My daughter Laura was visiting from overseas, so I wanted to visit a special and memorable place. Northbrook gorge seemed like the ideal spot.
We started from the top of Lawton Road at Mount Glorious, and set off into the rainforest.
I love the huge strangler figs that tower over many parts of D’Aguilar National Park. We craned our necks upwards to get a glance of the giant that guards Lawton Road.
The first part of our hike was an easy descent down a long winding fire trail.
Today was hot. My overseas guest was in cold wet Scotland a few weeks ago, so I wanted to make sure we didn’t work her too hard to start with.
As we followed the ridge down the hill, we caught glimpses of the Brisbane Valley to the west, through the trees.
Shortly after it happened, Russel pointed out that Laura had just walked within half a metre of a Red-bellied Black Snake.
She was surprised.
“My co-workers would be horrified to know I’d been so close to a snake,” she said.
The snake was unimpressed at all the attention and quietly slithered away into the undergrowth.
A new friend, Tom, joined us today. He had been waiting at the top gate for friends who never turned up, so we adopted him for the day.
Half-way down Lawton Road, we left the gravel road and followed a faint path through the trees.
The trees closed around us as we followed the barely visible path down the hill.
“How did you know this path was here?” Helen asked.
“Eric told me about it.”
“How did he find out about it?” she continued.
I smiled. I knew where this line of questioning would end up.
“Ahhh. Secret men’s business.”
We both laughed.
Eventually the narrow path started heading upwards.
We had to scramble uphill over large boulders.
We grabbed tree branches and pulled ourselves up.
It was tricky. We had to clamber over the rocks while ensuring we were still following the faint track.
The terrain around here was steep. I didn’t want to wander off the path and lead us unwittingly to a dangerous precipice.
After a bit more rock climbing we made it to the top.
I felt relieved, parked myself on a comfortable boulder and enjoyed the breeze while I munched on a small snack.
There wasn’t much room at the top, but we all managed to find a quiet spot to sit and catch our breath.
A sign hung loosely from a tree – a couple of the nails that once secured it had come out.
It didn’t make sense until Darb figured out what it was.
When he rotated it just right, we could make out the image of a person dangling from a parachute.
Perhaps people jumped from this spot with paragliders?
I decided I didn’t want to try paragliding.
We set off down the steep side of the hill towards Northbrook Creek.
At first we stepped gingerly down from each rock…
…then we slid downwards on our backsides.
While sliding down the steep slope, we tried to follow the faint track. It was hard to find in some spots and was easily confused with rain washouts in one or two places.
But we took our time, and didn’t lose the trail.
After about twenty minutes of precarious bum-sliding, we finally reached the creek.
It was stunning.
Crystal clear water bubbled over rocks.
Tom bent down and started slurping water from the creek.
I copied him.
It tasted delicious.
Staghorns clung tenaciously to tall trees.
Moss and small ferns poked out from behind fallen logs.
We decided to stop for a group photo before heading down the creek.
In a vain attempt to keep our feet dry, we jumped from rock to rock as we walked downstream.
Eventually I admitted that at some stage I was going to get totally wet, and decided to forget about rock-hopping and just started wading through the water,
Previous visitors left small piles of rocks in different places along the trail.
We continued slowly downstream.
Many times we were able to avoid the water and follow the track on the creek bank.
Beneath the tall trees, it felt like we were walking through a cathedral.
Every few minutes we stopped to admire some fascinating new thing.
Laura picked up what looked like a kingfisher feather.
Perhaps it had fallen from one of the bright blue birds as it darted through the trees.
Northbrook Creek is best taken slowly.
It’s a beautiful spot – there’s no need to rush.
Adam decided to add his own rock pile to the creek.
The water grew deeper as we progressed downstream.
Tom tried to stay dry and scramble around the edge of the rock pool.
My son, Lachlan waded in.
The water was delightfully cool.
Adam took it one step further and made a big splash.
Helen’s feet couldn’t touch the bottom, so she swam.
Laura went under, but kept her bag aloft. At least she had one thing that was dry.
We passed through several gorges.
The rocky walls on either side were sheer.
The only way through was to swim or wade.
A few of us brought dry bags to keep some things dry.
The steep walls of the gorge made it feel cavernous in some places.
The cool water was a perfect relief for such a hot humid day.
Some people didn’t bother hiking. They just floated around in the water, enjoying the experience.
I lost count of the number of gorges we passed through, but I knew we had finished our “swimming” section when we encountered Russel.
He had left us on Lawton Road, then driven my 12-seater van to the end-point of the hike.
He then hiked upstream to meet us.
Russel recently injured his hand and wasn’t able to get the wound wet. He wasn’t able to do the full hike with us, but offered to help us with the transport logistics, and then do the dry half of the hike.
This made a big difference for us because it meant we didn’t have to mess around with car shuffling at the start of this point-to-point hike.
We followed Russel along the last part of the creek….
…and up the hill to the van.
Max elevation: 719 m
Min elevation: 238 m
Total climbing: 425 m
Total descent: -845 m
Average speed: 5.68 km/h
Total time: 03:14:26
We hiked over eight kilometres in about three and a half hours including breaks.
During that time we climbed 200 metres and dropped about 600 metres.
Thanks Russel, Darb, Adam, Jason, Helen, Laura, Lachlan and Tom. This was a fun day out.
Special thanks to Russel for driving the van for us – you saved us lots of time and made our day much easier.