The Road Ahead : April May 2016
RACQLIVING.COM.AU 50 THE ROAD AHEAD APR/MAY 2016 WELCOME! CONGRATULATIONS! TAKE a seat, put your feet up. Fresh scone? Chilled sparkling wine?” Our host, Rachel, is smiling warmly and holding out a tray of glasses brimming with gold wine. I accept the offering gratefully and slump into the closest chair. Around me the rest of our happy group of eight do the same. We’ve been hiking all day in Queensland’s glorious Scenic Rim – exploring the Main Range National Park, only 90 minutes’ drive south-west of Brisbane. Today we covered 13km, starting at Cunningham’s Gap, zigzagging our way slowly up to the impressive peak of Mt Mitchell, then dropping down the ridge line into a nature reserve owned by retreat company Spicers. Spicers owns eight unique properties across Queensland and New South Wales, and now have their four-day walking tour – Spicers Scenic Rim Trail – on the Great Walks of Australia list (along with epics such as the Northern Territory’s Larapinta and Tasmania’s Overland Track). In action for a year and already sitting snugly on this list? That’s testament to quality: challenging, rewarding hiking on remote trails, backed by luxury service and accommodation at the end of each day... it’s exactly why we’re here! During the day our wonderful guides, Reece and Al, expertly led us, pacing the group so that we’re always comfortable; boiling the billy at lunch for tea; handing out sugary snacks – sometimes in the form of bush tucker such as lilly pilly fruit – when they notice us lagging; and engagingly explaining the native plants, bird calls, and local history. “This is alright, isn’t it?” chuckles ‘‘ TRAVEL QUEENSLAND WALKING, WINE AND WILDERNESS ARE AT THEIR ALL-TIME PEAK ON QUEENSLAND’S SCENIC RIM TRAIL, WRITES LILLY DONKERS. OUTSIDE THE SILHOUETTE OF MT MITCHELL IS DEEP BLACK AGAINST AN INKY SKY PRICKED WITH GLINTING SILVER STARS the fellow next to me, a teacher from Adelaide, as he reaches for another scone smothered with soft cream and stingingly sweet raspberry jam. We all moan contentedly in agreement. Sitting on the veranda we sip our drinks, staring out at the sun setting over the mountain range. A red-necked wallaby bounds passed. Our host Rachel stands up to explain the evening’s plans: “Chef Josh is cooking dinner, we’ll eat at 6:30 in the lodge. Your tents are ready – make yourselves at home. Enjoy.” Simple, relaxed – the perfect short holiday combination. Our group separates and heads off to find our ‘tents’ (more like canvas-shelled mansions) and hop under a steaming hot, rain-water shower before dinner. Up here in the mountains, after a long day of walking and a few glasses of wine (all locally sourced from Queensland’s Granite Belt), conversation flows easily. The fire crackles cosily in the grate beside us. Outside the silhouette of Mt Mitchell is deep black against an inky sky pricked with glinting silver stars. Tomorrow we’ll explore the lush gully of Millar Vale creek, birdwatching and enjoying the sunshine, returning to camp for another night. The following day we will push ourselves – mentally and physically – to the top of a misty and magical Spicers Peak. We’ll be cold and exhausted, rain and wind-blasted... all of which will make us appreciate even more our last night’s accommodation: Spicers Peak Lodge – awarded Queensland’s most luxurious five of the past 10 years. But for now, we enjoy the moment. Host Rachel does a last round with nightcaps. And our hiking boots sit patiently outside our tents ready to be pulled on in the morning. n scenicrimtrail.com SPICERS OF LIFE Guide Al looking out to our next destination. SpicersPeakLodge,oneofQueensland’smostluxurious.AnexhaustedyethappygrouponthemistytopofSpicersPeak.
February March 2016
June July 2016