I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published September 7th 2018
Enjoy the Australian Bush
I've lived in Brisbane for 17 years but have only been to Bellbird Grove in D'Aguilar National Park three times. The first time my friend Bea invited me out for some short walks around the old goldmine site and the Aboriginal area about a year ago. I took my metal detector thinking I might find some gold. I didn't find anything and it didn't even go off anywhere near the old gold mine, but it did go off on the large grassy Rose Gum picnic area near the car park. I thought the area must have previously been an old dump, but who knows, maybe there is gold under the ground there. I didn't think I should start digging up the picnic area though and it is probably illegal anyway in the national park.
That day we walked around the 1.7km return track around the Turbal Circuit. It was an interesting walk where we saw Aboriginal gunyahs. I did pick up an interesting arrow-shaped stone in the creek, imagining it could have been an Aboriginal weapon head artefact, but it was probably just a stone. That circuit went through open eucalypt forest, then down into a wet eucalypt gully and back to the picnic area.
We then walked around to see the old gold mine on the Golden Boulder track. This circuit was 1.8km. The miners used to work along the exposed ridges and built deep mine shafts in the area from the 1860s until the 1930s.
The first one of these two was a walk from Bellbird Grove to Walkabout Creek following stage 6 of the Oxfam walk. We walked about 11.8 kilometres along dirt roads and bush tracks. After a steep climb out of Bellbird Grove along the bitumen road, we crossed back over Mount Nebo road, and turned south onto Duck Creek road and headed north of the Enoggera Reservoir. After a short rest for morning tea at Enoggera Creek, we walked around to the Enoggera dam wall and back to our cars at the Gap Park and Ride. There was a bike riding racing competition on that day so we had to avoid lots of bike riders along the track. The riders support crew were cooking up a barbecue for the riders, and the smell as we walked by made me almost wish I had a bike so I could join in.
I plan to do stage 7 of the Oxfam walk later this year. I really admire those people who do the whole 100-kilometre walk in one go to raise funds for charity. I have sponsored some of those walkers.
My third walk in the area a few days later was from Bellbird Grove up to Camp Mountain return. We walked beside a creek up fire trails to Mt Nebo road. From there we walked a short distance along the road, then turned off a fire trail to the turnoff to the Camp Mountain lookout. We walked up a steep ridge to the lookout, stopping along the way to investigate an old gold mine. From the lookout, we had great views looking north to the Glasshouse Mountains and Brisbane CBD to the east. We also had views of the CBD from the bush track. We returned to BellBird Grove via a loop, which rejoined the trail.
I'd never been to Camp Mountain before. There is a large picnic area there with tables, toilets and viewing platforms. The mountain is approximately 20 km northwest of Brisbane city. The lookout is named after Reverend John A Bathersby, the 6th Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane in recognition of his 50 years of service to the people of Queensland and his life-long passion for the natural environment of Queensland. It was opened on 5th February 2012 by The Honourable Andrew Fraser, Deputy Premier of Queensland.
Camp Mountain is part of the Mountain to Mangroves corridor, which stretches 32 kilometres from the mountain to the Boondall Wetlands on the shores of Moreton Bay. It provides a corridor for native animals to move, feed and breed.
In the old gold mining and logging days, the early settlers called the area Mountain Camp.
Our walk that day took about five hours and we walked about eleven kilometres with lots of breaks to explore the old gold mine and admire the beautiful views and bush. When I got home I looked up some old newspaper reports on Trove about the interesting history of the area.
The earliest article I found was published in The Brisbane Courier on 25 February 1887. It was a letter to the Editor from Mr Edwin Oliver justifying why he had reported finding payable gold at Mountain Camp. It seems there were even crooks back then trying to steal people's claims.
In the early part of last December our party
found likely-looking stone, which we had assayed
by Mr. Staiger, resulting in 1oz. 10dwt. 5gr. of
pure gold to the ton, and on further
prospecting we discovered a well-defined
reef of considerable size, the stone from
which was taken at about 12ft. from the
surface and on an assay being obtained (also by
Mr. Staiger) the result was 1oz. 15dwt. of pure gold
to the ton. Not being satisfied at the time
that this assay was of sufficient importance to
report at the Mines Office, we had a parcel of
about a ton forwarded to Melbourne for
treatment and we are waiting for the report to justify
ourselves in developing the reef.
In the meantime, having found that certain un-
scrupulous persons had obtained samples of our
stone and had it assayed with the intention of
reporting the find as their own, and thereby sup-
planting us, we were compelled by force of circum-
stances to report the discovery, and thereby se-
cure our rights as the prospectors, as set out in
the Goldfields Actů.
Unfortunately, the gold mines only produced small amounts of gold and they were abandoned in the 1950s.
The walks around BellBird Grove and Camp Mountain are quintessential Australian bushwalks with beautiful Australian bush, wildlife, history, gold mines, Aboriginal gunyah huts and even views of the Brisbane CBD.