Download: Foreword Jon Muir

Foreword Jon Muir For many years my childhood dreams threw me into the high-altitude world of snow, rock and ice, but even from the earliest days I had an inkling that, in some shape or form, Australia held the potential for an extreme challenge. It wasn’t until I stood alone on the summit of Ever- est and gazed out over the red and brown plains of the Tibetan Plateau that the desert came sharply to mind. Such similar landscapes, Tibet and Australia: both vast expanses of hauntingly isolated arid country. In 2001 I walked across Australia, from the Spencer Gulf to the Gulf of Carpentaria, with...
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Foreword Jon Muir

For many years my childhood dreams threw me into the high-altitude world of snow, rock and ice, but even from the earliest days I had an inkling that, in some shape or form, Australia held the potential for an extreme challenge. It wasn’t until I stood alone on the summit of Ever- est and gazed out over the red and brown plains of the Tibetan Plateau that the desert came sharply to mind. Such similar landscapes, Tibet and Australia: both vast expanses of hauntingly isolated arid country. In 2001 I walked across Australia, from the Spencer Gulf to the Gulf of Carpentaria, with my Jack Russell Seraphine – a journey that holds some of the richest memories of my life. The Australian desert has some of the most ephemeral and stunning landscapes that I’ve experienced anywhere. Mountains float like blue and purple hallucinations on the horizon, and the pure expanses of the salt lakes glow crystal-white like Jon Muir has devoted his ice. It is an exquisite perfection of colours: the olive green of the desert life to outdoor adventure, oaks standing quietly in the deep-red sand; the twisted, stark, white ghost including five Mt Everest gums and orange rock against pulsing blue sky; and the soft contrast of expeditions, a 52-day the palest hues when the desert is sucked dry of both colour and moisture solo sea-kayaking journey by the midday sun. and treks to both Poles, I’ve found through my prowls out and about into the Australian wil- in addition to crossing derness that it usually takes me a couple of weeks to experience that deep Australia on foot in 2001. relaxation that comes as my mind drifts further away from the trappings He was awarded the of the modern world. Reducing my needs to the basics of water, food and Order of Australia Medal shelter, I immerse myself in the incredible beauty of the isolated moun- in 1989 and named the tains, coastline or desert. What a privilege that is! To be able to allow Australian Geographic myself the time to slow down. I see this ‘time out’, walking in our mag- Society’s Adventurer of nificent wilderness, as an essential balance to the paper-juggling mind the Year in 2001. strain that seems to be an inevitable consequence of our hectic world of ‘progress’ and consumerism. I wonder if anyone can truly escape this pressure without pulling on a pair of boots and taking themselves out for a walk amid the overwhelming magnificence of the land around us. Walking gives me the opportunity to live totally in the moment, as my mind is absorbed in the sharp focus required to meet the challenges of survival in the wilderness – when I need to get my tarpaulin up quickly to avoid sudden rain or when I am intently studying the landscape for signs of water. At these times the rest of the world ceases to exist. Life becomes simple, uncluttered by the non-essential. While on the march the steady rhythm of walking allows me the pleasure of letting my mind drift; to dream, plan, reminisce or simply to be. This freedom of mind, this unravelling from the snares and tangles associated with absorption in tasks, or relationships with other people, is deeply supported by walking at length through a natural landscape. To experience the beating heart of Australia, forget about the Opera House, the Gold Coast or Lygon St, Melbourne – it’s when you’re out in the forest or the desert, or on an isolated stretch of coast, that the soul of the country becomes apparent. In the spirals on the bark of snow gums, or the meandering spine of mountain ridges, or the lonely cry of the dingo under a desert night sky, here is the essence of Australia., 12 TABLEOFWALKSwww. lonelyplanet. comwww. lonelyplanet. comTABLEOFWALKS13 The Walks Duration Difficulty Best Time Transport Summary Page New South Wales Barrington Tops Plateau Explorer 3 days easy-moderate all year private Swirling mists, subalpine forests, sphagnum swamps and sweeping views 116 Blue Gum Forest 2 days moderate Jun-Nov train, bus Serene forest, valley-floor seclusion and rugged surroundings 71 Bouddi Coast 5 hours easy-moderate Aug-Nov private Ocean and distant Sydney views from cliff tops, beach, heathland and forest 55 Bungonia Gorge 2 days moderate-demanding all year private Limestone gorges and quiet river bends 107 The Chimneys 5-6 hours easy-moderate Nov-Apr shuttle service Navigate your way up a broad valley to attain a rocky peak providing broad views 92 The Coast Track 2 days moderate Aug-Nov train, ferry Popular overnight ocean-side walk revealing the best of Australia’s oldest national park 58 Gorges, Caves & Plains 5-6 hours easy Nov-May shuttle service Visit a pretty gorge, limestone cave, waterhole, a peculiar sinkhole and an historic homestead 94 Heart of the Budawangs 4 days moderate-demanding Apr-Nov private Splendid isolation amid spectacular sandstone escarpment country 99 Kanangra Walls to the Kowmung River 2 days moderate-demanding Jun-Nov private From famous cliffs to an iconic wilderness watercourse 80 Mt Kosciuszko & the Lakes Circuit 3 days easy-moderate Dec-Apr bus, shuttle service Climb Australia’s highest peak, visit a mystical lake and wander among drifts of wildflowers 88 Mt Solitary 2 days moderate Jun-Nov bus Stunning views, challenging climbs and Jamison Valley solitude 68 Pigeon House Mountain 3 hours moderate all year private Exhilarating climb to a lonely peak with panoramic views 104 Red Hands Cave 4-4½ hours easy-moderate Aug-Nov train Relaxing amble to an Aboriginal rock-art site and a secluded creek pool 64 Rosewood Creek Circuit 4 hours moderate all year private Circuit through World Heritage-listed rainforest and eucalypt forest 120 Six Foot Track 3 days moderate-demanding Apr-Oct bus Classic journey from Katoomba cliffs to Jenolan Caves 74 Warrumbungles Grand High Tops 3 days moderate all year private Spectacular volcanic landscapes and steep, challenging trails on the fringe of the outback 112 Wentworth Falls & the Valley of the Waters 5½-7 hours easy-moderate Jun-Nov train, bus Towering cliffs, plunging waterfalls and cool, moist forest on a Blue Mountains classic 66 Victoria Bushrangers Bay 3½-4 hours easy year-round private A short walk big on features: beach, bush and Cape Schanck lighthouse 133 Cathedral Range 2 days demanding Mar-Nov private Edge across a narrow ridge in the company of superb lyrebirds 135 Croajingolong Coast Walk 5 days moderate Sep-May shuttle service Discover why they call it the Wilderness Coast as you stroll the state’s wildest, most removed bit of coast 182 Great Ocean Walk Highlight 2 days moderate year-round shuttle service Walk the country’s newest long-distance trail to see the castaway coast the Great Ocean Road misses 143 Mt Bogong 2 days moderate-demanding Dec-Apr private Conquer Victoria’s highest mountain, admire views of distant ranges and cool off beside a waterfall 159 Mt Buffalo Plateau 5-6 hours easy-moderate Nov-Apr private A wonderful day walk, with prominent lookouts giving an excellent overview of the Buffalo Plateau 171 Mt Difficult 2 days moderate-demanding Sep-Nov private Ascend to the northern Grampians’ highest point for one of the best sunset seats in the country 152 Mt Feathertop & the Razorback 2 days demanding Dec-Apr private Enjoy wonderful mountain scenery from a prominent peak, and stroll among wildflowers and tall forests 164 Mt Speculation & the Crosscut Saw 2 days moderate-demanding Nov-Apr private Camp high on a peak, admire craggy ranges and traverse the spectacular Crosscut Saw ridge 168 Mt Stapylton 4-4½ hours moderate-demanding Sep-Nov private Exhilarating rock hop and scramble amid glorious sandstone walls 151 Prom Southern Circuit 3 days moderate Nov-May shuttle service Visit coasts both wild and gentle on Victoria’s classic bushwalk, spending a night in a lighthouse cottage 176 Surf Coast Walk 2 days easy year-round bus Classic Great Ocean Road scenery, wandering above and below high cliffs 140 Werribee Gorge 2½-3 hours easy-moderate Sep-Nov private Discover a rugged gorge at Melbourne’s edge as you hop downstream between swimming holes 130 Tasmania Cape Pillar 3 days moderate all year private Walk along the edge of the highest sea cliffs in Australia, with bush- and heath-cloaked hills above and the sea foaming around sea stacks below 200 Frenchmans Cap 4 days moderate-demanding Nov-Apr bus Trek across muddy plains and through tangled rainforest to a convoluted quartzite massif cradling dark lakes and dominated by the most distinctive mountain in the west 229, 14 TABLEOFWALKSwww. lonelyplanet. comwww. lonelyplanet. comTABLEOFWALKS15 The Walks Duration Difficulty Best Time Transport Summary Page Tasmania continued Freycinet Peninsula Circuit 2 days easy-moderate all year bus Experience beautiful coastal walking featuring sandy beaches and granite peaks, then lounge on one of the most scenic beaches in Australia 242 Mt Anne & Eliza Plateau 7-8½ hours moderate-demanding Nov-Apr bus See stunning mountain scenery around the highest peak in the southwest 209 Mt Field & Tarn Shelf Circuit 5-6 hours moderate Oct-Apr private Explore the glaciated uplands of Mt Field National Park, traversing snow gum woodland, alpine vegetation and bouldery crests, returning along the beautiful Tarn Shelf 206 Mt Rufus & Shadow Lake 6-8 hours moderate Nov-Apr bus Traverse a wide variety of vegetation to and from a grand mountain viewpoint, relaxing beside a tranquil lake on your return 212 Mt Wellington & the Organ Pipes Circuit 5-7 hours moderate all year bus Wander forest and alpine tracks on Hobart’s ‘mountain’, featuring great views and the dramatic Organ Pipes 196 Overland Track 6-7 days moderate Dec-Mar bus Traverse the highest ground in Tasmania, taking in wild alpine moors, craggy peaks and swathes of luxuriant rainforest on the most famous multi-day walk in Australia 214 South Coast Track 6-7 days moderate-demanding Dec-Mar plane, bus Traverse remote beaches, buttongrass plains and rainforest in the remote southwest wilderness, with spectacular scenery and views of the inland mountains 236 Walls of Jerusalem 3 days easy-moderate Nov-Apr bus Visit a compact alpine area littered with biblical names, walking beneath extensive cliffs, past glacial tarns and through quiet pencil pine forests 232 South Australia Flinders Chase Coastal Trek 2 days moderate Sep-Apr private Isolated cliffs and bush brimming with wildlife at Kangaroo Island’s western edge 258 Heysen Highlight 3 days moderate Aug-Oct shuttle service Sample Australia’s most daunting long-distance trail and be rewarded with the best views of Wilpena Pound 269 Mt Remarkable Gorges 2 days moderate Sep-Oct private Link two superb gorges, and enjoy views across plains, ocean and mountains 263 Wilpena Pound 2 days easy-moderate May-Oct bus A simple circuit that connects the best features of the Pound 266 Yurrebilla Trail 3 days easy-moderate all year train, bus Walk close to, but far removed from, the city, passing through seven national and conservation parks 253 Western Australia Bibbulmun Karri & Coast 4 days moderate Sep-Nov private Flit between tall forest and a wildflower-rimmed coast on a section of the great Bibbulmun Track 290 Bluff Knoll 2½-3 hours moderate Sep-Oct shuttle service Make a straightforward climb to southern WA’s highest peak 299 Cape to Cape Track 7 days moderate Jun-Dec private See whales and waves on WA’s most enticing coastal walk 279 Nancy Peak & Devil’s Slide 2½-3 hours easy-moderate Sep-Nov private Get your granite fix by wandering through an island of karri forest to smooth summit domes 296 Toolbrunup Peak 2½-3 hours moderate-demanding Sep-Oct shuttle service Gymnastic ascent through a scree gully to the heart of the Stirling Range 300 Northern Territory Barrk Sandstone Bushwalk 5-7 hours moderate-demanding May-Sep private Short, challenging scramble over Nourlangie Rock from one superb Aboriginal art site to another 312 Jatbula Trail 4 days moderate May-Sep shuttle service The Top End’s best trail with rock art, waterfalls and plunge pools 315 Larapinta Trail Highlight 2 days moderate Apr-Sep shuttle service Mountain hops broken by gorges as you sample this epic trail across the West MacDonnell Ranges 322 Ormiston Gorge & Pound 3½-4 hours easy-moderate Apr-Sep shuttle service Stunning panoramas of ancient landforms, including a dramatic, brick-red gorge and serene waterhole 321 Queensland Coomera Circuit 8 hours moderate May-Oct bus One of Lamington’s best waterfall hikes along a spectacular gorge 340 Great Walk Fraser Island 5 days moderate Apr-Oct ferry, 4WD taxi Pass lofty rainforests, refreshing lakes and desert-like sandblows on the world’s largest sand island 342 Green Mountains 2 days moderate May-Oct bus Pristine rainforests, cascading waterfalls and sweeping panoramas from graded tracks 335 Mt Bartle Frere 2 days demanding May-Oct private, bus A rewarding walk through ancient rainforests to bag Queensland’s highest peak 353 Ships Stern Circuit 6 hours moderate May-Oct bus Experience Aboriginal legends and a ship-shaped bluff along Lamington’s escarpments 338 Thorsborne Trail 4 days moderate Apr-Sep ferry, bus Sandy beaches, plunge pools and pristine wilderness on one of the world’s classic walks 349, 16www. lonelyplanet. comTHEAUTHORS17


