A few weekends ago I did a walk that had somehow escaped my radar until Jane from Mildly Extreme wrote about it last year. The Warrie Circuit is a 17 km loop track in Springbrook National Park that for some reason or another I had never noticed or walked, instead doing longer walks up in nearby Lamington National Park. I mentioned to my good friend Running Man that I wanted to do this walk and he agreed to join me.
The morning of the planned walk started with a text from Running man. He wasn’t feeling too crash hot, but he’d had Panadol and coffee and was brave enough to give it a go. I also wasn’t feeling 100% but seeing as we had delayed this walk twice already we were reluctant to let a headache and bit of fatigue get in the way. We met at the base of the mountain and on the drive up discussed our plan of attack. We would take it slow, see how we went and if we felt worse we would turn around and come back and attempt it again another day.
We parked at the lovely Tallanbana day use area, re-arranged the back packs and set out. I had bought new padded wool blend hiking socks and a 32L day back pack from Katmandu 2 weeks previously and was looking forward to giving them a test run on this hike. The first of our “Oh wows” began pretty early in as we walked over a beautiful cascade that tumbled over the escarpment into a waterfall below. We were afforded views out across the valley and towards the Gold Coast as we walked along the edge of the escarpment before beginning our descent into the valley.
The second “Oh Wow!” came as the track snaked along a cliff edge with a small amount of water spraying over the edge before narrowing into a small rock tunnel. As I walked through I couldn’t help but feel a Hobbit might pop out at any moment.
The “Oh wow’s” continued as we walked on. The tall eucalypt and grass tree forests up on the escarpment blended into thicker denser forest before enveloping us in the cocoon of remnant Gondwana rainforest. It felt like every corner revealed a new glade and cascade tumbling into a crystal clear pool. The waterfalls are numerous and impressive on this walk. We timed it perfectly, with a few heavy storms having dumped water on the hinterland over previous nights, the falls were flowing in all their wild glory.
By the time we were around 5 km in, both Running man and I were feeling decidedly better so we pushed on with the walk. And we were both so glad we did. From plentiful bird life (including the slightly suicidal blue satin bower bird who had made its nest half way up a cliff face next to a waterfall) to the magnificent old trees stretching far away into the sky, the beauty of this area continued to unveil itself to us the whole way.
Just over halfway we stopped at the ‘Meeting of the Waters’. This junction where a few of the streams intersect is a boulder strewn, rainforest filled paradise that most definitely elicited more than a few “oh wows” from both of us. The streams were busily bubbling away thanks to the recent rains and a soft breeze rustled through the branches of the trees. As we sat eating our delicious pastrami, cheese, avocado and salad filled rolls (thanks Running Man:) ) I felt like I had been transported to another place and time. Running man interrupted my thoughts by saying “I am just waiting for a pterodactyl to come swooping down above us. I feel like I am a million miles away from anything”. Me too Running man, me too 🙂
After a relaxing lunch topped off with some nectarines, my first mango of the season (hello Summer!) and some wickedly decadent chocolate (Lindt Dark chocolate with a zest of lime I love you!) we packed up and continued on.
As the track began to ascend back up the escarpment the walking obviously became harder. But the scenery and waterfalls continued to entice us onwards. It kind of became embarrassing how many times I said “oh wow!” on this walk, but I would really have to rate this walk as one of the best walks I ever done. I think what made it even nicer was the company and the lack of other people we encountered on the walk. Running man is a good walking companion. We talk but we also can spend stretches of time walking over 50 meters apart being silent and just taking in our surrounds. The 6 other people we encountered over the circuit were also quiet, and we would politely nod and say hello each time we passed each other stopping for a drink or to take another photo or ten.
As we came upon another waterfall on our climb up out of the valley the clouds began to close in and light rain began to fall. We sought refuge from the rain under the dense canopy of the trees and looked out over the valley from what felt like natures very own window sill. After eating more chocolate and having a drink we continued on.
About five minutes later I stopped to look at a very impressive looking tree. As I was talking to Running Man I noticed his gaze drop to the top of my shirt. “Stand still” he commanded. “What? What is it?” I ask as I can feel the panic rising in me. “Nothing. Just stand still.” He says calmly, eyes still fixed on whatever the hell it is that is obviously on my shirt. It must be a spider I think. I am going to scream I think. I am trying to hold it together as he bends down to pick up a stick and moves in towards the offending hitchhiker. “Hold still” he says again calmly.God this is taking forever, just get it off! He leans in with the stick, gently lifting a leach off my shirt. “A leach”? I say. ” You use your serious and calming voice to get a leach off me? I was freaking the heck out because I thought it was some big ass spider!”. I am fine with leaches. I inform Running man to only ever use that voice with me again if it some 8 legged beast, or next time he may not be so lucky and I will be running around screaming and yelling and thumping myself like a mad person. Spiders are really the only thing in this world that I have a complete irrational fear of!
We began the last of our climb and passed behind another beautiful waterfall. As we made our way up onto the top of the escarpment we came to the creek that plunges over the cliff down to become the waterfall we just walked beneath. Some people approached and asked me for directions on the much shorter Twin Falls circuit. As I was showing them on the map where to go, I noticed one of the girls in their group take off her shoes and begin wading awkwardly about in the water only about 10 meters back from the edge of the waterfall. Some of her group began walking again as I stood waiting for the girl to get out of the water so I could take a photo of the view.
As I am waiting a friend of hers decides to start stumbling about in the water with her. I think the photo can wait for another time, I really didn’t feel like witnessing 2 people plunge over a waterfall due to sheer stupidity. As if reading my mind, Running man came over to me and asked if we could please keep walking, these people and their stupidity are disturbing him. After a day of not dealing with people it was a bit of a shock to come back up onto a busy section of the track that forms part of another shorter, more popular walk. It’s not that I don’t like people, It’s just that I really like time away from people, particularly stupid ones.
The track follows the top of the cliff back around to the Tallanbana picnic area, providing numerous lookouts and views out towards the Gold Coast and down into the valley we have just spent most of the day walking in. After walking almost 18 kms I made sure I was prepared to sit back and enjoy a moment or two reflecting on the day. After retrieving some wine and cheese and crackers from the car, I set about pouring us each a glass when I heard a person approaching making one of the most painful gasping sounds I think I have ever heard. A man who appeared to be in his 70’s walked up past me, gasping and groaning. “I’m too old for this, too old” he is mumbling. Alarmed I ask if he is ok. He waves at me dismissively and walks off to the toilets. A few minutes later he comes out still gasping and groaning. Running man has just rejoined me. He looks to me and then to gasping man and says “Are we going to have to give this guy CPR”? I am thinking the same thing. Gasping man walks past and Running man asks him if he is seriously ok. He huffs and puffs about being too old again and staggers back up the hill to the car park and a female companion.
Running Man and I toast to a wonderful day and a wonderful walk. I decide I am re-naming the walk the “Oh wow!” circuit due to us both saying it so many times during the day. If you only have time to do one walk while visiting the Gold Coast hinterland I would definitely say this is the one to do. With multiple waterfalls, vegetation communities, scenic lookouts and “Oh wows!”, the Warrie Circuit walk is one not to be missed 🙂
At a Glance
Warrie Circuit Springbrook National Park Qld 17 Km Class 4 Allow at least 6 hours to enjoy this walk