Hiking, Bruce the Farmer, and a goat named Ian.
This week’s walk was a return to Lake Moogerah where our small group met up at the dam carpark. Mount Greville, where we hiked up Waterfall Gorge and down Palm Gorge two weeks ago, could be seen across the quiet waters of Moogerah Dam in the muted morning light. A single boat was out early, with several pelicans scattered quietly across the flat water, while beneath the surface along the dam wall, large fresh water turtles were searching for food.
Today our first of two hikes was Mt Edwards, accessible by walking across the dam wall and up a short but steep dirt path. The views of the Main Range to the west and Flinders Peak and other pinnacles to the east were lovely under warm winter sun. Around us as for miles is dry eucalypt bushland.
We grabbed coffee in the small town of Aratula, before hopping in our cars for the short drive to Mount French, our second hike. We parked two cars on the grass verge where the bitumen turned to gravel and took one 4WD. up to the parking/camping area. It turns out Google had led us astray and given us the slightly shorter of the two routes up – but also the noticeably more rough and corrugated option. On the way we met a farmer with, we guessed, his son and daughter who were collecting loose wood from the forest floor and loading up their ute.
They were accompanied by their two dogs and pet goat – Ian. Apparently Ian (the goat) thinks he’s a dog – if the farmer was to be believed – and likes to join in on the family activities. Like collecting fire wood. He also didn’t mind posing for the camera.
Mount French has short flat tracks, nice views and cheap camping for the climbers who visit Frog Buttress, a shear escarpment at the northern end. This used to be a mecca for the local ‘trad’ climbers. Trad climbing is where you insert climbing devices into cracks and crevices as you lead a route up the rock face, clipping your rope in as you go. The one and only time I tried this type of climbing was here at Frog Buttress with a mate. I have climbed a lot of rocks, cliffs and walls over the years (all sport climbing) and I was reasonably comfortable with ropes, harnesses and heights. But I doubt I’ve ever been so scared of falling into a messy pile as I did here. Needless to say I promptly gave up any notion of become the next Edmund Hillary.
There are gorgeous balcony views from Logan’s Lookout north over the Fassifern Valley from the lookout above Frog Buttress (main picture). We also followed a well used trail off the main track to get a better view of the cliffs, just as a climber was topping out (solo I might add) from a route. We left him to pull up his ropes as we explored further across the top of Mount French where large sections were covered in dozens and dozens of prehistoric looking grass trees.
Also known as ‘black boys’, they’re usually coloured black due to forest fires – which have been common over recent years – which also causes them to flower. The indigenous locals would use the flowery spikes to make sweet drinks, the resin could be used as glue for tools, and the dried spikes as ‘fire-drills’. These wonderfully odd looking trees remind me of how old this land really is.
Walks done, we left to collect the other cars. As we stopped we encountered Bruce the Farmer in his battered red 4WD. ‘Do you own these cars fellas?’ He’d called the police station at the nearby town of Boonah to report our empty cars, just in case we were up to ‘no good’. ‘We look after one another round here, we do.’ Apparently Pete the Policeman at Boonah, had a run a check on the cars and nothing ‘dodgy’ had come up. He was a friendly bloke was Bruce, loved a chat and would have told us his entire family history, if we’d let him. ‘I own the best 2000 acres round Mt French’ he reckoned. We said thanks and drove off, chastened by his words we shouldn’t trust Google Maps and hopped on his mobile to ring Pete the Policeman and tell him the car owners were just silly city folk who took the wrong road. Bless him!