Summer in the city 5: Lost World Valley
A few weeks ago, on a glorious Sunday afternoon, we set off for the Lost World Valley. I've been obsessed with the idea of hidden, remote places ever since I read The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle when I was young.
But we couldn't find it. So confident was I that I knew where it was, we left the map at home (it now lives permanently in the car), and all we took with us was a Scenic Rim brochure. Clearly the people who wrote it never found what they were looking for either. They tell you to head east from Beaudesert; in fact, you go south*. They describe crossing Christmas Creek; but it's the Albert River in the Lost Valley.
Google Maps (on a 'smart' phone) indicated that we should turn off Mt Lindesay Highway for Christmas Creek Road, which seemed right. Except that we didn't come across Kerry or Darlington, mentioned in the brochure. But we're used to tiny places on a map not amounting to much in reality so thought nothing of it. Babbling Christmas Creek was pretty and the countryside lush and lovely. There was a cutesy little church, funny little storehouse thingies, golden-topped grasses, white-trunked gums, grasstrees, green-bobbly fields, unidentified spiky fruits, and a sudden stop.
So, if a bus were a 4x4 and had fewer than 21 passengers, would they all have to be residents for the bus to proceed? In any case, only private property ahead and no Lost Worlds. Little did we realise, there was a road across from a place called Hillview to the Lost World Valley, but either there wasn't a sign or we didn't see it. We returned to Brisbane a bit thwarted but reasonably happy.
I was never going to rest, however, until I had found the Lost World Valley. It was inevitable I would have to try again. Last weekend. I had, by now, worked out exactly where it was.
There was another pretty church, and more grasstrees, and olive trees, and an eagle** sitting in a tree for a long, long time, and more rickety-rackety outbuildings and lots of cows and calves. But this time there was no doubt about where we were.
After a while the single-track sealed road became a dirt track, beyond a gate. Although there were 'Trespassers will be prosecuted' signs to either side, we figured we were legal on the track. Then we had to ford a creek, which was very exciting since it was the Lost World crossing. We crossed over to the other side. Through another gate the track continued. By now there was very little habitation and all was quiet. We hadn't seen any people since way back.
Another five minutes and we were really there, at 'the wilderness end of the Lamington National Park' as the brochure had described. We had long gone past the end of the road on our (2006) map, so we couldn't be absolutely sure where we were, but there were signs about safety while walking in this remote spot. The New South Wales border couldn't have been that far away. But a hike beyond this point – with compass and detailed map – was for another day.
There were some nice views on the way back out to normal world.
It dismayed me to realise that this beautiful area is under threat from coal and coal seam gas exploration. Eighty per cent of the Scenic Rim Regional Council area – stretching from Cunningham's Gap to Mt Tambourine and from Peak Crossing to the New South Wales border – is affected by three coal seam gas exploration permits operated by Arrow Energy or coal exploration permits (including underground coal gasification***).
We saw posters objecting to the proposed development of an already existing small gravel quarry into a mega quarry (see here), involving 100 B-double trucks a day terrorising the quite roads we drove along. And recently the 10-day Kerry blockade of one of Arrow's rigs made local residents' fears clear, but unfortunately not well-enough publicised (see here).
*Coming into Beaudesert from Brisbane (road number 13, Mt Lindesay Highway), go straight on at the traffic lights in the centre of town into Kerry Road
**White-bellied Sea-eagle. Maybe he was lost. No, they can come a fair way inland, our bird book says
*** Whereby coal is converted into gas prior to extraction, rather than using conventional mining methods