In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks. John Muir
At four thirty it was still dark but the birds were singing. Loudly. Realising there was no chance of more sleep I decided to make the most of my day and begin it with a hike up a nearby suburban mountain.
Mt Gravatt Outlook Reserve is a quartz peak within the Toohey Forest Conservation Park in Brisbane. As with my previous hike/climb (Mt Coolum) I doubt it would even rank on a sliding scale of world mountains. Nevertheless, it is a significant landmark in an otherwise flat suburban landscape, just 10 kilometers south east of Brisbane city center. The “hill” and surrounding suburb was named after Lieutenant George Gravatt who commanded the Moreton Bay settlement for a short time many years ago, in 1843.
The luxury of hiking this mountain, for me, is there is no travel involved. I simply have to walk out my backdoor and into the forest that winds its way up the little hillock. The lookout affords stunning views of Brisbane city as well as clear views of the Moreton Bay Islands, the D’Aguilar Range, Mt Coottha and the Glass House Mountains. The walk is quite interesting too.
Toohey Forest is named after an Irishman, James Toohey, who made his home in the forest in 1872. Interestingly, his family maintained ownership of the lands until 1945 when Brisbane City Council acquired them. The park spans 260 hectares. Its vastness is matched by its variety. This is a Eucalypt forest replete with vines, closed scrub, an abundant understory of acacias, sheoaks and banksias as well as our very distinctive Australian grass trees. Wildlife is abundant too. Walkers can enjoy the songs of kookaburras, thrushes, lorikeets, honey eaters, currawongs and magpies, to name a few. Of course there are possums and bats as evidenced by their fecal remains. Large ant nests provide food for echidnas. I’ve seen lizards, skinks and geckos but not a goanna yet.
As with life, there are many paths that can be taken to get to the top. There are sealed bike paths, dirt tracks and even smaller ‘goat’ tracks, created by mountain bike riders, one can follow. The forest is so dense and beautifully populated with flora and fauna that one is quite shocked when the sounds of urban traffic encroach on the peace and tranquility. Toohey Forest straddles a major freeway and nature lovers wander under it by way of a pedestrian tunnel. On the other side one is required to wander through the grounds of a university, another surreal experience, before diving back into the cocoon of the forest.
After a gentle undulating wander the final section, a steep incline, requires a little push but nothing too tough or taxing before emerging at the outlook. There is a little café at the top. Which sadly was not open when I arrived just after dawn.
For me the journey is approximately a three hour return hike. This is a pretty decent way to decompress, get into nature and enjoy moving. What I love about suburban forests is that there are so many entry points and people can enjoy tramps of their own design based on time and energy levels.
The beauty of having a forest in your backyard is that you can go off on a hike in the relative wilderness and still return home in time for breakfast.
Next stop: Hmmm, should it be Mt Tambourine, Mt Barney, Mt Tibrogargan, Maroon perhaps? I’ll meet you on the next peak.