10 PICS FROM THE STICKS PART VI: PICAPALOOZA

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In this entry for 10 Pics from the Sticks we’re going to break the cardinal rule of only having 10 photos. I’m throwing restraint out the window as I show extra photos from hikes already written about and hikes that have not been covered but cover familiar tracks.

We’ll start with photos from Mt Tibrogargun hike which took place in early 2012. With a full back pack we hiked the steep ascent of up Tibrogargun and back down before covering by comparison the much more flat 6km Trachyte Circuit.

From there we go the well worn track of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. We first walked this track in 2009 covering Lake Baroon to Baroon Lookout before turning around and heading back to the carpark. A nice hike of just over 4kms. Next in May 2012 we covered from Lake Baroon to Flaxton Mill Road 14.5kms away. In July 2013 we hiked just the 11kms from Lake Baroon to Kondalilla Falls and again in May 2015 and October 2015.

Usually we’ll park one vehicle up at Kondalilla and then one at Lake Baroon.

You can go off track to the Narrows Lookout where in late 2015 I was a little adventurous and went off the track to get a better look.

After about 2kms walking up hill you come to Baroon Lookout, the view alone from there is worth it for those who don’t want to hike much more than 4kms.

If you go beyond this point you soon find yourself descending into the rainforest. Sometimes we stop for a snack when we reach the creek at the bottom.

From there you can continue on. At the halfway mark there will usually be an opening with a pretty view.

Sometimes it can be hard to judge how far you have to go until you arrive at another creek where you can sit and eat.

Then you start to really get into deep rainforest where the temperature drops. You can hear the waterfalls before you see them. There are beautiful stone steps that lead down to the base. On recent hikes this section has been closed due to safety concerns. The ascent up while still steep is not as hard on the alternative track but you are not able to see the pools at the bottom of the falls and you see less of the falls themselves during your ascent. There is a new look out thought that does provide spectacular views.

Usually at this point we will get in one of the cars parked near Kondalilla and drive back to pick up the other one at Lake Baroon. Last year when leaving in our car at Baroon having already started the engine I noticed a little visitor on the passenger side window. While our new friend flew around quite a bit, he quite graciously flew back to our window a few times giving me the opportunity to grab my phone and take some photos.

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In May 2012 when we hiked all the way from Baroon to Kondalilla we continued along Flaxton Mill Road for approximately another 2-3kms. Essentially this last part was a hike along country roads until reaching another rainforest track that heads towards Flaxton Walkers Camp. In 2013 we did a hike that started at a small car park at the entrance to this track.

 

This track was to be about 12kms and I set out to hike it with roughly 23kgs on my back. A kilometre in I started to feel the pack and the rest of the hike for me physically was essentially a slog. Some of these photos clearly show sunshine but as we descended down to Baxter Creek Falls it was already raining and the dirt ground turned to slippery mud.

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The Falls themselves located close to a Suspension Bridge are pretty and usually not crowded. This is a path less taken and essentially with it brings its own rewards. In July 2015 my little sister was back over from England and with my brother and his wife and Karen we hiked to here and then back again to Flaxton Mill Road rather than go the full 12kms.

© Copyright Karen Marken, Rebecca Marken, Lloyd Marken.

Back to 2013 we trekked uphill to the road.

Where we came to Mapleton Falls lookout for the first time. There’s a road and car park on site so sometimes since we’ve driven people there after a long hike at Kondalilla Falls but on that day we hiked there and it felt like an appropriate reward for our efforts. There have been times when we drove to Mapleton Falls lookout only to find the walkway shut. I’m happy this was not the case on the day I hiked 6kms in the rain with 23kgs on my back to get to it.

On the way back we came across an echidna in the wild which has remained a special treat from that day.

Going back was particularly tough that day in 2012 but we made it back to the car just after the sun had set and the rainforest had become dark.

In July 2015 I was eager to set off from Mapleton Falls itself for a hike further along the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. 7kms in from Mapleton Falls would place it at the Ubajee lookout and a 14km hike was certainly something we were capable off so we sent off with my friend Tim and Karen. It currently is the only time we’ve done this trek.

Mapleton Falls Lookout was still closed at the time but we made use of the nearby Peregrine lookout.

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When we got the main rainforest track it was quite built up and dense but we soldiered on enjoying a path less taken.

Then we passed into more open terrain.

When we reached level terrain I know we couldn’t be far from the Ubajee Walkers camp site. Not long after we found a little sign and walked down to a simple seat on the edge of a mountain. We had made it. The trek and lack of crowds again had made this view feel more earned.

We retraced our steps seeing much of the same sights but this time we arrived at Peregrine Lookout as the sun was setting.

