Valley of the Diamonds, Crows Nest National Park – A Daughter’s Revenge

I’m not in the habit of taking hallucinogens but what I was seeing in front of me made me wonder if I’d been slipped a few magic mushrooms in my morning omelette. Guarding the entrance to Crows Nest National Park was this.

camel crows nest national park

I wasn’t in remote outback areas where it’s estimated a million feral camels roam. I was at Crows Nest National Park only about 150 km from Brisbane. I’d visited in the winter of 2017 in the hope of seeing my first platypus in the wild. Instead, I came across something else brown and furry, but considerably larger.

Crows Nest camel

I knew feral camels were a threat to Australia’s ecosystems because they will consume around 80% of plant species, so it was concerning to see one in a national park. It was only when I got home and researched their status that I became aware of the extent of the damage.  While contributing to the extinction of many native species, they also cause extensive damage to fencing, important cultural sites, and water infrastructure in Aboriginal communities. The estimated annual cost of feral camels to Australia is about 10 million dollars.

What was it doing here?  Looking more closely, I spied an ear tag so it had escaped from a farm or had been allowed to graze within the park. Then I noticed camel number two.

camel at crows nest national park

I took a few photos as proof of my sanity and once they’d moved away from the entrance, drove in and began my walk. Later, I sent a picture to my ranger friend from the Department of National Parks who was thinking he’d have to get a group of people together to round them up. Fortunately, on my return visit with my daughter a few days later, the tall shaggy escapees were back inside a fenced area of farmland bordering the national park. I imagine herding camels in such a steep and rugged environment wouldn’t be a simple task.

Crows Nest granite

Some long term readers may know that  due to the remote areas we lived in, as well as being a mother to my three children, I was also their full-time school teacher. Keeping these roles distinct was often difficult. There was always a certain overlap, especially in the minds of my offspring.  Maintaining enthusiasm was a challenge and over the years I developed (what I thought were) persuasive and encouraging little phrases which my adult children tease me about today.  Apparently, I still use them in a variety of contexts and they recognise the tactics immediately.  After hearing them so often, they’ve become slightly suspicious and liken it to hearing a dentist reassuringly telling you, “Not long to go now,” when there is still half an hour left of torture.

Classic Teacher Jane encouragements included:

“You’re going so well! Wow! I wonder how many more you can get done!”

“We’re almost finished now. We might as well keep going to the end.”

“Just one more page (or spelling word or maths problem.)”  According to my children, I had an extremely liberal definition of “one.”

“If you do more today, you won’t have to do as much tomorrow.”  I may have been guilty of repeating this comment on consecutive days.

Why am I telling you this? What has it got to do with hiking? Well, when it comes to enticing others to share a bushwalking adventure with me, it seems I still employ my teaching rhetoric. A small walk turns into a much longer one because it’s really “not much longer,”  or, “how exciting it would be to see what’s over the top of the next hill,” or, perhaps my most used phrase, “Only a few more photographs.”

Crows Nest lookout Jane

This time when I approached my daughter, Tough Cookie, about accompanying me to Crows Nest National Park, I had a new tactic. Since I had already done the walks a few days before, I assured her I wouldn’t need to take photographs and we could just enjoy the views, drastically reducing the total time it would take.  Tough Cookie is also a smart cookie though.

“Mum, stop lying to yourself. You know you’ll see details you missed on your first walk and need to photograph them.”

Okay, she was right. I did take more photographs, but how could I not take advantage of having her as a “scale buddy”?  Crows Nest National Park has some impressively tall trees, granite boulders, and steep rocky steps.  My blog readers deserve to know their true dimensions. Sacrifices need to be made for the cause.

Luckily for my daughter she had her own secret weapon to combat my snail pace – her giraffe legs. While our torsos are the same length, she has been blessed with much longer limbs than me.

Crows Nest Tough Cookie Valley of the Diamonds

She easily walked over this log on the trail while here is my attempt. Notice I am touching the ground with only the tips of my shoes. I did try to walk over it. I didn’t think my actions warranted so much laughter from Tough Cookie though.

