Recently we discovered a well-worn, but hidden track, into the best section of Northbrook Gorge. Located in the D'Aguilar National Park (South Section), around an hour's drive North West of Brisbane City, the wild natural beauty on display here, is something special. We followed Northbrook Creek upstream for just over a kilometre, walking, rock hopping, and swimming. It's an experience I'll never forget.
We drove to the gorge via Mt Glorious Road, which further along, changed its name to Northbrook Parkway. Approximately 2.5 kilometres past Wivenhoe Outlook, we saw an off-road parking area on the right, just before a hairpin turn marked by a '20 km/h' speed sign. Motorcyclists have a tendency to travel around this blind corner at high speed, so care is needed when crossing the road (a safer option would be to continue on to 'White Cedar', a sign-posted picnic spot, 6.2 kilometres from Wivenhoe Outlook, turn around, and make your way back, entering this parking area from your left).
Off-road parking on the right, just before the 20km/h hairpin turn
The track starts behind the barrier fence on the other side of the road, just around the corner, near the 4th/5th right-arrow signs. It is not maintained by the Department of National Parks, so we took our time on the 330 metre walk downhill to the creek. At the bottom, we turned left (noting the rock cairn mid-creek, which marks the path back to the carpark). We followed the track alongside Northbrook Creek for around 140 metres, before coming to a waterhole with large overhanging rock.
After a brief stop, we walked through a gap in the rock, and followed the creek, rock hopping from one side to the other, to find the easiest way forward. About 80 metres later, we swam through one pool, and shortly after, waded through another. The water was crystal clear, and very refreshing in the warm March weather.
Sometimes the only way forward, was through the water
We continued along the creek for quite a distance (around 780 metres) before encountering a young man who couldn't swim, sitting at the edge of a waterhole. Doing breaststroke wearing Volleys, and a daypack isn't elegant. However, I managed to stay afloat, for the short distance across the water. On the other side, I reached up and grabbed a rock, but spent an uneasy minute or two, treading water, before finding a foothold under the rock, so that I could push myself up, and out of the water. I then clambered up the remaining rocks, and over a small waterfall at the top.
The most challenging waterhole (you can't see the small waterfall from this angle)
Around 140 metres later, we came across another water hole. On a previous trip, we had swum across, and walked a couple of kilometres further upstream (towards Wivenhoe Outlook). This time however, we decided to turn back, and arrived at Overhanging Rock, around 35 minutes later. There were no leeches, but we did come across a carpet python curled up on the banks of the creek (fortunately, these are non-venomous).
I am having a concern about Northbrook gorge I have been visiting this place for 22 years and there has been little rise in traffic and very little degradation of the habbitat. However in the last 12 months or so it has hit the internet and I am noticing significat rise in the number of people traversing and a breakdown of the habitat and an increase in litter. I was wondering if there is any way of asking these sites to take down information about it to reduce the degrad.ation of this amazingly pristine water way.
I tend to agree with keeping the place semi-exclusive but not secret. It's pretty easy to find descriptions of the entry via the bridge track that runs up the creek - although 'track' might be considered a liberal description. It was a pretty tough slog when I did it, but the reward was spectacular. The thing that impressed me the most was there were no crowds. Keeping this a secret isn't depriving people of beautiful places - there are plenty of beautiful places in Qld. Many are easy to get to, but along with that ease come the larger crowds and along with the larger crowds come the increasing number of bone-heads. Even if the bone-head to nature lover ratio is small, the bone-head impact can be significant. As with most things, these are percentages and as Brisbane and Queensland's population increases and the number of tourists increase, the number of people who learn about this place is simply going to increase.
Reduction of traffic is a management issue and should be managed by National Parks. A simple solution would be to restrict parking in the area closest to the easier access route. That way, only people willing to do the walk up the creek would have access. If this place is seeing an increase in traffic and associated damage, it is pretty clear that relying on vetting by those 'in the know' is not working.