Well that concludes this special edition of 10 Pics from the Sticks. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to catching up on everybody’s blogs real soon. I leave with a few pics from the nearby Geordi Lane which serves the best savoury muffins and chutney I’ve ever had and whom my siblings introduced me to. On a clear day you can see the ocean from the mountains on their balcony where they serve tea. And of course Capriccios pizza.

-Lloyd Marken

©All images are my own unless stated otherwise.

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10 PICS FROM THE STICKS PART V: LAKE BAROON TO KONDALILLA FALLS

 

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Baroon Lookout with the Lake in the background. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

My little brother got married in August 2013, my sister Nadia, a teacher working in England came out for the wedding with her long term partner Dave. It was the first time we all got to meet each other. Nadia’s trips to Australia are EVENTS, a tense trade off between family, friends and former colleagues all wanting to catch up with her and also not fatigue her with overscheduling. Since it was Canadian Dave’s first trip to Australia as well meant that naturally having shelled out money on such airfare they hoped to see a little bit of Australia while they were here. Oh yeah and there was a wedding going on too. They did a good job. There were trips to the Olgas, 4WD Beach driving, I was best man at my brother’s wedding which was a joyous occasion and Mum and Dad went to Hervey Bay with them to do whale watching where my mother discovered she was capable of becoming sea sick while out on the ocean. This was a couple who’d sailed along the Nile, been to a wedding in Gibraltar, taken in the beauty of Angkor Watt and half of Europe. Let alone their recent adventures in Oz. I wondered what we could do together that would be impressive and memorable. Who the hell is going to sit around and reminence about that time we went and saw Tron: Legacy? How many times will I get to spend with these people over the decades? Such moments will create ties that will bind us together. I decided the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk would be interesting enough, a sentiment that continues I guess after all why do you think the only blogs from my personal life relate to Hiking? Believe me I do not hike regularly for fun.

We set off to Kondalilla and parked one car there before hopping in my vehicle and going to Lake Baroon, the turn off to get there includes a spectacular elevated shot of the Lake before you drive down to its carpark. Nadia knew the local area well, many years earlier her championing of Maleny and Montville had led to me taking Karen there for our first holiday together. I had decided we would do the same track we did with Rosie and Sandro in 2012 only this time without the last bit to Flaxton Mill Road. Having recently struggled with a full pack at Mapleton I didn’t want to appear fatigued in front of Dave so I just took my webbing and camelback. We set off in good spirits and after Nadia noted Karen’s walking stick Nadia and Dave got their own walking sticks. The ascent to Lake Baroon lookout went painlessly and quickly and we all enjoyed the view.

We reached the valley next and I weighed up whether we should stop and eat by the creek. It was lunch time but my memory played tricks on me and I reasoned it wasn’t too far ahead until we would reach the rocks where we could also have lunch. A year on from last doing the track all I remembered was lantana before hitting deeper rainforest. We kept hiking, I’ve done this track four times and each time the pacing can change or your perception of time passing can alter. On that particular day it seemed we walked a long time through the centre of the trail. Last year I got us to eat at the creek and it scarcely seemed too long before we hit the rocks. There were no fungus on trees, no mud or lantana and I began to wonder where it all changed and how far we had to go. Part of the purpose of the hike was to give us some time together with no distractions to catch up and get to know each other, this was where Nadia who had been blogging a bit impressed on me that she thought I should start a blog perhaps reviewing films if I liked doing that. By the end of the year this blog started with a review of About Time and I have Nadia to thank for that.

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A perfect place to have lunch. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

As time wore on I worried about dragging everybody through the bush with no clear idea of when we would reach the rocks to have lunch. In mid-afternoon I called it that we would sit down on the path and eat. I think Karen was the first to point out that it was very possible just a little further on out of sight was the rocks and we all heartily agreed it was a very real possibility. Nadia and Dave had picked lovely treats from a local deli and thanks to them we enjoyed pumpkin scones with delicious chutneys amongst other things. Near the end of our meal we noted a thin worm like leech climbing over my pants and got to our feet. Thorough checking that night by both couples revealed this was the closest encounter we had with a parasite.

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At the rocks just after lunch. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Karen’s words became prophetic as we literally walked no more than 100 metres down the path to come to the rocks and creek. Happily have just sat we all sat again and took it in. I was mindful of our pace and the steep uphill conclusion to our hike but there was time.

 

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Nadia and Dave with their walking sticks in the rainforest. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

We now entered the thick rainforest where the temperature drops and spirits were high as we reached the bottom of Kondalilla Falls and explored the pools below. In the times I have been back to Kondalilla Falls this part has been closed off due to land slides but I hope once again it will be open to the public as it is really quite beautiful.

