Warning: This is a long self-indulgent blog with lots of photos to help me remember the walks of Girraween National Park.
Us about to embark on our magical Seceda walk.
Today is World Physiotherapy Day, but as the ‘Winter Lurgy’ has finally caught up with me, this blog will definitely not be posted in time for September 8th. Today was also the day we were due to be arriving back in the Dolomites. We first went there in 2019 and were planning to be there again this September, but we COVID-chickened out – so it’s a bit of a sad day. But thanks to the magic of iPhones, I can be transported back to this spot with just a glance of my eye over the photo above (and the 200 or so other photos I took that day – it is a remarkable place).
The theme of Day 5 of Women’s Health Week is Move and Improve – physical activity and your health – but that is also always the goal of every physiotherapist – to get every patient moving and exercising to the best of their ability. So it is an appropriate title for World Physiotherapy Day which is held every year on September 8th. There was a lot of moving on the day we were walking Seceda in the Dolomites in 2019 – in fact we did over 27,000 steps that day – I would totally recommend it as a truly spectacular destination.
A few weeks ago to compensate for not getting to the Dolomites, we headed off to Queensland’s own version of magnificent natural beauty and drove to Girraween National Park. It has refreshing, spectacular scenery; it is quiet and peaceful and off grid – no internet or phone where we stayed at the Girraween Environmental Lodge. This accomodation is very close to Girraween National Park and has its own population of wallabies and kangaroos all over the estate.
Late on our second day when on our way back to our cabin we saw two koalas high in a tree. For years now we have been koala hunting (just to see them) whenever we step out into the wild and we are realising just how endangered koalas really are. Back in the good old days in the 90’s and early 2000’s, we only had to walk along the boardwalk to Noosa National Park and we would see 3 or 4 koalas up in the gum trees above us. Now its such a rarity to see them even in the thickest, most untouched Australian bush. Very sad indeed.
Bank of trees where we saw the koalas near Chalet 22
We arrived a bit late on the first day and it was raining so we did a short walk around the grounds of the accomodation. We got excited about seeing lots of granite boulders close up – a good indication of what was to come over the next few days.
These granite boulders are nothing compared to what was to come!
It was a very cold spell when we went and the overnight temperature was -3C, which felt like -6C and the bathroom felt like -10C due to the icy tiles! There was a lovely fireplace there, but we only learned at the end of our stay that it helps to have the ceiling fans on low to circulate the warm air throughout the building. My recommendation if you go in the middle of winter is take a spare fan heater for the bathroom.
The next day we headed out with our back packs filled with lunches, lots of snacks and a thermos of tea and headed out for our first walk to The Junction. It’s 5.2kms and easy walking. There are magnificent wildflowers and incredible expanses of granite throughout this walk.
Wildflowers are everywhere in Spring at Girraween National Park
The walk out to The Junction took about 1.5 hours because we were stopping to soak up the vista –pure homoncular refreshment. I know that after just 3 days in this region I felt refreshed and cleansed of all my stress and anxiety. Everywhere you looked there was nature in all its glory. It is called The Junction because this is the point where Bald Rock Creek and Ramsay Creek join.
The actual Junction of Bald Rock Creek and Ramsay Creek
Everywhere you look there is natural beauty for miles and miles
After returning to the start of the Junction we headed off to The Granite Arch and The Pyramids. If you choose to go to Girraween, I have a suggestion if your fitness is not perfect. Go to the Pyramids for your first walk – its the harder walk – elevated and then when you arrive at the actual Pyramids – it is then very elevated! Then do The Junction as the second walk.
Granite Arch The Pyramids in the distance Zoomed shot to the top of the Pyramids
You mustn’t walk on the Pyramids if it is raining. The granite is very smooth and becomes super slippery and dangerous. 28 years ago we actually went camping at Girraween – our kids were quite young – but I had no recollection of walking to the Pyramids. I was convinced it was another set of rocks we had been to. I did remember some scary slopes, but didn’t think as a responsible parent I would ever let the kids climb somethings as steep as this! When we got home I checked the old photo album and sure enough there they were draped over the terrifying steep rocks smiling their heads off.
Our 2022 photos. I was staying down low. Sadly the photos don’t do justice to the steepness of the Pyramids
I stayed on the lower level as I have a great fear of heights, but Bob ventured higher.
Sophie 1997 relaxing after her climb Katie and Clare made it to the top
What was I thinking?
After the Pyramids climb, we then went on to explore Underground Creek and Dr Roberts Waterhole. It’s a 15 minute drive to these two beautiful settings. It takes about an hour to walk to Underground Creek and luckily we met a father with his (very) young son and I decided to ask him how his toddler went. After he told us “He hosed it in“, he then told us there is a special place to discover once we reached The Underground Creek – take the left hand path, follow it down and then you can climb on the top of the rocks above the Underground Creek. Strangely there was no sign highlighting this so we would have missed it without that chat. The track ends where the creek disappears underground beneath boulders, fallen from an overhanging cliff.
A type of Wave Rock at the Underground Creek
Up the top of Underground Creek
Up the top there is a rushing creek which cascades down through the fallen boulders. Apparently there is another good walk on from this to a place called the Aztec Temple. This will be for our next visit to Girraween.
We then walked back and took the path down to Dr Roberts Waterhole.
This is a magical body of water with beautiful reflective water on a still day. There is plenty of birdlife and it is very peaceful – we were luckily the only people here which added to the serenity.
Reflective water gave beautiful images
Dr Roberts Waterhole
One of the reasons for the trip was also to give Bob a chance to see some truly dark skies. The first night was cloudy but the second night had pristine dark skies. It was VERY cold sitting out there and looking up. We didn’t last very long, but Bob was able to tick off a special galaxy -The Small Magellanic Cloud for the first time. It is 200,000 light years away and 3,500 light years in diameter.
The Night Skies at Girraween. If you click on the photos they will enlarge and be easier to see The Milky Way
After a bitterly cold night we headed off to Mt Norman the next day before heading home. Enter Mt Norman Day Use Area into Google Maps to find it and don’t be deterred by the gate that is closed on the road into this area – this is just to stop cattle from entering the national park. Don’t forget to close it once you’ve passed through it. Mt Norman walk was a big surprise – such a beautiful walk and such a spectacular view of the granite boulders of Mt Norman. It was quite a slippery, steepish climb across the rocks to get to the viewing area, but importantly if you follow the white marks on the rocks you get the safest path there.
Mt Norman Day Use Area – it’s a little tricky to get to this one – easy to miss the turn off
The walk in to Mt Norman was very pretty
The walk took two hours in total and was fantastic. I would totally recommend it to anyone going to Girraween.
Morning tea with Mt Norman in the distance
There are many other walks to be explored at Girraween and we will be back there soon to get a top-up of the smell of the bush, the sounds of the birds and the unparalled beauty of the scenery. If you are going to Girraween I would recommend you check at your local library for a brochure to plan your experience, or drop in and grab a brochure from the Rangers Hut at the Girraween National Park entry, but also we used a great book that Megan gave me called Take a Walk in South East Queensland by John and Lyn Daly.
To all my patients, may you all Move and Improve every day of your lives and to all my physiotherapy colleagues Happy World Physiotherapy Day for 8th September and add Girraween National Park to your bucket list.