Jane climbing over log

Knowing I have a strong maternal instinct to protect her from snakebites, cliff edges and creepy stalkers, she kept up a cracking pace to ensure I didn’t lag too far behind.

Apparently at my age, cardiovascular fitness is very important and taking photographs every few metres is not the best way of extending my life.  She was really doing this for my sake.  For my health.  Just as her teacher/mother had pushed her when she was young “for her own good.”

Although we did this walk in the winter of 2017, the maximum hovered around 30C and shade was patchy. Trying to keep pace with my speedy offspring took its toll.  Even when studying my album I struggled to recall a series of events.  I seem to have spent most of my time collapsed on a rock catching my breath while grabbing shots of her back disappearing into the distance. Here, I’ll show you.

Crows Nest National Park Bottlebrush Pool

Crows Nest National Park 3

Koonin Lookout

Faced with a patchy recall of events, I’ll start with the easy facts gleaned from the National Parks website.

Crow’s Nest National Park features rugged granite outcrops, open eucalypt forest, creeks, waterholes, falls and a deep gorge known as the Valley of the Diamonds.

Rock formations in Valley

During winter and spring it can be very dry so after heavy rains  is the best time to see the creeks and falls flowing.

Crows Nest Creek and girl

The Koonin Lookout walk is 4.5 km return and overlooks the Valley of the Diamonds, but you can make it more interesting by taking the Kauyoo loop creek section to Crows Nest Falls, either on your return or when heading out which only adds another 600 metres.

Crows Nest reflection

While only rated a Class 3 walk, there is a final short steep section leading up to the lookout that walkers need to be aware of and rocky steps down to Bottlebrush Pool could be a challenge also.  When wet the granite becomes very slippery.

Crows Nest Falls path

Tough Cookie and I completed these sections as well as some exploratory detours along the creek and down into the gorge, covering around 10 kilometres.

Crows Nest creek

The warm, dry conditions and the enforced rapid pace meant a dearth of wildlife photos, but I did manage a few captures along the way, including this azure kingfisher. These small kingfishers line their nests with fish bones and scales and hunt for small fish, frogs, reptiles and small mammals.

Crows Nest Azure kingfisher

Wandering along the creek provides the best opportunities for bird sightings. During dry seasons, small birds such as silver eyes, wrens and finches can be observed bathing in the remaining pools.

Crows Nest silver eye bathing

Despite the dry conditions, there was still plenty of fungi about.

Brush-tailed rock-wallabies peeked through the scrub and wouldn’t allow me a clear shot. I’ve a fondness for their large furry rear ends which I assume help them to balance and sit comfortably on the steep rocky terrain. I can attest to the comfort factor of an ample backside when seated on hard ground. At least I have my own in-built cushion.

Crows Nest Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby

According to the Australian Government fact sheet,  as well as scaling almost vertical rocky cliffs, brush-tailed rock-wallabies can actually climb tall trees using their sharp claws and strong legs.   Despite their acrobatic talents, populations of brush-tailed rock-wallabies have been drastically reduced by habitat destruction and the introduction of feral animals.

Crows Nest Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby

When I do manage to keep pace with my daughter or when we stop to eat a snack, the vibe of a place is frequently discussed. On this occasion we both agreed that on quiet days, Crows Nest National Park has a slightly sinister atmosphere.

Crows Nest scrub

There’s something about the proliferation of granite outcrops, the dry scrub, and the lonely sound of the wind through the trees that evokes thoughts of violence and buried bodies.

Crows Nest granite

Sights like these resin stained trees and rocks don’t help to quell the imagination either.

Crows Nest blood resin

Crows Nest blood resin

This poignant warning at Crows Nest Falls added to the sombre mood of the setting.

Crows Nest Falls warning

Crows Nest Falls pool

The view from the Koonin Lookout over the Valley of the Diamonds brought some relief from dark thoughts.

Valley of Diamonds lookout view

Disappointingly, the Valley of Diamonds is not full of diamonds.  That world tour will have to wait. It’s called this by some people because the granite gorge contains large amounts of feldspar which sparkles in the sunlight.

Lower Valley of the Diamonds

It was now time to attempt some groovy action shots like all those proper professional hiking blogs out there.

