I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published January 22nd 2019
An interesting bushwalk into a beautiful area
It was my second bushwalk into the lower portals in Mt Barney National Park. The first time was in December 2016. That time I walked in carrying a full pack and camped overnight. I wrote about that walk here.
That first trip was extra special because I saw some rock wallabies. We didn't see any rock wallabies this time, but we did see another creature I'd never seen before. It was an Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata). I've seen lots of water dragons and goannas and even the beautiful Boyd's Forest Dragon, which lives up in Far North Queensland, but I'd never seen an Eastern Bearded Dragon before.
The Bearded dragon was sunning himself on a large log next to a fence. He was very well camouflaged. I read they usually freeze. If they feel threatened, they puff themselves up, and extend their beard under the throat and open their mouth wide to reveal a bright yellow lining. They live along the eastern quarter of Australia in open forests, heathland, scrub and even in disturbed farmland areas. They mostly eat vegetable matter such as leaves, fruits, berries and flowers. They will also eat insects. Our dragon obviously wasn't concerned about us as he didn't puff himself up, or show us his bright yellow throat lining.
The walk into the Lower Portals from the car park is only 3.7 kilometres, but there are five ridges to climb up and down. On a hot summer's day, it isn't easy. The walk-in takes about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on rest stops. The track has moderate to steep slopes and is rough in sections. There are two rocky creek crossings. The track ends at a deep pool set within a rocky gorge of Mount Barney Creek. There are some large rocks to negotiate to get to the large swimming hole.
The weather was a lot hotter than my previous visit and the walk-in was much drier this time. Some of the creeks we waded across last time were a lot lower and we didn't even get our feet wet this trip.
The Lower Portals track is in Mount Barney National Park. The walking track starts from the Lower Portals car park.
To get there from Brisbane, drive down the Mount Lindesay highway through Beaudesert to Rathdowney. Turn right onto the Boonah–Rathdowney Road. It took about two hours to travel 115 kilometres. After arriving at the Barney View–Upper Logan Road turn-off, we followed the signs to the Lower Portals.
We all loved having a swim after the hot walk in. The water wasn't too cold, unlike my previous time when it was freezing. We were on the lookout for eels we had heard about living in the pools but didn't see any.
There were some beautiful blue butterflies hovering around us. They were too quick to get a photo, but I managed to get one of the butterflies with its wings closed.
We saw some family groups at the water hole. One young teen didn't look happy rock hopping up the creek with her parents. I imagine she would be complaining loudly about the hot walk back to the car park.
The track is well marked, but it was slippery on the downhill parts. Poles were great to prevent sliding. The track is in the open for a lot of the way, so you need to wear a hat and sunscreen and take plenty of water and good boots with grip. There are lots of tree roots, which you need to watch out for, as it would be easy to trip.
We could see the top of Mount Barney poking up above the rocks at the Lower Portals. People do need to be careful swimming in the large pool. I spoke to a woman last year who told me she saved someone from drowning when she was there one day. The group she was with was leaving the area when they heard someone calling out. She jumped in and swam to save the person who was in difficulty. She said they were very lucky her group was there, as otherwise, they would have drowned. I've also heard of people getting into trouble in winter in the extremely cold water, so people need to be very careful.
Another group from our bushwalking club had done the walk a few weeks before our trip and the temperature was 40 degrees. Some of the group ran out of water on the return walk. It might be better to do this walk in winter or autumn.