I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published December 11th 2016
Outdoor adventure with native wildlife
It had been eighteen years since I bushwalked carrying a full pack before a recent overnight walk to the Lower Portals at the base of Mt Barney. I was worried about how my back and shoulders would cope, but apart from some sore muscles, I was okay.
Six of us, all members of the Brisbane Bushwalking club left Brisbane at 7am on a recent Saturday morning. There was an American, a Canadian, a German, a New Zealander and two Australians.
We drove down the Mount Lindesay highway through Beaudesert to Rathdowney, and turned 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.
The Lower Portals track is in Mount Barney National Park. On the drive into the park, you can see the peaks of Mount Barney, Mount Maroon, Mount May, Mount Lindesay, Mount Ernest, Mount Ballow and Mount Clunie. These rugged peaks are the remains of the ancient Focal Peak Shield Volcano, which erupted 24 million years ago. Mount Barney National Park is one of the largest areas of undisturbed natural vegetation remaining in South East Queensland.
The second creek crossing was quite high and a few people took their boots off to wade across. I tried rock hopping, but should have taken my boots off and waded because I ended up with both boots full of water.
You need a permit to camp in the National Park ($6.15 per person per night, or $24.60 per family per night;). Several of the campsites were closed for regeneration but there was plenty of room and only one other family camping when we were there. You need to book online about 6 to 8 weeks in advance for public holidays and 3 to 6 weeks in advance during the rest of the year.
Five of us had single tents but Peter was trying out his new hammock under a fly. It looked very comfortable but he said he got cold during the night. It would be a good option for the northern tropics where it is warmer, and at least the crocodiles couldn't get you. Peter also had a new pack he had bought from America. It was an Eberle Stock Skycrane and is the same type issued to American snipers and rangers. A lot of Americans also use these types of packs as hunting packs. It had numerous pockets and places to keep your guns and weapons. It was so heavy I couldn't even lift it off the ground.
I was using my old pack, which I've had for over 30 years. It's a bit frayed around the edges now so I may have to buy a new one soon. I had hired a light tent, which only weighed 1.2 kilos. My old tent weighs 3.3 kilos.
After lunch and setting up camp, we started walking up a hill behind the water hole, but after a short while Karen and I turned back to go for a swim. We climbed up through the rocks to the beautiful Lower Portals pools.
I'm glad we did because after our swim, we were sitting quietly on the rocks when an inquisitive brush-tailed rock wallaby came and sat near us. The rock wallaby shared the rocks with us for about three-quarters of an hour. It took off when the others returned and bounded straight up the rock face. The four non-Australians were very disappointed they missed seeing this unique native animal up close.
Brush-tailed rock wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) live on steep, rocky slopes. They have a distinctive bushy tail and are listed as vulnerable to extinction. Ours had a white tip on the end of its long furry tail. They balance with their tails and grip rocks with their padded feet. They are very agile and can climb vertical cliffs.
They used to be hunted for their beautiful fur coats and because they were thought to be a pest. In some areas they have lost their habitat due to timber clearing, and they have to compete with introduced animals such as foxes, feral goats, sheep and rabbits for food.
There are still fragmented populations from the Great Dividing Range from South East Queensland to Western Victoria's Grampians. They like to live on rocky escarpments, granite outcrops and cliffs.
By the 1840s the surrounding foothills of Mount Barney were opened up for cattle grazing. Logging also began on the high ridges. On our way in we saw a tree with three very old large square pegs sticking out of a tree. I wondered if they were left over from logging times.
The unique qualities of this rugged area were recognised in 1947 and again in the 1950s, when a number of the separate peaks in the area were declared national parks.
These were combined in 1980 to form Mount Barney National Park. The Park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. It was listed in 1994.