Five of the best to places to bushwalk
CONSIDERING the vast amount of stunning bushland that covers much of coastal and inland Australia, it is no wonder bushwalking has cemented itself as a popular pastime.
The beauty of bushwalking is that, depending on your level of fitness, you can generally find a simple walk that can take 30 minutes, or something a little more strenuous that might see you discovering a wealth of beauty around you for the whole day or longer.
Bushwalkers can be found everywhere - males and females of all ages and from all walks of life who enjoy the great outdoors, and those who like to try something different to stay fit and healthy while discovering hidden treasures in forests and parks.
Often bushwalking becomes an adventure, with friends or family sharing an opportunity to be surrounded by the natural environment of trees, rocks and mountains, streams and waterholes and even learning a few survival techniques along the way.
The best way to start bushwalking is a substantial walk on the graded tracks of urban bush areas and state national parks and work your way up, developing your physical fitness along the way.
Those attracted to bushwalking are also attracted to other outdoor pursuits and you will find many clubs have activities that include kayaking, birdwatching, abseiling and nature photography.
The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding to go bushwalking is to know the conditions of the area you are visiting.
Much of this information can be found through the National Parks and Wildlife Service office or website for your own state or the one you are visiting.
Always wear robust shoes because you may be heading over rough terrain and will want comfort and safety.
Pack a bottle of water because staying hydrated is just as vital as enjoying the beautiful surrounds.
Such is the popularity of bushwalking that Bushwalking Queensland Inc was established - the peak body that represents the interests of bushwalkers and members of affiliated bushwalking clubs in Queensland.
Affiliated with Bushwalking Australia, Bushwalking Queensland promotes bushwalking and its benefits, encourages a regard for the welfare and conservation of the natural environment, and works to make bushwalking safer.
Queensland and northern New South Wales have so many beautiful places just waiting to be discovered by those who enjoy taking in the natural beauty.
Here is a taste of some of the best:
Kondalilla Falls, Sunshine Coast
Starting and finishing at an open area with sheltered seating means you can have a refreshing drink or lunch before you start out, or as a reward when you return. You have the option of the short 1.7km walk to Picnic Creek which allows you to enjoy views over the valley from special lookout points. The Kondalilla Falls circuit is 4.7km and takes you down the escarpment, past rock pools as you walk through rainforest to the base of the waterfall and continue back up the ridge. There are a considerable number of stairs on this walk, so some form of fitness is required.
Bunya Mountains National Park
Ancient Aboriginal tribes of south-east Queensland used to walk for weeks to meet atop the beautiful Bunya Mountains, to share stories, culture, food and to celebrate. This national park, the state's second-oldest, still whispers magical stories contained in the thick trunks of its bunya pines and the myriad lush vegetation which makes this destination so earthy. About 200km north-west of Brisbane, it boasts a range of amazing walks, waterfalls, grasslands, rainforest and birds.
Eungella National Park, Eungella, Mackay area
Enriched by dense subtropical rainforest with peaks shrouded in mist, a trip to Eungella National Park is both an exciting adventure and an escape to tranquillity. Walk one of the many well-formed trails that lead to natural wonders, including the Sky Window walk, leading through layers of bright palms with dewy fronds, for a spectacular view across the Pioneer Valley. Much of the park is wilderness, dissected by rugged gorges, which can be explored along the Mackay Highlands Great Walk, a 56-kilometre trail starting in Eungella.
Carnarvon Gorge, Carnarvon National Park, Rolleston, Central Highlands
An oasis of birdlife, unique plant species and freshwater creeks, Carnarvon Gorge is a sparkling gem amid the dusty heart of Central Queensland. Climb over boulders, marvel at the colours of sandstone cliffs and walk through quiet eucalypt and cabbage palm forests. There are several trails of varying difficulty to help you explore this special place, which is home to more than 170 bird species. Check out the view from Boolimba Bluff, discover swamp wallabies in Mickey Creek Gorge, then let yourself be taken back in time as you examine the Aboriginal engravings, ochre stencils and freehand paintings adorning the sandstone walls on the Art Gallery walk.
Dorrigo National Park, northern NSW
Dorrigo National Park is only an hour from Coffs Harbour and yet it feels miles away. Visit World Heritage Listed rainforests on a day trip, where magnificent waterfall walks, scenic barbecue areas and excellent birdwatching opportunities await you. One of the sights not to be missed is the Crystal Shower Falls, which allows you to walk through lush rainforest and enjoy spectacular views from the rocky cavern behind the waterfall.