Crows Nest Tough Cookie scrambling

Trying to look super athletic and natural when your body is self-combusting actually takes a huge effort. My daughter achieved this with ease, whereas most shots of me were relegated to the trash folder.

Crows Nest Tough Cookie

Tough Cookie at peak

Here’s one of me. Notice I am squatting down near the edge, peeking over, rather than embracing the view with a confident stance like my daughter.

Crows Nest lookout Jane

Plenty of smiling shots to remember the day were managed though.  I’m not sure mine looks very natural. There also seems to be a distinctly crazed look in my eyes, although according to my family, that’s not unusual. I blame the heat. My lizard-like daughter was still needing a jumper, whereas I was eager to shed everything by this stage.

Crows Nest hike

After years of suffering through marathon school sessions, it was only fair Tough Cookie finally enacted a little healthy revenge on her torturer. Although, in teacher terminology, she was just trying to reveal my “true potential.”

“You can do it, Mum! Look how fast you can go! We’re almost there. You’re going so well.”

Crows Nest kookaburra

44 thoughts on “Valley of the Diamonds, Crows Nest National Park – A Daughter’s Revenge

    • Thanks very much, Michael. I was very lucky with that shot. Usually, kingfishers are quite shy when I take photos, but this one seemed rather curious. The zoom on the Canon Powershot SX60 is fantastic. No skill on my part there. I would have liked to sit down at the creek for a few hours and wait for more birds but we didn’t have time. 🙂

  1. I get so excited when one of your posts turns up in my inbox, I know I am in for a real treat. Loved that colourful kingfisher and all the granite outcrop even if it was spooky.

    • Thanks very much, Susan. I’m nearly finished another blog post to publish over the weekend to try and make up for being absent for so many months. I hope you will enjoy my surprising encounter with an iconic Australian animal on the summit of a mountain. Thank you for your continued interest and support. It’s always appreciated. Best wishes. 🙂

    • In my first reply, I promised you another blog post over the weekend, Susan, but I’m having trouble uploading photos today due to a dodgy connection. It may have to wait a few days now. I should know better by now to depend on technology working properly. I’m sorry about that. I hope you have a lovely Sunday. 🙂

  2. Lovely post. I hope the sign about poor Kyle works.

    Was that Dutch you were writing?

    ________________________________

    • Thanks very much, Richard. Sadly, while researching for this post, I came across a few cases of deaths and injuries associated with the Falls. I think having Kyle’s face and story on the sign probably have greater impact than just the standard warning words. The thrill isn’t worth the potential death or paralysis. Yes, that was Dutch in my reply to one comment, or should I say “attempted Dutch.” I am not fluent in either the written or spoken form. I hope all is well in Sweden? 🙂

  3. Hi Jane, great to see another beautifully written post…it’s been awhile! Crows Nest NP looks like it would be good for me in summer, I always love combining a walk with a bit of wild swimming:) I think you are playing your fitness and ability down a bit, you guys look like you did it pretty easy really, you could be sisters looking at the photo;) Cheers Kevin

    • Thanks, Kevin. Yes, it has been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy sorting out other areas of my life and dealing with a couple of injuries that are exacerbated by sitting at a computer. I do need to write a few posts so I can use up old photos taking up space on my hard drive though. Yeah, Crows Nest National Park would probably suit your swimming obsession! The granite makes it a hot walk in summer but the waterholes offer a lot of relief and are popular in school holidays and on weekends. I’d like to go back when there is more water. Apparently, the waterholes near the car park have platypus. I’m a bit obsessed with getting my first decent picture of one. I might even camp overnight to increase my chances. I just need to wait until my back is a little better. 🙂

    • Thank you. 🙂 You are kind. I have driven past Summerlands Camel farm (from your link) a few times. You can see some of the camels from the road. Camel milk has become more popular in Australia (as well as other products) and a relative of mine has work connections within the industry. Apparently, the camel gene pool in Australia is the best in the world because a long time ago the very best camels were brought into Australia. While feral camels cause damage in the wild, they are useful in farming and their pads are softer than cattle, sheep and goat hooves. When I lived up in north-west QLD many years ago, a local grazier was using them on his property to help control introduced prickly acacia that was covering vast areas of land. I can’t help but be fond of their faces which look rather sweet and dopey with those long eyelashes and big lips. They can get a little feisty though! Baby camels are adorable and make the funniest sounds. Thanks for the link. I may have to pop in and visit the cafe and gift shop. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thank you very much, John. Knowing that my posts make you smile warms my heart. I am naturally a shy person and writing publicly is always challenging for me. Positive feedback like yours encourages me to persevere. You’ve been there from the very beginning and I am very grateful for your kindness. 🙂

