If you were to arrive Australia by cruise ship and the first glimpse you saw of this land was the coastline around Brisbane (because you’ve been too busy perusing the entertainment facilities below deck), you’d be forgiven for thinking this land is fairly flat.
To some extent, that’s true. Australia really is a very old continent, and the rugged mountains I’m sure existed here once have had plenty of time to experience the grinding feeling that comes with being eroded away, slowly, slowly over the eons.
But thanks to certain geological niceties, such as varying rock types, Australia still has a fair share of mountains and ranges, rocks and crags to offer.
In fact, just about 90 minutes’ drive west from Brisbane, is the Toowoomba Range.
As you approach, you’re treated to views of some quite impressive mountains that – should you choose to climb up (good luck) – would see you go from a vertical 200ish metres above sea level to well above 1000 metres in not that many horizontal metres.
The range is a popular spot for hikers to get their daily, weekly or monthly fix of nature. There are lots and lots of hiking trails along the range, varying from walk-in-the-park to not-quite bring a Sherpa.
Most of the trails I’m aware of start on the range, and make their way up the mountain tops from there. One such trail takes you up to Mount Cordeaux lookout.
Hiking up Mount Cordeaux
In terms of difficulty, this track shouldn’t be a problem for your slightly fit 10-year-old, although if their exercise has previously been limited to spamming the PS4 controller you might want to reconsider, or have some serious incentives in place for reaching the lookout.
Taking you about 400 metres up from the edge of the range, this 3.5km track (one way) starts at the Cunningham Highway and winds its way through the rainforest that has sprouted up thanks to all the rain that tends to make ranges so green.
It’s steady up all the way, with plenty of zig-zagging as you make your way higher and higher.
As you get closer to the lookout, the track gets steeper, and just when the kids have had it, you’re treated to a little lookout giving you a glimpse of what’s to come at the top. Take a quick break and let the kids recharge, then onwards and upwards.
You’ll notice that the flora changes from rainforest to temperate (I’m sure the experts will call me out for using the wrong terminology here) as you get closer to the top. Giant gumtrees are replaced by shrubs and tall grass.
Then… All of a sudden you’re at the lookout, and the views are insane.
If it weren’t for that pesky Mt Cordeaux summit, which looms large above the lookout (you’re absolutely not encouraged to try make it up there with the kids), you’d have 360-degree views.
As it is, you’ll have to do with 270 degrees. But each and every degree is top quality.
To the southeast, you’ll see practically all the way to the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise. And to the west, mountains and more mountains.
And if you care to look down, it’s got to be at least a 300-metre freefall.
On that note, a safety briefing…
If you bring the kids with you, watch them closely on the lookout.
There are no fences (thank goodness – I hate when authorities replace common sense with a fence in the middle of nature for no good reason), and it’s only two or three steps in the wrong direction before you’re treading air.
So, supervision and a quick talk about how falling off a cliff is a life-limiting move, would be in order.
And for the responsible adults, mind your selfies. Once again, two or three steps in the wrong direction and you’ll contribute to selfies being more deadly than sharks for the foreseeable future.
That being said, here’s a pro-tip which you can try at your very own risk. As you enter the lookout, on your left you’ll see a little sign warning you of death and general risk of mayhem if you walk past that point.
Should you choose – at your peril – to ignore that sign, there’s a great spot behind the bushes where you can sit down – in relative safety – on a 5-by-5-metre crag where you have something like 200 degrees worth of undisturbed views and very few people to disturb you.
What’s your favorite Australian mountain?
For the more dedicated hikers, there are plenty of other tracks in the area that offer more challenging terrain, but Mount Cordeaux probably has one of the highest reward to effort ratios in the area. Well worth knowing especially for families.
But enough about Mount Cordeaux, what’s your favorite Australian mountain to hike up?