ago, we didn’t have the time and couldn’t afford a honeymoon. My son is still doing his Phd and so he’s not got much available cash either. I wanted the newly weds to have a holiday in a very special place. Checking it out for them eased my guilt over the expense somewhat. 🙂

  1. Love the mushroom and the rainbow waterfall shots! This does sound like a magical place to stay. I’d love to meet new, furry friends outside my door at night 😉😉 Thanks for sharing all the photos with us. I’ll put this place on my bucket list!

    • Thank you. That was my first sighting of the fungi in the first picture. It had me searching guides for some time. I’m still not sure which species it is. I hope a reader will be able to tell me. The possums were very cheeky. If I’d left the door open, they would have come in and created a huge mess. They tend to fight a bit as well but I found them extremely entertaining. The pademelons were cute but very shy. Yes, do put Springbrook (and Lamington) National Park on your bucket list. It’s a very special part of the world. 🙂

  2. I love this post so much!!! So much knowledge and your vivid description, your humour (“Please don’t ask me, I’m as lost as you!”), your stunning photos and the quote in the end! Thanks so much for sharing and taking your readers on a virtual journey.

    • Thank you for the lovely words. You are too kind. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post as I struggled to make a story about it and was going to give up on it. It’s often hard to judge whether my own thoughts and experiences will appeal to anyone else so it is lovely to hear encouraging words. Springbrook National Park and the Mouses House are special places and it’s a pleasure to share their magic with others. 🙂

    • Hi Hernán,
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I enjoyed sharing this beautiful spot with others and reliving the memories. I hope you’ll be able to visit it one day. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Hi John,
      It’s been three years since I started this blog and you are still reading it and encouraging me. Thanks for those kind words. I hope you have a lovely week. 🙂

        • Yes, I can’t believe it really! It’s been lovely to “meet” so many wonderful people along the way. The world is a much smaller place with the Internet. 🙂

    • Yes, it was worth the splurge. I don’t regret it at all. Maybe one day I’ll go back. I booked one of the cheaper, smaller chalets but when I arrived they had upgraded me at no extra cost to a larger one right next to a stream. The staff are wonderful. I do hope you get a chance to visit the area one day. 🙂

    • There are so many aspects of the retreat and the National Park that I’m sure you would enjoy, Tom. Each chalet has a heated spring water spa bath for you to soak those tired and aching muscles after a long day of exploring the beautiful surroundings. I don’t describe many things as feeling magical, but this spot deserves the label. Thanks for reading and commenting. Best wishes. 🙂

  3. Interesting post Jane, I have fond memories of Springbrook NP, staying at English Gardens. So glad you had a lovely rest there taking in the rainforest. Love your waterfall and fungi pics. Always a delightful chuckle from your honest narrative 😊

    • Thanks very much, Ashley. I typed a reply but somehow I managed to delete it. Sorry for the late response! I will have to check out the English Gardens to see what that is like. Just the name sounds lovely. I remember now that I stayed at a little house called the Stone Cottage in the Springbrook area once with my daughter overnight. It was very cheap though and right over the road from Purlingbrook Falls. How could I forget that memorable trip? It must be my age I guess. I’m going to have to edit this post. Yes, I certainly got plenty of rest there. The chalet was named “Sleepy” which sums up my first day really! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and it brought back fond memories for you. Best wishes 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Vicki. I really wish you could have stayed at the retreat too. I think it’s just what you need. You deserve some pampering after all the challenging health problems you have to endure. I don’t know if you ever fly up to Brisbane. I know it’s tricky for you. But if you ever do, let me know and perhaps I could arrange something special. Take good care of yourself. x

      • Thnx Jane, Not sure my BP & heart would take a flight, but you never know.
        I actually passed this post onto some friends of mine – I know they would love that place.

        • Thanks for sharing the post with friends. I am sure they will love the place. It is often booked up a month or two in advance though so they’ll need to plan ahead. Weekdays are cheaper . It is better to ring and discuss prices with them rather than use other online booking services. The owners/management are lovely.
          Yes, who knows, perhaps there is a way for you to visit one day. I’ll probably be heading down to Victoria again in the future. Best wishes. 🙂

  4. Jane, what a lovely post. I’ve stayed there as well a few years ago and absolutely loved it. It is such a restorative place to go. We did the same twin falls walk too. We would love to go back, but as you say, it is a little expensive. We can always dream about it!

    • Thanks very much, Annette. I’m so glad you got to stay there too. Restorative is definitely the right word. In the end I really couldn’t bring myself to stay away from the chalet for very long and that’s why I chose the Twin Falls walk. It seemed a shame not to enjoy what the retreat offers given it is quite costly. I was upgraded when I arrived and stayed in the chalet called “Sleepy.” They must have known something about my personality…haha. I hope you get to make a return trip. 🙂

    • Thank you, Nic! It’s a pleasure. I know how much you would enjoy it. There are also some fantastic spots to do canoeing along the rivers nearby. I can imagine all the super shots you’d be able to get in the rainforest and the waterways. Best wishes. 🙂

  5. Hi Jane, the Mouse House looks amazing, Sam was very impressed. Springbrook looks like another great spot to visit, that’s where the Great Walk finishes isn’t it? The Mouse House would be a nice way to wind down after the three day walk I’m thinking;) Cheers Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,
      Yeah, I think Sam would love the place. If you go there you might have to check on the size of the beds when you book. Being tall, you might need a chalet with a king size bed. The chalets vary in size, location to streams and the cost. The one in “Sleepy” chalet I stayed in was a double/queen I think. My son is 6 foot and found it ok but taller people might need a longer one. Yeah the Great Walk does finish or start at the Purlingbrook Falls trail in Springbrook National Park. Mouses House Retreat would certainly be a good place to recover. While they have a spa tub in each room they also have a much larger one in a separate area which I didn’t use. There are fireplaces in the chalets as well which is lovely in winter. You have to take your own food (they are self-contained) although you can order food hampers (breakfast, barbecue etc) ahead of time to cook up yourself. Check out the website for all the details. Don’t leave meals unattended on the porch table though. The brush turkeys or possums will steal it!

