I am an Organiser of the Group Hiking South East Qld and More on Meetup. Visit the website at https://www.meetup.com/HikingInSEQLDandMore/ is free to join all the activities posted on the hiking group.
Published January 26th 2022
Walk along a creek that is so pure to be invisible, gaze up to tall straight trees and discover prehistoric ferns.
Pile Valley Circuit walk is about 4 km circuit, allow two hours. The walk is classified grade 4, meaning the trail can be rough, with few directional signs, lots of stairs; some bushwalking experience is recommended.
The walk starts at Central Station day-use area, follow the sign to Wanggoolba Creek Boardwalk. The forest is dominated by the beautiful K'gari Satinay and by Piccabeen palms.
The boardwalk along the Wanggoolba Creek. Photo by Author.
There are a few walks starting at Central Station:
Wanggoolba Creek Boardwalk Circuit, 950 metres return. Follow the boardwalk beside the clear waters of Wanggoolba Creek.
Pile Valley Circuit, 4.5 km return, walk via the headwaters of Wanggoolba Creek, one of the largest creeks on Fraser Island. Follow Wanggoolba Creek and ascend to Pile Valley where there is an impressive stand of Satinay trees. Cross the road, then continue along an old logging track before returning to Central Station through a hoop pine plantation. The plantation is a remnant of the island's forestry days.
Basin Lake is a walk of 5.6 km, allow 2 to 2.5 hours. Basin Lake is a deep, reed-fringed lake that supports at least seven frog species and a population of freshwater turtles. Start from the Wanggoolba Creek boardwalk, cross the bridge and be prepared for an initial steep climb. The track then levels out before reaching this tranquil perched lake. Return on the same track.
There are trails to Lake McKenzie, Lake Birrabeen and to Eurong. There are signs along the track to help you to follow the directions for Pile Valley trail and for each different trail.
The Group Hiking South East Qld and More starting the trail from Central Station. Photo by Author.
As you leave the clearing, you enter into a different world of moistness and shade. Wanggoolba Creek and its gully provide a special sheltered micro-climate within the protection of the surrounding forests.
The climate is created by the constant flow of the water and high humidity. The place is well protected from the wind and additional nutrients come from the creek and surrounding high dunes. This is the perfect place for rainforest development.
Piccabeen palms are a familiar feature in the wetter parts of many rainforests. From deep in the shaded gully, the fronds of piccabeen palms grow quickly toward the light on tall banded trunks. The bands are from old leaf scars. Piccabeen palms thrive along creek banks, where their shallow roots can easily reach the clear permanent water.
Piccabeen palms cannot tolerate the acidic dark waters found on Fraser Island.
The fronds of the piccabeen palms have been used by the Butchulla people for weaving baskets and the sheathing leaf base as a coolamon, carrying bowl.
Water is essential for a rainforest. Photo by Author.
The permanent creeks of Fraser Island are important refuges for relict ferns.
The king fern Angiopteris evecta that grow in Wanggoolba Creek belongs to a very primitive family of plants. Fossils of ferns, very similar to today's Angiopteris, have been found from at least 300 million years ago. Its ancient features include its massive frond which lack woody tissue for support. The king fern relies on the pressure of the water in its stem for support.
On Fraser Island, the king fern is only found in Wanggoolba Creek. Other permanent creeks on K'gari have a different relic fern species growing in its warm, wet valley.
The water of the Wanggoolba Creek are so clear that it seems there is no water in the gully. Photo by Author.
Satinay trees are a distinct feature of Pile Valley. The Satinay trees are easy recognised by its deeply furrowed bark and tall straight trunk. Satinay is mainly found on Fraser Island, with isolated stands in and near Cooloola.
Satinay trees provide attractive timber for floors and furniture. Early last century, Satinay was used in furnishing Canberra's old Parliament House and then the Prime Minister's cottage.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Satinay's massive trunks were ideal for heavy construction such as beams and wharf decking. They also made strong telegraph poles. After discovering the bark was resistant to marine borer attack, the trunks were also used for marine piles.
In 1937, the Pile Valley was declared a 'beauty spot' by the Department of Forestry. Today, nearly all of Fraser Island is national park, ensuring long time protection.
Drive with a 4WD to Central Station, the trail starts at Central Station day use area; follow the sign to Wanggoolba Creek Boardwalk.
What to bring.
Hiking gear: a hiking medium backpack, long trousers and shirt with long sleeves, light raincoat, recommended hiking ankle supportive boots, first aid kit, torch, insect repellent (give preference to a cream or roll-on that are more environmentally friendly than the spray), hat, sunscreen, gloves, walking, poles if you like to use them and sock protectors or gaiters.
For this hike, consider carrying a map or downloading a good app on your smartphone that can help you to navigate in the bush.
Bring a medium day backpack with lots of water, especially if it's a hot day, 2.0 litres of water and snacks. During summer, you can bring electrolytes to dissolve in water to compensate for the loss through perspiration. You may consider packing sandwiches, fresh fruit, dry fruit, energy bars and small meals.
Walk with family, friends or in a group. Never alone!
Practice minimal impact bushwalking taking great care to avoid leaving any rubbish. Remember-pack it in, pack it out. Do not bring food with you in order not to attract dingoes.
Take all your rubbish with you. If you see rubbish on the trail please collect it and dispose it responsibly. Do not disturb or interfere with wildlife. Do not disturb rocks. Do not remove plants or anything from National Parks or Natural Reserves. Stay on track all time. Do not use shortcut that could create erosion.
Please follow directions on all safety and legislative signs, this protects you and the numerous threatened and endangered species in the park.
Use toilets when available. Away from toilets, take care with sanitation and hygiene and don't pollute natural water supplies. Ensure all faecal matter and toilet paper is properly buried 15cm deep well away from tracks, campsites and 100m from all watercourses and drainage channels. Carry with you a small trowel for this purpose. Bag and carry out disposable nappies and sanitary products.
Make sure your boots are always clean, avoid the spread of pathogens, disease-producing organisms such as phytophthora, myrtle rust and amphibian chytrid fungus. Soil and detritus can contain pathogens such as fungal spores that are harmful to the forest and frogs.