Random Adventures in the Scenic Rim: Part One
There’s a magical, mystical land where ancient, dense rainforests cloak majestic mountains, their serrated silhouettes marching across a dramatically sensational skyline. Where vertically columned cliffs fall into fertile valleys patch-worked with produce and criss-crossed by rocky streams.
Picturesque hamlets dot the landscape providing shelter, food and a base from which to explore their impossibly scenic surroundings. Numerous National parks showcase amazing natural attractions, wilderness and World Heritage forests which soften the harsh edges of the ring of ranges – once volcanoes – that define the Scenic Rim.
It’s a land where every journey is an adventure; every spot has a new surprise; and round every corner is an intriguing vista inviting the traveller to explore.
Water, mist and cloud; green and verdant jungle; high mountains and cold nights – is this REALLY Australia?
I succumbed to its splendour on arrival; I left a little piece of my heart behind when I left. But that means my return to the Scenic Rim is one day assured.
Only an hour south-west of Brisbane or west of the Gold Coast in Queensland’s south east, ‘Scenic Rim’ describes ranges rising sharply above the valleys to form a semi-circle. It’s a wonderfully diverse region that’s WAY too big for just one visit.
And it’s WAY too big for just one post! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the first instalment of random Scenic Rim adventures – then take the link to Part Two HERE!
The Governor’s Chair
For a quiet Sunday morning at the end of a rough and rugged transport trail, once the main trade route across the ranges to Brisbane, the Spicers Gap carpark was jumping.
We squeezed into a spot between a massive 4WD vehicle and a rustic wooden fence. 300 metres down a narrow foot trail, it was standing room only at the Governor’s Chair Lookout. A large mixed-age group had commandeered the rocky ledges overlooking the valley below and it sounded like someone was giving a speech.
Crap. Maybe taking in the reportedly spectacular view from #7 on our Scenic Rim Lookout list wasn’t going to be as easy as we’d thought.
But there was no way we’d driven this challenging road to miss out on seeing The Governor’s Chair. The lookout was a public place. Perhaps it was time for my two good elbows to get a workout.
As we drew closer, I could hear what the speaker was saying.
Double Crap. Pushing my way to the vantage point at the edge for a look-see while ancestral ashes were being scattered during a memorial service was out of the question, even for me.
The Spicers Gap road, hand-built and maintained from rock and wood in extremely challenging terrain and weather conditions, was an amazing feat of engineering for its time Walking a stretch of the road – now preserved as a conservation park – made me realise how soft we’ve become since we stopped being pioneers.
Despite the dull day, back at the lookout (now thankfully family-free) I could see why George Bowen – Queensland’s first governor – referred to it as an ‘incomparable panorama’.
And why it makes a perfect last resting spot.
Tempting though it was to climb either Mt Mitchell (1162 m) or Mt Cordeaux (1144 m) towering above either side of Cunningham’s Gap, most memorable of our Scenic Rim range crossings, the warnings of sheer cliffs edges, serious injury and/or death were off-putting.
The level of fitness required for such hikes, did NOT of course, have ANYTHING to do with it 😀
So we chose the more benign Rainforest and Palm Grove Circuits.
Tragically however, the sign at the Palm Grove trailhead also warned of steep cliffs – but apart from one scary drop-off into oblivion where I closed my eyes and scuttled across, hugging the side of the mountain worked for me.
Having the foresight to pick up a bakery lunch also worked for me.
And sitting in the picnic ground with that lunch got me a rare sighting of the Liz Taylor of the bird world – Satin Bowerbird with its incredible violet eyes!
BIG 3 at the Bakery, Kalbar
In the unlikely event the Kalbar Bakery hasn’t got what you want, it’s a pretty safe bet that just a few kilometres away, outlet #2 at Aratula WILL. Impossible to pick a favourite, we gave both bakeries a workout – sometimes both on the same day – during a week in the Scenic Rim region.
Usually, a Bakery BIG 3 consists of a pie, a sweet and a drink – for me, the more exotic the better.
But very, Very, VERY occasionally, it’s not all about the food.
And on this sunny downunder winter day, we emerged from the Kalbar Bakery to find a very different BIG 3!
Can you guess which car is ours?
MORE about Kalbar Bakery
The Other Side … Koreelah National Park
With more National Parks within cooee than you can poke a stick at (if you’ll excuse my descent into the depths of Aussie slang), you’d think there’d be enough natural attractions on the Queensland side of the Scenic Rim to keep us busy.
But drive south along Carney’s Creek road, then up the range and across the Queensland border into New South Wales for a masterclass in natural attractions.
Beware – this intriguing blend of Gondwana Rainforest, Scenic Rim silhouettes and bizarrely shaped mountains is so spectacular you may find yourself considering a tree-change (aka mid-life crisis) move to the Rim.
Despite roads described by those more charitable than I as ‘pretty ordinary’ and ‘dirt’.
From the border crossing on top of the range, the road plunged down into the Koreelah Creek valley, skirting the park’s eastern boundary. Reports of the shady, spacious – and empty – campground’s attractions included a waterfall, rocky gorge and benign wildlife such as koala, wallaby and platypus.
But what I DON’T get is why the listed attractions DIDN’T include the bushland scenic public loo – OR the snake?
MORE about Koreelah National Park
Lake Moogerah Morning
I’m SO not a morning person. But for a Lake Moogerah morning with the sun rising through a layer of frosty mist over the water against the magnificently mountainous backdrop of the Scenic Rim, I’ll make an exception any time.
After escaping the freezing night temperatures between polar flannel sheets in our cozy camper-trailer set up in the Lake Moogerah Caravan Park, you’d think the last thing on earth I’d want to do was face the frigid dawn.
And you’d be right, except for one thing. The call of nature, right on cue around sunrise.
Once I was up, daybreak cast its spell and I wandered the foreshore as the sun touched the magical mountain tops, photographing the ever-changing landscape ’til my fingers went numb with cold.
I wonder could anyone tell I was still in my pyjamas?!
- Where is the Scenic Rim?
- Scenic Rim Region
- Random Adventures in the Scenic Rim PART TWO!
- Adventures across the Border in Woodenbong
- MORE photos on Flickr HERE!
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