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The famous stairs near the Falls. Copyright Lloyd Marken.
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Along the creek near the bottom of the falls. Copyright Lloyd Marken.
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Kondalilla Falls. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Last time we hiked up the Falls, Karen had felt it and this time Nadia grew fatigued much like I had when climbing with my pack at Baxter Creek a month earlier. While not enjoying her distress I was happy to see that Dave knew how to deal with it in the way that partners always do. I had just met the man but he had been part of my sister’s life for 3 years. As always when we reached the top and the hike ended we all felt relief. It’s nice to get out there and do it but at the 10km mark it’s done and you’re ready to chill out.

 

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At the end of our hike. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

We got in their car and drove to Mapleton Falls and arrived at sunset. Dave has a habit of sitting down at such places, almost like his body is making a declaration that he will take in this moment, I remained on my feet but appreciated the spirit of such a gesture. I had hoped they would enjoy the sights and not find them lacking after all the wonderful things they have seen around this beautiful world of our’s and such gestures suggested I had nothing to fear. Others came up the walkway to enjoy the sunset too. They were foreigners taking in the view and struck up a conversation with Nadia and Dave. All of them were citizens of other countries, living and working far from home ironically maybe even in the countries their ancestors had left to chase a better life. Is it really ironic though? There have always been travellers and I in my 20s always had plans to see the world too. I’m glad that my sister has gone one step further even if I do miss her.

When I stayed at Maleny with Karen in 2008 I saw across the road a brick building with a pizza sign and fairy lights. We went there for dinner, there was a beautiful mural across the entire wall of an Italian coastline. Out the back was a fountain and lights. Karen and I sat at a small table and a young kind waitress looked after us all night remaining polite and friendly throughout. We had pizza and cheap cocktails with frilly decorations. I don’t think we’ve ever had such a perfect night like that again at Capriccios but it was a moment for us and the pizza is good and so we like to share this special place with our friends. That night we shared it with Nadia and Dave and I felt for a little bit like I got to know them and their lives a bit and vice versa. Sometimes I worry that will sadly prove to be a one-off but I will treasure that day hiking for a long time. The ties that bind.

-Lloyd Marken

P.S. If you enjoyed this hiking blog check out the awesome Cindy Bruchmann’s blog for her Five Shots series.

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Nadia and Dave at Mapleton Falls. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

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Mapleton Falls Lookout with Karen at sunset. Copyright Lloyd Marken

10 PICS FROM THE STICKS PART IV: FLAXTON MILL ROAD TO MAPLETON FALLS AND BACK AGAIN

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The view from Mapleton Falls Lookout. © Copyright Lloyd Marken

In July 2013 another need to get fit reared its head and I found myself driving up to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk with Karen to do another hike. This time I had recently gotten fairly fit training for a Half Marathon and decided I needed to take a full pack of 23kgs approx. We set off rather late in the day to cover 14.2 or 15.8kilometres approximately, about a kilometre in my pack became heavy.

 

Wanting to try something new that would still equate to roughly 15kms I had looked up a path that began at the Great Walks Entrance on Flaxton Mill Road where we had finished on our last hike which looked to have an interesting amount of the various things you look for on a hike. Changing vegetation, scenic views and perhaps a waterfall. When we arrived it was fairly sunny and we set off. Starting off from where we parked we travelled 2kms to Flaxton Walkers Camp where the path at times becomes a road. The second section of Sunshine Coast Great Walks begins here. Past the camp you start on a narrow path as you descend into a gully. 1556

Setting off down the gully. © Copyright Lloyd Marken

Already getting fatigued I could only look forward to how much fun it was going to be when I had to ascend the other side. By the time we reached the bottom it had started raining and the path became muddy. Karen slipped once or twice but thankfully was not worse for wear. We were both wearing boots as well which was good. I did this path with my siblings last year and for any Australian readers, note the path then was not muddy but rocky and uneven, make sure you have good comfortable shoes.

 

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Karen at Baxter Creek Falls. © Copyright Lloyd Marken

 

1572Karen Crossing the Baxter Creek Suspension Bridge. © Copyright Lloyd Marken

At the bottom we came a bridge where only one person is allowed on at a time. We went to the side as well to get a closer look at Baxter Creek Falls. Not as spectacular as Mapleton Falls or Kondalilla Falls it is often deserted and can be a calm pretty place to relax. Unfortunately we didn’t stay long this day as I was mindful of time and excited to show Karen where we were headed. The hike up was really where the mud got slippery and of course it was our first serious up hill part of the day. Pushing through this we got out to more open ground and while remaining overcast it stopped raining as we lost the canopy of the rain forest. The trek eventually moved into wider roads and big houses on hills that seemed to be eroding precariously.

