Mt Warning LOVE..

13 Feb

So it has been a few weeks since my last post, I can’t be this slack already, surely?! Gosh, Queen Procrastinator!

Life has been busy and it is only about to get more hectic as the weeks tick by. We set sail early March so there is a lot of preparation that needs to occur before our departure into the sparkling mediterranean seas. Exciting!! In saying this, my yearning for a home visit still continues to increase at exponential speeds. While browsing the web tonight I found an article that I had written for a Gold Coast travel magazine back in October 2009.

Reading over it took me back to that exact moment and also made me appreciate my beautiful motherland even more. It is such a special place and ever so close to my heart. Always and Forever.

Have a read, maybe it will inspire you to tackle the climb. I cannot wait to revisit this special mountain in the near future.

Inshallah…..

Gypsy xx

Australia’s Green Cauldron

DESTINATION MT WARNING – CALDERA (NSW)

HIKING ADVENTURE

FACTS:
Duration: 3-5 hours return
Degree of Difficulty: Strenuous in some areas – final climb requires a vertical rock scramble
Track Condition: Steep and rocky

The morning sun streams through my blinds, it’s 5.45 and my eyes are glued open with stimulation. Today is the day that I have planned a solo climb up Mount Warning, and just ask me, I am damn proud of myself for this endeavor. When my internal batteries need recharging, I have found no superior power source than the laborious trek to the summit. This is my third trip up the illustrious mountain, and the feeling of sitting on a mountain peak 1157 metres above sea level has become an addiction that like any other keeps the addict coming back for more. With no pun intended, on this particular morning I bounced into my car with my hat on, the sunscreen applied thick and a backpack full of hiking essentials, only to find that my car had a flat battery! What are the odds?

RACQ arrives and in no time the battery is pumped full of power and albeit later than desired, I am on my way.

From Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, to the Mount Warning National Park in Northern NSW, it is an easy 45-minute cruise. With the once -congested Pacific Highway now revamped, the Tugun Bypass is nothing short of a dream to travel along. I veer off the highway at Exit 40 with the route then taking me through the art-deco town of Murwillumbah, which is full of historic buildings and quaint houses. As I meander around the base of the mountain and peer out, there are rolling green hills, gently flowing rivers, roadside stalls selling organic produce and an air so fresh I want to eat it up and keep it inside me for ever.

As the mountain base approaches the winding roads become narrower and sky-high trees form an almost-complete rooftop canopy. The scenery is so magical that as I drive along Mt Warning Road I feel like I am being led to an undiscovered enchanted castle. Now truthfully there isn’t a castle, but instead, a rainforest that will evoke sensations alike and far beyond.

Mt Warning is known by the Aboriginal people as Wollumbin, meaning cloud catcher, and its caldera was formed more than 20 million years ago after a mammoth eruption caused the walls of this now-extinct volcano to subside. The soaring, cone-shaped peak of the mountain dominates Australia’s Green Cauldron, which extends from Byron Bay to Queensland’s Gold Coast, and west towards the Great Dividing Range.

It is known that Wollumbin has been a place of great importance to the people of Bundjalung since time immemorial, and under their law, only chosen people are allowed on this mountain. Climbing to the summit is against the wishes of Bundjalung Elders, therefore visitors are asked to respect the cultural and historical significance of the mountain at all times. With this in mind, I exercise great appreciation towards this cultural treasure.

With an 8.8km walk ahead of me, I begin to trace up the paths of rich alluvial-like soil and timber-ledged stairs. This first stage of the summit trail is the ultimate test. Beat the stairs and you’ll most likely be able to dominate the mountain. Although these damn stairs appear endless and my leg muscles began to transform to jelly, I smiled and silently declared that this feeling is one of being truly alive! If my muscles could talk at this point obscenities would have been violently cursed at me, but as I continue to climb I transfer my focus from my legs to the surrounding subtropical environment and relish in the pain.

This part of the rainforest is dominated by bungalow palms and figs. The trees are tall, old and overwhelming. Boulders covered in luminescent green moss are the size of a small car and the ground is moist and sheltered. Hundreds of vines cling to host trees and spiral up towards the sunlight. As your eye follows their path, the different shades of vibrant green from the overhead trees contrast with the gaps of crystal-blue sky and provide what could be awe-inspiring photographs.

I looked to the left and observed two birds either fighting or, alternatively, mating. Either way, there was lots of flapping and loud noises coming from the sky! Apart from this possible mating cry, if you listen carefully you may hear the high-pitched wailing “cat call” of the green catbird, the amazing mimicry of Albert’s lyrebird or the call of the male and female whipbird, whose calls combined make a whip-cracking sound that shakes through the whole forest.

Sections of the track transform constantly from crushed green/brown leaf coverage and scattered rocks to boulders and flat-rock stairs, therefore concentration at all times is a must! The air goes from a crisp chill to warmth, depending on how much sunlight is sneaking though the overhead branches. I passed many groups of fellow hikers, of all ages. All are speedy to say hello and offer encouragement. It is like there is a sense of unity that each share with others who are also attempting to conquer this almighty land mass.

As I hit the final rock scramble, I knew it was the final test of strength before the summit. The climb is quite steep and another 70-year-old hiker and I managed to reach the top at around the same time. Breathless, yet smiling. There was a silent moment and unspoken sense of accomplishment that we shared. It is the serenity, the peacefulness of being immersed by clouds and the inexpressible views that make such a breath-taking moment (plus the exhaustion).

While my climb may have been tough, it was seemingly uncomplicated compared to early ascents. In 1871, botanist Michael Guilfoyle and his team took three and a half days to reach the top. Like my own, their effort was well worthwhile.

While climbing back down, the adrenalin consumed my body and I felt like running. I was smiling from one side of my face to the other, and as I passed a few fellow hikers they remarked “you look a bit fresh for on the way down”. I smiled politely and thought, if only they knew. The walk back down is much easier than up and one that can be taken at a casual pace. As I eventually returned back to my car I laughed and realised that now we both had recharged batteries. I drove away with a feeling of self-satisfaction comparable with a warm bath. Heaven!

HINTS & TIPS

Do not begin the walk to the summit after 12 midday in winter months, due to lack of sunlight.
Wear suitable footwear/clothing; take lots of water, a jumper and as a precaution, a torch.
Keep to designated waling tracks as short cuts cause erosion and plant damage.
DO NOT walk to the summit in the event of a thunderstorm.
Do not leave litter in park. Help minimise the impact of our travels!
Toilets are only available at the base of the mountain.

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One Response to “Mt Warning LOVE..”

  1. Monique February 15, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    A beautiful piece darling 🙂 xx

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