Daves Creek Circuit in Queensland’s Lamington National Park is a beautiful track with an astonishing variety of plants and vegetation just 90 minutes from Brisbane. You like plants, right?
- An abundance of botanical wonders
- A cool cave to discover
- Easy hiking so you can pay more attention to the landscape around you
Daves Creek Circuit is a botanist’s dream
Beginning on the Border track, you’ll start in the rainforest, amongst flame trees and fig trees, move through sparse mallee woodland, and then through to montane heath.
The track is dotted with white coral heath flowers and honey-coloured hairpin banksia, amongst many other gorgeous natives.
Montane Heath and Mallee Woodland
What the heck is montane Heath and Mallee Woodland?!
Most of us recognise a rainforest when we’re in one; the trees are tall, it’s very green, and it’s usually quite wet and cool.
There are ferns, fig-trees, and moss.
But this hike also traverses through vegetation types called mallee woodland and montane heath – so how do you know when you’re there?
Mallee refers to a type of growth ‘habit’ some types of gum trees have.
It means that multiple trunks appear to come out of the same spot. Sparse mallee woodland will look like a bunch of multi-stemmed tree clusters about 10m in height, dispersed throughout the landscape.
Grasses and shrubs fill the rest of the landscape.
Montane heath, on the other hand, is lower in average vegetation height. It occurs in areas where the soil or wind prevents taller trees from growing.
The plants that grow here are variable but mainly consist of shrubs and stunted trees such as Banksia, Lomandra, and Grevillea. Basically, the stuff around you is about human height or smaller, and the ground is harsh and rocky.
Trees Older Than Human Civilisation
The hike starts on the Border Track, in the rainforest. You might spot the grand antarctic beech, a Gondwanan giant that used to dominate the landscape. They grow very tall (>25m) and some have been dated to 12,000 years old.
To put this in perspective, some antarctic beeches were around when woolly mammoths roamed the Earth.
They were alive when humans wrote their first words, they lived through the rise and the fall of the pyramids of Egypt, and they were alive at the same time Copernicus realised the Earth revolved around the sun.
A Secret Cave
After some time, the track transforms to heathland vegetation and meanders along the cliff line for awesome views into the Woggunba Valley, down in which snakes the track’s namesake, Daves Creek.
This is where you can check out the Molongolee Caves, an interesting little side trip off the main track.
It’s kind of an odd sight among the drier vegetation around it; a super wet cave with a completely unique range of plants growing, compared to the rest of the immediate area.
As you follow the main track again, you might spot some bright orange sundews on the rocks. They’re an insect-eating plant that looks like sea anemones.
A Track Full of Surprises
Stop for lunch at Numinbah lookout, a nice sheltered spot which peers into the Woggunba Valley. If you look straight ahead, you’ll actually be looking right at Natural Bridge, a popular spot in Springbrook National Park.
Continue on for Surprise Rock, which has epic views of the Gold Coast skyline and surrounding mountains.
You can sit up to enjoy the view, and then either backtrack or continue along and down Surprise Rock; if you opt for the latter, beware that this is a sketchy part of the track, as you’ll be clambering down a tree to get off.
Spotting the Albert’s Lyrebird
It’s worth timing the return for mid to late afternoon, to glimpse the birds of Lamington National Park. You’ll certainly hear the whip birds and maybe even glimpse the famed Albert’s lyrebird.
Female lyrebirds are brown, and the males are black with an impressive display of curly tail feathers. You might also spot eastern yellow robins, grey wagtails, and grey shrike thrush.
- Snacks/food and water
- Good footwear
- Optional: Field guide and binoculars
How To Get There
Type in ‘Lamington Teahouse’ into your GPS and head 90 minutes south (100km) from Brisbane on the M1. Look for the Border Track to start your hike.
- Plant spotting/Wildflower gazing
Beginner – a well-marked trail and limited elevation change
Distance / Time Taken / Elevation Gained
12km / allow 4 hours / approx 350m elevation
Feature photo by Miranda Fittock