Summary: Stunning rainforest bushwalking with superlative birds
Date of visit: Oct 3, 2020
The Goomburra section of Main Range National Park is an exquisite section of rainforest that is well worth at least one visit. Rainforest birds abound as well as some drier country birds on the way.
Goomburra is a locality lying just on the other side of the Great Dividing Range from Brisbane. To get there, however, requires crossing through Cunningham’s Gap and driving a good 30km or more west and then back east. On the trip there keep a look out for Nankeen Kestrels and Brown Falcons on power poles and power lines, as well as Galahs, Lorikeets and Cockatoos which may be seen in reasonable numbers too.
The drive into the National Park means you pass through 5km or so of “Gordon Country”, which is a massive campground and four-wheel driving area. The rough dirt road (navigable in a two-wheel drive as long as you’re careful) takes you through here with a couple of creek crossings, finally ending at the trailhead for the Dalymple Creek and Cascade circuits, where there are two (smaller!) National Park campgrounds. (There is a side road up to other tracks and a couple of lookouts in the National Park, but I didn’t visit those).
My birding companion and I had camped in Gordon Country so were well positioned to start early. Shadows and morning sun competed (the range is to the east, so sunrise feels a little later), and it felt like we had started birding very early – up with the birds…!
The initial sightings were the first of what would be many Lewin’s Honeyeaters, and of many Bell Miners. The Bell Miners don’t have total dominion here, though there are a few patches along the track network where they do seem to be dominant with their submarine ping calls.
A female Satin Bowerbird was next up, then we spotted some Bell Miners drinking at the creek – we lingered here for quite a while, also seeing a Yellow-Faced Honeyeater and a Brown Gerygone. Then on the path was a Thrush finding worms in the leaf litter (either Bassian or Russet-Tailed, this is an overlap area for these species so it’s hard to know).
Following the creek on hillside, now on the Cascades Circuit (walking clockwise), this is one of the nicest parts of the track (and the track has many nice parts!). Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, Large-Billed Scrubwren and Rufous Fantail all made an appearance.
After the lovely “hillside” section, the track starts to follow the creek more closely, with birds glimpsed flitting up from the steep embankments. There was one long stretch where the bird of the day flew (briefly) in: a Rose Robin! Soon after we saw a Crested Shriketit, which became confusing because soon very after that we saw a couple of male Golden Whistlers, one of which we watched for quite a while as we quietly ate some lunch by the side of the creek. The presence of the very similar-looking Golden Whistlers made me doubt I had actually seen a Crested Shriketit at all, but checking the camera photos proved it was indeed there.
We had to pick up our cameras now and again in the midst of eating for a photo-opp with a busy White-Throated Treecreeper (is there any other kind?), and then some White-Browed Scrubwrens and a White-Naped Honeyeater on the rocks by the water – angling for a drink, it looked like.
The track crossed the creek several times and once or twice we wondered if we were still going the right way; the only sign we saw was a Scenic Rim Trail marker. The situation wasn’t helped by a huge tangle of tree across the track which had to be awkwardly clambered over. After that the going became steep and upwards, and there was a waterfall and a few more water crossings. This was at the extreme south-eastern edge of the circuit.
Not many birds through there either except Large-Billed Scrubwrens, until we finally reached the intersection with Ridge Track (and surety that we weren’t lost!). We decided to head up Ridge Track, which was a steep slog to begin with, but we were rewarded with a sighting of a pair of Crimson Rosella.
Once we got to the actual “ridge”, we found the grass trees were still in flower, and Silvereye, Eastern Spinebill, Lewin’s and Yellow-Faced Honeyeaters, Rufous and Grey Fantails were all present. The continual sunlight, beautiful bush surrounds and vistas from high up made this a very pleasant place to be.
The final stretch of Ridge Track was a steep descent, devoid of birds until we reached the flats again, then the dry country nearer the National Park campsites gave us a look at a Red Wattlebird.
Given that we tacked Ridge Track onto the Cascades Circuit, we probably covered at least 7km. It did feel like quite a long way, and the bushwalking wasn’t always easy; fortunately it was dry enough we didn’t have any difficult creek crossings. It was fascinating journeying through different habitats and terrain and being able to see such variety of bush and rainforest birds along the way. The remoter parts of the Cascades Circuit felt like any kind of bird could show up at any moment, and the Ridge Track also proved well worth doing (due to flowering grass trees but also from a bushwalking perspective).
Disclaimer – we only did the Dalrymple and Cascades Circuits plus the Ridge Track, so my evaluation pertains to these sections only. Other tracks in the Goomburra area include North Branch and a couple of others, accessed by the Lookout Road.
Disclaimer 2 – beware the Cascade Circuit in the wet season or after high rainfall (as I found out when I returned in March 2021!), as the high water level in the creeks can make for many difficult and slippery crossings.
Pluses and minuses:
+ Superbly beautiful bush and rainforest
+ Substantial track to explore with remote feel
+ Possibility of amazing birds
– Rough/narrow track in places
– Difficult in the wet
– Far to get to (best to camp overnight)