Lynne who is coming up to a 'Big 0' birthday and wanted to celebrate by hiking the different stages of the Hinterland Great Walk over a few different weekends invited me along to join any of the stages as she knows my love of hiking.
I opted to join in for Stage 2 - Flaxton Walkers camp via Baxter Falls to Mapleton Falls. This being the first hike I did when I moved to the Sunshine Coast and it is also one of my favorites.
Meeting at Mill Road, Flaxton I met the others who were to join us today, Anne & Roni. Lynne presented us with colorful bandannas to wear around our neck or tie on our backpacks.
As we were about to start on the track Lynne had a leaking bladder (after all she does have a milestone birthday coming up). On inspection of her bladder it appeared the seal wasn't working properly and most of the water had leaked into the backpack. Fortunately we were near suburbia so I suggested she checks out garden taps which she did and found one to fill up the bladder. As long as Lynne stays upright her bladder won't leak!
A few spots of rain fortunately never came to anything as we headed down the track. The sign showed 1.2km to 'Flaxton Walkers Camp' - one of the camps for those hiking the Hinterland Great Walk. Walking into the camp we passed a large group leaving who had camped there overnight. I had a chat to a lady who with her husband were training with their big packs for the Bibbulmun track in Western Australia. This camp has basic facilities - toilet and a water tank - (the water needs to be treated).
Coming out of the camp the sign showed 5.5kms to Mapleton falls.
We headed on the 'Great Walk' track taking us through Eucalypt forest, passing birds nest ferns, staghorns and rocky outcrops. The call of the Wompoo Dove greeted us as we headed downhill through a series of switchbacks and steps. Bracken ferns lining the edge of the track were very green and the fronds looked like a lacy carpet up the banks As we hiked through the bush you could see flashes of our bright colors of pink, blue and purple bandannas.
The sound of a waterfall in the distance was soothing and we were looking forward to spending time at Baxter Falls. The suspension bridge came into sight and a short detour took us to the rock slabs and boulders surrounding Baxter Falls. A great place to sit and take in the environment. Gazing up at the falls I found it mesmerising watching the water flow down into the creek below.
Roni quickly went rock hopping to get a better view of the falls followed by Lynne who gingerly made her way across. I am not keen on rock hopping so found a rock to sit on and view the waterfall.
Gazing down Baxter Creek it was rather interesting to see the reflections of the large lichen / mossy covered boulders in the creek, saplings standing tall, dead palm fronds, fallen branches and small ferns growing out the side of the boulders and the water gently washing over the smaller boulders making little waterfalls. We were so lucky to have this peaceful place to ourselves.
Leaving the tranquility of the falls we had the choice of rock hopping across the creek or crossing over by the suspension bridge. To me there was no decision to make - suspension bridge for me! The sign said only 2 persons allowed on bridge at a time - that suited me as I don't like to cross with others as most seem to enjoy bouncing on the bridge.
Halfway across I stopped to enjoy the last view of the waterfall and Baxter Creek before zigzagging up the hill through a palm grove to Suses Pocket Road.
Looking! Looking! - yes I spotted Fungi - love finding fungi on my hikes.
Head down, bottom up pushing up the track I suddenly saw what I thought was a gnome sitting off to the side of the track. I realised then I knew this gentleman sitting on a rock having his morning tea. Bernhard a member of the Sunshine Coast Bushwalking group is amazing - he is an avid bushwalker and has also kayaked the full length down the Murray River. To my surprise he told me he is heading off in a couple of weeks to celebrate his 80th birthday by climbing Mt Barney - a huge climb for younger experienced hikers yet alone 80 year olds - the hike can take up to 8 hours.
A great feeling of achievement as we came out of the track onto Suses Pocket Road - but what where is our car- no this stage of the Great Walk doesn't finish until you walk up the hill then appx 1.5kms along the Obi Obi Road and Mapelton Road to Mapleton Falls. Closing the gate everybody picks up speed knowing they are nearly there. We stop on the way to check out a roadside vegetable shed with a great variety of organic produce.
Finally made it to Mapelton Falls where there was a group of hikers from Happy Hikers in Brisbane who are hiking and camping for 3 days on the Great Walk.
Checked out the view down the Obi Obi Valley and Mapelton Falls from the lookout.
As we went to sit down for a rest before driving back to Flaxton Anne suddenly produces 4 small bottles of champagne to celebrate completing another stage of the Great Walk. It was funny watching the looks of other hikers seeing us in our hiking gear and champagne glass in hand. What a fun way to finish off our hike.
If you have read this far then I guess you have been hanging out to find out what happened to Lynne's bladder. Well Lynne stayed upright which means NO leaking bladder!!
PS: If you wanted you could retrace the track back to your car at Mill Road or hike from Flaxton to Baxter Falls then return. Lots of options for different levels of fitness.
Have you hiked Baxter Falls would like to hear about your day on the trail.