The National Park Experience - Judith Hunter Reflection - National Parks Association of Queensland

    NPAQ acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Queensland National Park Estate and strongly supports co-stewardship with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

The National Park Experience – Judith Hunter Reflection

Our Sunday bushwalks over the past year have brought respite and relief for my husband and me. They’ve been a sanity saver (and possibly a marriage maintainer!). As we set out each Sunday we’d be talking about stress stuff: the pandemic, US politics, work, the kids but gradually we’d get quieter, calmer and stiller as we walked.

During the height of COVID-19 restrictions in Brisbane we still managed to get to Mt Coot-tha most weekends for our authorised exercise, discovering new sections of the park and venturing into D’Aguilar National Park and the SEQwater territory on foot as we explored further. We established that tracks like Hell Hole Break and Scorpion are much more attractive than they sound.

Trekerettes on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk Photo: Supplied.

Every week I felt so lucky to have this beautiful treasure so close to home.

Once restrictions lifted, we pushed further afield, exploring more of D’Aguilar National Park and Lamington National Parks. We’ve even done a couple of overnighters in D’Aguilar exploring the “remote” bush camps (much less difficult to access than their name implies). Sleeping in the bush on a breezy moonlit night and waking to bird song was a world away from our inner-city normal.

We had planned some interstate and international trips but thanks to the coronavirus we’ve explored the parks and paths of our own area instead. Within 200km of Brisbane there are such riches that we had overlooked or ignored until now. South East Queensland’s National Parks have become a source of adventure, anticipation and pleasure for me.

A recent foray into the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk with a group of intrepid “trekerettes” was a chance to explore sections of this walk without a huge pack. From a base in Montville, we organised an under-employed local wedding transport firm to drop us at a different access point each day and pick us up after about 12km of walking through diverse landscapes.

These women – all National Parks Aficionados – really knew how to immerse themselves in the experience, with regular breaks for sketching, stretching, birdwatching, plant identification or just looking. The track crosses or follows roads at intervals making it easy to do it in chunks. We have since done a return trip to enjoy some of the sections we didn’t get to.

In October my husband and I celebrated our 25 year wedding anniversary by heading out to explore the area around Boonah. The Mt Cordeaux/ Bare Rock area in the Main Range National Park was beautiful, and the Palm Gorge on Mt Greville in the Moogerah Peaks was fascinating.

There are so many more walks to explore in South-East Queensland that I’ve never done despite their proximity to home. I’m negotiating to reduce my work to a nine-day fortnight so I have more time to fit in all the trips I want to do!

Thanks to NPAQ and Queensland National Parks staff for making this therapeutic option so readily available to us.

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