  4. I am another bowled over by your kingfisher shot though as ever, your post was full of interesting photographs. It is a very good trick to have a daughter who is obviously the same age as you.

    • Oh Tom, I almost choked on my coffee while reading your comment about my daughter and me! Thanks for the laugh! I was thrilled to capture the kingfisher shot. The scenery at Crows Nest National Park is not very colourful; the granite and scrub can look quite grey. The colourful kingfisher was the highlight for me. It seemed unusually curious and allowed me to come quite close. The Canon Powershot SX60 is a really fabulous camera for bird photography. At under $400 it has turned into a terrific buy. There are many features I have yet to utilise though. Perhaps I never will. Unfortunately, technology is not my forte. I’m assuming you’ve been enjoying the Tour de France footage? The accidents have me cringing but the mountain scenery is spectacular. Best wishes. 🙂

      • We have been enjoying the Tour. David Millar shares the commentating duties and is informative and entertaining which makes the coverage interesting even in the more soporific parts of the race.

        • I’m glad you’ve got David Millar to keep you entertained. I’m only able to access the Australian commentary for the Tour and I find some of it irritating at times. The quality of the commentating often affects whether I watch a sport. If I can tell what is going on by myself (such as in the tennis opens) I’ll often end up muting it. 🙂

  5. Thanks for the tour of some interesting landscape. I’ve never heard of feral camels… interesting. Love the tale and photo of you and your daughter.

    • Thanks very much, Ingrid. I’m not sure if people use the term “feral” in other countries like we do here, so maybe I should have explained more clearly just in case it was confusing. Camels are not native to Australia. They were originally brought over for transporting people and goods. When they were no longer needed, many were released into the wild. The arid conditions suited them and they bred very quickly. The large numbers of non-native (feral) camels living in the wild contribute to environment and infrastructure problems here. There are camel farms in Australia also though and they have various uses. The problem is when they roam and breed uncontrolled in the wild. I had a great time with my daughter at Crows Nest and I enjoyed sharing the experience with you. I’m thankful to have these memories to hold onto. Life goes far too quickly these days. Best wishes. 🙂

  6. Camels? Feral camels, no less. How on earth did that happen? I do wish folks would consider what they’re doing when they introduce strange species in places, whether it be animal or plant! What a wonderful hike with your charming daughter! Though I had a bit of a challenge figuring out which of you was which in the photo of the two of you. Good thing you said something about the crazed look! 😀
    Good to see a blog of yours again!
    Oh, and the kingfisher is so delightful. Much prettier and brighter colored than ours.

    • Hi! Lovely to hear from you and thank you very much for those lovely comments about the blog post and the amusing one about my signature crazed look! 😉 Yes, I was very taken aback to see a camel at the entrance…and then a second one! Knowing that camels are sometimes used to control certain types of pest weeds such as prickly acacia, it did briefly cross my mind that perhaps it was some sort of temporary experiment by National Parks and Wildlife, but I thought it more likely they had escaped from a farm. The ear tags confirmed that they did indeed belong to someone. When my daughter and I returned they were grazing inside a fenced area on a neighbouring farm. The fence is not very high though, so I expect it is easy for them to escape again. I just finished writing a reply to Ingrid as your comment came through. It explains a little of how camels came to be in Australia. They were brought over by traders originally and used for transporting goods and building infrastructure across the arid regions of Australia. Unfortunately, once they were no longer needed they were simply released. The conditions were perfect for them to breed up to high numbers. The genetic pool of feral camels in Australia is very healthy and even sought after by breeders in other countries. The horse racing industry is very popular in Australia and camel races have become important events in the outback also. We have a few colourful kingfishers in Australia. I haven’t seen them all yet. The azure kingfisher made my day really. It’s such a pretty bird. Best wishes. 🙂

  7. It seems the writing bug hit both of us at the same time! It’s been a long, dry spell, but doesn’t it feel great to be back? I was thrilled to see you had written again. I got my Jane fix, along with all of the laughs, thinking about you out there with Tough Cookie getting a little comical revenge. What an adventure!

