The Scenic Rim is the name of the bottom left quadrant of a giant circle in south-east Queensland, centred on Brisbane, of radius one hundred kilometres and which more or less forms, in those parts, the border with New South Wales. The Rim itself is made of a chain of mountains which was formed by the fury of volcanos like Mt. Warning, which lies a little bit to the south. Those mountains encompass an area full of evocatively-named places like Christmas Creek and Lost World Valley and which harbour, deep in the bush, a couple of sites where planes have come to grief (I’ve seen the wreckage at the Stinson wreck site).
One Sunday in June, just for a lark, we took the road south, passing through the towns of Jimboomba and Beaudesert, and stopped in the very Irish-sounding Rathdowney to water our horses. In a café further along the road called Rathlogan Grove we wet our whistles. This place endeared itself to us, a family of Grecophiles, by having its own olive grove and indeed, by selling olive oil, or rather ‘first cold pressed premium extra virgin olive oil’, which in Greece is called λάδι.
Ahead of us lay Mt. Lindesay, its top a citadel that might have been built by a chieftain to watch for barbarian ingresses from south of the border, down New South Wales way. From the 20th of July on, any would-be Golden Horde better have its papers in order (and be prepared to submit to a test, should symptoms be present). Actually, to my eyes Mt. Lindesay is more reminiscent of the odd-shaped mountains of the Glasshouse region than anything else, and Maroon looks a bit like Tibrogargan’s gorilla.
But we’d come not to conquer Lindesay, but rather to have a bit of a walk, nothing too strenuous, over a low shoulder of dragon-backed Mt. Barney. At one and a half thousand metres high, summiting ol’ Barney’s not for beginners. People get lost on it. We’d have to work our way up to climbs like that, especially if we were to bring Alexander and Eoin along.
The beginning of our walk took us through an eerie landscape of burnt grass trees. These plants are only found in Australia and their tormented, otherworldly husks misled me into thinking that we were walking through a disaster zone, but no – apparently some of them thrive on fire, I read later. They certainly don’t show it, but one reads that all the real action is happening underground.
AS we hiked Mt. Maroon would appear and disappear through the trees, separated from our hill by the Logan river. I was surprised to find the Logan so far south since all I knew about it was that it was the river of the city south of Brisbane; the name ‘Logan’ was all around us at home. My kids get the bus along Logan Road to school every day. I even work with a guy called Logan. Unlike my mild-mannered Scottish colleague, however, Captain Patrick Logan was not someone you wanted to work with on a project – in fact, he was a bit of a monster by all accounts. But it was up the Brisbane river he was killed, not the Logan, I seemed to remember. These are the things that go through your head walking through the bush.
The apogee of today’s walk was a rocky gorge called the Lower Portals. We’d passed a few dry river beds on the way there but there was plenty of running water at the portals. Not that we were getting in for a swim – closer to home we’ve got the best beaches in the world to service our swimming needs. What’s more, the water was cold. Furthermore, we could do without the leeches, thank you.
It looks like we won’t be getting back to Ireland this year, what with the uncertainty about foreign travel caused by the Covid-19 lockdown and all that, so we’ve turned our attention to nearby regions like the Scenic Rim and the Sunshine Coast. We’ve always loved these places, and we’ve even booked a camping slot in the big one, Carnarvon Gorge, for next Easter. One hears that described as Australia’s Grand Canyon. In the meantime we’ll continue to fill in the gaps in our more immediate vicinity. Until we can fly to Europe again. Or Asia. Or anywhere.