The Great Outdoors
Exploring White Rock
On the verge of Ipswich suburbia, just a short drive from Brisbane, sits a pocket of true blue Aussie bushland just waiting to be explored and appreciated on foot.
The 19km Yaddamun Trail, situated in the White Rock Spring Mountain Conservation Estate, seems to be a bit of an untouched gem for bushwalkers. When my walking buddy (and other half) Zac and I checked it out recently, we certainly got the sense we were taking the path less travelled.
We saw plenty of cars in the Paperbark Flats Picnic Area car park when we set out, but didn’t come across any fellow hikers on the trail itself. This could be because the Yaddamun Trail neighbours the more popular and iconic White Rock hike. White Rock is popular for a reason – it’s beautiful, it’s a good challenge and, at just 6.5km return, it’s easy to knock over in a few hours.
The humble Yaddamun Trail has plenty going for it, too, and it’s well worth the effort and the time. Here are some reflections to help you out if you plan on attempting it yourself.
It’s a long walk
Obviously 19km is not just your average walk in the park. Even if you keep a cracking walking pace, the Yaddamun Trail will take at least half a day (in fact, the official recommended time is 8 hours). The distance is part of what makes this walk so special. It’s not that common to be able to walk for 19km off-road so close to civilisation.
If you do the Yaddamun Trail be sure to plan ahead with the standard food (think high-energy snacks), water (at least 3 litres per person – there’s nowhere to refill) and breathable, sun protective gear. Mentally prepare yourself too. The Yaddamun Trail doesn’t boast a spectacular lookout or grand turn-around point. It’s almost as though the old saying, ‘it’s about the journey and not the destination’ was written with the Yaddamun Trail in mind.
Embrace the sweat and the dirt
The Yaddamun Trail takes you along 19km of fire trails used by the local rural fire brigades. You’ll walk along exposed rock and often go for kilometres at a time without encountering shade. It’s an undulating path and, no matter how fit and experienced you are, it’ll get your heart rate up and you’ll work up a solid sweat.
I say embrace the sweat. With the steamy climate comes the sensory delights of the Australian bush. A few kilometres in, you’ll discover that the song of the cicadas drowns out any sounds of traffic on the suburban fringes. The reddish dust you kick up off your boots will filter into the crevices of your face and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll kind of enjoy the grubbiness.
The promise of an afternoon storm will hang in the air and, every now and then, a south-easterly breeze will dry the moisture on your skin. It’s a heady feeling if you allow yourself to embrace all of that.
Keep an eye on the signage
There are handy yellow posts with the abbreviation ‘YT’ which pop up quite frequently on the track telling you which direction you should take next. As the path continues, some of the YT posts tell you how many kilometres you’ve walked. The kilometres marked didn’t match up with the mileage on our GPS watch but the posts still served as good guides.
We discovered when we reached the 9.5km marker – the logical turnaround point because it marks half of a 19km round trip – that there was nothing to tell us we should turn around.
In fact, there was a yellow ‘YT’ post with an arrow signalling we could continue along the path. We wandered a little further – until we’d walked about 11km – but there was no official end in sight and we didn’t have much extra time to explore further along the path. It would be interesting to see how and where the path ends.
Keep it pristine
I was impressed that we didn’t come across any rubbish on the track. We didn’t spot so much as a single beer can. Instead, we found little treasures along the way. We spotted a white and yellow cockatoo feather, an intricately woven nest, a big old gate, some impressive ant mounds and even an official Geocache capsule put there by Scouts Australia.
We also took note of a few signs along the way reminding us that the Yaddamun Trail is a bushland reserve and a conservation estate and requesting visitors take their rubbish with them and leave their pets at home. It was so heartening to see people respecting this little bush haven enough to follow those rules. My hope is that, as the popularity of the Yaddamun Trail grows, people will continue this great habit of cleaning up after themselves.
The Yaddamun Trail isn’t a walk to a brilliant lookout with sweeping vistas. Sure, you’ll catch glimpses of Ipswich, Brisbane City and Moreton Bay. But on a walk like this one, the views aren’t the point. The Yaddamun Trail is a walk for the pure enjoyment of walking. It’s about getting in to a rhythm and keeping at it for hours until you reach the end and relax into a state of satisfied exhaustion. The most amazing thing about it all is that there is a walk as long and as pristine as this so close to the heart of Ipswich.