    We have a similar problem with feral hogs running throughout the Midwest and southern US. We noticed them in a herd of more than thirty, running the river bottom area of our property. Hopefully, they will move on and not find what they need here.

    Your photographs are outstanding, as usual. The Crows Nest park looks like a lovely hike… even the more sinister aspect of it. I loved the photograph of you and Tough Cookie. You both look so young and vibrant!

    • Hi Lori,
      I’m so glad you’ve got your writing bug back again! You are such a wonderful story-teller and in so many ways I can relate to your joys and struggles. Going by my previous behaviour, my current writing enthusiasm may be very shortlived. 😉 I have so many good intentions and then the energy levels drop suddenly or something else intervenes. I had planned to publish another blog post today but I’m now having trouble uploading the photos due to a dodgy connection.
      We have feral hogs (or feral pigs as we call them) here too and I’ve seen how much damage just a few can do, so I can understand why you’d be worried about a herd of 30! I also hope they move on quickly. I used to be a little frightened of coming across one accidentally. They are so muscular. The Queensland Department of Agriculture says fully grown males typically weigh 90 – 100kg and the Victorian Department of Agriculture says they can weigh up to 260kg. The females could be very protective of their young. Stay safe on your walks!
      One of the best things about Crows Nest National Park is being able to explore the creeks. You never know what bird, reptile, or mammal you might meet up with on a quiet week day. I want to return and get a good shot of a platypus (and hopefully not see any more camels.)
      Thanks again for your enthusiam and encouragement, Lori. I’ll try uploading photos again but I may end up just throwing the laptop out of the window…or just having a cup of tea instead. 🙂

  8. Jane, glad you are back and that you had such a good hike with your daughter. She is beautiful! As always you make me wish I were out there with you. I can’t do it anymore, but I am so happy to follow along on your journeys when you post. Simply lovely.

    • Thanks very much, Lynda. I treasure every walk I spend with my adult children as their schedules are so busy. Tough Cookie is the last one still living at home, but she will be moving out at the end of the year, most likely to another state to begin post-graduate studies. I will miss her. Fortunately, keeping in touch is much easier these days than when I was in my 20s. I hope you are well. Thanks for your kind support. 🙂

  9. Well done Jane. it was good to see another post of yours and the mother daughter adventure. The camel, like the deer, have been so destructive as you mentioned, along with ferule cats, wild pig and wild dogs etc etc introduced pests. Love you pic of the Azure Kingfisher, a beautiful capture. Some lovely vistas enjoyed together. Enjoying time with your children is such a special time, I wish I could do more with mine and my grandies, but they live too far away for regular interaction. Enjoy your week!.

    • Thanks very much. It’s been a long time between posts, but I have plenty of old albums to share so hopefully I will get a few more published eventually. I had planned sharing another one today but I’m having trouble uploading photographs. Maybe tomorrow. I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I often see kingfishers but rarely get close enough for a good shot so I was happy to be able to share a clear shot at last. Walks with my adult children are rare these days so I appreciate them when they happen. It is sad when children move far away. Fortunately there are things like skype these days but it’s not the same as a cuddle in person. I hope you have a lovely week also. It’s been a chilly winter in many places this year. I’m thankful that the days warm up here fairly quickly though. 🙂

    • It’s a pleasure to share the walk with you, Brian. Thank you for appreciating it. I expect you are enjoying your fireplace this winter. It’s been a chilly one so far! I had plans for a 4-day walking trip down near Walcha but had to pull out because of injury. I can’t say I am sad about missing out on the chilly below zero night temps. These old bones are complaining enough at the moment. 😉

        • Originally the Green Gully Track walk was planned for late August but the other people’s timetables didn’t work out so it was booked for July. Even so, late August would still have been pretty cold, especially when you add wind and rain. I don’t even have the excuse that I was drinking when I first agreed to it way back in March. Somehow these cold trips seem more doable and even appealing when you are discussing them in the hotter months… Yes, madness! Haha.

