With Winter finally making itself "official" we decided to embrace the most of the weeks warm weather and drive up to Lamington National Park and complete the Toolona Falls Circuit.
At around 19km long, and unofficially known as the waterfall hike, after an earlier trip up to Elabana Falls we were excited to finally have a chance to complete the circuit and experience the rest of the promised wonderland.
As we left Brisbane and began driving up towards Canungra the sky began to darken. We looked at the cars temperature gauge, it seemed to be dropping with every kilometer that past. As we reached O'Reillys rainforest retreat and parked it had finally stopped, resting on 10 degrees. Then it started to sprinkle...
Slightly regretting our decision to head up here instead of the warmer Flinders Peak option we sat in the car procrastinating before finally grabbing our packs and hitting the trail.
The good thing about the cold was it kept us moving quickly so we would definitely get to finish the hike this time!
Lamington National Park has a number of incredible hikes leaving from O'Reillys and as you exit the retreat property they have signs displaying interesting facts about the area.
We were too cold to stop and read many but after finally starting Yuval Noah Hararis book Sapiens, I was excited to see one showing that diprotodons, one of Australias now extinct Megafauna, was once thought to have roamed the area!
Promising ourselves we would return with children (and in better weather!) to camp and complete some of the shorter walks we quickly left the pathed track and began the hike in earnest.
The first waterfall crossing of note you come to is known as Picnic Rock and if you are short of time or just want to go somewhere pretty for lunch one day, this is your spot. Only about 15 minutes from the carpark and, as the name suggests there are heaps of flat rocks around perfect for a picnic!
As we passed over here the track began to get muddier and thinner, accompanied constantly by the alternating roar and bubble of water it felt as though we would just start walking again after stopping to appreciate the beauty of one of one fall when another would suddenly be upon us.
Other than Elabana Falls, which is well worth the detour off the main track (especially in summer when you can swim there!) my favourite two spots were the top of Chalahn Falls where the water was calmer and the overhanging trees made me feel as though I was in a childs tale of fairies, and Darrogulli Cascades whose fallen moss enrobed trees made a tranquil spot to sit quietly and appreciate the beauty and magic of our planet.
Allow time to explore the little side trails as they often lead to the prettiest spots!
As you leave the waterfalls behind the terrain changes and you begin to wander the goblin forest, where ancient Antarctic Beech trees have twisted and grown to form living pieces of art.
This hike is essential divided into two parts, you begin by following Toolona Creek and all the wondrous waterfalls before coming to Wanguran lookout on the edge of the mountain cliffs, which, on a clearer day, I'm sure will have epic views!
Mistletoe grows plentiful in this section of the trail and as the wind gusts up off the cliffs, and sunlight tries to penetrate the canopy, it dances on the branches like a girls hair in the breeze adding to the dreamscape.
Massive Birds Nest ferns are everywhere, hanging high above the trail on branches that look to slender to hold them.
Eventually you rejoin the Border Track and begin the homeward stretch towards the welcoming respite of O'Reilly's Mountain Retreat, where you can sit overlooking magnificent views of the Scenic Rim, enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine and plan your adventure!
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“Lost is a state of mind, I prefer to think of it as exploring” - Lia Skye
What to Expect
A well tread, well sign posted path that would also make a wonderful trail running track midweek when its quieter,
How to get there
Put O'reillys Rainforest Retreat into your GPS or click here for Google Maps
Water – At least 2 Litres depending on how much you drink and the time of year you choose to hike in.
I love food so snacks are always welcome and as this hike does take a couple of hours so maybe bring something substantial along to have on the trail or waiting for you once you've finished. Next time I hike in the cold i'm taking some homemade vegetable soup to keep me warm!
As always make sure to take all your rubbish and packaging with you!
Further Reading (for all the technical deets)
You can read more about the Toolona Circuit and get the trail by clicking here