Growing up in Adelaide, Andrew once believed the great outdoors was Ian’s first bushland walking experiences were near his childhood Sydney a place far away, so it was with delight that he rediscovered his home home, and he’d graduated to multiday walks in the Blue Mountains and state (among other places) for this book. A reformed sportswriter, he now other national parks by his early years in high school. Alpine and cross- writes about adventure and travel for publications around the world. He country skiing and bicycle touring were added to his outdoor-rec mix while has trekked, cycled and paddled across parts of five continents and is the he completed university studies in literature, history and professional writing. author of Headwinds, the story of a 20,000km bike ride around Australia, After this he somehow endured several years of ski-bumming before set- and Lonely Planet’s A Year of Adventures. tling down as a journalist, editor and freelance travel writer/photographer. Widely published by anyone who’ll put up with him, Ian is based near the coast in Sydney with his family (partner x 1, children x 2). This is his fourth Lonely Planet title. Walk My Way For me, Australian walking begins from the bottom up – in Tas- mania, where nights on Wineglass Bay (p 244 ) or days among the mountain assortments of Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National HinchinbrookIsland JOHN & LYN DALY Park ( p214) are unsurpassed. A couple of bushwalking’s lesser Weekend forays into the bush after a torrid week in computers were the lights, South Australia and Western Australia, deserve greater beginning. Outdoor escapes became addictive – no phones, no staff, no attention. The forests along the Bibbulmun Karri & Coast walk Heysen hassles! It was time for a career change. Wine tasters and restaurant critics ( p290 ) and the forest-less approach into Wilpena Pound along Highlight were covered, so John and Lyn turned their long-time passion for bushwalk- the Heysen Highlight (p 268 ) are exceptional. The Victorian Alps Victorian ing, travel and conservation into an occupation. They produced their first Alps are my mountain playground of choice – the Razorback ( p164 ) Bibbulmun Take A Walk book and six others followed. Their ‘job’ allows them to pursue and Crosscut Saw (p 168 ) are as sharpening to the senses as Karri & Coast Cradle Mountain - another passion: long-distance walking, highlighted by end-to-ending the Lake St Clair their names might suggest. And all good things should end WineglassNational Park Bay Australian Alps Walking Track. They regularly write for outdoor and travel on Hinchinbrook Island (p 349 ) – 32km, nine beaches, four days; magazines and share experiences with conservation groups and bushwalk- leisure with your boots on. ing clubs. The pay might not be flash, but the memories and experiences are worth millions.