1576I loved the red of these trees against the blueish-gray sky that I had to get a picture. © Copyright Lloyd Marken

We reached the open road of Obi Obi Road and even walked on footpaths as traffic whizzed past. Turning off and walking along Mapleton Falls Road we knew we were close to being halfway. While everything was wet and overcast rain was still minimal. My shirt more wet from all the sweating I was doing, I have to admit nothing really beats how great your shoulders feel after you’ve hiked with a full pack. I mean they feel shit but it feels good to have done something that pushed you. Along Mapleton Falls Road are horses and barns and then as you get close there’s bus parking spot for tourists to be dropped off. We’ve driven up to the Mapleton Falls several times since to show friends, one time I drove Karen’s grandfather up there and we sat out there with him on his walker eating brie cheese and drinking tea out of a thermos. He was 92 years old but he made it all the way from the car park to the look out without a problem. About 7 months later he passed, sometime later we took him for a drive around town for an hour. When he went to Mapleton Falls we were probably right on the edge of the last few days he could make such a journey. I’m glad we did.

1590The view from Mapleton Falls Lookout. © Copyright Lloyd Marken

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Mapleton Waterfalls © Copyright Lloyd Marken

There is something to be said though about hiking up to a spot that most people drive too and that was how we first saw Mapleton Falls, probably the most spectacular look out on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. I took my pack off at this point and enjoyed the view but was mindful of the time. Soon enough we were back off again but as my phone started to run out of battery power on Mapleton Falls Road we came across an echidna in the wild. This was a special treat and one of our best hiking memories.

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Echidna in the wild. © Copyright Lloyd Marken

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Echidna in the wild up close. © Copyright Lloyd Marken

Those were the last photos I took of the hike but it was more of the same. As we headed down the gully due to the rain, the late hour or our quietness I can’t say but birds uncharacteristically fluttered about more freely and undisturbed by our presence. We got to see a few more up close and in detail then we ever have. Another treat to boost our spirits. Once crossing the rope bridge I began to find it particularly tough hiking up hill with full pack. I shudder to think how I would go now in my current fitness. I’ve hiked steeper and longer but maybe only once further and over such trying terrain. I definitely struggled to maintain a pace but I just kept pushing forward. We soon enough went past Flaxton Walkers Camp as the sun set. This let me know there wasn’t far to go but even so as we reached the last part we were back on a narrow path in thick rainforest and eventually it was dark, sounds of wildlife buzzed around us but I was very fatigued and did not want to bother taking off my pack to get a torch if it was a handful of metres left. Our pace quickened and at the point where I may have looked for the torch to ease Karen’s mind a single lamppost appeared in a clearing near us. We had made it. I don’t think we managed Capriccios that day but it had been a terribly rewarding hike. Maybe one of my favourites.

-Lloyd Marken

P.S. This series of posts was inspired by Cindy Bruchman’s series Five Shots. Check out this fantastic post of autumn leaves in Arizona canyons. Just beautiful!

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A View from Mapleton Falls. © Copyright Lloyd Marken

10 PICS FROM THE STICKS: MAPLETON TO UBAJEE AND BACK AGAIN

Inspired by Cindy Bruchmann’s ongoing Five Shots  series I’ve decided to post a little about my hiking jaunts. Lacking Cindy’s editorial ruthlessness I’m posting ten photos. Cindy hails from a beautiful part of the world and her photos are quite breathtaking so be sure to check it out.

First up for my series are photos from a day hike I took with my beautiful wife and an old friend last June. I often hike on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk track which is 58km from start to finish. We parked at Mapleton Falls, hiked 7.2km approx. to Ubajee Walkers Camp and then came back the same route. You can read more about Great Walk here.

The Mapleton Falls lookout is wonderful but was closed at the time so instead we walked to the Peregrine Lookout just off our track by a few metres. It gives an interesting vantage of the same view as the more often utilised Falls lookout.

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After that you pass through neighbouring properties on your way to Delicia Road and heading back into deeper rainforest. On the day we went there had been some rain and we noted we were on a path that was not used as much as other ones. It was exciting though to be finally doing a new part of The Walk we hadn’t done before.

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After walking through the rainforest for a while we were happy to get the next part of the walk where some land clearing had occurred for multi-track use.

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It impresses at first but if I’m being honest I was ready for new terrain by the time we neared Ubajee Walkers Camp.

Unlike previous walks to Baroon Lookout, Kondalilla Falls and Mapleton Falls I had no idea what awaited us at Ubajee lookout and secretly feared it would be a tad disappointing. However while the lookout is just a modest perch on the side of a hill the view was just as spectacular. 5kms from any car parks it felt more isolated and earned as a result too. It made it all worthwhile as we began the 7km trip back.

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As we neared home it was nice to take one final view from Peregrine lookout at sunset.

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I leave you with one spectacular photo of a truly beautiful thing.

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A Capriccio’s Special.

-by Lloyd Marken