Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sundown NP - the last and most challenging

The last stop on my Spring camping trip was Sundown National Park. Sundown is west of the Granite Belt, and is more suited to hard-core campers and walkers than Lamington or Girraween. Most of the 'tracks' are really just suggested routes along valleys and ridgelines, many with walking times listed in days rather than hours. The camp ground facilities are more basic, too - the 'shower' was a bucket with holes in the bottom!

Sundown's geology consists of sedimentary units with granites intruding from beneath. Typically when this happens, fluids from the hot granites deposit mineral ores in the surrounding rocks, and Sundown is no exception. Before being gazetted, ore bodies were mined for arsenic, tin, copper, molybdenum and tungsten. The mining wasn't always done cleanly, and some streams still have dangerously high arsenic contents.

Here's a quote from Sydney BJ Skertchly, the first government geologist to visit the area, in 1897. It comes from the Geological Society of Queensland's 'Rocks and Landscapes of the National Parks of SE QLD":

"So interesting, and I believe important, is this district that I would fain have seen more of it: but I had only brought two days' rations, and we had horrible weather, fog and rain, and though we stayed a day after we had eaten our last bit of food, and the river wouldn't give up its fish, we were obliged to return to Ballendean, as the rain showed no sign of abating. My horse drowned himself in a waterhole, one of our men had to be sent back ill, and altogether it was geology under difficulties, yet I never enjoyed myself more. I shall long remember our last night. Four of us had dined on less than half-a-loaf of bread, and we sat round the camp fire sipping second-hand tea, while a stockman recited Gordon's poems as a substitute for supper."

When I arrived, the Park had just received 68mm of rain overnight, and Skertchly's descriptions of the weather seemed very accurate. It was cool, overcast, wet and windy, and reminded me of camping trips back in New Zealand. The weather soon cleared though, and the next couple of days were warm enough to make the various waterholes seem tempting, leeches or no.

I'll have to go back to Sundown with a proper 4WD one day, as the northern campground, which acts as a gateway to many of the most interesting areas, isn't accessible by car.

A Bottlebrush. These plants are popular in Australian gardens.

Some sort of orange tree fungus.

Permanent Waterhole. It has Platypuseses!

A Monitor lizard. I didn't get his name.

Queens Mary Falls, on the road back to Brisbane.

The way home. Looking north towards Wilson's Peak from a cafe above Condamine Gorge. 


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