Having recently explored the Top End for Lonely Planet’s Northern Territory & Central Australia, it was time to park the 4WD and hit the trails. As a Lonely Planet author Lindsay has contributed to several titles, including Australia, Queensland & the Great Barrier Reef and East Coast Australia. He has trekked in Pakistan, Nepal and India, and bushwalked in most states of Australia.


Wandering in the wilderness of his native Tasmania provided inspiration for Grant’s geological training, and subsequent work with nature conservation LONELY PLANET AUTHORS organisations and the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service. Spending part Why is our travel information the best in the world? It’s simple: our authors are independent, of each year trekking, climbing and photographing wild and remote areas dedicated travellers. They don’t research using just the Internet or phone, and they don’t take of the planet, Grant has explored parts of all seven continents and many freebies in exchange for positive coverage. They travel widely, to all the popular spots and off different environments over the past 30 years, from the Antarctic to the Arctic and Himalayan summits to a South Pacific island. He is a co-author the beaten track. They personally visit thousands of hotels, restaurants, cafés, bars, galleries, of Lonely Planet’s Trekking in the Central Andes and Walking in the Alps, con- palaces, museums and more – and they take pride in getting all the details right, and telling it tributed to the previous edition of Walking in Australia, and is also a widely how it is. For more, see the authors section on published photographer., 18THEAUTHORSwww. lonelyplanet. com19

Walk Descriptions

This book contains 60 walk descriptions ranging from day trips to the

GLENN VAN DER KNIJFF multicountry megawalks, plus suggestions for other walks, side trips and

Glenn grew up in Bright, at the foot of the Victorian Alps, and completed alternative routes. Each walk description has a brief introduction outlin- his first walk at the tender age of 11. Living near the mountains ensured he ing the natural and cultural features you may encounter, plus informa- acquired a passion for snow skiing as well as bushwalking. In the last 20 years tion to help you plan your walk – transport options, level of difficulty, Glenn has walked extensively in the High Country of Victoria and Kosciuszko time frame and any permits required. National Park, and he’s even written his own book, Bushwalks in the Victorian Day walks are often circular and are located in areas of uncommon Alps. Though he’s worked at Lonely Planet since 1997, his previous job for beauty. Multiday walks include information on camp sites, mountain Wild (a magazine devoted to Australian rucksack sports) unwittingly gave huts, hostels or other accommodation, and places where you can obtain him the impetus to travel overseas, and he’s since visited Nepal, Canada, the water and supplies. USA and Europe to expand his walking and skiing experiences.

Times & Distances

These are provided only as a guide. Times are based on actual walking time and do not include stops for snacks, taking photographs, rests or

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS side trips. Be sure to factor these in when planning your walk. Distances

Jon Muir wrote the foreword (p9) and boxed text ‘Bush Tucker’ (p31) in the Environment chapter. Jon are provided but should be read in conjunction with altitudes. Significant has devoted his life to outdoor adventure, including five Mt Everest expeditions, a 52-day solo sea- elevation changes can make a greater difference to your walking time kayaking journey and treks to both Poles, in addition to crossing Australia on foot in 2001. He was than lateral distance. named the Australian Geographic Society’s Adventurer of the Year in 2001. In most cases, the daily stages are flexible and can be varied. It is important to recognise that short stages are sometimes recommended in Tim Flannery wrote the boxed text ‘Environmental Challenges’ (p34) in the Environment chapter. Tim order to acclimatise in mountain areas or because there are interesting is a naturalist, explorer and and author of a number of award-winning books, including Country and features to explore en route. The Future Eaters. Tim lives in Adelaide where he is director of the South Australian Museum and a professor at the University of Adelaide. Level of Difficulty Grading systems are always arbitrary. However, having an indication of the grade may help you choose between walks. Our authors use the fol- lowing grading guidelines: Easy – a walk on flat terrain or with minor elevation changes usually over short distances on well- travelled routes with no navigational difficulties. Moderate – a walk with challenging terrain, often involving longer distances and steep climbs. Demanding – a walk with long daily distances and difficult terrain with significant elevation changes; may involve challenging route-finding and high-altitude or glacier travel.

True Left & True Right

The terms ‘true left’ and ‘true right’, used to describe the bank of a stream or river, sometimes throw readers. The ‘true left bank’ simply means the left bank as you look downstream., 20www. lonelyplanet. comPLANNING• • Costs& Money21 still fairly inexpensive. The biggest cost in any trip to Australia will be

Planning transport, simply because it is such a large country.As a walker you have an automatic financial advantage, since you will

almost certainly be spending some nights sleeping in a tent, often free of Australian walking is an evolving creature. At its core it is about self- charge. Off the trail, your budget will be determined by the kind of travel sufficiency; the simple act of dragging your food, water and bed with you are doing. If you are touring around between walks, doing some you through the bush, seeing only natural architecture along the way, general sightseeing, prefer to stay in at least midrange accommodation and with wildlife as your major companion. This remains the essence and have a stomach that demands regular restaurant visits, then $90 to of bushwalking, but it’s no longer the only option. Paths such as the $110 per day (per person travelling as a couple) should do it. Bibbulmun Track (p 290) and Larapinta Trail (p 322 ) have redefined If you are travelling more frugally, camping or staying in hostels, bushwalking infrastructure, alleviating some of the exhaustive fore- cooking your own meals, limiting your entertainment to the walking thought required to step out into the bush. Increasingly, there are also itself, and moving around by bus (or in your own vehicle), you could See Climate ( p361 ) for opportunities to make your planning as simple as calling ahead to book probably eke out an existence on $50 per day. For a budget that realisti- more information. a bed at a B&B, or securing your place on a guided walk. cally enables you to have a good time, open your purse a little wider to Plan ahead according to your walk – a track in the Northern Territory allow $70 per day. or outback New South Wales might require copious preparation, while If you’re not already geared up, a significant expense can be fitting a stroll near the city might require no more than a packed lunch and a yourself out with the appropriate clothing and equipment. See p389 for transport timetable. This book is designed to be one of your preparation advice and options. tools as well as your track guide – it will be the first step of your walk.


Australia is a land for all seasons, balanced between north and south, Sometimes you just want somebody else to point the way or carry your stuff. Try the following tropical and temperate. Whenever you fancy a walk, somewhere in the walking organisations: country is in its prime. When the Northern Territory and Queensland are afloat in their wet season (October to March), southern regions such as Australia Victoria, Tasmania and Kosciuszko National Park beckon. During winter Auswalk (%02-6457 2220; Guided and self-guided walks along the east coast, (June to August), snow and severe weather can make walking hazardous, Tasmania and central Australia. if not impossible, in much of Tasmania and the High Country of New Ecotrek (%08-8346 4155; A large selection of South Australian walks, plus the High South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, but it is gloriously warm across central Country and Tasmania. Australia (if you can excuse the freezing nights); and Queensland and the Nature Bound Australia (%07-3254 1911; Tours that include day walks Top End have wrung themselves dry of humidity. along many of the trails in this book. Spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) are Parktrek (%03-9486 7070; Walks throughout Victoria, plus the Budawangs, Flinders HOW MUCH? anything but seasonal fillers, offering the finest walking conditions Ranges, Kangaroo Island, central Australia, Snowy Mountains and Tasmania. Camping ground (tent & across much of the country. South Australia and Western Australia Willis’ Walkabouts (%08-8985 2134; Walks along the Larapinta Trail and 2 people) $20-25 (WA) are at their best – spring means copious wildflowers in WA – through Kakadu.while NSW and Victoria are also balanced between their summer heat World Expeditions (%1300 720 000; Walks along the Overland Track, B&B (per person sharing) and winter rains. Freycinet Peninsula, South Coast Track, Walls of Jerusalem, Flinders Ranges, Larapinta Trail, Bibbulmun Track and $60 Australia’s great holiday migration is primarily over the summer Cape to Cape Track. Topographic map $10 school holidays (late December through January), but it shouldn’t mean Litre of Shellite $5 any travel disruption – just a few more people to weave around if you UK are walking along the coast. HF Holidays (%0208-905 9556; A 16-day Tasmania tour focusing on the major Post-walk pub meal walking areas. $15-30 COSTS & MONEY KE Adventure Travel (%0176-877 3966; A 15-day trekking tour in the Blue See also Lonely Planet In recent years t he Australian dollar has been holding its own against Mountains and Snowy Mountains. Index, inside back cover. currencies such as the greenback and the euro, so it is a less economical Walks Worldwide (%0152-424 2000; A broad range of walks in eastern Australia, destination than in the days when the Aussie dollar more resembled a including Lamington, the High Country, Overland Track, Blue Mountains, Croajingolong, Grampians and the Great peso. That said, daily living costs such as food and accommodation are Ocean Road.


