On my way to Finch Hatton Gorge, I passed this gentle giant. I couldn’t believe the size of this bull, I would estimate his weight close to a ton. There is no doubt, that this big ball bull had reproductive purposes only.
He seemed a bit lonely in his paddock though, as he came over to introduce himself.
Like most giants, this one was as gentle as a fluffy teddy bear, as I stroke his huge head. What a cutie.
Finch Hatton gorge was added to Eungalla National Park in the 1990s and lies in the valley below.
Finch Hatton Creek cascades from the highlands in spectacular fashion and attracts national and international visitors all year round. Locals use the cooling waters for a refreshing dip in the summer months for decades.
Some overestimated their own abilities or been simply stupid and paid the ultimate price. What I found eluding, was that this sign was particularly dedicated to (Australian) men in their prime time of strength and possibly, the prime time of stupidity too.
Getting to the National Park entrance, Finch Hatton Creek needs to be crossed several times. An early glimpse of the greenish, yet clear waters to come. Flanked by ferns, tall grasses, and subtropical trees, I couldn’t wait to start my walk.
Huge boulders scattered alongside this creek are showing the strength and brute force flood waters can have in the rainy season. Flash floods cut off these communities from the outside of the world for days.
There was no risk of any of this happenening today, as troopy easily cruised through Finch Hatton Creek.
The hiking trail leading up the upper cascades is called ‘wheel of fire’. An intriguing name and I was eager to find out its origins. My imagination ran wild once more. Maybe the rocks are blood red and reflect like fire on incoming sun rays. Or the clear waters themselves appear like a ring of fire? I couldn’t wait to find out, even though on this misty day, chances of sunlight are very slim.
In fact, photography was quite difficult in foggy conditions and patches of rain sprinkled my lens. Wet and muddy trail conditions called for extra caution, these rocks are extremely slippery.
Passing through a dense green forest, it was clear to see, why this section was added to Eungalla National Park. Tall and smaller ferns flanked Finch Hatton Creek spectacularly, adding to the already green surroundings. Some of these ferns are only found here and nowhere else in Australia.
A short detour trails to ‘Araluen Falls’, a welcoming picnic spot. A deep swimming hole was created by the sheer force of running water, cascading from a 4-meter drop.
The overflow gently continued further downhill, passing huge boulders and washed up tree trunks. Another reminder that this is not the place to be in rushing waters. The smoothness of these rocks indicates, that they have been washed for quite some time.
From a photographer‘s point of view, these low light conditions are ideal for long exposure shots. Photography is all about light as we all know.
The less light there is available, the longer I can increase the shutter speed to create the dreamy running water effect, as well as picking up all colours, even from darker sections. And that’s what I did.
This works well on still life like ferns as well, as long as they are not moving.
Walking on towards the ‘wheel of fire’, I arrived at the most difficult part of this track, ‘Callistemon Crossing’. As the name suggests, this is where the trail continues on the other side of the creek. Mh, there are plenty of big boulders to hop from and to, but in these slippery conditions, it simply wasn’t an option. A slim, but long tree stump was placed in the deepest part of the creek, yet slippery and wet as well.
I could take my shoes off and wade through cold waters on slippery rocks, but that wasn’t my ideal option either. Mh, what would MacGyver do in a situation like this, I wondered. The solution was quite simple though. I returned to the forest and found a long, but sturdy stick to support my balance, whilst crossing the slippery lumber. Think harder, trail smarter! It works every time. I left the stick on the other side for the use on my return.
The roaring sound of cascading waters echoed along the gorge and throughout the forest, I couldn’t wait to see the ‘wheel of fire’, this would be spectacular. I decided to backtrack my photography, as I did at the ‘Coomera Falls Track’. Lighting conditions were far from ideal as I arrived at the top of the gorge.
A huge washed out pool created the wheel, but there was no fire to be seen. Informing myself on the information board, I found out the following.
Ha ha, I had a wee chuckle to myself. This makes perfect sense now. However, I arrived at the wrong time of year. Nevertheless, it is a fantastic and challenging track, particularly in wet conditions.
I followed this gorgeous track downhill stream, just the way I came. Incoming clouds and rain made photography difficult, not only because of slippery conditions.
I did manage to snap a few quick shots from the edge of the gorge. I will just have to return here in ‘firing’ conditions again, good enough excuse for me.
‘Callistemon Crossing was easily managed, as I handed my stick to a young couple. They looked a bit dumb founded on the other side of the creek. I wonder what they would have done otherwise.
A larger exposed rock area was just below ‘Callistemon Crossing’ is an ideal place to stop and smell the forest and its sounds.
Numerous cascades dotted the granite terrain, odd trees seem to withstand torrent forces and have enough stronghold on sheer rock.
The waters cascaded on to a wider area, acting like a curtain. This was more obvious in longer exposure throughout the camera.
Huge boulders, covered in white fungi and green moss, seem to fit in perfectly in this picturesque scene.
Lighting conditions were ideal as it gave just enough light for long exposure shots, capturing the depth of light and structures.
Slowly and carefully making my way further down, narrow sidearms formed along this steeper section.
Yet, boulders and trees seem to flank harmoniously. Often I sit and wonder on how Mother Nature comes up with this perfectionist beauty and elegance.
I also wondered on why the exposed rocks on this side of the creek have a light appearance, whilst across the creek, they are much, much darker.
It was getting late and I was looking forward to a nice hot cup of coffee at my home on wheels.
No doubt, I will revisit Eungalla National Park again some day. Surely, there are more mythical stories to be seen, which work in mysterious ways.