Kenilworth is an easy 90 minute drive north of Brisbane via Landsborough (or a scenic, twisty 2 hr drive via Caboolture) and a great day trip for the whole family. We started our day off with the magnificent Fig Tree Walk – a short 750m boardwalk circuit. Fig Tree Walk is located about 4km south of Kenilworth at Little Yabba Creek on the Maleny- Kenilworth Road. Park your car in the car park and head across the bridge to start the walk.
The highlight of the forest walk, as expected, were the majestic Moreton Bay Fig trees, the oldest one being 150 years old and truly a magnificent sight to behold.
After the walk, enjoy a picnic in the public picnic area near the car park and explore some of the river.
On the day that we visited, we opted to forego the picnic in favour of pressing on to explore a bit more of the Conondale National Park. We headed to Booloumba Creek in the park via Booloumba Creek Road which is an unsealed access road off the Kenilworth–Maleny Road about half way between Kenilworth and Conondale townships. Be aware that a 4WD is required for this part of the park as the access road includes creek crossings.
We were heading for the carpark at Booloumba Creek Campsite 3 but before our arrival there we popped into the other campsite and day picnic areas which all looked very scenic and idyllic with excellent facilities. One thing we found intriguing was the abundance of goannas which scavenged the campsites after the campers had left. Unfortunately, even though the fires are doused the coals still remain hot and these beautiful creatures suffer terrible burns as they take their chances to score some food. So if you're camping, please keep this in mind.
Goannas are abundant in the park especially around camp sites
After parking at Booloumba 3 Campsite and applying sunscreen and repellent for leeches we embarked on the Gold Mine walking track. There are many walks to choose from and the Gold Mine walking track was a deliberate choice - we had something special on our itinerary, the Strangler Cairn, which is accessible via the Gold Mine walk amongst others, but more of that later.
Signposts of the walking tracks at Booloumba Creek Campsite 3
After about 30 minutes of walking we reached the 300m Gold Mine signpost but we veered left on the alternative track which led us to Strangler Cairn, fondly referred to by my family as "The Egg", much easier to remember.
Commissioned by the Department of Environment and Resource Management, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Division, Andy Goldsworthy created this unique piece of art and it's a delightful surprise for those out walking and not expecting to stumble on this treasure.
An unexpected piece of DERM funded art in an open clearing in the Conondale National Park
Weighing 35 tonnes and standing 3.7 metres tall, it's made from slate and stone from a nearby quarry. The slabs of stone were delivered to the site by helicopter, since the track is not accessible by vehicle, and then painstakingly built by hand in a "dry wall" system.
The Strangler Cairn being built by hand. Photo Courtesy of derm.qld.gov.au
Planted on top of the Strangler Cairn is a strangler fig sapling which is watered religiously by the park rangers.
Strangler Cairn, fondly referred to as simply, "The Egg"
The vision of Goldsworthy was that in 60 years the strangler fig's roots would grow over the egg entirely, strangling it. To complete the metaphor there is a dead fig tree lying next to the stone egg, with the egg symbolising the growth and rebirth of a new fig tree. It was the dead fig tree in the open clearing which sparked Goldsworthy's creative inspiration for this public art.
After a short break and refreshments, we returned the way we came. The walk there and back from Booloumba Creek 3 Campsite took us about an hour.
There are many other great walks in the area, the grand dame of them all being the aptly name "Great Walk". It's a 4 day hike which takes in 56kms of stunning forest scenery and waterfalls. The waterfalls are accessible via shorter walks but we ran out of time.
For a treat at the end of the day, head into Kenilworth Township for an ice cream or something more substantial from the bakery. But make sure you get there before 4.30pm on a Sunday as they close early. Fortunately for us, a very organised friend had a pre-cooked stew warming up for us in his homemade solar oven while we were out walking. The perfect ending to a most perfect day!