DON’T HIT THE TRACK WITHOUT… Wilderness Travel (%1-800-368 2794; Offers a Wild Tasmania tour that includes getting over your fear of snakes (p 384 ) map and compass (p 390 ) walks at Cradle Mountain, Mt Field and Freycinet. checking for Total Fire Bans (p 25 ) checking the permits and fees situation (p 371 ) To find local operators on specific walks, see the relevant regional chapter. For information on plenty of drinking water ( p385) walking clubs around the country, see p 358., 22PLANNING• • BackgroundReadingwww. lonelyplanet. comwww. lonelyplanet. comPLANNING• • InternetResources23


The tradition of travel literature has barely touched the Australian walk- A ustralia Online ( Includes an A-Z of all things ocker. ing scene. Not here do you find p ersonal accounts of discovery through Australian Tourist Commission ( Official tourism site with nationwide info walking: Australia’s Snow Leopard remains to be written. A recent excep- for visitors. tion was Jon Muir’s diary-style Alone Across Australia, the story of his Bushwalking in Australia ( NSW-centric – it is the website of the unassisted 128-day walk from Port Augusta to Burketown, one of the Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs NSW – but with links to walking clubs, and titbits on food and great contemporary Australian journeys. equipment. Paddy Pallin’s Bushwalking and Camping, first published in 1934 and Department of the Environment & Heritage ( now into its 14th edition, is something of a walkers’ bible, covering every– Info on the handful of Commonwealth national parks and links to the state-run national park thing from bushcraft and first-aid to tips on stuffing everything into authorities. your backpack. Paddy’s autobiography Never Truly Lost is a fascinating Guide to Australia ( Links to sundry domestic sites focusing on account of bushwalking in a bygone era and of his personal philosophy attractions, culture, the environment, transport etc. (for more about Paddy Pallin, see the boxed text p 389) . John Chapman – Bushwalking in Australia ( Being Outside by Everest summiteer Tim Macartney Snape is a com- Good overview of many of the country’s major tracks. prehensive how-to guide to the outdoors – learn everything from types ( Talk the walk on the dedicated walking, trekking of sleeping bag to the pathology of hypothermia. and mountaineering branch of the Thorn Tree forum. Classic Wild Walks of Australia by Robert Rankin takes a glance at Yahoo! Groups: bushwalking ( Discussion group walks in 25 regions of the country, complemented by a beautiful set of on all things bushwalking. photos. Classic Walks of Australia by Sven Klinge features thumbnail descriptions of around 180 walks. Hardback and huge, both books are more for the coffee table than the backpack. SEASONED WALKERS Seasons, as much as scenery, can be a deciding factor in the tracks you choose to walk. If you want your visit to coincide with nature’s moods, try one of the following. Summer Brutal heat across much of the country brings Tasmania and the High Country of NSW and Victoria into their own. Head out into Kosciuszko National Park (p 82 ), the Victorian Alps (p 155 ) or Tasmania’s west (p 204 ). If you are in northern Australia, you might join the summer exodus to Lamington National Park ( p333 ) to beat the lowland heat. Autumn As a general rule, autumn provides the most stable weather conditions across much of the country, making it arguably the finest walking season of all. Australia’s trees are not noted for the kind of deciduous colouring that so electrifies forests in many other parts of the world. One exception is the deciduous beech (or ‘fagus’) in Tasmania. This tree changes colour around late April, and is best sighted along the Overland Track (p 214) or on Mt Field ( p206 ). Winter Follow the migration north for the best of the walking conditions. Wander along the Jatbula Trail ( p315) or sample the Larapinta Trail (p 322 ). In northern Queensland, both the Thorsborne Trail ( p349 ) and Mt Bartle Frere ( p353 ) are exceptional in winter. If you can brave the chill in the south, you will witness the ocean’s full ferocity around Cape Pillar (p 200) and the Great Ocean Walk Highlight (p 143) . Spring There is no better place to be during spring than in Western Australia, where the wildflowers turn the earth into a Monet canvas. All the walks in the WA chapter feature great spring floral displays. You need not venture far out of Sydney, however, to find a decent coating of wildflowers, with both the Bouddi Coast (p 55 ) and Royal National Park Coast Track (p 58 ) rich in flowering heath. This is also the most comfortable and beautiful season to walk in the Flinders Ranges (p 261 )., 24www. lonelyplanet. comENVIRONMENT• • TheLand25 tures caused by the cumulative effects of more than 100 million years

Environment of weathering.In general, Australia has grown from west to east. Western Australia’s

Pilbara region contains both Australia’s oldest rocks (3.3 billion years) Separated from other lands for around 33 million years, Australia has and evidence of some of the oldest known organisms: stromatolites (more been on a unique evolutionary journey, moulding wildlife as though it than 2.5 billion years ago). Younger (600 million years) rocks in the was an abstract art form – mammals with pouches, a pin-cushion that Flinders Ranges contain fossils of jellyfish-like organisms, the first evi- lays eggs, a monotreme with the bill of a duck – and grinding down its dence of multicelled life. Complex life burst forth worldwide soon after. ancient mountains even as the rest of the world has been erecting theirs. During the last billion years Australia has lain in the centre of two Is it any wonder they call it the land down under? supercontinents, ancient Rodinia and more-recent Gondwana. The latter contained all the major southern landmasses and was assembled by 520

