Conondale Great Walk 11 - 14 Nov

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Conondale Great Walk 11 - 14 Nov

Postby Ticklebelly » Mon 14 Nov, 2011 9:52 pm

Just home after completing the Conondale Great Walk. Start is at the Booloumba Creek day-use area off Booloumba Creek Road, about 6k south of Kenliworth towards Maleny. Three creek crossings to get in and a serious, high clearance 4WD in anything less than dry conditions. The walk is a circuit and parking is available immediately across the road from the start of the walk. I did ring the ranger in Kenliworth to tell her we were leaving three cars there for three nights, she told me that most walkers leave their cars there.

We (8 of us) did the circuit clockwise. Two reasons, the DERM site list the camps in that order, and the profile and distances seemed better that direction. The last 4.1k is all downhill from Mt Allen and that did turn out to be a bonus for slightly tired people today. Given the weather conditions (predicted av. of 29 - 18 each day), we seemed to get the hardest bits out of the way early for an extended lunch and shorter session into camp later in the day. I did put the fly on the tent two nights but could have put up with the 5 spots of rain, each night, as it turned out. The hot and dry was reflected in the watercourses, most were dry or just running. Booloumba, Summer. and Sunday creeks all had water in them but clearly, the place needs a good drink.

We started the walk at 10:30 Friday because we drove up from Brissy. First stop was an old gold mining site, just off the main track along Booloumba Creek. OK, looking at a grill over a hole in the bank is not that interesting but if you are there, you do need to look and wonder "what were they thinking?".

Next stop, lunch at the Artist's Cascades. Lovely spot, crystal clear water (we drank it) trickling over the rocks after a couple of k that was a little hot as the tree cover was sparce. Shoes off to cool the tootsies and a worth while stop. Next bit is described on the Topo map info as a climb out of the gorge. Yep, it is. Quite steep and not what I wanted just after eating but slow and steady in the shade got us up it easier walking soon enough. The afternoon was cooling off as we got to the turn of to Booloumba Falls and the Breadknife. 200 metres off the main track got us down to a worthwhile view and a little rock hopping around the falls. Not a great volume of water but nice to see, all the same. 2.5k later, we got to the Wongai camp. Pretty well identical in facilities to the Cooloola Walk camps, including tent sites "for up to 4 people" that were not flat or smooth. Serious platforms/tables at each tent site were good value and we all eventually found sufficient flat spaces for our tents. One leech and several ticks were found on and should have alerted us for what was to come. One high point for me was the fireflys twinkling in the dark as I settled down for the night.

Off early next morning for the longest day (17k). First 3k or so was through fantastic, magnificent, dark, dank, rainforest. The whole bit; hugh trees, Pickabeen Plalms, Strangler Figs, little creek bottoms (nearly all dry) with lots of rocks, everwhere. Very enjoyable but we soon realised that to stop was to give the leeches time to start walking up the legs looking for where to start sucking blood. The up section really started then as we climbed towards Mt Gerald. Things got drier and the patches of sunlight were pretty hot. We had all left camp with about 2 litres and had expected to refill from creeks on the way but all the watercourses were dry so we were quite careful with the water. I suspect at other times of the year you would be right but the lack of water on the way was a small concern. A fair bit of this section was on fire trails but we did get enough of the pure bush track to enjoy. I had expected to see lots of snakes (did a scouting trip the week before for lots of sightings),but no joy there. Saw several goannas and a little pig sign. Also saw warning signs saying 1080 baits for pigs were laid in the area. We did stop for lunch with the bulk of the distance done, camped up for a good hour and a bit then took our time doing the last bit into Tallowwood camp. A bit of colour in the tank water there but good smell and tasted fine but we all popped steraliser tablets in to be sure. The tick thing got serious here as more people were finding the litter buggers and even more leeches were found even though the camp area seemed too dry for the buggars. More fireflys that night and several visits from the woodland critters in the middle of the night made that camp interestiong.

Not far out next morning, we left packs on the main track and walked down the 200 metres to Peters Falls. Beautiful! Lots of little pools and cascading water over rocks and ferns and palms and all that cute stuff. Again, not a lot of water but that did allow us to get right out in the middle and have a good look around. More signs of the logging that took place before the place was declared but heartening to see nature taking it all back and the scars softening as the moss grows and felled trees rot into the forest floor. A couple of ups and downs then to remind us of the need to keep pack weights low. Then the goanna incident. I have put a post about the incident in the general forum but essentially, I had a goanna decide to run up my leg and check out the scenery under my shorts. The girls though it hilarious but having a goanna running around in your shorts is not funny. We had lunch sitting on the rocks in Sunday Creek and walked into the Summer Falls camp around 2:30. Initially, it seemed the falls were not accessible and only a single viewing point was possible. After setting up tents, I went for a look around and found a way down to the creek above the falls. Called the rest of the group over and fun was had by all. The boys went down stream for a swim in there jocks while the women went upstream for a little naked romp in the rock pools. Given the heat of the day and three day unwashed bodies, the creek water was especially nice and refreshing. The negatives about this camp was the number of ticks around. Everybody found several on bodies or crawling on tents. Add a few tick bites to the itchy leech bites. Had a few visitors through the night, a Northern Brushtail wa quite persistant at my tent site and a hugh Lace Monitor also popped around each tent looking to see what he/she could pick up. Nothing different in the tent sites here either; it took me nearly ten minutes to kick rocks out of the way and try to smooth things down a bit.

Last day, and an earlier start than usual, some had plans for coffee in Kenliworth around lunch. A bit of a climb out of Summer Falls for a heart starter then an easy rhythm along through open forest and a couple of fire trails. As you step off the fire trail onto the track to the turnoff to the Mt Allen fire tower, you are straight back into deep forest for about 400 metres. The fire tower isabout 700 metres off the main trail and as you climb, the forest gets noticably drier. Great view from the fire tower and well worth the side trip. All down hill from here. Back to the packs we had left on the main trail, the imagined scent of coffee and a track sloping away had us walking out at just over 4k an hour. Noticably hotter and drier as we walked down and towards Booloumba Creek. We walked out about 11 after 12 k that morning. A change of T-Shirt, into sandles and a paddle in the cool water of the creek was the perfect cool down for the trip home (after coffe and a nibble in Kenliworth).

Did get a chance to talk to a ranger, they were comming in as we were going out, and told them of a few maintenance issues at each camp. I also made the suggestion that they put a steel rake at each site. I would have loved the opportunity to spend a little time raking my tent site flat and large rock free. I reckon after a few campers had been through, the sites would be perfect and the rangers would not have to do any work themselves. Last thing, I mentioned the ticks and leeches, the ranger did say that they leeches get twice as bad in the wet season.

Final comment, good walk, saw lots, had fun, and the itchy bites will heal. Recommended.

Ticklebelly
Ticklebelly
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