Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

The road we travelled on leaving Brisbane

Mt Tamborine, 1,800 feet

Mt Tambourine from the valley

A view of the Gold Coast from Mt Tambourine

A memorable winding road

O'Reilly's day area

Some of the tourists feeding the parrots

A map of some of the trails we did

Are we going the right way?

Does my bum look big in this?

Some of the bush turkey's cleaning up

A yellow brested robin in the rain forest

One of the waterfalls we passed

Our first view of new South Wales from the border track

A reknecked paddymelon

A view in the campsite

Looking down from Bina Burra


After our taste of the big city it was time to leave Brisbane for the hills and some serious walking over tracks instead of pavements. Our camp site manager gave us written instructions for driving through Brisbane and after crossing a few lanes, and probably creating a few cross drivers, we were on the highway nearest to, and suspended over the river, and heading for Captain Cook's Bridge. Twenty two miles later we were pleased to leave the traffic on the Pacific Highway and head off into the country side along route 92 to Mount Tamborine.

What a lovely name; you would have thought the word mount might have given me a clue for what was in store. Once again up into the hills on a thin winding road with tight bends and nowhere to turn around if we had wanted to. Three quarters of the way up was a sign directing to a waterfall, going down a steep hill. We had no idea how far it would be, or if we would be able to turn, so we passed this one up. At the top we followed more signs; one lead to a cave with glow worms but as there was no sign for the cave telling where to turn off, we missed it.

Eventually we came out at a lookout point and watched hangliders in action. The man in the picture took ages to launch; if it had been me you would have waited for ever, our height was 1,800 feet. This area was not very accommodating to long vehicles such as towed caravans and big motorhomes. It did seem to cater well for the day trippers who come out in cars from the 'gold coast'. The town was really three spread out villages joined together for convenience. When I told the tourist agent we were heading for the Green Mountains and O'Reilly's, he said, "Oh dear, but you might get down".

The road down was the hairiest one yet, again clinging to a mountain side and single track in part, this time controlled by traffic lights. I was the one on the outside. It is a good job I have gone grey already. At the bottom we took a photograph of the top of the hill and stayed the night on the show ground at Canungra.

Following advice, we were up early so that we could drive up the hill before the tour buses arrive bringing people from the gold coast; mostly Japanese. If a tour bus can get up the steep winding slope, so can we.

After 51 bends of various curvature and length, the road began to get seriously steep and the drops at the side did not bear looking at. It was all right whilst Sylvia was on the edge, but after a few tight hair pin bends we found ourselves on the other side of the hill. This time I was on the outside and there was quite a few stretches of road only wide enough for one vehicle. Luckily we only met two vehicles coming down. After a full total of 196 bends, (I know it sounds a bit naff counting bends but it takes your mind off the drop at the sides), we had past the worst bit. A further 50 bends crossing through the forest, (and still climbing), we reached O'Reilly's.

This mountain is almost 4,000 feet high.

O'Reilly's is a high class resort, (cocktails £3.50 each at happy hour), which also caters for day visitors and provides a bus giving 4 wheel drive tours of the area at a suitable fee. We booked for three nights on the Lamington National Park Camp Ground, snuggled into a bay right against the rain forest. The original O'Reilly went out on his own, found and rescued survivors from a crashed plane after all other rescue efforts had given up, and is now a deserved legend of the area.

We set off on a walk through the rainforest and had our picnic at 'picnic rock' before carrying on down the hillside, across streams and climbing back out of the gully up the zig zag narrow path which had increasingly steeper drops along side. As Sylvia said, "Don't fall down their because it is a long way to walk up again"; such pearls of wisdom. It was getting dark in the forest by 4pm and after 8 miles we were glad to be back. We had seen a flock of 7 colourful parrots deep in the forest, and a foraging Alberts Lyre bird, (a terrestrial bird of paradise), which is a rare sight and only seen in this area of Australia. By our van was a lovely wee something or other foraging in the edges of the forest; what a nice end to our first day here.

On waking up the next day we both found our legs had not ached through the night as we expected and we still felt fit, so we packed another lunch and set off on an 11 mile circuit. The first part was hard. After walking down into the same gully as yesterday we climbed to the highest part of the mountain, again zig zagging upwards only this time we were following a young river and had views a numerous waterfalls of varying heights. In the national parks you must not remove or harm anything, so you must not clipe on me when I tell you I head butted a few trees. I'm sure the concussion helped make the 7 hours spent walking seem quicker.

Along our way we met a family with two young children; one in a carry chair on the back of the man. A foolhardy venture given the steep narrow path we had just climbed and they would descend. Later as we ate lunch, we spoke with two nice people from Sydney who was staying at O'Reilly's resort. Along the return part of the walk we past by Antarctic Beech trees, some of which have been growing there for thousands of years. When we arrived back this time we had a walk along the aerial tree canopy walkway and Sylvia climbed the 40 foot observation tree. We also saw several 'Red Necked Paddymellons', the name of the small friend we met last night. Bush Turkeys are a common feature of our walks and after the bus trips have left, they can be seen in profusion helping clear up the area where the tourists have been feeding the parrots with special food bought at the shop.

Today is our last day on this side of the hill, and we don't want to go down the steep road at all, especially if we may meet cars and tour busses coming up. "At least there will be no Road Trains", I jokingly said. After a further two walks totalling another 8 miles, a road train passed us on its way down, followed by a big lorry and a cement mixer lorry. They are building some high priced, (well it is a mountain), homes on platforms with fabulous views. We didn't leave until 3.15pm when the tourist busses had all gone. As we approached the main descent we met the road train and lorry coming back, luckily at a part of the road we could pass by.

The road back to Canungra takes over 1 hour of actual time and several days off your life, still, if the tour busses can do it, so can we. Just don't ask me to make a habit of it. Next day we spent time in an internet café and again met our friends who live in Sydney. Then we set off up the other side of the Lamington National Park to Binna Burra. Three days ago I would have described the ascent as quite hairy. Now, after our recent practice, the narrow bits with steep sides and awful bends were just a challenge. There must have been some rare trees up part of the hill side as on one bend there was a barrier to prevent you from driving off the road.

At Binna Burra you can stay in luxury accommodation with fabulous views or in the camp site amongst the caravans and tents as we did; this time with power and a much higher fee; we booked two nights. Again we did some rain forest walks and surprised ourselves on how fit we must have become during our travels.

Rain forest walking can become a bit tedious and we would not have done so much if not for the fact that to us it is still a novelty, as well as a rarity. We do not expect to do much of this type of walking once we are home, though may do some forest walking in the rain. Over the length of this narrative we have walked over 37 miles; enough is enough.

Tomorrow it is back to the driving and less of the walking, seeking more Australian experiences. The vistas from on high have been fabulous. Many of the cliffs on which the viewing spots stand reminded me of the wonderful advice, "Don't fall over the side as there is a drop of several hundred feet. But if you do, remember to look to the left where there is a beautiful view down the valley".

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