THE LAND million years ago. During the subsequent 150 million years, warm and

A ustralia contains ancient rocks and evidence of the earliest life, but the shallow seas covered parts of Australia, and volcanic arcs and deeper landscape itself is very old in many areas. While northern hemisphere water lay to the east. Cycles of sedimentation and deformation built new land masses were scraped clean by glaciers during recent ice ages, this crust, the present eastern Australia. was not so in much of Australia, which retains landscape and soil fea- Global cooling about 330 million years ago, with Gondwana near the South Pole, plunged Australia into an extended glacial period. As the TREADING LIGHTLY T he Australian bush is more fragile than its sun-hardened image might appear, and hordes of Washing bushwalkers can easily upset the ecological balance. To that end, national parks and bushwalking Don’t use detergents or toothpaste in or near watercourses; try to use sand or a scourer clubs have adopted Minimal Impact Bushwalking Codes – you will find an example at www.bush (not detergent) to clean dishes. You don’t need to be able to recite them like a pledge of allegiance: every- thing in the codes is common bush sense. The following guidelines are based on these codes. If washing with soap, use a water container at least 50m from any watercourse. Disperse the waste water widely so it filters through the soil before it returns to the creek. Rubbish Strain food scraps from dishwashing water and carry them out in your rubbish. Take plastic bags for your rubbish and if you have carried it in, carry it out. Carry out rubbish left by other people. Fires & Total Fire Bans Don’t bury or burn rubbish. Burning creates pollution and buried rubbish might be dug up by Campfires are not allowed in fuel-stove-only areas. animals and scattered. Carry a fuel stove to avoid campfires; fires inevitably result in some scarring of the land. If walking in scrubby country, don’t carry foam sleeping mats or items in plastic bags on the Fires of any kind (including fuel stoves) are prohibited on days of Total Fire Ban. In remote outside of your pack. areas, regard any hot, dry, windy day as a fire ban day. If having a campfire, use an existing fireplace rather than making a new one. If there are Human Waste multiple fireplaces, use the major one – you might even consider dismantling the others. It there is no toilet, bury your waste by digging a hole 15cm deep and at least 100m from any Don’t surround fireplaces with rocks; instead, clear away all flammable material for at least watercourse and camp site. Take a trowel or large tent peg for this purpose. Cover the waste 2m. Use the minimum of dead, fallen wood. and paper with soil. Be absolutely certain the fire is extinguished. Drown the embers with water – sand and soil At many national park camp sites there are composting toilets. Do not place rubbish in these won’t extinguish a fire. A fire is only safe to leave when you can comfortably put your hand toilets as it can affect the composting process. on it. Place your stove on hard, nonliving surfaces, not vegetation. Cooking on vegetation can Feeding Animals cause scorching from radiant heat – you may not see the effect but it can come through over Don’t feed animals, no matter how cute they are, and secure rubbish and food away from pry- subsequent days. ing paws. Feeding makes wild creatures dependent on humans for food and can cause diseases such as lumpy jaw – a fatal condition found in marsupials, causing them to starve to death. Low-Impact Walking Use existing tracks. Don’t cut corners to bypass zigzags. Camping Walk through muddy or waterlogged sections of track; walking around the edge only increases Use an existing camp site rather than creating a new one. Avoid grassed areas; choose sandy the size of the pool. or hard surfaces. Avoid walking on sensitive vegetation. Minimise walking on loose ground, scree, dunes and Don’t dig trenches around your tent to divert rainwater; use a waterproof groundsheet. marshes., 26ENVIRONMENT• • TheLandwww. lonelyplanet. comwww. lonelyplanet. comENVIRONMENT• • Wildlife27 climate thawed 40 million years later, sediments, then cold peat swamps, continent-wide effect with a dramatic influence on the character and filled subsiding basins along the east coast: Australia’s future black-coal distribution of vegetation. Many of Australia’s desert dunes are probably deposits. Sands that would become the cliffs of the Blue Mountains and relict features from the last ice age. rocks of the Sydney region were deposited subsequently in deltas and floodplains. Despite Australia’s polar location, the climate continued to WILDLIFE warm, with the development of arid inland riverine plains. Lush vegeta- For all its visibility on postcard stands and road signs, Australia’s w ildlife tion developed in eastern Australia when warm and humid conditions can play pretty hard to get. In the main, the animals are more sensible than For a more complete look developed, and dinosaurs and early mammals roamed the land. the walkers, avoiding the heat of day and stirring only for nocturnal activ- at Australian critters and Crustal extension within Gondwana began about 180 million years ity. This means your days are unlikely to be spent among warm-blooded their distribution, see ago, heralded by the injection of molten rock into the crust – now company, though wildlife parades past camp in the evenings and early Lonely Planet’s Watching Tasmania’s dolerite. The separation of Australia and Antarctica and the mornings are common. If you are walking in Tasmania, where the animals Wildlife Australia. opening of the Tasman Sea both began 100 million years ago, at about think walkers are some form of butler service, you might even find yourself the same time the first platypus appears in the fossil record. The opening cursing the day possums were given dexterous, backpack-opening claws. Read about the 400- of the Tasman Sea ended after less than 20 million years, but the Austral- million-year greening ian Plate has continued to move northeast by 7cm per year since, with Animals of Gondwana in Mary northern Australia reaching the tropics about 25 million years ago. MAMMALS White’s book of the same The rise of Australia’s Eastern Highlands, or Great Divide, and the The kangaroo is as symbolically Australian as Uluru, though it comes in name. formation of the Great Escarpment along its eastern margin, were as- about 39 flavours (counting wallabies). Fortunately, it seems to have so sociated with the opening of the Tasman Sea. But its subsequent erosion, baffled the earliest settlers it finished up with a nomenclature that makes in particular gorge incision and valley widening along the Great Escarp- species simple to identify: if you see a kangaroo that is red in colour, it ment, has been remarkably slow, a reflection of the tectonic stability of will be a red kangaroo; if you see a wallaby with yellowish feet in a rocky this part of Australia. gorge, it will be a yellow-footed rock wallaby. Australia and Antarctica had fully separated by 33 million years ago; The most majestic roo is the red kangaroo, which can stand up to 1.8m Australia had finally become the island continent. The Antarctic Cir- tall. Restricted to the arid inland, only walkers in the Flinders Ranges cumpolar Current then became established in the new Southern Ocean, ( p261 ) are likely to see these bush giants. A more common sight is the triggering the refrigeration of Antarctica and increasing aridity in Aus- e astern grey kangaroo, marginally smaller (and a lot greyer) than big red tralia about 15 million years ago, thus ending a 75-million-year period and found throughout eastern Australia. The western grey kangaroo, which during which Australia and Antarctica were heavily forested and drained looks very much like the eastern grey, isn’t limited by its name, ranging by abundant rivers and lakes. across southern Australia. Some uplift of the Central Australian mountain ranges occurred hun- Wallabies are classified as kangaroo species weighing less than 25kg, dreds of millions of years ago. However, uplift of the Mt Lofty and and there are several you might see on your wanders. The r ed-necked Flinders Ranges has occurred over the last 50 million years, accelerating wallaby, with its characteristic reddish nape, is the most commonly seen during the last 10 million, suggesting some of Australia’s central moun- along the east coast and Tasmania, while the dark swamp wallaby is also tains have formed from rejuvenated crustal activity and are not just worn a frequent sight. Rock wallabies can be more reclusive than Ken Kesey, An apocryphal legend down remnants of older, higher ranges. Further west, the Nullarbor Plain but early mornings and dusk in the gorges along the Larapinta Trail suggests that ‘kangaroo’ limestones were uplifted at the same time, facilitating the formation of (p 322) will reveal the endangered black-footed rock wallaby. On the Heysen is an Aboriginal word one of the world’s most extensive cave systems. Highlight ( p269) , watch for yellow-footed rock wallabies, the icon of the for ‘don’t know’. When Australia is the only continent lacking active volcanoes, but this has Flinders Ranges. James Cook first saw not always been so and the most recent volcanic phase has barely ended. The e uro, or common wallaroo, is found on rocky hillsides across the this strange creature, Basalt volcanoes and lava fields occurred all down the eastern margin country. It is more solidly built and has a rougher, shaggier coat than red he supposedly asked The Finke River, which from 70 million to just 4600 years ago, the latter eruption near Mt Gam- or grey kangaroos. The males’ colouring varies from grey-black to red- an Aboriginal man runs through the West bier probably witnessed by the local Aboriginal people. Northern NSW’s dish-brown to fawn, while the females are usually smaller and paler. what it was. The man MacDonnell Ranges Border Ranges are the remnant of a 22-million-year-old basalt shield If you are going to reliably see any one mammal, it will be the brushtail answered that he didn’t and floods out into volcano, the eroded caldera being one of the largest in the world. p ossum, the largest and most boisterous of Australia’s possums. Renowned know…‘kangaroo’. the Simpson Desert, is The gross shape of the Australian coastline reflects the Gondwana for making a racket on suburban roofs, brushtails are no less bold in the claimed to be the world’s break-up fracture pattern, but at a detailed level the coast has evolved bush, and on many walks, especially in Tasmania, you will need to guard oldest river, at around from a combination of drowning and erosion of rocky coastal areas, and your food against these bushy thieves. More reticent is the ringtail possum, 350 million years. recent deposition in deltas and along sandy coastlines. Sea levels rose with its white-ringed prehensile tail used for climbing. and fell by more than 100m over the last one to two million years, with The k oala is atop everybody’s list of wildlife darlings, at least until you shorelines migrating in response to the waxing and waning of several ice have slept anywhere near a randy male koala