I did a 22-kilometre hike yesterday through the Blackall Range and the newly declared Mapleton National Park in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. This stretch of the aptly named Great Walk begins and ends at the walk entrance a short way up from Gheerulla Falls (above). I encountered nobody else during this blissful, sunny winter day. As one of Australia's top tourist destinations and its tenth biggest city (the Sunshine Coast) is just a short drive away, this lack of interest in the impressive natural attractions of the area is a tad puzzling.
Much of the walk follows Gheerulla Creek, which is in full flow following good rains over the past couple of years. Here the creek is fringed with extensive stands of rainforest on both banks.
Another portion of the walk takes me along the summit of the mountain range that forms the southern fringe of the Gheerulla Valley. There are plenty of rocky outcrops in open forest, with the hiking steep in places.
Various spots along the trail offer splendid views over the valley and the Blackall Range to the south, reminding me of how fortunate we are to have such a large area of forest close by.
Birds were a bit thin on the ground. They included Variegated Fairy-wren.
Striated Thornbill, and Eastern Yellow Robin