With Spring just around the corner, it's time to get out and about to do some much-needed (after winter couch slothing) outdoor adventuring. Somewhere between Maleny and Montville, tucked away in the Obi Obi Valley in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is Lake Baroon, also known as Baroon Pocket Dam. The Martin Williams Nature Walk is accessible from Baroon Pocket Dam's southern recreational area.
The Martin Williams circuit is named after the first ranger of Lake Baroon, Martin Williams, who worked in the Baroon Pocket Dam catchment, teaching the community about water quality and working with local farmers to reduce the effects of effluent on Lake Baroon. Martin Williams was a founding member of the Lake Baroon Catchment Group as well as having designed and created the Martin Williams Nature Walk walking track.
From downtown Maleny, take Teak Street out of town which turns into North Maleny Road; stay on this road as it eventually turns into Baroon Pocket Road (after Eden Road). Follow the road to the very end down to the dam's edge for the Martin Williams Nature Walk starting point.
The 2km Martin Williams Nature Walk circuit is an easy, mostly grassy trail ideal for walkers - including children - recreational cyclists and even mountain bikers. Please note that the grass can be fairly slippery when wet and we also discovered a few muddy patches under the trees where the sun hadn't been able to stretch her drying rays - a pair of gumboots might be handy and … fun!
Start of walk, looking towards the 'day use' and parking area
If you have a mountain bike, a recommendation is for bike riders to go clockwise around the swooping top section. There is no view at the top, but this section promises picturesque lakeside views. I must add here: on the actual circuit that we did, there were timber barriers, which I think would be very restrictive for bikes to get through; hence, the advice to go around the lake, clockwise.
For walkers there is a shortcut halfway along the circuit - either take the shortcut or turn back at this point - especially for those just getting out and about after winter, who don't feel fit enough to tackle the small hill section.
Nesting boxes - one of the objectives of the Martin Williams Nature Walk is to create habitat for local wildlife. However, it can take many years for trees to mature enough to create nesting hollows. Look up high in the trees along the track to see the many different sized nesting boxes for different animals such as the gliders, microbats, parrots and other birds. We even saw one with bees flying in and out! One never knows what fascinating surprises lie in store ...
Lake Baroon catchment is home to many animals dependant on water as an integral part of their habitat. Look out for platypus at dawn and dusk, which are the times they are actively feeding. Sometimes mistaken for a platypus is the water rat, which has a very distinctive white-tipped tail or keep an eye out for the male eel-tailed catfish, which builds a rock circle in the shallow water;
The re-vegetated areas around Lake Baroon are important habitat areas for other wildlife - koalas, Eastern water dragons, Feathertail gliders, the red-necked wallaby and even lace monitors, who keep the bush tidy as their diet includes carrion (animals that are already dead);
Water birds are in abundance on the edges of Lake Baroon - we saw impressive pelicans flying overhead - I looked out for the 'baby on board' but missed it - and an egret, who appeared to be looking for lunch. Black swans and little black cormorants also love to call this area home;
Don't forget to bring your paddle craft as Lake Baroon is a fabulous relaxing fishing location too.
What else is there to do after tackling the Martin Williams Nature Walk
The Baroon Pocket Dam southern recreational area offers a maintained large open park with covered picnic shelters, immaculately clean BBQs, a big playground for the children plus of course, fishing for the keen anglers in the family;
Public toilet blocks are also available; or alternatively
The easy 'just-getting-back-into-it'Martin Williams Nature Walk is accessible seven days a week from 5.30am to 6.30pm (September to April) and 6.00am to 5.30pm (May to August). This North Maleny park, with its spectacular views over the water, is perfect for a fun family day out.
Keep on the look-out for the gorgeously coloured Spring flowers, just pushing their pretty little heads through the vegetation.