Lamington National Park, Walk 1: Lower Bellbird Circuit

Start: Binna Burra
12km (rtn)
Class 4
30 Sept ’16

So. Walk 1 of about 24. Originally, I’d planned to hike the Ships Stern Circuit, which is one of my favourites, but I was a bit late in getting down the coast so I settled for a half-dayer. Turns out the Ship’s Stern was closed because of back burning anyway (a process here in Australia where sections of nationals parks are stripped of potentially dangerous underbrush by the process of burning it back. It helps to protect houses from bushfires in the dry months, but it’s a pretty horrible for people like me with asthma and air pollution in general. There are a lot of pros and cons).  It was the tail end of the school holidays so there were quite a few cars up at Binna Burra. That was pretty much why I’d stayed away from the Green Mountains this time. It just gets too busy up there. As it was I encountered one group on the trip at a breath-taking lookout, standing around playing Pokemon Go. I just don’t get that.

The Lower Bellbird actually shares the first few kilometres with Ship’s Stern. It’s an easy walk, following the ridgeline mostly, and passing the beautiful Yangahla Lookout (there’s a photo from there in the previous post) before finally beginning to descend. The path draws a wavy down through the elbow of the valley then out away to the north. I find  myself crossing the same trickle of a creek a number of times. It’s been dry, but sometimes I can clearly hear water running somewhere under the debris of the dead, moss-sprayed trees and rockfalls. It’s a lovely temperature, but I’m sweating, mostly because this is my first big walk since the Overland Track in June, and I’m quite unfit (the perils of sitting behind a desk writing). I’m also slightly nervous about my boots. Well, not my boots as such, my ankles that are in the boots. During the last couple of days on the Overland, my ankles took a beating, mostly from my boots being frozen solid each night (the story of my Overland adventures will be in a series of stories and a book next year) but also from the continual dropping down large  sofa-sized slabs of quartzite whilst carrying a 25kg backpack (we walked the track in reverse, so we ending up in the mountains). Oh, and also I’m much older than I used to be. Anyway, I’ve not worn my Scarpas since, and because they’re heavy leather Deltas, there’s not much call for them up here in Queensland, short of a very wet, muddy Lamington. But not today. It’s dry and hard, but the boots feel fine. I’m still going to look into a lighter pair though. I really don’t need the Deltas here.

Wojigumai Cave          ©  P. Brandon 2016
I was trying to recall if I’d walked this track before, but I remembered I had as soon as I hit Wojigumai Cave. Not so much a cave as an eroded fault line, it’s still really impressive. The texture of the contrasting rocks is wonderful, and with the rock face rising above, it acts as a scoop for the breeze. I’ve always loved the hiss of the wind through the canopy. It sounds like something is alive up there, restless. It’s the quality of breath, the way the forest inhales and exhales on a scale far grander than us. Occasionally, as I walk, the wind  will pick up fragments of other walkers talking, or a bark of laughter, on the ridge opposite and carry them across the valley like leaves so that is sounds like they are right behind me.  Other times the sound of the leaves is like distant traffic, but never it is silent.

There are a few open patches of damaged forest, and I seem to recall hearing about a very big and isolated storm out this way maybe a year ago. Where the trees have fallen it hasn’t taken long for the understory to erupt into the new light, and the small cluttered clearing is dotted with flowers and the low, gentle hum of insects.

Bee, on Approach          © P. Brandon
The track is easy, nothing even remotely tricky, which is kind of nice as it frees me up to look for opportunities to test the new camera. Problem with shooting in a rainforest though is that unless you focus on something specific like a bird, a snake or flower, it’s really hard to convey the sense of depth through the lens.


It’s also tricky to capture the quality of the light with a snapshot of a moment in time when it’s so fluid and alive.

