YOUR STORY: Look where you step while hiking at Blackdown
CAPRICORN Conservation Council's Michael McCabe recently went for a hike through Blackdown Tableland. Here is his story about the adventure.
Blackdown Tableland, 188 kilometres drive from Rockhampton, the traditional home of the Ghungalu people, is an uplifted sandstone cliffs rising 900 metres above sea level.
The sheer, red-gold sandstone cliffs of Blackdown Tableland dominate the view from the Capricorn Highway whether you're approaching from the west or east.
The tableland features deep eroded gorges, spongy peat springs, sandy soils, and a cool, damp microclimate resulting in unique flora and fauna. Towering up to 45 metres the Blackdown Stringybark drew the attention of sawmillers right up to the declaration of the National Park in the 1970s.
Sydney Blue Gum survives here as a geographically isolated reminder of an earlier wetter climate. The majestic trunks of Rusty gum will, depending on the season, display hues of grey, pink, or orange bark - great for photos at early light and dusk.
Quiet group or solitary walks on easy to moderate trails with frequent stops give the best experience to observe and photograph native flowers, bird and reptiles.
Cross country walking is also a very rewarding experience particularly if you have the fortune to arrive after recent rains have freshened the native grasses, encouraged leaves to reshoot after fires, and the proliferation of scrambling vines like producing masses of violet flowers.
The cracks and overhangs of deep potholed, solid sandstone creek beds, cascades and larger waterfalls are a haven for mosses, sun-dews and other delicate species. Tread softly and look where you step and you will see miniature forests of ground orchids, fringed lilies, micro ferns and a unique ancient cycad.
Stop for morning tea picnic brunch at the top of the range road and you'll immediately notice the cooler air compared to the lowlands.
Yaddamen Dhina (Horseshoe Lookout) provides vistas to the north and an opportunity to be greeted by inquisitive Two-lined dragons; just be wary of uninvited table guests, such as Pied-Currawongs and Kookaburras, which will plunder food right out of your mouth!
Munall campground on Mimosa Creek, is a pleasant spot for short easy walks past deep circular eroded pools to the falls and gorge lookouts or Ghungalu galleries.
Blackdown's major streams, after forming deep gorges, cascades and falls, drain to the Comet River Mackenzie River and Dawson Rivers. Stoney Creek Falls has the greatest sheer drop, flowing spectacularly but briefly following big rains. Even if bone dry, it is nevertheless very worth the long, often hot walk.
Gudda Gumoo (Rainbow Creek) after a short drive past the campground is a 3.6 km return walk, and further if intending to continue to the falls and negotiate the many steps leading to the pool and cascades below the falls.
For experienced, fit bushwalkers with expert navigational and climbing skills, Rainbow Creek and access road can provide the start and end point for two-three day through-walks. A circuit could take in Planet Creek Falls along the south western escarpment, Ballamoo Cliffs, and return back to Rainbow Creek.
Gorge walks (two-four days) bouldering, to below the large falls in Mimosa and Rainbow Creeks is possible but advice should be sought from QPWS Rangers and people who are aware of accessible 'get-downs' and numerous hazards (particularly the lack of any ability to make outside contact, and extreme rescue challenges).
More information: http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/blackdown-tableland/about.html