Sunday, October 13, 2013

Two Walks Around The Atherton Tableland: Black Mountain and Widow Maker

Last time we were staying at Lake Tinaroo, I walked the Torpedo Bay circuit and noticed an awful lot of flagged trails, some in better, some in worse condition marked by faded old signs tied to trees, and, in a couple of locations, a laminated hand sketched trail map. I followed quite a few of these trails but I didn't have time to explore the area marked “to Black Mountain with connections to other trails.”

On Sunday, I went back to see what is out in this unsurveyed area of the sketch map. This time I took the “official” Torpedo Bay walking track up to the ridge top as this is the only trail I hadn't walked before. It starts about 100 metres before the Scout Camp (if you are driving from Tinaroo Falls). There is an initial steep and slippery section where the trail goes up hard dirt covered with ball bearing type granite crystals, but after that, it's just a steady climb until you intersect the short-cut trail that comes up from the information booth.

Pretty soon I got to Tackers Trail and followed this across undulating terrain to another ridge-line. I lost the trail here for a while and had to search all around not only to find it, but to find myself. Eventually, I found the track descending a short distance and then traversing to the left of another little peak to reach a pass between two little peaks. Once I found the trail again it was relatively easy to follow. A longish descent down the valley on the other side of the pass followed and then I came upon a campsite by a creek. 

Trail map

From here, the trail roughly follows the creek valley gently rising and falling about 80 metres above the creek. At a couple of points the trail descends to the creek and crosses to the other side at one point. Once across the creek I was on a very old road which never got any more distinct, in fact it faded out. I had only planned to be out a few hours so, after three hours of walking, I had to turn around, non the wise as to where this trail eventually leads. I was quicker on the way back as I didn't have to search for the trail as much and I took “Platypus Trail” down to Danbulla Forest Road which avoided some ups and downs. This comes out on the road just past the Scout Camp. I was hot and sweaty so I had a swim in the lake. 

Waterhole by the campsite

Next day, on a very hot morning, I set off to walk up Widow Maker near Mount Baldy in Atherton. Although I was walking by 8.30 am, it was way too late on such a hot day and I had to slow my walking pace right down or I felt a bit woozy in the sun. The trail to Widow Maker can be accessed from the same parking area as Mount Baldy – go straight where the trail sign points you uphill from the old road – or you can park at the 90 degree turn in the Rifle Range Road and walk down towards a property on a tarmaced road and then veer off to the left at the private property onto the track. I parked at the Mount Baldy trailhead and came back via the other parking lot (a little less elevation gain). 

Just what I need: A gentler alternative

I thought this was a nicer walk than Mount Baldy as it is all on track and not on hard steps or cement and, as a bonus, much fewer people seem to walk it. I didn't see anyone else on the walk, although there were 4 or 5 cars in the Mount Baldy parking lot. Basically, you walk uphill. At one point, a new trail has been constructed which switchbacks up to the top instead of going straight up. This is well signed. I took the “gentler” alternative on the way up and came down the steeper option. There is a nice bench at the overlook to sit on while you rest and enjoy the view, the only problem being that there is no shade at all.

So there you have it. A couple more walks on the Atherton Tableland. One longer and one relatively short. If this heat keeps up, best to get out early. 

Atherton From Widow Maker

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