So, did you bring a walking pole?" Not what you want to be asked as you start off for a supposedly pleasant bushwalk. What is a walking pole anyway and why would I need one for this walk up a nice little hill to deliver some biscuits and enjoy a pretty view?
Mt Barney is located about 120 km south-west of Brisbane via the Mt Lindesay Highway and rises impressively from the surrounding hills. My friends had come out the day before for a spot of exploring and male bonding and had bivied on one of the ridges. Being sensible outdoors types they of course had plenty of food and water with them (and a sleeping mattress as I later found out) and had intended to spend the day hiking and climbing back to their car. Co-incidentally I was feeling unhealthy having baked and almost single handedly demolished a tray of ginger nut biscuits and shared two bottles of wine and so, rather foolishly, suggested to another friend that a bushwalk the next day might be a pleasant way to spend a Sunday. He then called the bivouac-ers who where overjoyed by the prospect of someone delivering biscuits and meeting them with a car to drive back to their vehicle.
So, innocently, I found myself at the foot of Mt Barney. As we set off the path was wide and smooth, cows nodded to us in their green pastures and I walked with a jaunty step breathing in the fresh air, drinking in the delights of spring; my hangover seeming to evaporate in the clean country morning. This trail soon ended and we began a 'proper' bush walk. Fortunately my companion had done the track five times and confidently led me on (compass and map in pocket just in case). It was a strenuous walk, very steep in parts with scrambles over rocks and dangerous cliff edges. Pokey the walking pole did actually come in quite handy. The surroundings were amazingly beautiful.
There were all sorts of wild flowers in bloom; paper daisies, wild orchids and a variety of gorgeous flowering peas. The tall eucalypts provided a gentle shade without being dark or spooky and would open up occasionally to absolutely breathtaking vistas; open plains, tall and strangely shaped neighbouring mountains, wide blue skies and puffy white clouds. After a stiff two and a half hours we finally arrived at the summit – a delicious view and an equally tasty biscuit treat with friends.
If only it had ended there. It transpires that getting up a hill is much, much easier than getting down a hill. When you are going up it is hard work but when you are going down it is hard work combined with the fear that a stumble or a foot in the wrong place will send you careering down a giant mountain to certain doom. It is thus necessary to inch oneself down on one's bottom or walk backwards (climbing in reverse). Alternating between these two methods means that you spin around like a top and your friends laugh at you and start singing inane songs in what is either an attempt to take your mind off of your fear or is merely a display of the unrelenting callousness outdoorsy types have for indoorsy bookworms.* Going down hills also appears to cause late onset hangovers and I had a cracking headache and was concerned that my lunch might make an unwelcome reappearance.
After four and a half hours of this utter torture (punctuated by tears, sobbing, death threats, the casting of aspersions against their mothers' virtue and even more singing on their part) we finally, finally made it back to the car just as the last light was leaving the sky - at which point it was revealed that the other car was in fact several thousand kilometres away (I exaggerate slightly) up an almost inaccessible dirt track. Great. When we got closer it was further revealed that, although technically a public by-way, the owner of the relevant land obviously did not take kindly to visitors and had erected threatening signs and skull and cross bone symbols (I kid you not). So, in fear of being shot by some crazed hill-billy we wound our way up a dangerous and pitch black hill. Eventually it became too insane and the owner of the car set off at a jog to cover the last two kilometres on foot. I was of course outraged that anyone should have such a disgusting level of fitness.
The moral to the story is this: Mt Barney is absolutely wonderful and the walk up is very much worth the effort. However, you should arrange some sort of alternate transport to get down. Like a hang-glider.
In their defence, my companions did offer to chloroform me and carry me down in a sack but I declined their kind offer because of the evident lack of chloroform in our packs.
Wow cant beleive you did the whole round trip in four and a half hours. I have done this climb a few times amonst all the other mountain climbs around soth east QLD and that must be a record. Be prepared people it takes alot longer than four and a half hours round trip. Thanks
Can laugh reading it and I am sure you can too now but oh the agony ! Walked up Mt Edward at the weekend. Said 3kms to summit - HOURS later we were still heading up ugh. Still great view from the top. Marina
This story brings back memories of my younger days when my Uni friends decided we would venture up Mount Barney. As you say, the walk up is not the hard part!! On the way down, the sun started to set, and my friend had worn her prescription sunglasses - so she was basically blind and had to be led down by another friend. And I had worn pathetic joggers that were not much better than thongs! So, I had to walk down backwards or my toes were going to snap off! We still talk about that walk 25 years later!
Loved reading this article. Great talent in capturing the emotion of the day and taking the reader on the same treacherous journey. You need to write a book. It would be a best seller. I've subscribed and will be waiting with baited breath for your next adventure. I'm a 71 year old passionate scuba diver. My last dive, a few weeks ago, was to Wolf Rock out from Rainbow beach. We swam surrounded by about 40 grey nurse sharks. I bet that would get your pulse racing. Not a cliff to fall off, just the great blue ocean and marine friends. Thank you for the walk on your wild side. Much better to read than to do. cheers Dianne.