A couple of hours in and I clear the rainforest, out into an area of cut brush that I assume is for a helicopter. Perfect spot for a cup of tea. Clear of the forest it’s surprisingly blowy. Probably too windy for the back burning, which would explain why I’ve not smelled any burning. The final 3 or so miles are a bit dull -following the road back past the ranger station to where I left the car, but I come across a sullen-looking bowerbird sitting on the verge (I actually saw it sitting there driving in). I can almost hear its bothered sigh as it lifts off into the trees. For a moment I consider following it, so see if I can find its bower, but the day is getting on and its a very scrubby drop.

One last treat awaits me at the car. The bush I’m next to must be giving off some sort of aroma, as its dusted in confetti of little butterflies.


Right, coffee at Beechmont, then time to hit the traffic home.



Return of the Wayward Fellow

I’ve not been writing that much lately.

Well, that’s not true, I’ve not been writing that much down. I’ve been concerned but not too worried. I’ve always figured that as long as I have several books backlogged up in my head, I’m still there (and at the moment I have six I can think of). But of course it’s all about getting the words down. In reality that’s all it’s about. Last year I finished a story for a new anthology by my editor and dear friend Jack Dann (more info about that as I get it), and this year, well, this year I’m going to attempt two novels.

Possibly three. But I realise how daft that might be.

I’m taking a bit of a step back from the music (as my wonderful partner Sarah is about to take big step forwards) and I’ve been given a substantial gift of time to work. I might go into more detail about that in another blog post.

I’m working on a two-book story with the over-arching title of Lovekin & Fable. It’s unlike anything I’ve written before, and will involve a lot of world-building, inventing, darkness, eccentricity, horror, wonder, noir and coffee.

I started the bones of this novel quite a few years ago, and it has nagged at me ever since. I think if I don’t get it down now I’ll go mad.

And I’m going to try blogging about my journey. I’m pretty active on social media, but this is different. This will be the most personal I’ve gotten with my work. Until now, I’ve been superstitious with it, hiding it away in a dank cave, brewing, until it’s done, and woe betide anyone that tried to break the spell. I’m not going to be posting paragraphs or word counts, but rather writing about the journey of writing. Habits, stumbles, tiny victories, mental collapse…

I’m still playing music, in fact it’s shaping up to be a very important year, but I’m doing this too.

I kind of have to.

Stormy Tuesdays

Cracker of a storm today. In true Brisbane style with moments of the rain stopping, the sun was out and the streets were steaming. One thing that struck me was the noise of the birds. I was up in the gardens surrounding the University at St Lucia and the parrots, ducks, crows miners and all the other were going insane. It was as if they were all telling each other they were still alive. With the beautiful pre-sunset light, it was just magic.

I’ve been making a lot of notes for this new novel, and I think I’m about ready to start. It’s been occupying a large chunk of my mind (the vacuous bit not consumed with all the upcoming music projects, gadgets or my next meal). Of course, now that I’m ready to start, I have to go away for ten days up to the Woodford festival. Still, I have Evernote on my iPhone, and I might even take my Mac up as this year we’re not performing as Súnas, only as session players. The idea of sitting somewhere shady writing is very appealing!

Those are the intentions anyway. The reality when I’m surrounded my musician friends, fiery tunes and Guinness may be somewhat different.


Right, I’ve started.

I have an odd little ritual when I start a new book. I have to find just the right notebook (I have a small carton full of ones that have taken my fancy over the years, or I’ve been given). For a little while now, I’ve been using Moleskines, mainly because they’re just so nice to work in, but this time, it was an old green velvet notebook that I think I found in Borders many years ago that got the nod. I’m still undecided on the right pen though…

I’m not going to reveal much about the new novel, just to say that it’s a bit of a departure for me (though it could loosely be categorised as fantasy) and the format is possibly going to be very important too. I’m not sure if I can pull this off, but then I guess everyone thinks that when starting a new story.

Not sure how fast this will progress. I’m planning on blogging pretty frequently, more perhaps as a journal for myself than general entertainment. The music side of life is quietening down for a little bit (in regards to Sunas gigs) but I have a couple of new projects forming there too.

2010 is looking to be very busy indeed!