Cris is an Organiser of the Group Hiking South East Qld and More on Meetup. Visit the website at https://www.meetup.com/HikingInSEQLDandMore/ is free to join all the activities posted on the hiking group.
Published May 29th 2023
When deciding to hike a trail, all the preparation and the travelling become part of the journey. Getting the camping and the hiking gear ready, reaching the place is part of the adventure. Be mindful of all the surrrounding, of the roads, of the fields and of the small rural towns. Darlymple and Cascade Circuits offer the opportunity to wander in the unique Gondwana Forest, to learn about the history of the area and to spot amazing wildlife.
Cascades Circuit is located in the Goomburra section of the Main Range National Park. Coming from the town of Aratula - it takes about one hour, 77km - the Cunningham Hwy climbs the Cunningham Gap in the heart of the mountains of the Main Range. Goomburra is located behind the mountains.
Once arrived in the small locality of Gladfield, on the right is Goomburra Road that goes to Goomburra, a locality with a hall, a park and a fire station. From here Inverramsay Road goes back to the mountains. It is a very scenic way, with the land dotted of farms, cattle and with the views of the mountains.
A few farms along the road sell firewood ideal for burning in the fire places in the camping areas. When Inverramsay Road approaches the first crossing of the Darlymple Creek, the road name changes into Forestry Reserve Road which ends at Manna Gum camping area.
Darlymple and Cascade Circuit trails start at the end of Forestry Reserve Road. The first part of the trail is the easy Dalrymple Circuit. At the intersection make sure to take Cascades Circuit Trail.
Cascades Circuit and Darlymple Circuits are a total of about 8 km, allow 3 hours to walk the trail. The national park classifies the hike as Grade 4 due to the uneven terrain, some steep sections and the many creek crossings.
The group Hiking South East Qld on the Darlymple Circuit.
Along the trail is possible to see evidence of the past logging that was done in the Goomburra area. There are not many large trees left in the forest, only stumps are left on the ground. Once red cedars, white beech and hoop pines populated the area but were selectively logged from the late 1840s to 1985. Large trees survived only in inaccessible places.
This stump belonged to a tall Sydney blue gum, Eucalyptus saligna. It was more than 500 years old when it was cut with a chainsaw in 1962.
The Darlymple and the Cascades Circuits run along the Darlymple Creek. The waters of this creek cross four states before reaching the ocean. Darlymple Creek is a tributary of the Condamine River which flows into the Darling River and then into the Murray River.
Sometimes the flow of the creek seems interrupted, especially when the rains have been scarce, but the water keeps running underground.
The cool and pristine water of Darlymple Creek supports a variety of life including insects, frogs, platypus, fish and crays. In particular, the spiny cray Euastacus jagara is a relic from the last Ice Age. The tiny creatures are paramount in the ecosystem since they are food for larger wildlife.
The Darlymple Creek flows in small gorges made of basalt that erupted as lava 24 million years ago. The molten lava was spewed out from the Main Range volcano and travelled a long way. Over millions of years, water has weathered and eroded the sides of the volcano, forming many valleys, including Goomburra valley.
The rock of the small cliff is basalt. Once molten lava travelled many km from the original volcano.
Along the trail in the forest there are many Alocasia brisbanensis, species of plants in the family Araceae native to rainforests of eastern Australia. They are commonly known as cunjevoi or spoon lily, the name "cunjevoi" may derive from the Bundjalung language of northern New South Wales.
Alocasia brisbanensis is also called Elephant's ears. It is listed in the poisonous plants, if any part of the plant is eaten or chewed, it can cause immediate pain, burning sensation and swelling of the lips, tongue and mouth. A feeling of local numbness may follow. A few deaths have been reported in children who have eaten leaves or roots. The sap can be extremely irritating to the eyes. It is considered a weed when it spreads out of forests, it is also fatal for cattle.
The ferns are omnipresent in the forest, growing in the understory or as trees. Many fallen trees in the forest support a variety of plants and microorganisms. All materials are used by living organisms, visible and invisible. Orchids are supported by trees and get nutrients from rainy water and air. Sometimes they fall on the ground, like the one in the photo, Dendrobium speciosum variety hillii.
The forest is a living organism itself with a variety of life.
Feral animals surveys have been run in areas of the Main Range National Park. Generally survey methods include the use of remote cameras and searching for signs of feral animals such as tracks, scats and distinctive digging of feral pigs. The surveys detected feral pigs, wild dogs and cane toads.
The returning leg of the Cascades Circuit trail is a fire trail in common with the Ridge Trail. About 3km before arriving at Manna Gum camping area, there is the Spicers Retreat, a privately own resort.
Spicers Eco Camp offers many types of luxurious experiences in their organised walks.
Spicers Retreat is a private resort in the national park.
Goomburra section of the Main Range National Park is one of my favourite places. Manna Gum camping area is great and all the beautiful walking trails start nearby. There are many birds, making the place a paradise for birding. I returned to hike Cascades Circuit in May, late autumn, when camping at Manna Gum.
Inverramsay Road is an enjoyable scenic drive, there are many fields and the view of the mountains. Setting up the camping site at Manna Gum is part of the experience.
The average temperatures ranged from the max of 19 degrees during the day and zero degrees during the night. It took us long time to warm up in the sleeping bags, despite the sleeping bag being rated -12 and have a blanket on top.
The mornings were very cold and the sun was out of the tree line at about 8am. Then the steam from the ground, cars and tents started to rise creating plumes of steam everywhere. The car had icicles on the door handles and a layer of ice was everywhere on the camping gear outside the tent.
Inside the tent our bodies produced lots of condensation and there was a thin layer of moisture on the blankets. The walls of the tent were practically wet, probably the warm inside the tent prevented the water to freeze. The condensation of our breath was very thick when talking. It was a completely new experience hiking and camping in the cold.
In the evening and early morning we had a dazzling fire going in the camping site. It was bizarre how the gas cylinders struggled to function properly and the flame of the stove was so small. It took long time to boil the water for the coffee. The cold impacted on the bottle of gas too reducing the pressure inside the cans.
The fire place was great for cooking and warming up.
Wear long trousers and shirt with long sleeves, very recommended hiking ankle supportive boots.
For a day hike a backpack should be a 20-25 litres capacity. Only carry with you essential gear, your backpack should be as light as possible. Bring lots of water especially if it's a hot day, 1.5 litres and snacks.
First Aid Kit must be packed: you can buy one or make one yourself with all the essential items. Pack specific bandages for snakebites elasticised roller bandages that are 10-15cm wide, painkillers, band aids, disinfectants, tweezers, hand sanitiser, sunscreen, Bushman Cream insects repellent, scissors; dressing and blister pack; hydrolytes; tissues; chapstick.
Smart phone and power bank can be a great help when hiking. Phone can be used to dial emergency numbers, download apps useful for hiking. The power bank is useful when your phone runs out of energy.
Raincoat is good just in case of a shower, it can be worn as a windbreaker or for extra warmth.
Gloves are good when scrambling and for extra protection.
Insect repellent, give preference to cream or roll on that are more environmentally friendly than the spray.
Darlymple and Cascade Circuits start at Manna Gum camping area, at the end of Forestry Reserve Road.