Photographs by Harry Whaite 1912 - 2011

 

 

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Beauty Of Southern Queensland

Lamginton National Park

by Dorothy Hasluck (The Sydney Bush Walkers)

THE beauties of Lamington National Park are so many and so varied that one scarce knows where to begin in describing them. Marvellous panoramic views vie with the exquisite beauty of waterfalls and the towering magnificence of stately trees. I have always thought New Zealand had wonderful trees, but, though a good New Zealander, I must give the palm to those of Queensland. The Antarctic Beeches are from 2,000 to 3,000 years old, a feature of them being that they have a mass of roots about five feet above the ground, the land having at some time receded that depth. Some of the figs we measured were 52 feet round the base of the trunk, while enormous Elkhorn, staghorn and bird's-nest ferns found a resting place on the branches in great profusion.

I think one of the most interesting trips I did from Binna Burra was the Lower Coomera Gorge, said to be the most beautiful waterfall trip in Australia. Accompanied by Tarzan, the guide—so-called because of his propensity for swinging from tree to tree (of course, one need not follow him in these little escapades)—I set off about 9.30. Tarzan, by the way, seemed to have a bad opinion of "Sydney Hikers," as he called them, as, when asked to take me this trip, he said he would take me down but he did not know about taking me up the 800ft. cliff on the return journey. After a four-mile walk on tracks, we climbed down into the gorge and proceeded up the river, jumping from rock to rock, developing goat-like propensities, as the rocks were very slippery. Some of Tarzan's leaps were nearly my undoing, but, with the prestige of the S.B.W. to maintain, I managed to remain upright. The Raining Falls soon came into view. It is ^most impossible to describe tb° beauty of these with full sunlight upon them—falling 50 yards wide in a soft, gauze-like curtain, hundreds of feet from an overhanging cliff displaying many beautiful colours on its face.

Down a Deep Gorge

Wending our way onward toward the Main Coomera Falls, the last miles passed through a gorge between cliffs 50 yards apart, which rise 800 feet, terminating at the foot of the lower falls. The upper part falls down a crevice 340 feet and is hidden, the sun shining on them for ten minutes of the day only. To see these one has to climb down by the aid of a rope, roots and branches, the weather having to be fine, as it is dangerously slippery.

Tearing ourselves away from the fascination of the ever-changing lights on the falling waters, we started off for our luncheon place. By this time Tarzan had apparently revised his opinion of Sydney walkers, as he pointed to the cliffs and said, "That is where we go up." It certainly looked rather formidable, but was not as bad as it looked. When we were about half-way up and in a rather awkward position, Tarzan on a narrow ledge and just about to climb round a nasty corner, put his hand almost on an outsize in black snakes. He sprang back and, to my alarmed gaze, appeared to be going right over the edge, which here had a sheer drop of hundreds of feet. However, he managed to retain his balance, the snake having meanwhile disappeared into the growth over which we had to climb —not a very cheerful prospect. Still, when we glanced below, retreat looked less inviting; so, in true bush-walker style, on we went without, I am glad to say, any further attentions from the snake. Near the top, after some rock climbing which took a little careful maneuvering, we climbed on to a point from which we commanded a magnificent view right down the gorge 800 f eel below ancl away over miles of country. From there we traversed the edge of the gorge—very rough, but beautiful—to the crevice and then home, having spent a most interesting day.

Walking with Bernard O'Reilly

After staying a week at Binna Burra, I walked across to O'Reilly's, a distance of 14 miles, via the Main Border Track, which passes through rain forest of great beauty. Lunching at one of the lookouts on Mt. Merrino at a height; of 3,760 feet, we had a most wonderful panoramic view of the whole of the northern rivers of NSW. There were numbers of lyrebirds, their rich, full notes echoing from point to point. They are known as the Albert lyre-bird and have not the lyre-shaped tail such as those of NSW. have.

We arrived at O'Reilly's about 3.45. A glorious view, taking in Mts. Barney and Lindsay, stretching out to the west, met our gaze. The next morning I saw one of the most exquisite sunrises over this vista I have ever seen. The most interesting trip I did from here was to Lamington Plateau. Bernard O'Reilly, two boys and I started off at 2.30 one afternoon. Following ridges for eight miles down to the valley, we arrived at the Stevens' bull house in which we were to camp, I devoutly hoping there would not be a dispute between us and the bull in regard to possession. On proceeding to get tea, we discovered we had forgotten to bring the mugs and milk, but an obliging farmer, happening along, said he would supply us with both. Much joy on my part, as I hate tea without milk. Alas! my joy was short-lived, as on his return with the milk, in the course of conversation, he said he was not feeling very well and hoped he was not getting the measles, as the baby had them. Our varying expressions can well be imagined, and my interest in milk evaporated.

Climb to Point Lookout

The next day we rose bright and early (on inspection, there were no spots to be seen), as we were to leave our packs and do the 28 miles to the plateau and back in the day. After we reached Xmas Creek, down which Westray went on his fated journey, Bernard O'Reilly decided to take us up the bed of the creek instead of the track, as he had not been up since the crash. Jumping from rock to rock and climbing round and over waterfalls, we went almost to the head; the wild loveliness of the creek, with its numbers of cascading waterfalls, absolutely enthralling me, so that distance was as nothing. Near the top we started to climb up towards Point Lookout—a pretty steep climb of about 1,000 feet, with lawyer and every other clutching vine liberally matted through the bush. Being in shorts, my legs were very much the worse for wear at the finish, but the view which met our sight on arrival more than rewarded us for our efforts. Two thousand feet below us was the Tweed Valley, numerous peaks in the changing light and shade making a picture which Gruner has captured so wonderfully in his painting, "The Valley of the Tweed."

As it was now getting late, we reluctantly turned campward, wending our way down a very rough track and passing the remains of the Stinson—very little of which remains—and Westray's grave, all embedded with orchids planted by Rose O'Reilly. When one sees the roughness of the country and the denseness of the scrub, one must pay tribute to all those who were engaged in the rescue of the survivors of the crash.

In the morning we started on the return journey, climbing all the way, and on arriving at the top met a farmer who, on seeing me open my pack for something, said: "Just the sort of thing a woman would do—take her whole blasted wardrobe with her." What he would have said of some of the packs belonging to members of the Sydney Bush Walkers I could mention, I don't know. Methinks his remarks would have been very potent.

To me, Lamington Park is one of the loveliest places I have seen, and although I walked 250 miles, it is so extensive and there are so many places to explore, that I don't suppose 1 saw more than a quarter of it. However, who knows what the future may bring forth? There may be another time.