I looked across from the top of Mt Cordeaux towards Mt Mitchell and decided I would like to climb it one day too. I recently had the opportunity to go back and climb Mt Mitchell with twelve other walkers from the Brisbane Bushwalking Club on Easter Saturday.
We drove out through Aratula to Cunningham's Gap. The mountain is situated in the Main Range about 100 kilometres west of Brisbane. The track to Mt Mitchell starts on the opposite side of the road to the car parking area. It is on the Southern side of the Cunningham highway. It can be a busy road. so you need to be very careful as cars come up and down the highway from both ways.
I discovered Allan Cunningham named Mt Mitchell after the Surveyor General, Thomas Mitchell in 1828. Mitchell was an interesting and controversial character. He even fought a duel in 1851 with Stuart Donaldson, who had made an inaccurate public statement about him. Donaldson publicly criticised excessive spending by the Surveyor General's Department. The duel took place in Sydney on 27 September with both duellists missing their marks.
Thomas Mitchell, Nat Library Aust, Surveyor General
It was one of the last duels in Australia. Each man fired three shots. One went through Donaldson's hat and another one missed Mitchell's throat by one inch. The French 50 calibre pistols used in the duel are in the National Museum of Australia.
Both Mt Mitchell and Mt Cordeaux are part of the Main Range, which is part of the Gondwana Rainforest of Australia's World Heritage Area. Allan Cunningham was an English botanist and explorer, primarily known for his travels in Australia to collect plants.
There are a lot of other things named after Thomas Mitchell including the town of Mitchell in Queensland, the Mitchell River in Queensland, the Mitchell Highway, the Major Mitchell's cockatoo and Mitchell's hopping mouse, an Australian native that is a rodent-like animal.
Mount Mitchell is a twin-peaked volcanic mountain with an elevation above sea level of 1,168 metres (3,832 ft). The Aboriginal name for the mountain is Cooyinnirra. It is one of a number of mountains located in the Main Range National Park and is said to have been formed by remnant lava flows from the Main Range Shield Volcano.
The track up Mt Mitchell is fairly gentle with a zigzag graded track, which doesn't feel like you are climbing. It is a very interesting walk through a variety of habitat including rainforest, open Eucalypt woodland forest, cliffs and grass trees. A few of us were lucky to see a shy paddy melon beside the track in the forest, but it took off before the rest of the walkers got a glimpse of it. The track is classed as a grade 4 track. It winds 5.1 kilometres up around the mountain to the main summit of 1175 metres East Peak. On the way up, we had views of the 1162 metre West Peak. The round trip up the mountain takes around three hours. Click here for the map.
We had a short stop about two-thirds of the way up, but I made the mistake of sitting on the side of the track which was very prickly with a stinging nettle-like plant which stung me through my shorts. I also picked up a tick, which luckily I managed to pick off my bare leg before it got attached. I was going to wear long trousers because I'd read blogs about this walk and the danger of stinging nettles, but the track had obviously been cleared, as we didn't find any on the track.
There are steps towards the top and they were muddy and slippery so you need to be careful. One woman in our group slipped onto her back on the way down. After that, we all took the steps very slowly and walked down sideways.
The track up ends on a knife-edge ridge above a sheer cliff on the East peak of Mt Mitchell. We had wonderful views of the Main Range National Park. We could see Lake Moogerah, the Scenic Rim and the Cunningham highway.
On the mountain top, while we were having lunch we saw a curious lizard. Some of the walkers thought it was a land mullet. I had seen some land mullets before on walks around Binna Burra, but this one looked different to me. The land mullets were very black and this one was brown. I posted a photo of it on the Australian Reptile/Amphibian Identification Facebook page and they identified it as a Brown Rock Skink, or McPhee's skink, Egenia McPheei - a new one for me.
A young couple arrived on top of the mountain while we were there. The poor man had fat leeches hanging off his ankles. His socks were soaked in blood and he was red in the face. He complained to us 'She told me we were going for a little walk. She didn't tell me it was a mountain!' I think he will remember that walk. The girlfriend just smiled.
A few of our group got leeches on them too. I managed to warn Louise, who was walking in front of me, about three leeches on her trousers at different times. She was able to flick them off before they found a way on to her skin for a blood feed.