Discovering the world around me & sharing the magic with others.
Published January 5th 2019
Wildlife watching, rambling roads and stunning scenery
Planning my latest day trip from Brisbane, I struggled to find somewhere I hadn't already explored. I scoured Google Maps for an unfamiliar green patch and half-heartedly settled on a place called Glen Rock State Forest in the Lockyer Valley region, with the intention to continue south into Main Range National Park for a bushwalk. Well, I certainly underestimated this little corner of the world. I was floored by its breathtaking scenery and enjoyed one of my most fruitful wildlife-spotting expeditions to date. If you're a nature lover who relishes in a great drive just as much as an idyllic destination, make this your next escape from the city.
Pack a hearty lunch, picnic rug, camera and binoculars and set off before 7am towards the Warrego Highway, exiting at Gatton. Coming out the other side of Gatton you will be welcomed by the fresh air, winding country roads, and unexpectedly beautiful and distinctive landscape at the heart of the Lockyer Valley. As you approach Glen Rock, the hillside and occasionally the road is dotted charmingly with cattle and other four-legged friends, so stay alert.
A taste of the scenic drive towards Glen Rock State Forest
Once you reach Glen Rock, have a snack at the picnic area and begin exploring. Before the turnoff for the picnic area and campgrounds is a discreet gate inviting you to go through a paddock towards a shared trail. Venture towards the creek for excellent bird watching, not to mention a host of other critters. Be mindful of snakes.
Of all the animals I spotted, these are just a few that I was quick enough to photograph.
When you're ready to get back on the road, retrace your steps towards Mount Sylvia and continue left towards Haldon. This is where the drive really kicks up a notch. Be prepared for loose gravel roads, creek crossings and plenty of twists and turns. Generous with neighbouring wildlife and stunning views, this section of road had me as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning, leaping out of the car every five minutes to document my frequent discoveries.
The stunning and surprising journey through the Haldon region
Take a left once you reach the New England Highway. If you're after a challenging hike, continue along the highway to approach Main Range National Park from Cunningham's Gap. Instead, I turned left from the New England Highway to take the Cedar Route along Goomburra Road and continued straight along Inverramsay Road. This will lead you to the picturesque Gordon Country private ecotourism property, which I dutifully added to my camping bucket list. Pull over to say hello the horses then push ahead until you reach the entrance to Main Range National Park.
From here, follow signs to the picnic area and continue along Lookout Road for a scenic drive boasting stunning views of the natural landscape, which transforms dramatically as you ascend the mountain. I pulled off to take the enchanting Araucaria Falls track, which winds seductively through lush rainforest to a tranquil waterfall. The trail leads you across the rocky creek above right down to the enticing pool below. National Parks describes this as a Class 4 track, but I pulled it off quite easily with unimpressive fitness, so give it a go. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. I bumped into this python recovering from a feast.
Confronted with food envy, I drove back to the picnic area for lunch. Alternatively, you could continue along Lookout Road and carry your picnic to either Sylvesters Lookout or Mount Castle Lookout, which both span about 950 metres return. Composting toilets, tap water and barbecue facilities are available at the campsites. If you can bring yourself to leave, drive back towards the Cedar Route and let the curvaceous Cunningham Highway lead you home.