Sitting atop a stunning ridgeline on the central-western fringes of the Moreton Bay region a couple of hours north of Queensland’s state capital, Brisbane lies a world away from it all. Within the dense forest scrub of the Mt Mee section of D’Aguilar National Park, a network of forestry roads criss-cross the range and invite you deeper into its wildlands.
Approaching from the town of the same name, Dad and I first stopped by the Gantry, a cool oversized shelter that housed a sawmill way back in the day up until 1981.
Nearby, we spotted a lace monitor lizard shimming its way across the grassland. I approached from the side and sat down on the ground, hoping to snag an epic shot of it. It turned a hard left from heading towards the bushed and started making its way towards me. Awesome! Snap, snap, snap. Except it was getting close! Not in an aggressive way, more of a “top o’ a mornin’ to ya, eh” kind of way, but I know these giant-ass lizards have massive claws and I didn’t want to be introduced to any one of them. I turn tailed and ran like the wind.
Okay, I didn’t run, because let’s face it, a face plant doesn’t do anyone any good. Looking at the curious critter through the zoomed lens of my DSLR, I didn’t really have a sense of how close the lizard had actually gotten to me. As I got up to flee, the giant clawed creature must have been a meter away from me.
After it scared me and I scared it from it scaring me, I noticed there was a tonne of beautiful blue and orange butterflies fluttering all around the Gantry so I stopped and took some photos of those beautiful animals too.
Hopping back in the automobile with an ambition for the Somerset Lookout on the far western fringes of this section of the national park, it was here that we were entering 4WD territory, without the 4WD.
Deciding that if it was too much for the plucky little 1.8L 2WD, then we’d ditch the effort and make for safer grounds, but we were too stupid to do that too. Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. Only I was that stupid. LOL. JK.
Heading out along the Western Escarpment Road, it didn’t take us long to get lost. Roads were going every which way that was not on the map that we had photographed earlier and we ended up on the main western road, but not the intended road.
Whipping out the map app Dad had on his phone, which unlike my phone has excellent tracking, which I initially thought didn’t have these forestry roads, actually did and made navigating these butt-clenching potholed roads significantly easier.
Finally, after a good, long, long while, we arrived at the fabled Somerset Lookout! There are a couple of viewpoints/ car parks within close proximity to each other, and each had similar views, but only the northern one has a wrecked, graffitied car partially down an embankment, and only the third viewpoint was actually the lookout.
Each lookout provided lovely elevated views over both Lake Somerset/Lake Wivenhoe to the north and more distantly, Lake Wivenhoe in the south. Lake Somerset/Lake Wivenhoe definitely took the pretty prize over its larger cousin as it was surrounded by gentle undulating mountains as opposed to flat, flat, flat, flat, flatish and far away.
Getting here was quite the effort in a low clearance, small engined 2WD sedan, so it was getting on in hours and we didn’t want to make the return trip navigating uneven roads in the dark, and we still wanted to see some more sights, so off we went. Mercifully, thanks to the app, getting out of the 4WD territory was far less confusing than it was going in without it and took no time.
Back on more friendly roads, we made our way to Bulls Falls, where the short walk was easy but unsatisfying. The lookout wasn’t grand and the falls, which you view from the top, but cannot see where they actually go over was stagnant and unimpressive.
By the time we got back, it was dark. We didn’t have time to see if we could make it to the other areas of the park as the Western Escarpment Drive was difficult to navigate (but doable with a whole lot of caution) took a lot of time.
I’m glad that our butt-clenching, soft-serve 4WD adventure in the sticks of Mt Mee yielded some rewarding scenery but that’s going to be probably the only time we ever do it, at least in a 2WD. The little car was a total champ about it and didn’t beach itself once. The other accessible features of the Mt Mee section of the national park are going to have to wait for another day.
What’s a road you’ve travelled that’s been a little bit sketchy but was a fun ride?
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