I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published December 15th 2017
Get out in nature and enjoy life
When you go bushwalking in Queensland you have to watch weather reports. Back in September this year I was booked to go on a walk on the Somerset Trail at Mt Mee with the Brisbane bushwalkers. That walk was cancelled because of extreme hot weather and bushfire threat. Last Saturday I was going on a walk to Artists Cascades in the Conondale Range National Park between Maleny and Kenilworth with the Club, but that walk was changed due to a threat of severe thunderstorms.
We could have walked the rainforest track in the rain to the Cascades, but there is a car creek crossing to get to the start of that walk which we could have got across on the way in, but if the predicted storm came, we wouldn't have been able to get out. The club leader changed the walk to the Somerset Trail, so I got to do the walk I missed out on in September. We plan to do the Artists Cascades walk at the end of December.
We drove through Dayboro and continued along the Mount Mee Road onto Sellin Road and then followed the signs to D'Aguilar National Park. At the end of this road we got to The Gantry picnic area, where there is plenty of car parking available.
The Somerset Trail walk starts at the Gantry, which is all that is left of The Hancock Sawmill built in the 1930's to mill timber logged in the forest. It was much easier to cut up wood on the mountain than haul it down to Caboolture or D'Aguilar.
People have been coming to Mt Mee for a long time. I found an old photo in the State Library of Queensland showing a group of men driving up in 1918. The road would have been pretty challenging back then.
Campbell Family Excusion Mt Mee 1918, State Library of Qld
There is also a short 1-kilometer Piccabeen circuit track, which starts from the Gantry too. It would be good for families with young children or elderly people. We didn't do this walk this time, but I have heard it is a flat, beautiful walk with lots of piccabeen (bangalow palms). Our 13-kilometer Somerset Trail walk is well marked and fairly easy, although it was hot and we all sweated a lot.
We walked through a variety of habitats including rainforest, then into a pine forest, eucalypt forest and scribbly gum areas, and dry sclerophyll forest. There were remnants of logging along the track, including huge old tree stumps with cuts for planks in them where loggers had sawn the trees by hand. The area was extensively logged in the early days. Mt Mee was first settled in 1873, mostly with timber getters who were attracted to the beautiful red cedar timber. The pine tree forest looked like the trees had been planted out in rows. We had to climb over one tree which must have come down recently.
The first half of the walk to a lookout had some up bits, but the second section was mostly downhill and very pleasant through the forest. We had lunch at the Somerset lookout seven kilometers into the walk, with spectacular views over the Western Escarpment and Somerset and Wivenhoe dams.
There were several areas where the track came out of the forest and crossed over dirt roads which are shared with four wheel drive cars, horses, motorbikes and pushbikes, so walkers have to be careful crossing these. One of the road crossings had a lovely creek beside it, which looked tempting for a swim, but we didn't stop there long. It was the only water I saw on the walk and wouldn't be drinkable, so you do need to carry enough drinking water with you for the whole walk. Some of us had our own walking poles, but I noticed at the end of the walk other walkers had been using tree branches and left their sticks behind.
The area around Mount Mee was known to the indigenous inhabitants as Dahmongah, meaning "flying squirrel" or glider. It might be good to do a spot lighting trip up here sometime and look for these gliders. I once saw some beautiful yellow bellied gliders while spotlighting at Mt Windsor Tablelands in Far North Queensland.
The whole walk, including a lunch stop, took us around four hours. Afterwards we returned to the Gantry day use area, changed into clean dry clothes and went for coffee and snacks at the Pitstop café. This café has lovely views and a large interesting display of automotive and racing material.