Conondale National Park | Conondale Range Great Walk
This past weekend saw the Explore Nation team head north to Conondale National Park (View map), located in the upper Mary Valley area west of the Sunshine Coast. The goal was to complete a portion of the Conondale Range Great Walk before setting up base for the night at the popular Charlie Moreland Camp Ground in the nearby Imbil State Forest.
Arriving early (after annoying a few neighbours back at home with a car alarm malfunction), we secured a suitable spot to set up camp and made our way for the Great Walk entrance point at the Booloumba Creek day-use area.
The road into the park is unsealed and contains multiple creek crossings only suitable for high clearance four wheel drives. We did notice on entry that some conventional vehicles had parked just outside the first crossing, however reaching the start of the trail by foot would add a few extra kilometres.
Rated as a class 4 track, the Conondale Range Great Walk circuit is approximately 56 kilometres in total, starting and ending at the Booloumba Creek day-use area. N.B. The circuit is a multiple day hike and should only be completed with the appropriate equipment and planning.
With only the day to spend on the trail, we set off with the intention of reaching the furtherest point by lunch, at which time we would turn and make the journey back to camp. Winding through the dense rainforest alongside Booloumba Creek (which was quite high due to recent rainfall), we were spoiled with the attractions typically observed on the first day of the Great Walk.
Gold Mine Walk
The first of these was an 800 metre detour off the main track to an old gold mine from the 1920’s. Approximately 2.5km in (or 5km return to the day use area), the ruins of the mine entrance makes for a perfect spot to take in the peaceful surrounds and rejuvenate for the next leg of the journey.
Another few kilometres on (or 6.5km return to the day use area) we were met with a bit of a strange anomaly in the rainforest – A 3.7 metre high Strangler Cairn sculpture by artist Andy Goldsworthy. With the intention of eventually ‘strangling’ the cairn, a fig sapling is growing from the top of the hundreds of blocks of granite that make up the installation.
Our final destination was Artists Cascades, situated approximately 5 kilometres upstream (or 10 kilometres return to the car park). The waterfalls make for a tranquil setting to enjoy some lunch and to dip your feet before making the journey back. If completing the Great Walk circuit, continue on toward Wongai walkers’ camp.
Although only a small portion of the Conondale Range Great Walk, this section is a great introduction to the trail, and I’d be very surprised if you don’t leave wanting to come back to complete the entire circuit. As always, pack plenty of food and water, and wear appropriate footwear. Conondale National Park is definitely worth adding to your list of places to explore in South East Queensland.