Day 2 of scoping out the towns and the natural wonders of the north-west part of the South Burnett region involved getting up long before the ass crack of dawn and getting up and “Go, baby, go, go(ing)” until, well after dark.
Blijke-Petersen Dam/ Lake Barambah
Leaving the sleepy town of Wooroolin at the very unreasonable time of 4 am, I headed back down the way I came to go to Memerambi before booking two 90 degrees left which landed me on the A3 northbound towards the Blijke-Petersen Dam at Lake Barambah.
On the way, I saw a few wallabies by the roadside, but arriving at Blijke-Petersen Dam, it was like as if I’d stumbled upon a rabbit congregation. Cute fluffy bunny galore!
Scoping out the place for the best location to snap some sunrise shots over the lake, I must have looked suspicious casing out the joint as I was umming and ahhing as to whether to shoot from the boat ramp, the park or the rock wall.
It was still pretty dark out, but with the rising sun creating beginning to illuminate the landscape, I decided to start at the boat ramp where I observed hundreds of pelicans swimming the frigid waters of the eerily quiet lake.
Moving along to have a look at what the park had to offer now that I was able to see it better, I discovered horses. Horses!!! What are y’all doing here? Did they escape or were they “young and wild and free”?
Wherever they came from, it was such a pleasant delight to see these majestic beasts so close noming their way through the grass in the early morning light.
After moving away to snapping some shots of the serene landscape at the rock wall just after the sun broke the horizon and night had officially turned into day, I made my way back to the park. I found that micro-herd of horses I’d spotted before and spend the first part of my day photographing these beautiful, sweet creatures.
Aboriginal Community Of Cherbourg
Leaving bunny, horse and pelican country, I headed north to the Bunya Highway, then back down south again to reach Cherbourg, because even though this town is right next to the Blijke-Petersen Dam, you can’t shazam straight across to it.
Turning off the Bunya Highway as I reached reach Murgon, a beautiful town sign greeted me as I drove in. The scenery was picturesque and quaint, and as I reached the small Aboriginal community, I noticed the town lovingly adorned with native artworks all over the town.
I stopped by the beautiful Anzac Memorial Park in the middle of town and read about the Aboriginals who fought in the World Wars and their fight to get recognised for the efforts and sacrifices they gave for their country.
I also noticed that there were a lot of dogs roaming around freely, which I adored and after looking around and photographing the puppies and some artworks, I tried to make my way to Wondai.
I got to a rough-looking dirt road and figured if it’s this sketchy at the start, it’s probably only going to get worse, and my little 2wd would probably bust a nut, and I’d be up the creek without a paddle. Being in a forestry area that probably didn’t have reception either didn’t sound like a fun way to spend the afternoon, so I tucked tail back to Murgon and said: “Maybe another time, Wondai.”
“Wait, What’s This Town Again” Murgon
Making my way into Murgon, one thing that was very obvious as I drove into this bustling little town was Murgon REALLY wants you to know you’re in Murgon. There had to be about four “Welcome To Murgon” signs as I approached the main strip. There’s was no “wait, what town am I in again?”. No, they drilled it into me that I was in Murgon, and now, so am I with this text.
Having been well assured of my location on Planet Earth, I had a brief look through the tiny but heavily trafficked road. After snapping some pictures of the town’s artwork, I proceeded into the Information Centre located in the middle of the road on an island to lurk for souvenirs and get some local knowledge on the sights I could see.
Now, I’m not what the people of the world would call a conversationalist. Interacting with new folks in the flesh makes my personality shrivel up into a ball where squeaks of awkward, ill-thought-out unintellectual sentences spill from my mouth in embarrassing blurts.
The Information Centre was a bit different though. Here, not more than a few moments after I entered the establishment where some visitors were having a friendly, free-flowing conversation, and the second they looked at me, the atmosphere completely changed. It went from being not-a-care-in-the-world casual to super awkward silence as if I’d just let out a great, big, blistering fart. Except I hadn’t. Am I just radiating awkward? Maybe, I’m radiating fart? Subliminally? Moving on!
Heading For The Hills
Exiting the town of Murgon, I made my way north into the hills, and this was the start of the good stuff. Unlike the drive through the rest of the region which was mostly low-level stuff, there was some actual elevation happening. Even though it wasn’t a whole lot of it, it opened up the scenery and allowed me to see the lay of the land a whole lot better.
