The Rainforests in Darling Downs (Far South Queensland)

The far South of Queensland – around Dalby and Toowoomba – hide an inland beauty of small patches of rainforest. Part of these patches I intend to discover the next days.
When I leave Dalby, I head straight to a top park in the regio, the Bunya Mountains. This park lies in the Dividing Range some 1000m high. The road into the park is of a stunning beauty! A narrow winding road through lush green forests, some great valleys or green grasslands. Along the road signs warn for the steep climbs or descents – with some slopes up to 20% – but they are no match for Janis, after the dunes in the Simpson Desert…

The campground in the Bunya Mountains is a beautiful one. A grass plain, picnic tables, showers and toilets. All in the style, self sufficient. This implies that taking a shower requires warming the water with an old fashioned wood fire under a metal drum before you put it into the shower bag. Luckily the firewood is provided.
I feel glad that I can have a good shower daily, even if this implies some more work… But it gives a huge reward afterwards and a clean feeling to go sleeping!

The NP itself is a beautiful walking spot. My first day I make a 20km trip at the Western park ends. This implies walking along the hillside, with often beautiful valley sights. The tracks are well marked and the terrain is quite even. In between there are some picnic areas provided.
And snakes… During this day I meet two of these fellows. One of them felt pretty scary, because of its close presence, but who is most afraid of who stays in the middle. Without incidents I arrive in the evening back on my campsite. Only the walk to Mt Kiangarrow – the highest point at 1100m – is not worth the walk… From the viewing platform you can only see trees instead of valleys.
On the second day, I intend to visit the eastern walks, along some falls and with some great patches of forest. During that walk – some 16km – I learn about the Bunya Pines, which grow so tall they exit the green rooftops and stand sentinel above. When I look around sometimes, I easily spot these aeon old giants. They didn’t change a lot since the age of dinosaurs. Some nice falls complete this walk.
During these two days I really enjoyed my stay in this tiny, beautiful park.

When I leave the Bunya Park in the morning, I head to the Palms NP. A small park near Cooyar. This place I use for a picnic, because the walk of some 650m is easily walked in 15 minutes…
However, it feels remarkable because of the palm trees – and a mass of flying foxes – in the middle of the forest. Just that small patch of palm trees in a mass of eucalyptus and other trees. It gives a shared feeling, so I do the walk twice.
In the afternoon I head to the Crows Nest NP, to camp and prepare for another walk between the falls and forest tomorrow… On my way to the park I am given sight of a majestic rainbow over the street. Already the 3rd in the area since my arrival. And each time they stay miraculously beautiful.

The Crows Nest NP is a small, but rewarding park. There are only 6km of walking trails, but my day was relaxing and I had some nice views on the granite rock formations and waterfalls around. I also spotted a cute koala on its branch and could read on a sunlit beachside near a waterfall.
The day after I drive to the Ravensbourne NP, which has only some small walking trails, this time through rainforests, palm forests and eucalypt forests. Each one follows another, on a small patch of the trail. After that I spent an afternoon shopping in Toowoomba, the first city with more than 100 000 inhabitants since Adelaide! In the evening I went to a movie, just another scenery than usual.

The Main Range NP is the next on stage… Driving through it gives some stunning mountain views and on my first day I discover the Spicers Gap area. The walking trail there has no ranking – and admitted it were 8 heavy km’s along the shield volcano’s slope. Nonetheless the mountain views along the trip were stunning.
After that I relaxed a couple of hours near a dam lake, surrounded by mountains… The sunset colours of the valley took my breath away, however I only enjoyed them from the car. Finding a campsite gave more troubles. Finally I parked along a nearly abandoned roadside… Not my favourite, but I had no choice.
Thanks to Oswald (a tropical storm), most of the walking trails near Cunninghams Gap are closed, so there is only the walk to the Gap, an idyllic spot above a waterfall and the palm circuit I can do. Good for some 15 km’s, half a day walking.

After that I drive directly to Girraween NP, to camp there on a site. A much better option than somewhere along the road. Especially because they have hot showers! A welcome warm up in the cold evenings…
During the daytime you don’t feel a lot of the autumn, it is warm and sunny, but after 4-5 pm, temperature drops remarkably.

Girraween is noted as one of the highlights of the area, so a must do. The special features of the park are the granite eroded rocks – the erosion looks much alike the Devils Marbles – and the many streams around the park.
After two days walking in the park, I understand it’s beauty. But it is also a park for the more advanced walkers, because all the climbs on the granite rocks are steep! Some cunning views from above are a welcome reward. The rocks are also called to their features, like the pyramid, the sphinx, the turtle, castle rock, the granite arch,… You don’t need a lot of imagination to find out where the name comes from.
The many kangaroos and beautiful walks make this a nice location.

For people who like walking in nature, this Granite Belt (along the slopes of an old shield volcano) is a really great area. The fertile soil, the cool weather and the many streams make it abundant for wildlife and plants. Most of the parks are close to each other – max some 100 km’s in between – and you’re never far away from towns. Above all the weather is cooler, but nice. This is partly because of the height, many times you’re at some 1000m above sea level in the Great Dividing Range.

After these more inland rainforest parks, I head now to the coastal area for some other forest walks, but my scheme alters when I meet Jain. He is a mathematician working with some nice mathemagical feats. The last days in the forests I thought about his work and got lots and more inspiration about some further details and new parts… When we meet, this proves to be really fitting and he drops me behind his computer to work out more details. So the last 10 days before driving to Sydney I spend at his place in Mullumbimby.
We enjoy each others company, learn a lot from each other and our ebook gets into shape. We plan to publicise it around July…

And then the time comes to reunite with Ilse in Sydney. So I leave Jain and head straight to Sydney, some 800 km down the road.