Twin Peaks: Hiking the Cougals Queensland

posted in: Featured, Queensland, walks | 1

Well it’s been a long time since I last blogged. I may have slacked off on the blogging front but I think getting divorced, moving house and getting used to shared parenting are pretty valid excuses for my prolonged absence from writing. I have not however slacked off on my hiking. In fact hiking has been essential in seeing me through what has been an incredibly difficult period in my life. Being able to plan a hike, look forward to a hike and think about that hike in the days and weeks afterwards until I can get out and do my next one, has provided me with immense physical and mental relief.

I have hiked locally and further away. I have discovered amazing new places and rediscovered others that I have not visited in some time. From world heritage rainforests to the highest mountains in the country and the dusty outback in between, I have immersed myself in this awe inspiring country of ours – disconnecting from the outside world in order to reconnect to myself. And while the hiking is set to continue I am also hoping to resume the blogging and share these beautiful places in the hope that you may enjoy them too.

So first hike off the rank to get you into your boots and out of the house is The Cougals near the picturesque Currumbin Valley on the NSW/ QLD border. Running Man and I met in Currumbin and I jumped in his car to share the ride up through the valley and to the Garden of Eden Road,where there is a turn out area for a few cars to park and a small sign partially hidden on the fence stating that this in fact the place to begin the walk. The sign says that it is 4-5 kilometers to the Cougals (depending on whether you finish up at the East Peak or continue onto the West Peak) but do not underestimate this hike. She may be short on km’s but she sure as heck makes up for it with the huff and puff required to get to the peaks.

 

Gate at beginning of The Cougals walk2
Gate at the beginning of The Cougals Walk

 

Sign at beginning of walk

 

Running man and I adjust our packs and begin our upward ascent along the fence line to the left. And up we go. There is no easing into this one. It is up through scrub and lantana, a little overgrown in parts and then onto old sugarcane that has grown wild and unruly, towering well above our heads. When we finally break out of the cane and stop to take our breaths we are greeted with a magical view of Mount Warning to the south and looking back down into the Valley to the north.

 

Walking through the wild sugar cane
Walking through the wild sugar cane

 

View of Mount Warning after coming out of the cane
View of Mount Warning after coming out of the cane

 

After admiring the view and filling our lungs with much needed air we continue on. The path flattens out here and we get a break from the uphill and a great view towards the Cougals. The track then enters into rainforest where we drop down for a little bit before heading back up again. The track follows the QLD/NSW border and is mostly easy to follow up to this point. We are using track notes printed out from the Aussie Bushwalking site (these guys do pretty good track notes) and haven’t lost the track at all until this point.

 

Walking up towards the Cougals
The two peaks of the Cougals come into view

 

in the rainforest
Into the rainforest we go.

 

We get to a point where we are at a steep rocky embankment and not quite sure of which way to go. We are looking for a side trip out to a cave that was mentioned in the notes but we must veer too far to the right and we miss it. Up and up we go. This is a bit of a rock climb now, not a walk. We keep to what looks like the track and break out onto a small clearing. We have made it to the East Peak of The Cougals and it is amazing. Photos do not do this view justice, so you are just going to have to trust me and do this hike yourself to see if you agree.

 

view of Mount Warning
View out towards Mount Warning from the East Peak

 

View of the West Cougal from the East Cougal
View of the West Cougal from the East Cougal with Springbrook and Lamington NP in the background

 

panoram from the East Cougal

 

This is the perfect opportunity to pull out the thermos and ginger nuts and have a well earned cup of tea and take in the view. Mount Warning, Lamington National Park the Border Rangers and Nightcap National Park all make up the breathtaking panoramic vista before us. As Running Man and I are drinking our tea we are looking out towards the West Peak. A friend had done this hike twice before us and had been unable to find the track to the West Peak, so we hadn’t planned the West Peak as a definite for our days itinerary. “So what do you think? Should we try to go and do a bit of a search and see where Al got stuck and couldn’t find where to go? I don’t mind as this view is incredible right here” I say to Running Man. “Yeah, lets go see where this little bit goes to down here and then we will come back and have lunch” replies Running Man.

 

Looking to the West Cougal along the saddle
Look out along the saddle which we are about to hike out to the West Cougal

 

So as we are only planning on walking a few hundred meters to see where the track disappears, we drop our packs in the bushes to increase our mobility and off we go. I know. Stupid. And we have never done that before and nor will we ever do it again! We didn’t just follow the track down a little bit, we dropped right down, across the saddle and somehow found some tape here and there to follow, and a rope that someone had left behind to pull us up, and made it up onto the West Peak. Go us! We were pretty chuffed with ourselves that we found it. But then the reality set in. We were sweating big time and very thirsty. plus it was so very overgrown. Our water and our snake bite kit were back in our packs on East Peak. Not like us at all, and we both agreed we had been pretty foolish to not go back for our packs.

 

 

View from West Cougal
View from the top of the West Cougal

 

Coming down the West Cougal
Coming down off the West Cougal

 

pushing on through the bush

 

We did a quick explore around the West Peak and then began to head back to the East Peak. This proved far more difficult than we anticipated. The bits of surveyors tape were few and far between, and we got lost 3 times and had to retrace our steps. Finally we came to the track leading up to our packs, a cold beer and lunch. We made it!

 

Time for a beer and some buja after conquring the West Cougal
Time for a beer and some buja after conquering The Cougals

 

The walk back down to the car was a bit tough on the knees but easier on the lungs. The afternoon sunlight made for some beautiful afternoon walking. We made it back to the car, tired out but elated that we had made it to both peaks.

 

Walking back down through the cane
Walking back down through the cane

 

Running man at the big tree
Lovely afternoon views over the valley on the walk back down

 

Afternoon view out over the valley

 

This hike made such an impression on us we repeated it again 3 months ago. This time we did find the cave (go us!) but decided not to worry about the West Peak as it is pretty overgrown and the best views are definitely from the East Peak. We also decided to add a little detour in on this hike on the drive back to Currumbin, stopping off at the Balter Brewery (started up by Aussie surfer Mick Fanning) for a tasting paddle to reward ourselves.

If you are on the Gold Coast and looking for a half day hike of about 4-5 hours then I recommend giving this one a go, it is a cracker.

 

At a Glance

map

The Cougals 4-5 km (one way) Starts at a Gate on the Garden of Eden Road, off the Tomewin Mountain Road https://www.aussiebushwalking.com/qld/springbrook/mt-cougal

 

map

 Balter Brewery 14 Traders Way, Currumbin, QLD https://www.balter.com.au/

 

 

 

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  1. Caro Ryan

    Wow Amanda! No wonder I haven’t heard from you in a while. Welcome back! It’s great to see another story come from you and inspire us again. hmmm… Cougals… onto the bucket list now! Thanks for sharing… and filling us in!

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