I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
An interesting historic town
Every year, all the bushwalking clubs in South East Queensland get together for a base camp. The pilgrimage is an annual bushwalking and social event attracting members of affiliated clubs from throughout the southeast corner of the state and as far away as Gladstone and Bundaberg.
This year, the pilgrimage was hosted by the Glass House Mountains bushwalking club at Jimna, a tiny town in the Somerset region on the September/October long weekend. I'd never even heard of Jimna and was looking forward to going to the camp and exploring a new area.
Despite a few storms, lots of snakes and a few ticks, it was a great weekend. We drove up on Friday, headed up the M1 then turned off through Woodford and Kilcoy to Jimna. The town is 50km west of Nambour, 65km north of Esk or 105km north west of Brisbane. The camp was in the Jimna Base Camp, which is in the grounds of the old Jimna State School. We camped on the old school oval. There were about ninety people there.
I was part of a small contingent from the Brisbane Bushwalking Club. Over the weekend, I met people from lots of other bushwalking clubs, including Gold Coast, Logan and Beaudesert, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Redlands, Glass House Mountains, Bundaberg, Gladstone, and Burleigh Waters Bushwalking Clubs. There were also people there from the. Federation of Queensland Bushwalkers, YHA, Queensland Bushwalkers Club and Bushwalkers of Southern Queensland.
On Saturday I went on the 12-kilometre walk to the Big Water Hole and Bike Track Circuit. This walk started at the camp and went to a large waterhole, then on forestry roads in a circuit. There were a few hills to climb and it was pretty hot. We walked through lots of pine trees. The area has sustainable pine forest plantations and native forests. We didn't see any snakes unlike some of the other groups.
One group saw 10 snakes on their walk and a person on another walk actually trod on a brown snake twice. Luckily it didn't bite her. I was talking to a woman on the snake walk. She said they saw six pythons, one red-bellied black snake, one brown snake and two Stephen's banded snakes. We only saw an interesting looking caterpillar.
The area has a colourful history of goldmining and timber industry. The last flurry of mining activity in the 1940s yielded 2.8kg of gold.
Jimna township developed largely around the timber industry. Steam-driven sawmills processed timber at Jimna and nearby Sunday Creek.
There was a bush dance on Saturday night with a great band. Overnight we had some big storms. A few people got wet when their tent pole broke during the night. My old Macpac tent did leak a bit, but I managed to stay fairly dry.
On Sunday, a couple of walks got cancelled because of wild hailstorms. I went on the Peach Trees Campground National Parks Walks (three walks, a total of 9 kilometres). It was a bit scary when we heard a large crack as we walked along. A large branch fell in the bush right beside us. We passed the historic Jimna Fire Tower on the way.
Arthur Leis built the timber fire tower in 1977. It has three ironbark poles and is 47 metres high making it the tallest fire tower in Queensland. It was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register on 23 July 1999. There have been threats to deregister it over the years, but local community action saved it. We were told a large grant has been secured to restore it.
After driving to Peach Trees Campground, we got into our wet weather gear as it was pouring with rain. We walked the Eugenia circuit (2.4kms), the Yabba Creek Circuit (730m) and the Araucaria Circuit (3.5kms). The tracks passed through the rainforest and open forest. We crossed Yabba Creek a couple of times, once on an interesting suspension bridge. There are platypuses in this creek which people may be lucky to see at dawn or dusk.
After getting into dry clothes and having lunch we went to explore Jimna. We walked up to the local Information Centre, where there were interesting historical displays of the area's history. We heard about local politics to save the historical fire tower.
Some people went to the local sports club on Sunday night to watch the football finals, but a group of us stayed in the old school building and enjoyed getting to know about other clubs' trips and activities. Over the weekend, I met a woman who told me she had done lots of walking in Tasmania and had done the Frenchman's Cap walk. I grew up in Launceston and have done lots of walks down there, but I still have nightmares of a trip I did many years ago to Frenchman's Cap. She inspired me to write about my disastrous trip after I got home. I wrote about that trip here.
We packed up and left on Monday morning after having a great weekend. We left before the Golden Boot was handed over to the club to organise the pilgrimage next year.
The whole weekend was very well organised. Meals were catered for and we all had lots of fun and met lots of new interesting people from other clubs and did some really nice bushwalks. I'm already looking forward to next year's pilgrimage.