Trek Leader: Ian Stehbens
The Upper Yabba is a very special place. Bold landscapes such as that of Baiyambora Gorge, or the gorge down the Kingaham, are charged with majesty and serendipity. To this one must add the rich diversity of other places that have real artistic appeal. Then there are the variable weather events that generate changing moods and atmosphere.
The first people, the Baiyambora clan, who belonged to the Kabi Kabi nation, hosted major bunya feasts in this top catchment, and as their western neighbours belonged to the Waka Waka nation, they were significant cultural events because of the social and linguistic interactions that took place.
It is also a very special place for geomorphologists and paleo-zoologists, for the top catchments of both the Yabba and the Kingaham formerly drained northwest to the Burnett system. Through stream capture both headwaters now drain towards the Mary, having to descend through their gorges to do so. The Yabba plunges over Yabba Falls - the Kingaham drops down the back steps over a diverse series of smaller waterfalls. It is thought that this stream capture may have contributed to the fact that the Australian lungfish (Ceratodus mullerii) and the Mary River cod, although derived from the inland rivers of the Murray-Darling system, are now also residents of the Mary.
What is special to a geomorphologist is not always special to a geologist, for they have very different interests and perspectives. However, this area is also a very intriguing place, geologically. It is part of the geological entity known as the North D’Aguilar Block, probably the most complex area of southern Queensland. Geographers will arrive with diverse perspectives: landscape aesthetics, access conflicts, visitor growth, refugia for wildlife in the face of climate change, connectivity and protection of ecosystems, 3-D drone imaging, hunger for adventure… This area will not disappoint.
The weekend is appropriate for people with good bushwalking fitness and endurance, though a range of fitness levels can be catered for by some tailoring of the program:
1. easy but rough walk to top of Yabba Falls and Weaner Rock;
2. moderate challenge due to length of slopes gives access into Upper Yabba country and into Gates of Yabba and Baiyambora Gorge;
3. Challenging hike (9km return with 300m descent and return ascent) into Gates of Yabba with access to the foot of Yabba Falls, and the Primaeval Forest
Walking will be on unformed tracks through open grazing country including grasses and timbered country, and over rock surfaces. There is no current infrastructure (e.g. paths, safety fences), so caution must be exercised especially in rock locations and cliff areas. Comfortable and sturdy shoes should be worn while walking, and a hat and sunscreen and water are imperative.
People need to assemble at Borumba Deer Park, 1133 Yabba Creek Road, Imbil by 7.30am on the Saturday morning and again on the Sunday morning. This trek will involve two days, returning to Imbil on both days.
Access to the field site from Imbil requires a 4WD vehicle, so we will be carpooling for those who do not have a 4WD. Please advise if you have a 4WD and are prepared to help transport participants from Borumba Deer Park and back on each day.
SATURDAY 20th, 7.30am RETURN DAY HIKE: Good Fitness required
To enter into the Baiyambora Gorge is to enter into majesty! There is much to discover and wonderful landscapes to assess. There will be opportunity for meditation, and the privilege of entering awesome places will be appreciated. The main hike is challenging, but safe. It is a 9km day hike. The descent is 300m down a spur then following the creek and gorge upstream into Gates of Yabba with access to the foot of Yabba Falls, and the Primaeval Forest.
SATURDAY 20th, 7.30am ADVENTURE OPTION: THROUGH HIKE including optional Abseiling descents
The experience of standing beside Top Pool looking up at the plunging falls is unforgettable. To explore The Showerroom is a must. To stand above Gate of Heaven and look down to the second bottom of the gorge is awesome. To do science down there measuring gbh of towering hoop pines, or recording fungi, is important research.
Optional Abseiling Opportunity for up to 5 people only
Abseiling will be provided by qualified abseiling guides (Climbing Guides Australia). There will be two descents each between 40 and 60 metres. Those doing abseiling must be prepared to walk out from the base of the falls along a creek bed. This is about a 4km walk, ascending 300m, although alternative steeper ascents are possible.
Optional Abseiling Cost:
Abseiling Cost: $180 each (GST Incl), includes insurance for this activity.
Pre-booking and prior payment essential for this option.
SUNDAY 21st, 7.30am YABBA FALLS
Yabba Falls: Described by the custodians of Conondale Conservation as “Booloomba on steroids!”, Yabba Falls is our primary destination today. It will be a gentler day than the previous one. The falls will be viewed from the plateau, looking down into the gorge from different vantage points above Top Plunge, through Eye of the Needle, from Superb Corner Lookout and Weaner Rock. Opportunities for plant identification, or field sketching, drone photography, or unravelling the structural geology enigmas.
Registration for entire Trek: $25 includes a BBQ (food and non-alcoholic drinks) on Friday Meet and Greet, and Saturday evening. Paid registration by Wednesday 10 July 2019. RGSQ Members only.
Staying at Imbil in your choice of accommodation, which you arrange yourself. All of the following are suitable and convenient:
There are Bed and Breakfasts and quality accommodation options in and around Imbil. Three of the best are:
- Imbil Country Cabins (****) Phone: 0410 816 088
- Mary Valley Views B&B (*****) Phone: (07) 5488 6740
- Melawondi Spring Retreat (****) Phone: 0408 736 223
Statement by one of the 2018 trekkers, Oxana Repina:
"We sat with feet dangling over 150 m of air and shadows, sunlight pouring down into pools of water at the top and breaking onto rocks below. It wasn’t like anywhere else I’d seen in Queensland. Boulders jumbled far below – tens of feet in size, looking like little pebbles. Deep green pools perched in grey stone. It was gorge country, easily as spectacular as the waterfalls of New England or the canyons of the Blue Mountains – places protected by great tracts of national park, enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people. It was a place that just as much deserved to be seen; just as much deserved to be shown in photographs in landscape galleries, just as much should have been a part of the culture of this area.
"No one knew of this gorge here, and no one ever came. It seemed like a glaring oversight, like someone had made a mistake when they drew in the boundaries of national parks just nearby, and had put them just a little too far over, not realising what they missed including. Like somehow in the relentless press of spreading settlement and exploration and recreation, in their haste to get to the Sunshine Coast, people missed this set of valleys here. It was hard to say if it was bad luck or good.
It was the sort of place that didn’t deserve steel viewing platforms and boardwalk tracks and warning signs pasted all over. The magic was in its wildness, solitude and quiet expansiveness. It was the sort of place that you wanted to explore by being a part of it. By climbing barefoot over the rocks; by going over the edge with a rope and helmet. Seeing it from all angles because it couldn’t fit into a single glance (or a hundred).
We were told if this waterfall, Yabba Falls, were to be described in a single word, that word would be majestic. That was true. In the next valley over, the word was serendipitous. That was also true. There was a second river here, the Kingaham – equally little-known; equally incredible. It traced the boundary between two geologies, and so cavorted between every different sort of form that could be taken, something new around every corner.
Both places echoed of longing for respect, and left a powerful impression." Oxana Repina