Archives

In A Different Light

Minerva Hills National Park

The rugged terrain of Mount Zamia Plateau dominates the landscape surrounding the little town of Springsure. Most striking is Virgin Rock, a massive formation once joined to the plateau but long ago separated by erosion of the softer upper layers of stone.

The rock is named for naturally formed features on the side which appear to resemble the Virgin Mary cradling her new-born baby. At midday, with the sun shining directly on the rock, the figures are clearly visible.

From a different vantage point later in the day the shapes are hidden in the shadows.

As evening comes on, the crimson hues of a vivid sunset cast a rosy glow over the rock.

When nature’s illumination fades into darkness, Virgin Rock is still visible from Springsure. Strategically placed floodlights bring the rock into sharp focus, accentuating its dominance in this ancient landscape.

Keep to the Left…Mostly!

Minerva Hills National Park

In Australia we drive on the left and usually we walk on the left. At the start of the walk to the Skyline Lookout, I automatically walked on the left. It’s the natural thing to do!

Not far from the start this sign caught my attention and, as the track narrowed on its uphill climb, I instinctively moved to the right.

The loose gravel on the path meant I needed to concentrate on where I was stepping. I didn’t want to stumble and fall here – it was a long way down.

Wattle trees in full bloom covered the hills while closer to the track wiry tufts of spinifex dotted the stony slopes.

The track followed the curve of the hill, passing from open grassland into acacia forest where the trees were adorned with dozens of spider webs. Some of the large sticky webs were suspended across the track and I forgot about which side I wanted to walk on. Instead it was a case of dodging from one side to the other to avoid coming face to face with one of the golden orb weavers who built them.

The last section of the track wound around the peak of Mount Zamia to two viewing platforms. One faced south towards Virgin Rock and the little town of Springsure and the other looked out over the fertile farmland to the north.

The track to Skyline Lookout was 800 metres out and back and the return walk was a little easier. I just stayed on the left – except for the part where the spiders live.

Minimal Effort, Maximum Reward

Minerva Hills National Park, Central Queensland

In our experience, a vigorous uphill walk is often required to reach the lookouts with the best views.

For two of the lookouts at Minerva Hills National Park, the uphill part of the journey has to be completed by car. This time we’re happy not to be walking; the road up into the park is four wheel drive only and it’s steep, stony and rough.

Springsure Lookout is just a few metres from the first car park.

Perched on the edge of Mount Zamia Plateau, the lookout is aptly named. The little town of Springsure can be seen nestled in the valley below. The craggy cliffs and domed ranges surrounding the town are weatherworn remnants of the Springsure Volcano which erupted 28 to 30 million years ago. 

Further along the road is Eclipse Gap Lookout. While the walk to the viewing platform is even shorter, the view is far more expansive.

This ancient volcanic landscape was formed when liquid basalt flowed over the land before solidifying in thick layers of solid rock. Dillies Knob rises sharply out of the tree-covered plain. It’s one of several volcanic plugs exposed after millions of years of erosion by wind and water. 

The highest peak in the national park is Mount Boorambool, another massive volcanic plug. Rising up beside Eclipse Gap, the mountain takes on a golden glow when the wattle trees are blooming. 

Usually the effort of walking up to a lookout is rewarded by the views but at Minerva Hills there’s little effort needed. With a four wheel drive vehicle these two lookouts are easily reached and the time saved by driving can be spent enjoying the fabulous vistas.

10 A Flash of Yellow

I’m joining Becky in her July Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B.  The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word tree. Look for #treesquare. Come with me on a Central Queensland road trip starring trees and the beautiful landscapes of my home state.

Broken River, Eungella National Park

As we wander along the boardwalk at Broken River, a flash of yellow in the trees up ahead catches our attention.

It’s an Eastern Yellow Robin. At first it’s shy and hides in the foliage.

We stop and wait quietly until the robin comes closer.

Eventually it’s brave enough to fly down to the path and our patience is rewarded when it’s joined by a friend. They hop along the boards in front of us before flying away into the trees once more.

9 The View From the Window

I’m joining Becky in her July Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B.  The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word tree. Look for #treesquare. Come with me on a Central Queensland road trip starring trees and the beautiful landscapes of my home state.

Sky Window Circuit, Eungella National Park

At an elevation of 1259, it feels like we’re closer to the sky on the Eungella Plateau. And a walk around the Sky Window Circuit sounds promising.

The track follows the escarpment through sub-tropical rainforest. The trees grow tall and thin as they compete for sunlight while the undergrowth is so thick it blocks any sightings of the valley.

The views are only revealed when we reach the Sky Window Lookout.

Close by, the steep winding road we’ve just travelled up is clearly visible. Beyond that, the Pioneer Valley, flanked on both sides by the Clarke Range, opens up before us.

We can just make out the city of Mackay, 80 kilometres to the east on the coast. It really does seem as if we’re looking down from the sky.

8 Down the Mountain

I’m joining Becky in her July Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B.  The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word tree. Look for #treesquare. Come with me on a Central Queensland road trip starring trees and the beautiful landscapes of my home state.

Araluen Cascades, Finch Hatton Gorge

Finch Hatton Creek flows down the mountain, carving a path through the sub-tropical rainforest.