grunting like a wild boar. ages; the present level was attained only 6500 years ago. With tufted ears and a hard black nose, it is among the easiest marsupials Around 1300 sq km of Tasmania’s highlands was glaciated during to spot during the day, often resting in a low fork of a eucalypt; manna the last ice age, peaking 18,000 years ago, but on the mainland only a gums are a favourite. You will find koalas along much of the east coast small area of ice formed near Mt Kosciuszko. However, the ice ages were and also in South Australia, where they have been reintroduced after periods of lowered precipitation as well as temperature, and did have a becoming extinct., 28ENVIRONMENT• • Wildlifewww. lonelyplanet. comwww. lonelyplanet. comENVIRONMENT• • Wildlife29 The common w ombat is another bit of bush cuddliness that walkers in active in the early morning and you will have a better chance of seeing a New South Wales, Victoria and Tassie might encounter. With its vaguely good variety if you set off early each day. bear-like shape and amble, it looks cumbersome but can hit speeds of up Australia’s most recognisable birds are the emu and the laughing kooka- to 40km/h. Those large burrows beside the track and the cube-shaped burra. The former looks like an ostrich baked dry by the sun and is found scat uncannily balanced atop rocks are the wombat’s handiwork. across most of the country. When startled, it can hit speeds of 50km/h. One creature you won’t want to cuddle is the short-beaked echidna. It has You will almost certainly hear the laughing kookaburra (the largest a coat of long spines on its back and an elongated, beak-like snout perfect member of the kingfisher family) before you see it, with its loud, cackling Discover the curious for catching ants and termites, its main food. It is often seen during the laugh, though it is also easily spotted. Closely related is the blue-winged world of the wombat in day in cooler climates, usually nosing about or ploughing open termite kookaburra, found in the tropics. James Woodford’s The mounds and logs with its huge claws. If an echidna notices you, it will If you are walking in spring, the Australian m agpie will probably find Secret Life of Wombats. generally burrow frantically, leaving only its spines exposed. Echidnas you before you find it. This large black-and-white bird has one of the Learn to pick one poo are found throughout Australia. bush’s most melodious songs, but can be highly territorial when breed- and paw from another Along with the echidna, the platypus is the world’s last remaining ing, swooping anything that comes near, including humans. The good in Tracks, Scats and Other monotreme, or egg-laying mammal. It is something of a jigsaw, with news for walkers is that swooping seems more prevalent in urban areas Traces by Barbara Triggs. a softish, duck-like bill, short legs, webbed feet and a short, beaver-like than on walking tracks. tail. It is confined to the eastern mainland and Tasmania, and you are Looking like a cross between a crow and a magpie, the pied currawong not going to see a platypus on many walks, though the two ends of the is one of the most regularly seen birds in the bush. This black bird has Overland Track (p 214) – Lake St Clair and Dove Lake – offer hope. yellow eyes and a strip of white across its tail feathers. It is among the As the name suggests, you will find the Tasmanian devil only in Tasma- most gregarious of the birds you will encounter and has a piercing, almost nia. As stocky as a small pig, with white stripes across its black chest, its parrot-like call. ferocious name gives it a largely undeserved notoriety, though watch a The greatest sight you will see in the Australian skies is the freewheel- group of devils arguing over roadkill and you will wonder. It has solitary ing figure of a wedge-tailed eagle. The country’s largest bird of prey has a and nocturnal habits, either scavenging or hunting vertebrates. If you wingspan of up to 2m and is named for the distinctive shape of its tail. hear a banshee scream in the night, it is likely to be a Tassie devil but it Though ‘wedgies’ are found across Australia, they are most commonly is not about to come charging through your tent. seen in the interior. When the first platypus Perhaps the only mammal more notorious than the Tassie devil is Just as fascinating is the sight of a male bowerbird at work. This stocky, specimens were sent the dingo, Australia’s so-called native dog, which probably arrived about stout-billed bird builds a bower that he decorates with various coloured to England in the late 4000 years ago with Asian sailors. Common in much of the outback (and objects: the glossy-blue male s atin bowerbird will use almost anything that’s 18th century, they were prolific on Fraser Island, p346 ), it usually has a bronze tinge to its coat, blue; the golden b owerbird uses pale-green moss, pale flowers and fruits; and Magpies usually swoop thought to be a hoax. and yips and howls rather than barks – if you hear barking, it is a wild the great bowerbird accumulates stones, shells, seeds and metallic objects. from behind. Painting dog not a dingo. The dingo is an efficient predator of rabbits but also Among the parrots and cockatoos you can expect to see, the galah eyes on the back of your attacks livestock. and sulphur-crested cockatoo are prominent. The former is pink and grey hat or wearing sunglasses in colour, while the latter is white and has a crest coloured like the rim backwards can dissuade BIRDS of a volcano. It also has a shriek loud enough to wake the dead. The them from attacking. A ustralia has around 800 recorded bird species and they’re likely to be b lack-cockatoo, whether yellow-, red- or white-tailed, is another welcome the most visible of the animals you’ll see while walking. They are most sight. They can look like crows from a distance, but have a heavier, lazier wing motion and a call like a creaky door. The crimson rosella is a common sight – look for a flash of red through the trees – and the bril- DEVIL OF A DISEASE liantly coloured rainbow lorikeet, with its blue head, orange breast and In the last decade, the Tasmanian devil population has been decimated by a fatal condition green body, gathers in great numbers around flowering plants. known as devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). Beginning as small lesions on the face and in the The s uperb lyrebird, which graces the Australian 10-cent coin, is a mouth, DFTD develops into large and hideous cancers around the face and neck. Affected animals ground-dwelling bird. The male lyrebird has tail feathers that form a lyre usually die within six months of the appearance of lesions. shape when hoisted to attract a female. Its party trick is bush mimicry, First found in Tasmania’s northeast in 1996, DFTD has since become prevalent throughout copying almost any noise it has heard, from the calls of other birds to eastern, central and northern parts of the island – currently the west coast remains free of the livestock and chainsaws. To hear a lyrebird running through its noises disease. There has been a dramatic population decline in some of these areas, with estimates like a compilation CD is worth any amount of walking. For a bird identification that around 50,000 animals have died from DFTD. As a result, Tasmanian devils have been listed Walkers in Queensland will soon be aware of the Australian brush-turkey, guide that won’t break as a vulnerable species. with its bald red head and yellow wattles – it will be the bird trying to your back, carry the Slater Researchers predict that DFTD isn’t likely to result in the extinction of Tasmanian devils, but the pilfer your food and rubbish bag. You might even start wishing Christ- Field Guide to Australian decline in the population may result in increased cat numbers and could allow foxes to establish mas dinner upon it. Birds by Peter, Pat & in Tasmania, making it difficult for the Tassie devil population to recover. Raoul Slater. If you see a sick Tasmanian devil, leave it be but report it to the wildlife management branch REPTILES of Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment at http://wildlife It is true that Australia has a few reptiles, but work under the assumption .email is hidden. that they are at least as frightened of you as you are of them. Make some noise as you walk and you will most likely go unbothered., 30ENVIRONMENT• • Wildlifewww. lonelyplanet. comwww. lonelyplanet. comENVIRONMENT• • Wildlife31 Australia has 130 species of snake and, despite the negative press, the Largely confined to poorly drained plains in southwest Tasmania, majority are harmless (though it is always wise to assume otherwise). buttongrass grows in tall tussocks, separated by bare patches of bog, and Warm, sunny conditions, such as the start of spring, are best for seeing is a dirty word among walkers who have ever wallowed through it. Its snakes. It is difficult at a glance to tell one snake from another – most leaves are tough and the flower for which it is named is a small cluster come in fetching shades of brown or black – though walkers in Lam- of white spikelets. ington National Park might be treated to an array of rainforest pythons and tree snakes. SHRUBS & FLOWERS Bushfire-aware slogan in One reptile you will want to see is the goanna, or monitor lizard, a The best known of the Australian shrubs (and among the easiest to iden- the Northern Territory: primordial reptile with the swagger of a cowboy. Australia has around 25 tify) is the callistemon, or bottlebrush. Named for its brush-like flowers, it ‘We Like Our Lizards species of goanna, which can stretch to 2.5m. Gould’s goanna, with cream is found right across the country, and ranges in height from 1m to 10m. Frilled Not Grilled’. or yellow spots, and the lace monitor, with white, cream or yellow scales There are about 30 species with varying flower colours – red, white, pink forming a lace-like pattern, are often seen ambling through camps. and yellow among them – though species are difficult to distinguish. Only walkers on Hinchinbrook Island (p 347 ) need browse up on They are a favourite with some birds. crocodiles. The s altwater (or estuarine) crocodile is the one that causes all There are around 250 species of g revillea, of which 245 are endemic to the fuss. Growing to 7m, it will attack and kill humans. It lives in large Australia. They come in various sizes and flower colours and are found in numbers on mangrove-rimmed Hinchinbrook, though there have been the Australian Alps, forests, semi-arid country and near the coast. Most no recorded attacks. The f reshwater crocodile is smaller, not so interested in are small to medium in size, although the silky oak can grow to 25m and, the taste of humans, and can be distinguished from ‘salties’ by its narrow covered with orange flowers, is one of Australia’s most beautiful trees. snout (salties have wide, box-like snouts). Kakadu is flush with crocs, but There are around 80 species of t ea-tree, which are found in all states. not along the walking route described in this book. Most species are large, dense bushes, not trees. Early settlers gave the tree its name after trying to brew tea from its leaves (what English settler


