Lamington National Park.
On Sunday, The Pillion had things she needed to attend to… and she didn’t need any hindrance from me, so with her blessing I decided to take Bluey out for a roll through the hills. Jaja was at a loose end and decided to join me two up, and together we headed south for the day.
I’ve mentioned before that Beechmont and The Numinbah Valley are two of my favorite places to ride in South East Queensland, but there’s another destination too: O’Reilly’s, in the heart of The Lamington National Park.
To get to O’Reilly’s, you have to make your way to Canungra, which is west of the Gold Coast along the Beaudesert-Nerang Road and just south of Mt Tamborine. Once in Canungra, find your way to the centre of town and turn on to The Lamington National Park Road, it’s right opposite the Out Post Cafe.
This is the only sealed road into, and out of the park and is about 36 km (22 miles) from end to end. There is another road you could take, but it’s 4×4 or dirt bike only. I didn’t have knobbies on Bluey so I gave Duck Creek Road a miss.
Even though I said I enjoy the ride up to O’Reilly’s, the Lamington National Park Road needs to be treated with respect. It definitely isn’t a road to have a quick fang along, as almost half the 36 km is single lane, most of it is rough with no guard railing and wildlife and cattle often occupy the road. Even the speed limit, which is posted at 60 km/h (35 mp/h), is a bit optimistic.
So assuming you don’t have a death wish, your average speed will be well below the posted speed limit most of the time.
The park has an interesting history: After a visit to Yellowstone in the US, Robert Collins began a campaign in 1896 to have the area known as the McPherson Range declared a national park.
In 1906 he managed to get the State Forests and National Parks Act passed. Sadly, he passed away in 1913 before he could realise his efforts to get the McPherson Range and it’s rain forests declared.
After Collins passed away, Romeo Lahey took up the fight and on July 31, 1915 the Honourable J Hunter, Minister for lands officially declared the McPherson Range and surrounding area and named it Lamington National Park after Lord Lamington, Governor of Queensland (1896 to 1902).
The park is around 900 metres (about 2,953 ft) above sea level and covers 20,600 hectares (about 50,904 acres). It offers 160 km (100 miles) of graded walking paths and a similar distance for walking trails. So no matter what your interest, be it bush walking, bird watching, wild life spotting or just taking in the views, you’re bound to find something of interest in the area.
In 1911, prior to the park being declared, eight (8) lads from the O’Reilly family Trekked from the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and settled in the area to establish dairy farms. Tom, Norb, Herb, Mick and Pete each built huts on top of a cliff at Moran’s Falls. While Pat, Luke and Joe built theirs in an area later named Pat’s Pluff.
By 1914 Stockyard Creek Track was completed and people started coming up to the area, staying in the O’Reilly’s huts and enjoying what nature had to offer. This caused the O’Reilly’s to rethink their future, eventually opening a guest house in 1926 and operating tours to the Border Lookouts and Elabana Falls.
In 1935, a road from Canungra stretching 30 km (19 miles) into the National Park was built by Laheys Ltd. The road didn’t extend as far as the O’Reilly’s Guest House, so being and enterprising mob they were, the O’Reilly’s cut a horse track down a ridge to connect with Laheys new road.
The spot where the road and the track intersected became known as “The Dump”, because this was where people, luggage and supplies were dumped when they disembarked the service car before transferring to horse back for the rest of the journey to the guest house.
Those two roads now make up the Lamington National Park Road.
I’ve never stayed at the guest house, or camped in the area, but I do enjoy heading up that way from time to time to go for a wander through the bush or to take in the views from the tree top walk, or the cafe balcony.
The area has a rich history, and there are more stories to tell. Perhaps next time I’ll tell you about the time some airmen were rescued or post up some snaps of some of the surrounding area for you to enjoy.