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Lyrebirds and Giant Spear Lillies on Mount Cordeaux

Home > Brisbane > Adventure | Animals and Wildlife | Nature | Outdoor | Walks
by Roz Glazebrook (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published September 14th 2017
I've been lucky to see the two types of Australian Lyrebirds. Years ago walking on the Lyrebird Falls walking track, in Gibraltar Range National Park in Northern NSW I saw a Superb Lyrebird, and recently I saw the more secretive Albert's Lyrebird while climbing Mt Cordeaux in Queensland's Main Range National Park.

Mount Cordeaux
Mount Cordeaux


I was a bit nervous when I signed up to walk up the 1,135 m (3,724 ft) Mount Cordeaux with the Brisbane Bushwalking Club. I'd seen photos of the mountain and it looked pretty big, but I was reassured it was an easy walk, even suitable for new members.

Orchids and lichen
Orchids and lichen


Eight of us left Brisbane early on Sunday morning and drove down the Cunningham Highway to the start of the track, which is on the right side of the highway in a car park at the top of the mountain pass, about fifteen minutes from Aratula.

On the Track
On the Track


Allan Cunningham was the first European to discover and name the mountain in 1828. He named it after William Cordeaux, assistant to Sir Thomas Mitchell, the Surveyor-General. Aboriginal People called the mountain Niamboyoo.

There is a track up Mt Mitchell, which goes from the other side of the highway. We had good views of Mt Mitchell from Mt Cordeaux.

Mt Mitchell from Mt Cordeaux
Mt Mitchell from Mt Cordeaux


It was early spring so I was hoping to see the Giant Spear Lilly in flower. It was a very interesting day walk through the beautiful rainforest with wonderful views over the mountains of the Fassifern Valley.

Giant Spear Lilly flower
Giant Spear Lilly flower


We saw two lyrebirds on the track on the way up. I only got a glimpse of one of them and wasn't sure which type they were, but after speaking to a ranger I discovered they must have been Albert's Lyrebirds because Superb Lyrebirds don't occur in that area. Albert's Lyrebird is the smaller of the two species and their tail feathers aren't as long or spectacular. The ranger told me Superb Lyrebirds occur around Girraween on the Qld/NSW border.

Old Gold Mine workings
Old Gold Mine workings


Albert's lyrebird (Menura alberti) is smaller than the Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae). The bird was named in honour of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband. This bird has a very restricted habitat and is very shy and not often seen so I felt very privileged to see one. Lyrebirds can mimic natural and artificial sounds from their environment. I have often heard them in the bush mimicking other birdcalls.

Grass trees
Grass trees


We saw the remains of old gold mining sites on the way up the mountain. There was a horizontal tunnel, a shaft, and an open cut trench. These were fenced off. The area was also logged throughout the 1900s.

Walking Stick Palm
Walking Stick Palm


The track up the mountain was fairly easy as it gently zig zaged up to a lookout just below the summit. There is no track to the summit and this area is restricted due to dangerous cliffs. A young Toowoomba school teacher died when he fell down the mountain in 2008.



I was on the lookout for the Giant Spear Lilly (Doryanthes palmeri) with their large red flowers, which bloom in spring on the mountain. When we reached the mountain lookout we could see one way up on the mountain, but all the others along the way were dead. But after we walked around the back of the mountain track on the way to Bare Rock and Morgan's Walk there were lots of magnificent flowering lilies along the track. Giant Spear Lillies can grow to three metres tall and four metres wide and can take up to thirteen years to flower. The plant was named after English botanist Edward Palmer. It is found in South-Eastern Queensland and far North-Eastern New South Wales. It lives on exposed rocky outcrops on infertile soils, or on bare rock.

Back of Mount Cordeaux
Back of Mount Cordeaux


There were also lots of flowering orchids. We had our own orchid spotter Di, who found lots of hidden ones, which we stopped to admire and photograph.

View from Bare Rock
View from Bare Rock


We walked around to Bare Rock with a short 350m detour to Morgans Walk. The detour leaves the Bare Rock track 680m before Bare Rock and ends in a grove of montane heath. The track to Bare Rock (1168m above sea level) crossed a rocky saddle north of the peak and re-entered rainforest before ending with a brief scramble to a rocky outcrop. We saw a wedge tailed eagle soaring above the mountains and some other small birds scratching in the leaf litter.

Rocks and Lillies
Rocks and Lillies


We had lunch at Bare Rock with beautiful views over the mountains and valleys in the northern section of the park. A ladybird landed on my socks. I haven't seen one since I was a child in Tasmania.

Rainforest
Rainforest


The Bare Rock via Mt Cordeaux track is 12.8km return. I read a 25-year-old woman was airlifted off the mountain after a snakebite in March this year. She was hiking when she was bitten by what they thought was a rough-scaled snake, a dangerously venomous snake with strongly neurotoxin venom. She was flown by rescue helicopter to Toowoomba Base Hospital in a stable condition.

Giant Spear Lilly close up
Giant Spear Lilly close up


This beautiful mountain walk has everything, cool subtropical rainforest with strangler figs, palms, tree ferns, epiphytes, buttress roots and vines, grass trees, orchids, giant lilies, lots of birds and fantastic views. We saw walking stick palms, which were used after the war to make walking sticks for returned soldiers. These palms were also used to make elaborate umbrella handles.
Mauve orchid
Mauve orchid


On the way down, we stopped when we heard a loud noise from the forest, which sounded like hail. It was hundreds of seeds dropping onto the forest floor from a large pack of birds feeding high up in the canopy.

On track
On track


I must be getting fitter because I didn't find the walk hard, although I did twist my ankle on the way down on a loose rock. Luckily I had good boots with ankle support, or I may have had to limp down. It is a wonderful area with so much to see. I will definitely be going back and hope to climb Mt Mitchell next time.

Click here for National Parks Information on the track.

Mt Cordeaux
Getting a photo of Mt Cordeaux
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Why? Beautiful walk in nature
When: Anytime
Where: Mt Cordeaux, Main Range National Park
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Great article ! Very interesting as usual. Well written Roz ! Congratulations on spotting the lyrebird. Love the photos.
by hdona (score: 2|223) 708 days ago
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