NATIVE GRASSES Australia has more than 700 species of native grass, a couple of which BUSH TUCKER Jon Muir will come to the particular notice of walkers. A ustralia supported a rich culture for thousands of years on f ood that was hunted and gathered. S pinifex is the hardiest and most common desert plant, forming round Most of these foods can still be found in wilderness areas, although few people today recognise clumps of needle-like leaves sprouting into softer, wheat-like seed stalks. them. To sample these wild foods you need to be able to positively identify what you are about The prickly dome is a haven for small desert mammals and reptiles, to put in your mouth to avoid accidental poisoning. Many edible bush foods have closely related which shelter inside during the day. plants that look very similar but are poisonous. Fortunately, most plants that are toxic to humans make themselves known by an unpleasant taste or burning sensation to the mouth (however, there are a few poisonous plants that do taste OK!). Before sampling any bush food you should WHERE THE WILD THINGS ROAM touch it to your lip to check for taste or burning. Animals you might expect to see on walks in this book include the following: It is also important to note that flora and fauna are protected in national parks. Nothing here Black-footed rock wallaby Larapinta Trail Highlight (p 320) can be sampled, be it water lily petals or red kangaroo. However, parks are a great place to learn Brushtail possum Warrumbungle National Park ( p110 ), Croajingolong National Park ( p180 ) about identification of food because there is such a diverse range of bush tucker found in these C ommon wombat Wilsons Promontory National Park (p 175 ), Blue Mountains (p 62 ) ecologically intact remnants of wilderness. Dingo Fraser Island (p 341 ) In dune fields you can find lizards, native pear (a green vegetable that grows on a low bush Eastern grey kangaroo Warrumbungle National Park (p 110 ) and needs baking), pigweed (which has sweet, fleshy red flower petals with a salty aftertaste) E astern quoll Overland Track (p 214 ) and bloodwood galls. These galls are often tennis-ball-sized knobbly growths on the western Echidna Warrumbungle National Park (p 110 ) bloodwood. Both the gall itself and the grub found inside are edible. Emu Warrumbungle National Park (p 110) Arid mountains are the home of the bush banana, which grows on spindly vines strung be- Frilled lizard Kakadu National Park (p 311 ) tween trees and needs to be picked young and steamed or lightly roasted. In these rocky ter- G reat bowerbird Nitmiluk National Park (p 315 ) rains, rock figs are often found above rock holes, with the fruit looking similar to (though smaller Koala Yurrebilla Trail (p 253 ), Warrumbungle National Park ( p110 ) than) the common fig. Lace Monitor Croajingolong National Park (p 180) The Top End is probably the easiest place to find a diverse supply of bush foods, including Noisy pitta Lamington National Park (p 333) burdekin plums, lilly pilly fruit, lady apples (crunchy and sweet) and the vicious green ant (if you P latypus Overland Track (p 214) are bold enough to disturb its nest!). Both the green ant larvae and the nests themselves are Red kangaroo Flinders Ranges ( p261) a source of food. The nest clump can be dropped into hot water to make a deliciously tangy R ingtail possum Wilsons Promontory National Park ( p175 ), Overland Track (p 214 ) lemon flavoured tea. S altwater crocodile Hinchinbrook Island (p 347 ) One of the best books on northern Australian bush food is Bush Tucker Field Guide by Les Hiddins, S atin bowerbird Lamington National Park (p 333 ) and for central Australia (and my all-time favourite), Wild Food Plants of Australia by Tim Low. Superb lyrebird Blue Mountains ( p62 ), Cathedral Range (p 135 ) Tasmanian devil Overland Track ( p214 ), Freycinet Peninsula (p 242 ) Australian adventurer Jon Muir completed an unassisted traverse across Australia, Western grey kangaroo Stirling Range ( p298 ), Walpole-Nornalup National Park (p 290) from the Spencer Gulf to the Gulf of Carpentaria, surviving largely on bush food., 32ENVIRONMENT• • Wildlifewww. lonelyplanet. comwww. lonelyplanet. comENVIRONMENT• • NationalParks& Reserves45 could live without his tea, after all?). Flowers are mainly white and stalk- (Continued from page 32) less, and leaves are small. The p andani is the tallest heath plant in the world, and though it looks Banksias take their name from Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist who more like a tropical palm you will only find it in west and southwest accompanied James Cook on his exploration of eastern Australia. Num- Tasmania. It can reach a height of 12m, and has a crown of stiff leathery bering about 70 species and confined to Australia, they are common on leaves 1.5m long, with old, dead leaves or fronds forming a huge skirt sandy soils. Most banksias sport upright cylindrical flower spikes up around the lower trunk. to 30cm long, covered with vibrant orange, red or yellow flowers. As the flowers die, the woody fruits appear. Aboriginal people dipped the CYCADS & FERNS banksia spikes in water to make a sweet drink. The MacDonnell Ranges cycad is one of about 25 Australian species of the Casuarinas, also known as she-oaks, are hardy trees characterised by wiry ancient cycad family, and will become familiar to walkers on the Larap- ‘leaves’ that are actually branchlets; the true leaves are small scales clus- inta Trail (p 322 ). It is very slow-growing, and often found high on rocky tered in whorls along the branchlets. Casuarinas produce distinctive small hillsides and in gorges. It has palm-like fronds and seed cones grow at the knobbly cones, and are widely distributed from the desert to the coast. tip of the short trunk on female plants; the male cones carry the pollen. The m elaleuca, also called paperbark or honey-myrtle, is easily recog- The seeds are poisonous. nised by its pale papery bark, which peels from the trunk in thin sheets. The b urrawang grows along the NSW coast on sandy soils. The 2m- It is widespread on rocky ground, from the coast to semiarid inland long palm-like fronds grow from ground level. Its red seeds are also areas. The flower spikes consist of many tiny filaments and range from poisonous. cream through crimson to purple. The beautifully ornate rough tree fern and the soft tree fern are found in Australia has several families of native conifer, but they rarely dominate eastern Australia’s temperate rainforests. Some reach a height of 20m and the vegetation as pines and spruces can in the northern hemisphere. En- all are capped by a crown of green fronds. demic to Tasmania, the pencil pine is found in areas of high rainfall: the central plateau and the southwest. A graceful tree, it grows to a height of TREES about 15m. In coastal areas and inland semi-arid country in all states ex- First among equals for Australian trees is the ubiquitous eucalyptus, or cept WA, the Oyster Bay pine has distinctive segmented cones and reaches gum tree. Of the 700 species, all but about eight are endemic to Aus- 6m in height. Foliage is typical of the Callitris genus: tiny scaly leaves ar- tralia. Eucalypts vary in form and height from the tall, ruler-straight ranged along branchlets. The cypress pine has hard, furrowed bark and its Never again will you karri (confined to WA) and the towering mountain ash to the twisted resistance to termites has made it a favourite bush building material. t hink of the humble gum snow gum. River red gums typically line watercourses, permanent or The unusual looking g rass tree is widespread in southeastern and south- tree as just a khaki- ephemeral, where their deep roots tap underground water reserves. The western Australia, mainly on sandy soils. It has very thin long leaves, a coloured bit of stick after most widespread eucalypt, these massive, spreading trees grow to 45m short thick trunk and a distinctive flower spike up to 3m tall, with tiny reading Murray Bail’s high and can live for hundreds of years. River red gums are notorious flowers massed along the upper half of a long stem. Walkers on the Cape beautiful Eucalyptus. shedders of branches, so never camp under this tree; people have been to Cape Track (p 279) will see the biggest of them. killed by falling branches. The hardy, shrub-like mallee is widespread in Australia has about 50 species of m angrove – trees and shrubs adapted the interior. There are over 100 species of this ground-branching tree, to daily flooding by salt water. Along northern coasts and estuaries, which grows from a massive underground root (lignotuber) that enables various species grow to around 30m, while at the southern limit of their it to survive fire. distribution, in Victoria, they rarely exceed 5m. Mangroves have various Two of Australia’s most striking trees are eucalypts: the snow gum ways of coping with inundation, with some breathing through aerial and the ghost gum. The snow gum flourishes at higher altitudes than roots that are exposed at low tide. Walkers on Hinchinbrook Island any other eucalyptus – up to 1700m in the High Country and Tasmanian ( p347) will get the best look at mangroves. highlands. It ranges from 1m to 20m in height and has smooth, whitish bark, sometimes patterned in racing stripes of green, yellow and red. Walkers in the MacDonnell Ranges won’t fail to notice the bone-white WORLD HERITAGE WANDERS trunks of the ghost gum, immortalised in Albert Namatjira’s distinctive A ustralia has 16 sites inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage list, including six that feature paintings. walks in this book: Australian acacias are commonly known as wattles and around 700 Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves (p 119) species have been recorded. They vary from small shrubs to the black- wood, which grows up to 30m in height. The flowers come in all shades Fraser Island (p 341) of yellow; most species flower during late winter and spring, bring- Greater Blue Mountains Area (p 62 ) ing brilliant splashes of colour to the bush. The golden wattle, with Kakadu National Park ( p311 ) its masses of bright-yellow flowers, is Australia’s floral emblem. A less-showy acacia is the mulga, found across the arid inland. Its wide, Tasmanian Wilderness (p 204) funnel-like shape acts as its own water catchment, channelling rain to Wet Tropics of Queensland (p 352 ) its base. For a full list of World Heritage sites, log on to (Continued on page 45), 46ENVIRONMENT• • EnvironmentalChallengeswww. lonelyplanet. comwww. lonelyplanet. comENVIRONMENT• • EnvironmentalIssues47


ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES Tim Flannery It is safe to suggest that Australia has more national parks than any other The European colonisation of Australia, commencing in 1788, heralded a period of catastrophic country on earth. While Britain has 15 national parks and the USA has environmental upheaval, with the result that Australians today are struggling with some of the around 60, Australia has about 330 national parks. most severe environmental problems to be found anywhere. It may seem strange that a popula- Around 7% of Australia’s land is protected as either national park tion of just 20 million, living in a country the size of continental USA, could inflict such damage or as some other form of nature conservation reserve. It doesn’t sound on its environment, but Australia’s long isolation, fragile soils and difficult climate have made it huge, but it represents an area about twice the size of New Zealand. particularly vulnerable to human-induced change. South Australia has the greatest amount of protected land, both in area Damage to Australia’s environment has been inflicted in several ways, the most important being (203,700 sq km) and proportion (20.7% of the state). This is followed by the introduction of p est species, destruction of forests, overstocking of rangelands, inappropriate Tasmania (20%), Victoria (13.4%), WA (6.1%), NSW (4.8%), Queensland The first Green political agriculture and interference with water flows. Beginning with the escape of domestic cats into (3.1%) and the NT (2.8%). party in the world was the Australian bush shortly after 1788, a plethora of vermin (from foxes to wild camels and cane State governments have authority over their own national parks. Con- formed in Australia, aris- toads) has run wild in Australia, causing extinctions in the native fauna. One out of every 10 native tact details for each national park authority are provided in the regional ing from failed efforts to mammals living in Australia prior to European colonisation is now extinct, and many more are chapters. stop the flooding of Lake highly endangered. Extinctions have also affected native plants, birds and amphibians. Many national parks have entry fees; for an overview see p368 . Pedder in Tasmania’s The destruction of forests has also had a profound effect on the environment. Most of Aus- southwest in the 1960s tralia’s rainforests have suffered clearing, while conservationists continue to fight with loggers ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES and early 1970s. over the fate of the last unprotected stands of ‘old growth’. Romanticised around the world as an environmental exemplar, Australia Many Australian rangelands have been chronically overstocked for more than a century, the has its share of ecological problems. It is also one of only four nations result being the extreme vulnerability of both soils and rural economies to Australia’s drought (with the USA, Monaco and Liechtenstein) yet to sign the Kyoto Pro- and flood cycle, as well as the extinction of many native species. The development of agricul- tocol on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, so pack away any ture has involved land clearance and the provision of irrigation, and again the effect has been preconceptions that this green-and-gold nation is more interested in profound. green than gold. Clearing of the diverse and spectacular plant communities of the Western Australian wheat Wherever you wander, and as you drive to and from walks, you will belt began just a century ago, yet today up to one-third of that country is degraded by salina- encounter weeds, feral animals, deforestation, suburban sprawl and, most tion of the soils. Between 70kg and 120kg of salt lies below every square metre of the region, likely, salinity and water shortages. Even national parks are often located and clearing of native vegetation has allowed water to penetrate deep into the soil, dissolving on previously logged or damaged lands. the salt crystals and carrying brine towards the surface. Walking doesn’t automatically remove you as part of the problem. The In terms of financial value, just 1.5% of Australia’s land surface provides over 95% of its agricul- hardening of tracks and camp sites is evident throughout the country, tural yield, and much of this land lies in the irrigated regions of the Murray–Darling Basin. This is while some responsibility for the spread or containment of Phytophthora Australia’s agricultural heartland, yet it is also under severe threat from salting of soils and rivers. c innamomi, or dieback, rests with walkers. This destructive root rot af- Irrigation water penetrates into the sediments laid down in an ancient sea, carrying salt into the fects a variety of woody species, and has killed great numbers of plants catchments and fields. If nothing is done, the lower Murray River will become too salty to drink in many of the walking areas covered in this book. It is spread by the in a decade or two, threatening the water supply of Adelaide, a city of over a million people. movement of dirt or plant material, so you should make certain that your Despite the scale of the biological crisis engulfing Australia, governments and the community gear is thoroughly washed after leaving an infected area. In many places, have been slow to respond. In the 1980s coordinated action began to take place, but not until special cleaning stations are provided. the ’90s were major steps taken. The establishment of Landcare Australia (www.landcareaustralia C onservation groups in Australia include the following:, an organisation enabling people to effectively address local environmental issues, and Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF; %1800 332 510; the expenditure of $2.5 billion through the National Heritage Trust Fund have been important Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife (%02-9221 1949; national initiatives. Yet so difficult are some of the issues the nation faces that, as yet, little has Friends of the Earth Australia (%03-9419 8700; been achieved in terms of halting the destructive processes. Greenpeace Australia Pacific (%02-9261 4666; Individuals are also banding together to help. Groups such as the Australian Bush Heritage Landcare Australia (%1800 151 105; Fund ( and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC; www.australianwildlife Wilderness Society (%03-6270 1701; .org) allow people to donate funds and time to the conservation of native species. Some such groups have been spectacularly successful; the AWC, for example, already manages many en- dangered species over its 5260-sq-km holdings. So severe are Australia’s problems that it will take a revolution before they can be overcome, for sustainable practices need to be implemented in every arena of life – from farms to suburbs and city centres. Renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and water use lie at the heart of these changes, and Australians are only now developing the road map to sustainability that they so © Lonely Planet Publications. To make it easier for you to use, access to this chapter is not digitally desperately need if they are to have a long-term future on the continent. restricted. In return, we think it’s fair to ask you to use it for personal, non-commercial purposes only. In other words, please don’t upload this chapter to a peer-to-peer site, mass email it to Tim Flannery is a naturalist, explorer and writer. He lives in Adelaide where he is director of the South Australian Museum and a professor at the University of Adelaide. everyone you know, or resell it. See the terms and conditions on our site for a longer way of saying the above - ‘Do the right thing with our content.’]

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