I have been a slacker. So many times I have opened up the blog to write and no words come. I can’t explain it but tonight I feel wordy so here is the long awaited Brisbane post which I will merge with Tambourine Mountain. You will need to wait a little longer for Lamington National Park, O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat and Binna Burra Lodge, they will have their own posts because these are very special places in my life and need extra words and photos. Ok, let’s get into it!
Last time I shared the walk, before the broken ankle, I was on my way into Brisbane for the second time. I had left Samsonvale RFS and arrived at Ferntree Gully. I did not walk through the city because it is disorientating and causes asperger sensory overload.
In Brisbane I stayed with Ali and Ian for 2 nights. I met Ali and Ian at Dilli Village on K’gari (Fraser Island), but we have other shared history as caretakers of Eyre Bird Observatory a few years apart. I really enjoyed their ethos, a love and lifelong curiosity for Nature, actively protecting and restoring the environment and intellectually stimulating conversations. They have photo books and slide shows from their 2 caretaker stints and it was a real blast from the past watching and listening to their stories.
On Monday morning I met TV presenter Madison Holly from Brisbane 7News with Mark behind the camera doing an excellent job of walking backwards along narrow bush tracks and over logs for a local news story which went out across Queensland. It was a surprise and relief to hear from 7News. They were the only local media programme interested in the story and I was super grateful. I was starting to get a bit worried my walk and cause were not newsworthy after so many local papers and radio programmes for the last 14,500kms had picked it up.
On Monday afternoon I caught up with some more people I had met on K’gari, the Totally Wild TV crew! Arika had organised an entire afternoon of filming with Jesse, Shane and Richard around Mt Cout-Tha Forest. It was an amazing experience, lots of fun and hopefully will be enough to make a good story on their Ch11 kids show. At one stage, towards the end of the afternoon I kept forgetting some of the things I wanted to share with the young viewers and realised how incredible Jesse’s memory is to get it right and how patient the crew were when I couldn’t. Shout out to Shane, a master with the camera, making it less scary than I thought it would be and quite a bit of fun at the end after my brain switched off by sending me into the bush.
While in Brisbane I caught up with more people I had met during the walk. It was an absolute thrill to see Naomi again!!! The first time we met was on the west coast as I began setting up camp on the Murchison River, 100kms north of Geraldton. Naomi arrived with a group of people who joined me for sundowners and we had a great time. The next time was later that year up in the Kimberley near Halls Creek as she travelled across the top end in a big bus with Boss kitty and Dan. It was noon but their planned camp was less than 10kms away so we caught up for a few hours, mine was a little bit further on the side of the road under some boabs where I could forage some bush tucker. The next morning I was walking at first light and they stopped for coffee as they passed at sunrise and I shared my breakfast boab fruit with them. Later that morning another traveller stopped to deliver a bag of fresh veggies, fruit and muesli bars from Naomi and Dan. That was 2 years ago and I am so glad we stayed in touch through Instagram all that time. We caught up again in Brisbane with her brother Dan and friends Rob and Eachan! I hope we can do that again where ever our paths may cross and next time it’s my round.
For the last night in the city I stayed with Ven-nice, Jen and Theo. Ven-nice is one of my more recent track friends, we met on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. You know when you meet someone very briefly, just a quick conversation full of insight and you immediately feel a connection through shared interests. This was our encounter and thankfully she offered a place to stay in Brisbane and we were able to spend more time talking about the things we’re passionate about. The next morning I started the walk south from Brisbane feeling pumped.
I caught the train to Logan to avoid the city and started walking along the “country” road towards Tambourine. What looks like an alternative road heading out of the city into the west turned out to be a very busy, winding, narrow main road with NO shoulder or verge for walking and every third or fourth vehicle was a quarry truck. After more than 17,000kms of awareness walking experience beside roads this was the scariest. I wasn’t sure if I was being a sook or the heat (36C) was getting to me but it sure felt like I was going to become the cause of an accident. About 12kms in I found some shade for early lunch and deliberated for a few hours about making up the distance of that road somewhere quieter and safer.
As I sat there eating a banana and Blue Dinosaur Bar the traffic was getting heavier, constant and loud, it wasn’t near school pick up hour yet and I would still be on the road at peak hour. Without any idea if the road shoulder would improve I had to make the call to walk as far as a safe pull over bay where young Tim gave me a lift to the quieter Tamborine Mountain road about 20kms further on.