  6. You certainly managed to convey the magic to your readers. Some places just grab hold of your heart, don’t they? I love the ending quote. I would go stark raving mad living in a city for any extended period–it’s as if all the cells in my body cry out for green leaves, birdsong, and clean air.

    • Thank you, Brenda. Robert Mcfarlane (the author of the quote) has written quite a few wonderful books about the benefits of spending time in the wild: The Old Ways, Landmarks, The Wild Places, Mountains of the Mind. He also writes essays for the Guardian and the New Yorker. Just reading them helps transport you into nature. They are very calming and inspire people to head out into the wilderness. I highly recommend them I have a tiny book of his called, “The Gifts of Reading” where he “reflects on the unique emotional response resonance of books given and received – and how such gifts have shaped his own life.” His love of language and the natural environment is obvious. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thank you, Marylou. I’m very pleased the post gave you some lovely feelings. Even though it wasn’t really an adventure, I wanted to share this very special place with others because of its therapeutic value. Best wishes. 🙂

  7. I am so pleased you were able to complete this post. I understand that difficulty in trying to describe a special place that recalls so many emotions and sensations. We had a holiday in the Republic of Ireland that was like that. We stayed in a house in County Kerry that overlooked the estuary of a river which flowed into the Bay of Dingle. We found the ebb and flow of the river so soothing we had to force ourselves to go out and explore the area! We came home so relaxed and happy.
    Your photographs are wonderful as ever. I love that first fungus!

    • Thank you, dear Clare. It sounds like your holiday in Ireland was very similar to mine at the Mouses House. I went there with intentions of walking but it was so calming, I just didn’t went to leave. I’m glad you have such lovely memories of your trip there. Ah, being right by the river, the sea or a lake is delightful I think. Water can be very soothing. Nature and cosy accommodation can be very healing.
      That first fungus really caught my attention too. I’d never come across one like that before. I hope you are well and have a wonderful weekend. It’s always lovely to hear from you. Best wishes. 🙂

      • Thank-you so much Jane! I hope to have a calm weekend because next week looks like a very busy one! My younger daughter suffers from acute anxiety as you may remember, and we take her to the sea or a lake as often as we can because she is calmed by water too. I hope you aren’t troubled too much by bad health at the moment and that you have a lovely weekend too. With love 🙂

        • Thank you, Clare. Yes, I also have issues with anxiety and it certainly helps me. My health is very good at the moment although the suburb I am living in is on the edge of the city so it gets controlled burning and bushfire smoke in late winter/spring. Combined with the city pollutants this affects my lungs a bit. I am heading off to do a mountain walk today to breathe some fresh air which will really help. Love to you also. x

  8. What was your favorite when visiting the rainforest? The pademelons are so cute, from the picture they almost resemble a kangaroo. This honestly looks to be the perfect getaway, which I’m sure it was for you. I would jump right into Twin Falls and cool off just from the looks of it.

    • Hi there! Thanks for reading and commenting. I don’t think I have one favourite memory of being in the rainforest. Perhaps my favourite aspect of it though is that you never know what you may come across. There are always surprises. I guess that applies to a lot of walking locations though. Being macropods, pademelons are related to wallabies and kangaroos and they are indeed, cute. 🙂 Twin Falls is certainly a beautiful location to cool off in with multiple waterfalls. Although it’s a short walk, it has much to offer. Best wishes. 🙂

  9. What an enormously enchanting place! It is often a shame that some of the most soul-stirring places are far beyond what we can afford to spend to visit or indulge in. Thank you for sharing your always stunning photographs and beautiful prose… I am thankful you do this for free! 🙂

    • Yes, there are many beautiful retreats and destinations that are expensive to travel to and stay in that I know would really help a lot of people. I think of the city kids from difficult home circumstances that need a break away. I think of full time carers of ill and/or aging relatives who would benefit from time away. I think of people with disabilities who rarely get to see these places because of limited funds and access problems. The grief stricken, those with anxiety and depression, those suffering a chronic illness. Money doesn’t guarantee happiness but it certainly helps make life less stressful when a person has enough to pay health care bills and go on retreats such as the Mouses House. For many years I thought how much I would like to have a place like the Mouses House that people could come and stay for free when life overwhelms them. A place where they are looked after instead of having to do all the looking after. Where they can be close to nature and feel safe and relaxed. Perhaps one day I’ll have an opportunity to do something like that or to take traumatised kids on walks/camping trips with me who need the temporary escape. I’ve been thinking of ideas. I just have to get my own finances and life plan in order. At the moment my life is unpredictable so committing to a project or regular timetable is difficult. For now I can share pictures of places I walk I suppose. I think I’m getting more rewards than my readers out of that process though! 🙂 It’s a pleasure to share and photographing nature helps to focus and relax me. Thanks for reading and commenting, Lori. I always love hearing from you. x

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