And A Little Trip Down Memory Lane
Way back when I was in the midst of another lifetime, Dean and I decided to start bushwalking. We were hoping for something that offered a greater sense of serenity but, to be perfectly honest, we were tired of playing ‘dodge the doggy do do’ on the pathways we regularly visited.
After Dean allowed his fingers to do the walking, he found a track of ‘relative ease’. (And I do use that term very loosely.) Situated up the Blackall Range, the track he selected was the southern section of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk and would take us from Baroon Pocket Dam (where we parked the car) to Kondalilla Falls. From there we would turn around and walk back to the car.
The entire great walk itself consists of three sections that take you through a wonderland of gorges, waterfalls, and rock pools. It is set in the warm, subtropical rainforests and tall open eucalypt forests that make up the Kondalilla, Mapleton Falls, and Mapleton national parks. How utterly wonderful to go walking in an area like that, surrounded by more than 100 species of birds, over 70 different reptile species and more than 30 species of frogs.
Oh, how naive we were.
That section Dean selected took us through gruelling gorges, past a couple of small waterfalls and rock pools. There were cool patches beneath the warm, subtropical rainforest, but also the exhausting heat of the tall open eucalypt forests and although we heard the birds, we only saw a couple of lizards and eventually spotted one frog.
Kondalilla is an Australian Aboriginal word that means ‘rushing waters’. Dean thought it would take us five hours to complete the loop but in fact, it took much longer. Thirsty, and near complete exhaustion, we stumbled back to the car almost nine hours later. After then driving an hour to get home, it was all we could do to collapse on the bed for a much-needed and much-deserved power nap.
I can’t even remember having dinner that night. I think we may have slept through till morning and (seriously) I couldn’t walk properly for three or four days.
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
Upon closer inspection of that ‘short walk’ Dean had chosen, it was over 20 kilometres (12.7 miles) return and the Queensland National Parks, Sport and Racing website (still) said “allow 5-6 hours walking time” – one way – after reaching Baroon Lookout.
Apart from what I thought was a not-so-tough ascent to the lookout, from there there were two steep descents, the first was over 150 metres (492.1 feet), the second approx. 100 metres (328.1 feet) and walking in a downward direction early in the morning while still full of energy was almost effortless, Almost pleasant. Even though climbing up to reach the rock pools at the top of Kondalilla Falls was a bit of a struggle, I made it, and we sat there and enjoyed our lunch.
Turning around and walking back to the car was another story altogether and although I didn’t find the going too difficult to begin with (there was only one smallish rise), it didn’t stay that way for long. I had moments when I thought I’d never make it. The fist incline at the half way point was hard enough, but the second was a killer – almost vertical via a (seemingly) never-ending series of switchbacks carved into the side of a mountain. I had several moments when I thought “What have I got myself into?”
I knew I was alive. Well, at least my heart and lungs did judging by the punishment I was dealing out to them. I was in a whole new world of hurt, my legs were already sore and I couldn’t breathe fast enough, I had to constantly sit down and allow my pounding heart to slow down to a rate that was still ridiculously unacceptable, and at one stage I thought Dean would have to call for a rescue flight to chopper me out.
All jokes aside, this was our (self-imposed) introduction to bushwalking and after my body recovered from the overdose of lactic acid in my muscles, we were off again, seeking another walking track to tackle.
That was more than eight years ago and now we can say we’ve walked somewhere in every state of Australia and have loved ever minute, every step and every vista we’ve stumbled across.
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
Yesterday, Dean and I revisited Kondalilla Falls. We didn’t retrace our steps from Baroon Pocket Dam though, choosing instead to park the car at the falls and walk the Kondalilla Falls Circuit instead, a relatively easy 4.6 kilometre loop (2.2 miles) that takes you past the falls.
Kondalilla Falls plunge 90 metres (295.3 feet) to the gorge below and by walking the circuit in a counter-clockwise direction, we found there were over 100 steps to walk down, but (thankfully) a series of gentle meandering slopes and switchbacks to walk up and complete the loop back to the rock pools. Even though I still huffed and puffed in a few places, this was heaven compared to where my head was taking me had we needed to tackle those steps to get out of the gorge.
Once back at the rock pools, we made our way back to the car via Picnic Creek circuit, adding an extra 20 minutes to the time it took.
It was lovely taking a hike down memory lane, revisiting some of the areas of Kondalilla National Park where our first bushwalk had taken us all those years ago. Because there was not a lot of water rushing over the falls, Dean and I plan to revisit after there’s been some rain.
In the meantime, there are lots of other tracks we plan to explore.
Dean and I are now house sitting at Flaxton on the Blackall Range.
The area is lovely, the house amazing and the gardens I’m caring for are gorgeous. We’ll be here for the next three months. It’s a great alternative to being in a caravan while our new house is being built.