It never feels good skipping any distance, it is always risky walking beside the road but sometimes the risk is too high. Besides, through Lamington, Springbrook, Wollombin and Nightcap National Parks I have many opportunities to well and truly make it up. In fact, since it happened I was able to walk an extra 23kms during a rest day at O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat. * I am writing a brief post separate to this about distance calculation and disclosure of where I needed help.*
As planned, I made it to the Bearded Dragon Hotel, Tambourine, at the foot of Mt Tamborine on the Beaudesert side. I had heard about this place months before getting there and when I finally arrived they helped me out with a spa room for the night in a boutique country style homestead. In and around the pub there is a vast collection of antiques, including old tractors, pub memorabilia and fair dinkum Aussie stuff. What impressed me most was the impressive kitchen garden used for the busy restaurant. I really appreciated staying there!
As usual, I didn’t start walking as early as hoped but the road up Tamborine Mountain was still relatively quiet and I felt safe for the first 7kms. Then the tourist traffic, buses and courier trucks joined me on the section which had just narrowed to wind and climb up the steep slope. I didn’t need to think about it for long and turned around, jogging back down to a safe place to wave down a car for a lift up. No, I’m not going to make this a habit, I’m just not okay with what feels at the time like a very real prospect of being hit or causing some other serious traffic accident on parts of the road the locals consider dangerous without an extra pedestrian obstacle. Again I was fortunate to get a lift from a lovely couple who had recently made a tree-change from the city to a large rural block they were tuning into a rescue sanctuary and art studio. I can’t remember their names unfortunately but when I think of them I imagine a willow tree and an amethyst. They dropped me off at the Curtis Falls walking track.
I had not made any plans to stay with the Tamborine Mountain family I met at the township of 1770 back near Gladstone as I wasn’t sure if I would walk down the Canungra “goat track” on the other side that afternoon or not. I gave myself 4hrs to do as many different things as the mountain had to offer including a waterfall walk, mountain coffee, glow worm cave, wine tasting, watching paragliders, returning someone’s lost phone which started ringing when as I stood at a beautiful lookout and picking sweet little mandarins growing over a garden fence. I still have good memories of visiting as a kid on a family trip and we did some other waterfalls, posh open gardens and went thunderbird egg hunting (natural occurring round rocks filled with rapidly cooled crystalline formations from local volcanic activity).
It was 4pm when I reached the one way stop/go lights for the “goat track” down to Canungra. I paused at the top deciding whether to camp there and make and early start or camp at the bottom risking walking the last few kilometres in the dark. It was too late and far too short notice to phone Majeed and Sue. There was a good patch of soft flat grass across the road so I put away the phone and took a long drink of fresh filtered mountain spring water supplied by a local just up the road before going across for a closer look. I was open for options but still wanted to push on a little bit further.
Just as I was about to continue a car pulled up on the little mountain road across from the lights and out jumped a young fella whose happy face I recognised immediately, Keyaan! Then Leila and Sue. It was my friends from 1770!!! They actually lived right there just above the goat track on Mount Tamborine. Unbelievable!!! Every day Keyaan had been looking out for me walking across the mountain. If only I knew I wouldn’t have hesitated calling at short notice. I’m not a believer in things happening because of some greater plan or predestination but this encounter made me wonder.
It is impossible to describe how I felt at that moment. Ashamed that I did not call them but relieved and grateful they drove past at that moment when I was about to leave the mountain and over the moon they invited to stay. Keyaan and Leila walked me back to their home and I was given the official tour of a legendary backyard filled with adventure and the stuff of wild imagination. In the driveway I nearly stepped on a small handmade flag of Sweden so I picked it up and it is now my bookmark to remind me of the friends I have there and all over the world who I met in similar ways to meeting Majeed, Sue, Keyaan and Leila.
It is unlikely I will ever live in a house where I can invite well met travellers to rest and share their story. It is one of the most humbling experience when a stranger opens their home and shares their food, company and friends with me. The closest I will ever get to repaying the favour or paying it forward is to welcome travellers to join my camp if our paths cross and let me boil some water so I can make you a bush brew. We can talk about the stars, the most beautiful things we have ever seen and what makes us happy.