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Toolona Creek Circuit Hike in Green Mountains

Home > Gold Coast > Animals and Wildlife | Cafes | National Parks | Walks
by Cris (subscribe)
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 March 24th 2021
A hike in the ancient forest
Stunning trail meandering in the rainforest with spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech trees and crossing few times the Toolona Creek. The trailhead is located in the section of the Lamington National Park Green Mountains, part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
The Group Hiking South East Qld and More at Toolona Creek Circuit posing with a stunning Antarctic Beech. Photo by Author.


The National Park classifieds the trail Grade 4, meaning there are roots exposed on the trail, creek crossings, the trail is long and with few directional signs, fallen trees and slippery rocks. Moderate fitness level, previous hiking experience and ankle-supporting footwear are strongly recommended.

Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Nothofagus moorei, commonly known as Antarctic beech, is an important Gondwana relict of the rainforests. Photo by Author.


Bring a medium day backpack with 2.5 litres of water and snacks. Long sleeves and long trousers are preferable. Put in your backpack a first aid kit, insect repellent in form of cream; please avoid the spray, since the aerosol created during the spray is going to spread in the environment.

Bushman cream insect repellent is water-resistantf and it is very efficient in fending off sandflies, mosquitoes, ticks, leeches and march flies.

Pack a raincoat, torch, tissues and phone. Wear hiking boots or hiking shoes and make sure they are clean.

Toolona Creek Circuit trailhead is opposite the O'Reilly's Café, the trail is 17.4 km long, allow about six hours walking time; best walked clockwise. Hike with your family, friends or in a group. Never alone!

Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
The giant trees in the forest always stand out. Photo by Author.


Walk along the Border Track for 3.2 km and then branch off onto the Toolona Creek circuit. For a little while, you are also walking on the trail common to the Box Forest Circuit.

Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
One of the many creek crossings. Photo by Author.


Follow the circuit beside Toolona Creek and admire the many waterfalls, such as Chalahn and Toolona falls, as you continue up through Toolona Gorge. The narrow gorge is shady and moist and offers refuge to ancient vegetation. The giant king fern Todea barbara is a relict of one of the oldest fern families, Osmundaceae, evolving even before Gondwana formed.

Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Euastacus sulcatus, also known as the Lamington crayfish, is a freshwater crayfish, or "yabby", native to Australia. It is commonly bright blue in colour and you can see these creatures wandering around the forest especially when it is moist or raining. Photo by Author. damp.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
On of the many beautiful waterfalls. Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Fallen logs on the trail. Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Teamwork is important in crossing more difficult creeks. Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Toolona Creek has many waterfalls thundering down especially after rains. Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Another difficult creek crossing, good to have some help. Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
The pounding Chalahn Falls. Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Tumbling Toolona Falls. Photo by Author.


A sign along the trail says: "About 20,000 years ago Australia weathered an ice age that lasted for some 5,000 years. Lamington then would have experienced falling temperatures , decreased rainfall, and cold dry winds blowing through the canopy.

Parts of Australia became a stark and inhospitable landscape, lakes dry up. forests disappeared, desert expanded and many animals became extinct . Sea levels also fell some 100m allowing connections between mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea.

The ice age threatened the very survival of Aboriginal people who had arrived some 30,000 years earlier, It has been suggested that up to 60% of the entire population may have perished during this ice age."


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Spider web with many tiny little droplets. Photo by Author.



Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
The forest is magic! Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Mystic forest. Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Vegetation in the forest. Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
There are so many types of fungi. Photo by Author.


Antarctic Beech. Photo by Author.


A sign in the forest says: "These majestic Antarctic beech trees, Nothofagus moorei, are a present day link with Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Millions of years ago Australia was part of Gondwana. Then the climate was much cooler and wetter and forests of these trees were more widespread.

Over a 105 million -year period the super continent of Gondwana broke up forming the land masses of Africa, Madagascar, South America, India, Antarctica, New Zealand, New Guinea, New Caledonia and Australia. Fossilized pollen records show that Nothofagus were growing on all these masses except Africa, Madagascar and India. Today the 35 species of Nothofagus are found only in the Southern Hemisphere.

About 10 million years ago Australia's climate began to dry, and over time, the rainforests retreated to isolated areas of high rainfall and altitude on the east coast. The Tweed Caldera is one area where Nothofagus took refuge.

Although normally regenerating from seeds, this northern population of trees continues to survive mainly through the dying and regrowing of new stems from the tree's base and suckering form the roots ".

Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Fungi help to break down the old logs. Photo by Author.


Almost at the end of the trail, you can walk on the treetop suspended bridges. It is a fantastic experience since you are several metres from the ground and you can have a better look to the giants of the forest.

Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
Tree top experience. Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
The Stinson plane replica at O'Reilly's. Photo by Author.


When you have finished,d the hike you can have refreshments at O'Reilly's Mountain Cafe and Gift Shop. Here you can purchase some specific seeds to feed the birds, such as king parrots, superb fairy wren and finches. The shop has also a collection of gifts and souvenirs.

Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
King parrot. Photo by Author.


Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
O'Reilly's Gift Shop and Cafe. Photo by Author.


Otherwise, you can drive to Canungra ,which offers many choices of food. It takes almost one hour to drive the narrow and sinuous road from O'Reilly's to Canungra. There are sections of the road with only one lane and the traffic is regulated by traffic lights.

Generally, I stop at the Outpost Cafe because the place has such a vast menu for reasonable prices and homemade pies. The Outpost Cafe on weekends closes the kitchen at 4:00 pm but you can still have the food in the counters and hot and cold drinks until 4:30 pm.

Toolona Creek Circuit, spectacular rainfalls, ancient Antarctic Beech, Toolona Creek, Lamington National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls, Toolona Lookout, Bithongabel Lookout, Border Track, Canungra, O'Reilly Café, O'Reilly's Mountain Café and Gift Shop, Tree Top Walk, Stinson Plane, Wildlife, Feeding birds, Superb Fairy-wren, Birds of prey show at O'Reilly's, Coffee and food in Canungra
The Outpost Cafe has a large menu. Photo by Author.


Related articles by Cris:

www.weekendnotes.com/outpost-cafe-canungra-gold-coast


Reference:

https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/lamington
https://oreillys.com.au
www.theoutpostcafe.com.au
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