I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published June 14th 2017
Bushwalking close to Brisbane
I recently went on a bushwalk to Dave's Creek Circuit at Binna Burra on a very cold, wet Sunday with the Brisbane Bushwalking club. Dave's Creek Circuit starts from the Binna Burra end of Lamington National Park (100 km south of Brisbane) and has a reputation as having varied vegetation throughout its 12-kilometer track.
A few people pulled out of the walk because of the weather and we ended up with only eleven walkers. I loved it. There is something magical about walking in the rainforest in teeming rain. I stayed dry in my Mountains Designs raincoat I bought at a bushwalking shop in Tasmania about eighteen years ago. Some of the others got wet. Before I bought the sky blue Mountain Designs raincoat I used to wear an old black oilskin jacket. They were great jackets and very waterproof. All bushwalkers used to wear them in Tasmania where I grew up and started bushwalking. I was sad when my last one died and newer fancy gortex models superseded them. These days there is a lot of choice in waterproof coats. The main aim is to maximise breathability while retaining waterproofness and making them as light as possible. Manufacturers also compete to reduce weight, enhance durability and, in recent years, have even introduced stretchiness to the fabrics, all while retaining the ability to keep water out.
We set out from Brisbane around 7am and drove down to Binna Burra via Nerang. After we arrived at Binna Burra, we put our wet weather gear on and started off on the twelve-kilometer walk. The walk takes around four hours, depending on stops.
I had done a lot of the other Binna Burra walks when I was there for a few days in January, but even though I had heard Dave's Creek Circuit was one of the best walks, I hadn't had the opportunity to do it previously. Cyclone Debbie, which hit the area in March this year had caused some huge trees to fall since I was there.
The walk lived up to its reputation as a very interesting, fairly easy walk through a variety of habitats, including rainforest, caves, waterfalls, large interesting rocks, scrubland and heath. The track passes through several distinctive vegetation types: warm and cool subtropical rainforest along the Border Track; warm temperate rainforest containing many examples of ancient angiosperms such as coachwood in the Nixon Creek headwaters; and wet sclerophyll forest with giant New England ash around the Nagarigoon clearing.
The World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park is renowned as Australia's largest subtropical rainforest. The Dave's Creek Circuit starts in the rainforests of the main range, but during the walk to the Circuit itself, the path passes through a small Antarctic Beech forest, which has managed to survive at much lower altitudes than usual. The path then moves into mixtures of rainforest and eucalypt/casuarina forest with occasional patches of picabeen palms and then at the top of the Dave's Creek ridge, it moves into mallee woodland and finally heath.
We missed some of the views because of the cloudy wet weather, but the weather cleared for a short time when we got to the look out over the Numimbah Valley. We sheltered in the Molongolee Cave for morning tea overlooking a beautiful waterfall. Some people who had been on this walk before were amazed at the waterfall falling down the cliff face. They said it was very different in dry weather.
The foaming trees along the track were another advantage of the wet weather because this phenomena only occurs in rain. It happens when rainwater dissolves chemicals from the treebark as it flows down the stem of the tree. This changes the surface tension of the water so that when it drips down towards the base of the tree, air is introduced due to the turbulence of the water and foam is formed because of the altered surface tension.
I was also interested in seeing a lot of sundews. These beautiful insectivorous plants called Drosera grow in areas low in soil nutrients. They capture insects to supplement their diet. Drosera is one of the largest genera of carnivorous plants, with at least 194 species. They lure, capture, and digest insects using stalked mucilaginous glands covering their leaf surfaces.
The track was well sign posted and the tracks were good, but there were lots of pools of water which made them muddy in places after all the rain. One young woman entertained us with her dance moves trying to keep her feet dry in her non-waterproof sneakers.
There weren't too many leeches, probably because we all sprayed around our socks with insect repellant before setting out. Three people did get a leech on them, including one man who got one in his ear. At least there were no ticks on this trip.
We had lunch at Surprise Rock, which is a volcanic dyke made of trachyte, which is highly resistant to erosion. A path leads over the top of the rock, and club members usually go up and over it and down a tree. Because of the wet weather and potentially slippery rockface, we just walked to the top for the great view, then came down and walked around the alternative path at the base of the rock.
The birds were very quiet all day. At one point after the rain had stopped, we waited for their calls, but the birds obviously knew the rain hadn't stopped for long as they remained quiet and the rain started up again. I didn't see any wildlife on this trip. All the creatures were probably holed up out of the rain somewhere. I had seen a red- bellied black snake and lots of pademelons on my January trip.
We were all glad to get back to the cars, change into dry clothes and have a hot drink in the Binna Burra Mountain Lodge Cafe by the fire before the drive home.
I think we all learned something from this trip in the cold and rain. Some learnt their $2 ponchos don't keep them dry in heavy rain. Another woman found out the hard way her raincoat was only shower proof and not heavy rain proof. Others probably decided to buy some waterproof boots and shoes. I learned I need to get some waterproof trousers, a waterproof cover for my daypack and a better hat. My old bush hat just dropped in my eyes all day once it got soaked and drove me crazy. I used to have a pair of bright yellow waterproof trousers many years ago when I was a size 8-10, but I have long grown out of them. I wore them last on a trip in New Zealand in the 1980's. We were walking in snow up to our knees across a high pass on the Routeburn Track in mid-January. My brother in law didn't have any waterproof pants, but he improvised with two garbage bags, which worked pretty well.