  10. Actually no need for teaching rhetoric. Your photos do the trick. Who would not love to come on one of your super-nature hikes complete with photo stops and heat. Greetings from fungi-fan.

    • Haha…thank-you, Marina! If only you weren’t so far away in Denmark. I would love to share this walk with you. I am often surprised by the places fungi can grow. I’ve seen fungi on mangroves in sea water, fungi in extremely arid areas, and even pictures of fungi poking through the snow. I will always be a fan of it. I am glad to share this interest with you. I hope you are enjoying summer. Here in Queensland we are having very cold winter nights but the days are sunny and warm. Perfect for being outside. 🙂

  11. Brilliant post, Jane! I also have short legs (and arms) and when walking with my husband (who is 27 cm taller than me) I do two paces to his one if I am to walk at the same speed. I have to run to catch up if I take photos! The shot of the Kingfisher is brilliant and I love the scenery of that trail. It looks similar to that of the Peak District in England with all the outcrops to clamber over.
    It is good to know you are still okay and still hiking, albeit at the mercy of Tough Cookie!

    • Thanks very much, Clare. This walk was about a year ago and at the moment I am having a couple of months break due to a back injury, however I will be back to my nature walks again soon and possibly some more camping. My body doesn’t spring back as quickly as it used to but I’m still going. 🙂 Your husband is quite a lot taller than you so you certainly understand having to step quickly to keep up! There was a family gathering of my father’s side of the family a few years back and I was the shortest adult by far apart from my tiny elderly grandma who was in her 90s. My brother towers over me. Not sure what happened to my genetics! I worked out that I have to make 1.7 times the number of steps an average male makes to cover the same distance. It’s a shame you and I can’t walk together, Clare. I’m sure we’d have a lovely time. I was delighted to have the kingfisher encounter and be able to share a photo of it. They are such pretty birds and adept hunters. Azure blue is one of my favourite colours. I hope you are well. I saw a news article again today about extremely warm temperatures in the UK, possibly breaking records. We seem to be having a colder winter here this year. Thanks very much for reading and keeping in touch, Clare. It is lovely to hear from you again. 🙂

      • Thank you, Jane 🙂 I am so sorry to know you have had a back injury! I do hope you feel better soon. We have had some very hot (for us) temperatures and very little rain. Yesterday we had a storm and a small amount of rain and today has been a little cooler. Fortunately we had a wet spring and the trees are coping quite well. The grass will come back but without many of the flowering plants there are fewer insects and the birds have lost many of their chicks as there hasn’t been enough food for them. I haven’t had the time to do much blogging this year and I am far behind with reading other people’s posts. Life gets very busy sometimes! Take care, Clare xx

        • Heat is relative and if you are not used to it, it can be dangerous ao I really sympathise. I’ve also heard that UK homes are not necessarily built for extreme heat unlike many Queensland houses. Normally you wouldn’t need it. Houses without adequate ventilation and fans would be stifling in your heat wave conditions. Here in my state we would struggle with your normal winters as many of our homes don’t have adequate wall, window, and underfloor insulation. That’s concerning about the reduced insect and bird numbers. I hope the populations recover. I’ve been away from the blogging world also and not been keeping up with everyone’s news. I don’t expect people to read and comment on my blog. I’m trying to share a few blog posts now to get back into the swing of things again, and because I do miss the contact with my online friends. My social life is pretty non-existent. Hehe. Take good care of yourself, dear Clare. xx

          • Yes, our modern houses get very hot as the walls are so thin. My mother’s house is 200 years old and copes better in hot and cold weather because of its thick walls and small windows. We have bought fans but they just move the hot air about but that’s better than nothing. Homes don’t generally have AC and many don’t have double glazing so not much good in the winter either! We British moan about the weather all the time, whatever it’s doing! I am glad you intend to keep in touch with your on-line friends – I love reading your posts and hearing your news. Take care, my dear xxxx

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