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Ubajee to Cooloolabin Dam

Ubajee to Cooloolabin Dam
Home > Diaries > 2022 > 961


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Blackall Range




214 - 472m ASL


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STARTING from the end of Leafy Lane about two hours before first light, I followed the wide track through the tall forest. The forest was silent apart from the occasional shower of rain as I followed the undulating trail under torchlight towards Ubajee Walkers Camp, the second of the three camping grounds along the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk.

The signage along the track was good with there being several intersections where other tracks crossed the main one.

I reached Ubajee shortly before first light. Several of the campsites were occupied with tents, but one of the larger ones was unoccupied, so I rested there waiting for the sky to lighten. The people in one of the tents was already getting up. Misty rain was falling, so a dramatic sunrise was out of the question here in the forest. I headed out to the nearby lookout looking westward along the Gheerulla Valley towards the Mary Valley, where Obi Obi Stream, and the other streams coming off the western side of the Blackall Range flowed into. Thick cloud covered the sky but the view was otherwise clear.

From the lookout I followed the main track heading down into the valley. I didn't go far along the track though. This is an overnight loop following the Gheerulla Valley down its length before climbing the steep Gheerulla Bluff to the left and returning along the range about a quarter of the way to Thilba Thalba Walkers Camp before continuing along the range, then descending to cross Gheerulla Creek at Gheerulla Falls, then returning up this track back to here, where most walkers would continue to the end of Leafy Lane where I had started earlier this morning.

I returned to the lookout as steady rain now fell obscurring much of the view making the ridges quite misty. I returned to the camping ground and started walking along Leafy Lane back towards where I had started.

The rain didn't last. To my surprise the same came out within half an hour of me leaving Ubajee camp. It filtered through the tall ghost gums. Cloud covered the sky again as I continued along the path, almost reaching the end but turning off to follow the Pilularis Walk. A very good walking stick was propped up against the sign, but I didn't need it as I had my own walking pole today.

I followed the track for a couple of hundred metres before reaching the next intersection with a sign pointing towards the Mapleton Day Use Area seven hundred metres away, with the Leafy Lane trailhead about a hundred metres in the other direction.

I followed the track, made quite muddy from horses following the road towards the day use area. The sky had clouded over again, keeping conditions cool as I followed the track reaching the horse float parking area before crossing a gravel road to the day use area.

Mapleton Day Use Area was very nicely landscaped in the forest with several picnic tables and an information board. I rested here for a while before following Turpentine Trail which roughly followed Mapleton Forest Road which is a four wheel drive track from here. The trail undulated through the eucalypt forest and dense bracken undergrowth for about four kilometres until reaching a clearing through which power lines passed through the forest. From here I started following the dirt road continuing along the top of the range through the forest.

I reached a junction where a rough road had a sign across it saying it is closed from landslips from the recent flooding. From here the Mapleton Forest Road started descending from the top of the range. By now the gum trees were different, with the straight trunk trees now giving way with a very gnarly canopy indicating this ridge is very exposed, even though there was no wind blowing today.

The gradual descent turned into a moderate descent down a long spur and winding its way towards the bottom of a two hundred metre deep valley. The road narrowed and became quite rough. Fortunately there was almost no traffic going along this road. I passed a sign saying this is the south side of Change Gear Hill - quite a good name for a steep and rough road like this.

The bush thickened as I reached a blackbutt enrichment planation, planted in 1976 and 1977. The road continued descending to today's lowest point at a one land bridge crossing East Cedar Creek.

Once across the creek, the road rose moderately along the north side of Change Gear Hill rising nearly a hundred metres to a low saddle over the top of the next ridge along which English Break follows. The break looked a bit rough, so I followed the main road descending to another creek with a good view over the valley before rising again passing the short Bonyee Walk and continuing uphill to a junction where Cooloolabin Road moderately descended from.

The steep section of Cooloolabin Road was short lived as it approached the lake. It was not long before I was getting glimpses of the lake through the thick tall forest. I continued following the road over a couple of low spillways before finding a track leading to a great view of the dam. From here I reurned to the road and followed it behind the dam to the Cooloolabin Day Use Area.

Here I rested again looking over the dam before following a walkway around one of the headlands around the beautiful lake. The lake was completely surrounded by rounded headlands covered in tall forest. Reeds grew in the shallows of the lake. There were only occasional views from the track, but I reached a point where a side track led out onto the red soil at the water's edge. Here I rested looking over the lake.

After my break, I continued following the track until reaching the road again. In a future trip I will explore this road further, but I needed to head back to the Leafy Lane trail head where I was staying, and that was a good seven kilometres away.

It was a long walk heading back along the road, rising to Mapleton Forest Road, then over the hill and creek to the start of the long climb back onto the top of the Blackall Range. Eventually I did reach the top and continued following the gradual uphill climb to Mapleton Day Use Area, where once more I rested before returning along the walking track back to Leafy Lane, arriving at sunset after a very long day of hiking around 32 kilometres.


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