Tag Archive | National Park

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.

30 Touched By The Sun

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.

Minerva Hills National Park

The setting sun casts a golden glow over the tallest trees in the bush and paints the sky with pastels.

As it dips below the horizon, the sun’s last light sets the sky ablaze.

29 In The Frame

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.

Minerva Hills National Park

A magnificent lemon-scented gum frames the view from the lookout at Fred’s Gorge.

The reflected glow of the setting sun highlights the craggy face of Dillies Knob, the weathered remnant of a volcanic plug formed more than 28 million years ago.

28 Spot the Wallaby

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.

Minerva Hills National Park

A pretty-faced wallaby rests in the shade of a cycad.

For a few moments she’s curious, carefully watching us watching her.

But she soon returns to more important tasks.

27 Threads of Gold

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.

Minerva Hills National Park

While the slopes of Minerva Hills National Park are brushed with gold dust from the wattle trees, the trees on the Skyline walking track are hung with delicate strands of spun gold.

The branches of the acacia trees are festooned with dozens of spider webs, their yellow strands of silk glinting in the soft light of late afternoon.

Who are the master spinners and weavers creating these beautiful webs?

Female Golden Orb Weavers work tirelessly to build these natural masterpieces. They live in groups of overlapping webs designed to deter predators.

While the females are quite large, the males are tiny. Luckily for the males, their gigantic mates are not aggressive and, although they might look scary, they’re not a danger to humans either.

11 Watching and Waiting

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

We’re hoping to see a platypus at Broken River, but there’s no guarantee. The man beside us has been to the viewing platform every afternoon for a week with no success.

Late in the afternoon a small group of people has gathered on the tree-lined riverbank. The setting sun casts deep shadows over the water; the conditions are perfect for platypus spotting. All we need is a co-operative platypus.

A saw-shelled turtle rests on a submerged log while several others coast along with the current. More than once we mistake a submerged turtle for a platypus.

We all heed this advice – waiting quietly, talking in whispers and watching for tell-tale signs.

Suddenly we do see ripples and bubbles and there is a platypus.

As quickly as he surfaces he turns and dives again, disappearing into the murky water. But he’s in a playful mood and reappears time and time again.

We stand for a long time watching the platypus as he searches for his afternoon meal. It’s such a privilege to see this elusive animal in the wild.

We feel elated, but we’re not as excited as the man who’s been waiting all week. He’s ecstatic!

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.