On the western slopes of the extensive Main Range National Park which straddles the south-east regions of the Scenic Rim on the east and the Darling Downs on the west lies the lesser-known section of Goomburra.
The walking trails here have cascades, lookouts and waterfalls. For today’s excursion, dad and I decided to hit the Ridge Track, which turned out to be one wild adventure.
The Hard Yards
Starting on the western front, it wasn’t long before the easy track turned into a steep ascent towards the clouds and the lactic acid in our glutes, thighs and calves were screaming at us, “For the love of all that is good, sugary and fatty, please stop!”
We did a handful of times, for our exhaustive, undertoned legs begged us to cease our extracurricular activities, but the rests didn’t last too long, as we were seeking higher elevation, eh, eh, eh, eh. Sorry, I got lost in the Imagine Dragons song.
Our persistence led us to what I had been referring to as the “curve”, a section of track that gently took our southerly pursuits towards a westerly direction. Thankfully, this area had plateaued, giving the lower limbs a reprieve while still allowing us to push on, or at least for a little while.
The path then decide that was enough of that and put us back on the ascent! Ah! Unlike the first steep section that was long and arduous but safe, these parts were full of loose rocks and slippery gravel on a steep incline next to an unprotected edge that would send you sliding down into the trees and long grass if you toppled over. There was nothing to grab onto unless you fancied some strands of grass.
We managed the uphill battle with only a few minor slips and a lot of uncertainty, but alas, we’d made it to the actual top of the current ridgeline although we knew that there was still another incline to be conquered further along the track.
A short break and a cooling breeze limbered up our legs for the next portion of the track: the ridge. There were sweeping views across the north looking down into the valley from which we had ascended from and to the south and beyond was the road which we drove along.
Unfortunately, as we completed our way through the level section of the track before making our final ascent, the trees did not part like the sea did for Moses. The beautiful sunset that was unfolding in our rearview mirror was setting before I could find a place to photograph it.
Seeking higher elevation wasn’t such a strain on the lower appendages as the previous sections. The angle of inclination was gentler, and you were less likely to take a slide on the wild side if you did trip and slip.
Reaching the highest point on this climb was such a great feeling, but no picturesque views were greeting us at the crescendo. Sigh.
Along The Great Divide
Having done and dusted the hard part, it was time to head back to more humble beginnings. While the terrain had plateaued, the density intensified, the path narrowed and dusk was descending. What had previously felt like a regular hike in the park started feeling very wild.
We were still following a path, but it was so narrow and overgrown that it was barely noticeable. It was as close to making your own tracks through the wildness as you can get without actually making your own way through the wilderness. It was rather magnificent in a way I can’t describe.
Trudging through the wildlands like a wayward explorer the landscape was full of lush grass trees, long grass and large rotting logs. It was here and only here that there was a pocket of view that allowed us to see the valley below that we had staggered up. By this time, the sunset was done and dusted for the day, but there was still enough light to shoot the mountainous landscape.
Taking more photographs of the forest before the light had completely gone, we came across a skinny little snake slithering across the path. It was light brown with dark patches and measured about 45cms long. We later identified it as a Steven’s Banded Snake. They are nocturnal, potentially dangerous and ready to bite. Thankfully this fellow was happy doing its slithering thing and we got a good gander at it.
Way Down We Go…
With the darkness descending on us, everything started going downhill… ‘Cuz we were going downhill… It’s a ridge walk, and we started at the bottom. It’s a circuit track, and what goes up must come down. Alright, enough!
Leading with our flashlights, the trail simultaneously started widening as the forest became very thick and dense. A whole lot of downhill later, the now road sized path finally intersected with the Cascades Track, and we were finally heading in the right direction back to the car.
Spotting a frog leaping across the forest floor and settling on a shrub by the track, I felt a couple of tiny raindrops. I wasn’t worried. There wasn’t supposed to be rain, so we figured it wouldn’t be much. NOPE! Getting a few handheld snaps of the cute amphibian the heaven’s big bean bag split a seam and it went from two microscopic drops of water to a full deluge in a few seconds flat!
The one time I took my bag’s rain cover out because rain wasn’t supposed to be on the cards would have to be one of the times I actually needed it. Wanting to protect my electronic valuables, I pulled out my jacket, hooked the hood onto my noggin’ and let the rest cover the bag, essentially turning myself into Ninja Turtle. Hello, Leonardo. (Though one could argue I look like a Ninja Turtle anytime I wear my shell. I mean bag. It’s a turtle-y kind of green). Dad, on the other hand, didn’t bring anything of the like so he stayed, as ever always, the cricket umpire birdwatcher.
Shelter From The Storm
Thankfully and bizarrely, we came across a building mid-construction, in the middle of an inaccessible (to cars) section of the national park. It didn’t look like a ranger station or an information centre, but who knows, that’s probably what it is.
I wanted to press on. This was all feeling delightfully cinematic and I was thoroughly enjoying it. Dad was less enthused, so we sought shelter under the building and listened as the already heavy downpour intensified.
Reminiscing about Jensen Ackles singing about Jared Padalecki who couldn’t make a Supernatural convention, “Brother, let me be your shelter, Never leave you all alone, I can be the one you call”, I sang aloud to the thunder of the rain pounding the roof, but the song is totally irrelevant except for the word shelter, and I don’t actually know any other lyrics beyond the first-line…
A solid 30 minutes later and the rain started to ease up. It was still by no means light, but it was that or have Dad murder me under the dry shelter of a random establishment in the middle of a dense dark forest in the middle of the night for singing one line of a song repeatedly. LOL, JK.
I thought that most of the descending was over, but the path kept heading downhill. It wasn’t long before I slipped over and soiled myself all down my left leg. Mud now making up 40% of my pants, we pressed on.
Soon after, I had an unconscious desire to touch the back of my neck. Noticing a bump, I immediately assumed it was a tick sucking on my brain stem. Unfortunately, I was right and Dad got ticked off. Like, he got the tick off. I surmised I must have gotten it from up along the ridge where I had brushed past a grass tree and said, “I hope I haven’t gotten any bugs on me…” Welp, I did.
Squelching our way lower and lower, the rain was getting heavier again before regressing a bit then coming back again.
Heading into the final stretch where it had finally levelled out, we had reached sticky mud territory. Stepping through it and having large heavy chunks attach to our sopping wet boots was amusing. This short ass felt a few inches taller and one can never argue with a bit of extra height. It was heavy for our weary legs though but trying to shake, shake, shake it off was a fun way to end the night.
We Made It
Back at the car, we were drenched and covered in mud and thankful it was over and that we had done the direction we had. Walking in the rain was fun because moving kept us warm but coming up those very steep, narrow sections that comprised the first third of the track would have been an absolute nightmare in the pouring rain at night. They were difficult enough during the day.
Alas, we completed it and man, that was an interesting turn of events. The Goomburra section of Main Range National Park delivered such an interesting and memorable walk, though it wasn’t the scenery that made it is.
Oh, and as a bonus, we spotted an adorable possum on the road going out. It ran up a tree and shook the leaves which brought water down upon me as I was gawking at it through the binoculars. So cute.
Have you ever had an unexpected turn of events when you were out hiking that turned your experience into something memorable?
More Southern Downs:
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