One particular landscape feature that caught the eye was the distinctive upside-down boat-shaped mountain that gave Boat Mountain Conservation Park its name. You couldn’t miss it.
Apex Kapernick Park
I was heading to it, but first I wanted to scope out Jack Smith Scrub Conservation Park, but I chanced upon Apex Kapernick Park before I got there. It had a sheltered picnic table, a toilet block and a pretty view of the Boat Mountain. Sounded like a good spot for lunch. Two minute Maggi Noodles: Lunch Of Champions.
What The Hell Is This? Jack Smith Scrub Conservation Park
Arriving at Jack Smith Conservation Park, I made my way into the woods to do the short 1km track. It wasn’t the most exciting thing. It was all messy scrubby trees that had no lookouts, pockets of views or any land formations, trees or rocks of any interest. I was happy to have finished it. The car park in front of the park had lovely slightly elevated views of the surrounding lands, but the actual park was disappointing.
For the last stop of the day and the big crescendo, I headed over to Boat Mountain Conservation Park to get my walk on. Driving there, it soon became clear that the distinct mountain that I had seen from Apex Kapernick Park was very likely not Boat Mountain. This mountain seemed heavily forested whereas the one I saw was not heavily forested at all. What the hell was I taking photos of? Ha! Maybe the other side of it was bald. I haven’t the foggiest. The last stretch of the drive was beautifully scenic but it paled in comparison to what lay in wait along the walks in the conservation park.
The start of the walk consisted of a fair amount of stairs. Plodding my way 500m to the top, Braithwaites Lookout greeted me with a seat and views of Murgon to the south. Carrying on, I deviated from Daniels Track onto a 1km loop track that meets back up with Daniel further down the line.
Silburns Vine Scrub Walk was similar to Jack Smiths Scrub in that there was not a whole lot of interesting features along the way, but it was a bit more open and was distinctly different from what came before it and what came after, and for that reason, I found it more enjoyable than the other scrub and even saw a wallaby.
Getting back on (Daniels) track, the foliage changed completely, it went from being the dark twisty vine scrub with bare forest floors to being bright and open with tall trees and long grass. It was also along a ridgeline which had incredible pockets of views of the undulating landscape on either side.
It was a good glimpse of what was to come. The very end of the ridgeline walk to Daniels Lookout opened up to magnificent country views to the north, west and east. The soft light of the setting sun cast highlights and created shadows across the landscape, emphasising the endless array of gently rolling mountains that could be seen as far as the eye could see.
It was just a spectacular way to end the day and is most definitely the best view I’ve seen in my discovery of the South Burnett region.
After staying a while until the sun dipped below the horizon, I headed back along the flat ridgeline path but didn’t retrace my steps along Silburns Vine Scrub Walk, beelining may way back to Braithwaites before descending the steps back down to the car park.
Filling my head with all the things one shouldn’t fill their heads with while walking in a dark forest such as whether or not some wild animal wants to peel my face off and eat my insides, I was like, “Why woman, why would you do this to yourself.”
I spotted a wallaby spotting me spotting it not far from Daniels Lookout, then as I had almost reached Braithwaites Lookout, I heard a large SNAP! I stopped and glanced in the direction of the sound. I hoped it was a wallaby or a tree branch that had fallen or something friendly like a wallaby tree, or a tree wallaby of which there is no such thing. I readied my walking stick in case I had to defend myself.
Then I saw it, scampering through leaf litter and small fallen branches. What is that? A possum? Oh, a possum. Then it started climbing the tree and I could see it in all its cute fluffy glory. It was a koala. A freaking koala. Oh. My. God.
Do you know how hard it is to see that type of fuzzball in the wild? Rather so. I’ve only ever seen a handful of koalas roaming the woodlands my whole life. Unfortunately, these sweet, narcoleptic animals are a dying breed.
To be able to spot one in the wild was such an incredible way to end the day. And I still get to go home with my face and my guts. Had it been a drop bear, though, oh, that might have been another story.
As a bonus, driving back to my next overnight stop, I not only saw the usual wallabies that roam near everywhere, I also saw what I believed to be some kind of owl flying low in front of the car. Such a great night for animals spotting.
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