I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published June 2nd 2017
Make sure you take a map
My friend Tannis invited me and our friend Bea on a walk with the Sunshine Coast Camino Group. She and her friend Annie had walked the Spanish part of the Camino walk last year and they were keen to keep walking with the local Sunshine group to keep up their fitness and share experiences with other pilgrims. The Camino walks in Spain and Portugal are one of the world's great historical trails. The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela is an incredible and rewarding experience according to Tannis and Annie.
The plan involved driving up to Mapleton on Friday night, staying two nights at the Mapleton Cabin and Caravan Park and walking for two days on parts of the 58 kilometre Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. The whole walk takes around four days, but can be broken up into day walks. There are three overnight campsites with platforms, untreated drinking water and a toilet at Thilba Thalba, Ubajee and Flaxton camps.
The walk includes subtropical rainforest, tall eucalypt forests, waterfalls, wildlife and the trail passes through diverse habitats with a wide variety of plants and animals. Campers need to book the campsites.
Most of the large group of people who gathered for a barbecue on Friday night were from the Sunshine Coast, although there was a group of four teachers from Hervey Bay and three of us from Brisbane.
We had an early start on Saturday morning. We left the caravan park at 5.45am in a convoy and drove to the start of our walk at a point on the Delicia Rd. The walk leaders, Karen and David, had organized a car shuffle and left some cars at the end point of the walk the previous night. The aim was to walk 25 kilometres on Saturday.
Early on Saturday morning about thirty-five of us set off into the forest. We soon spread out as people got into their own walking pace. I was in about the middle group. We enjoyed the walk as we traversed through a variety of habitats. After a few hours we arrived at Gheerulla Falls.
This is the point where I should have had more information of where we were supposed to be going and taken more notice of signs, instead of just following along. I hadn't printed out the map and therefore didn't realize the track we were supposed to go on was only a short distance from the falls. I learned later we were supposed to take a sidetrack a short walk from the main track from the falls, which led up to Ubajee walker's camp.
I was walking along with a couple of women who had just finished walking the three Capes Walk in Tasmania and was busy chatting to them about their trip. The three of us completely missed the turnoff. The track was very pretty as it meandered beside Gheerulla Creek. We saw a red-bellied black snake crossing our path and could hear birds calling.
Two young men passed us with large backpacks and said they were planning to camp overnight, so we assumed we were still on the right track. We met them further along the route where they had stopped for a snack. It was great to see young men out enjoying nature. They did look at us older women at we crossed the creek.
Soon after this, we did start to wonder if we were on the right path, especially as we hadn't seen any sign of the others either in front or behind us. An older man we met confused us when he assured us we were heading in the right direction. I don't think he knew where he was going. Eventually we arrived at a signpost leading to the Thilba Thalba Walker's camp.
My phone suddenly had reception for a short time and I received a text from Tannis asking where we were. We knew then we were heading in the wrong direction because she was in the group behind us. I rang her and explained where we were, but my phone reception was lost before I could tell her our plans. We were debating whether to keep going in the direction we were heading or turn back until a very nice (good looking, bare chested) runner came running along the track. He told us we were on a circuit and the track we needed to be on was about three kilometres back the way we had come.
Eventually we found the turn off and had a quick lunch before tackling the big zigzag hill up to the Ubajee walker's camp. We got phone reception as we climbed higher and managed to tell the rest of the group we were OK and heading for the camp. By this time, they had gone onto Mapleton Falls for lunch.
We kept walking and finally reached the road at the entrance to the Mapleton National Park. We rang our friends back at the cabin and they came and picked us up. We worked out we had walked about thirty kilometres.
That night we all went out to Bellavista Pizza and Pasta, just down the road from the caravan park in Mapleton. I intended to go on the walk on Sunday, which was from Kondalilla Falls to Lake Maroon. I had a few problems with pain in my right knee on Saturday, and once I heard the thirteen kilometre walk on Sunday was challenging with lots of ups and down, I decided to pull out of the walk and spend the day with my three friends who had also already decided to spend the day looking around the shops in Montville. A few others had the same idea as we ran into the Hervey Bay teachers in the main street in Montville too.
We met up with the others as planned for lunch at Secrets on the Lake at Baroon Pocket Dam. They told us the walk was easier than Saturday's walk and only about ten kilometres. I will do that one another day.
I enjoyed walking around the lake and learning about the history of the area. Baroon Pocket was a popular meeting place where Aboriginal tribes would gather bunya nuts for their Bonyi Bonyi gatherings. Obi Obi creek was named after the Aboriginal warrior Ubie Ubie. Unfortunately there are no Bunya Pine trees left now.
Tom Petrie attended the Baroon Bunya Festival at Baroon Pocket, when he was 14 or 15. His father was Andrew Petrie, Engineer of Works for the penal colony. He arrived in Brisbane in 1837. Tom traveled to Baroon with a group of 100 Aborigines. He is the only person to record the Bunya Festival in detail according to historian FP Woolston. About 700 Aborigines used to go to the Bunya Festivals.
We met up with the Sunday walkers for lunch at Secrets on the Lake, an interesting restaurant overlooking Lake Baroon. We enjoyed looking around at all the woodwork and gallery. There were beautifully carved wooden doors with possums on them and lots of other woodwork carvings. We didn't get to see the tree houses, but I'm sure they were beautiful too. I did notice some Japanese glass buoys hanging up and asked one of the waitresses where they came from. She told me George has been collecting things for years and that he went to lots of sales. I love to collect old things too and I also have a collection of Japanese glass buoys.
George and Aldy Johnston used to own a farm at Baroon Pocket that bordered beautiful Obi Obit creek, but their land was resumed to build the dam, which supplies water for Caloundra and Maroochy Shires. The dam was built in 1989. They later bought some other land and built their dream treehouse cabins and the restaurant. It is a popular place for weddings and honeymooners.
red belly black snakes are a real danger in this area .. as are circuits lol. Congratulations on a well deserved award Roz .. this might entice some of my Camino friends to venture further north, thanks