Flowing across ancient volcanic granite, it tumbles over the rocks at Araluen Cascades into two deep pools before continuing downhill.

7 Life Support

I’m joining Becky in her July Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B.  The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word tree. Look for #treesquare. Come with me on a Central Queensland road trip starring trees and the beautiful landscapes of my home state.

Finch Hatton Gorge

Rawson’s Creek tumbles down from the mountains surrounding Finch Hatton Gorge, rushing over volcanic boulders on its way to the valley. While the water sustains life in the subtropical rainforest, trees also provide sustenance for other plants and animals.

Giant strangler figs with massive buttress root systems shelter new saplings from the blazing midday sun. Vines use tall straight tree trunks for support.

Insects thrive in the foliage. Some are easily seen, while others leave evidence of their activities.

Even fallen trees give life, as other plants and animals feed on their decaying trunks.

This stump is all that remains of a long gone tree but, with its cloak of thick green moss, it’s a thing of beauty.

The Streets of San Francisco

During Becky’s April Bright Square photo challenge I opened the archives to December 2019 and January 2020. Now I’m sharing more of our pre-pandemic holiday in California and Nevada with stories that just couldn’t be squared!

Postcards from America

One day we rugged up against the cold and spent a few hours exploring the streets of San Francisco.

We started on Steiner Street at the beautiful “Painted Ladies”

before making our way along avenues lined with winter trees.

We walked down the stairs beside the hairpin turns of Lombard Street.

At the bottom we made an exciting discovery. We weren’t far away from the warming treats at Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. A second visit was very welcome after a chilly day of walking!

San Francisco Views

During Becky’s April Bright Square photo challenge I opened the archives to December 2019 and January 2020. Now I’m sharing more of our pre-pandemic holiday in California and Nevada with stories that just couldn’t be squared!

Postcards from America

The views from our Airbnb home in San Francisco were fabulous. In one direction we could see ships on the sparkling waters of San Francisco Bay.

Further round, we looked out across the suburbs and the always busy freeway to the Sutro Tower, high atop a hill between Mount Sutro and Twin Peaks.

While we thought this outlook was great, we were even more impressed when we visited Twin Peaks.

Perfectly positioned at the geographic centre of San Francisco with an elevation of 282 metres, the two hills of Twin Peaks have unrivalled views of the city and its surrounds.

Our walk from the car park up to Christmas Tree Point went right past the Sutro Tower, a radio and television tower which was once the tallest structure in San Francisco.

Although we could have stayed at the lookout at Christmas Tree Point, we couldn’t resist the challenge of climbing to the top of the hill. We were glad we did, because the 360° panoramic views of the city were spectacular.

On this clear winter’s morning, we could see the skyscrapers of downtown San Francisco, Alcatraz Island and its formidable prison and the glowing orange spans of the Golden Gate Bridge.

As well as the lookouts, there’s a short walking track which follows the curves of the road. Apart from the communications towers and a water reservoir the area is a designated wilderness reserve, dedicated to preserving the habitat of the  endangered mission blue butterfly.

We spent almost as long looking for butterflies as we had looking out over the city, but our search was futile.

The only creatures we saw were a few birds. From their perches high above the city, they seemed to be enjoying the views too.

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

The Last Walk

Camping at Carnarvon Gorge, October 2020

There’s one track left to explore before we end our visit to Carnarvon Gorge and, of all the walks we do, it turns out to be the most adventurous.

The Mickey Creek walk begins inside the park, just before the Visitor Centre. Although the sign says it’s only 1.5 km everyone tells us the same thing. “Go beyond the end of the track.” As we set off, we’re not sure what to expect. 

At first the level path leads through the bush, following the course of the creek. As always, the sandstone cliffs of the gorge rise up in the distance.

It’s not long before the track narrows and becomes steeper, at times climbing up the creek bank and then crossing to the other side. 

We reach a fork in the track and decide to continue on to Mickey Creek Gorge, leaving Warrumbah Creek Gorge for later in the day. 

And then the mystery is revealed. The formed track comes to an end but there’s a well-worn path beyond it, following the creek further into the bush. Of course we go on, rock-hopping along the dry creek bed. 

The gorge becomes more pronounced; the sides are steeper, the path is narrower and daylight recedes as the walls close in. 

We reach our limit before we reach the end of the gorge. We can see up ahead where the walls meet, but the smooth stone has no footholds to climb up.

We retrace our steps back to the Warrumbah Creek Gorge track. Here the creek is flowing and the path goes alongside until it too comes to an end.

This time the way ahead is not so clear but there’s only one direction we can go, so we continue deeper into the gorge, past tree ferns and moss-covered boulders.

In Warrumbah Creek Gorge the rock walls close in much sooner. A fallen tree, long ago washed downstream, makes a handy bridge and where the stony ledges are narrow we take our time, carefully considering our next step. 

Unlike Mickey Creek Gorge, we do reach the end of Warrumbah Creek Gorge – it’s so narrow we can reach out to both sides. 

With so much incredible scenery, all the walks at Carnarvon Gorge have been amazing. This final walk has completed our week in the most spectacular way. 

Joining Jo for Monday Walks