Where is it: Mount Glorius Road, Dundas, Somerset Region
What's it all about: A beautiful creek with crystal clear swimming holes, lovely waterfalls and a little bit of a challenge!
Tell me more: Northbrook Gorge is a place that we had been looking forward to visiting for a while now, but we had heard that it was a challenge so we were always been a little reluctant in trying it out! The reason that it's considered a bit of a challenge is that there is no signage and the only tracks to follow (where there is a track) are from the people that venture out for a look. Add to that the fact that you have to swim through some of the deeper waterholes to actually get further along the trail, especially with 3 little kids, and you start to see why we were a bit hesitant!
But we could wait no longer - we just had to see it! The weather was perfect, we found a great resource of information (see link) and we had the GPS coordinates for the starting point so we decided to tackle it! There is a rough car-park at the start of the trail, from there we had to cross the road to find the small trail in the bushland - miss this trail and your day might not be as enjoyable as ours. A relatively narrow and at times steep trail leads down to Northbrook Creek, and immediately you can see the beauty of this spot! Once we hit the creek navigation was easy, we just turned left and followed the creek! Sometimes there was a little trial and sometimes not, but the kids just loved climbing and clambering over the rocks and splashing in the little pools along the way!
We splashed our way along the creek - in at least two locations we had to swim in order to progress (the water was perhaps about 5 feet deep - too deep for the kids!) for about 2 hours before we reached the gorge, which is also where the a fantastic swimming hole is! We arrived reasonably early and the water was crystal clear and so refreshing! A small waterfall is at one end which, with a little effort, we were able to climb up. Past the waterfall it was still lovely but not too dissimilar from a lot of the creek, so if you don't feel like climbing up the waterfall (it was a bit slippery) you don't really miss out on too much.
We stopped at the waterhole for lunch and a swim for an hour or so before heading back - it was a long and tiring day but oh so worth it! It is such a beautiful location - quiet and cool and the kids had so much fun! Make sure that you come prepared to get wet - you won't get to the gorge without getting wet. We took dry bags and one of the kids' floating rings so that we could get through the deeper parts, and in most other areas we were walking or wading through water! And despite a few challenges, this would have to be one of our favourite outings!
Amenities: No facilities here! 👍
Cost: Free to enjoy! 👍👍👍👍👍
Parking: Limited free parking is available! 👍👍👍
Access: A bit of a challenge to get here and get around! 👍
Best for: Anyone who is up for a bit of a challenge – a reasonable level of fitness is required! 👍👍👍
Summary: This was a fantastic day out! It may not be for everyone, but the creek, bush and gorge are beautiful and the challenge makes it all the more rewarding! 👍👍👍👍
Walking down to the creek
Following the creek to the gorge
Some of the locals
Most of our weekends are generally well planned, we like to do a little bit of research, find out what's going on and try our best to schedule our activities around the kids' sporting activities. Sometimes, however, we let our guard down a little, or maybe even our planned 'relaxing' weekend starts to teeter on the edge of boredom, and we just have to get out and explore! That's what happened on this weekend as we were sitting in the lounge room. It was a beautiful day outside, and it seemed a shame that it might go to waste. And so we had a very quick look around for things to do and stumbled across what looked like a very interesting place, Phoenix Sculpture Gardens at Mount Glorious. Not too far out of the way, and a little bit different from the typical!
Mount Glorious is about 40 km north west of Brisbane. It's a nice, scenic drive to get there - a few winding roads so you will need to drive with a little care. The road there passes through the nice (but sometimes busy!) little town of Samford. Samford is worthy of a visit in its own right, but for today, we will just be passing through. At the right time of year the scenery along the drive is truly magnificent! As is the case with a lot of the home businesses in these small mountain villages, Phoenix Gardens is tucked away along a narrow road. There is not too much room to manoeuvre around the area, but in saying that, there is not too much traffic to contend with in any case! As requested, we parked at the bottom of the driveway and walked up - this is so those with limited mobility have first access to the limited parking at the top of the driveway. The driveway itself is a little challenging to push a pram up - it's gravel and a good 100 meters up the hill (and quite steep in places!), so if you have a pram it may be an idea to leave it in the car, or drop off at the top of the drive before parking down the hill and returning.
At the top of the driveway there is a small shop front (part of the owners' house), and some tables and chairs that you can use to recover from the walk up if you need. The sculpture garden is essentially a number of beautiful sculptures spread throughout a well maintained rainforest garden. How the owners maintain this we have no idea - we struggle to keep our tiny garden maintained, but this is on another level! A lot of it looks just as you would imagine a rainforest to look like, however the access around is so easy there must be a lot of work going into keeping the forest floor clean and clear. The sculptures are well placed - some are seem a bit hidden while some seem to lead the way, but they all tell a story and they are all impressive!
The setting of Phoenix Gallery is really pretty and hilly rainforest, which makes it a little challenging to navigate. We didn't mind however, as it just made us wander around and explore, rather than focus on a specific route. For this reason, we were able to take our time and enjoy everything on offer. There was a little backtracking here and there, and I’m sure that we did walk around in circles a few times, but that didn't matter. The kids were not too phased by this either - they were excited about searching for the sculptures that were hidden throughout the gardens. There are well defined and maintained gravel paths everywhere which makes getting around quite easy, however it should be noted that the gardens are not really that suited for prams or wheelchairs.
This was a really nice find for us. We were lucky on the day that we decided to visit in that it was Graham's birthday celebrations! So along with the beautiful setting and sculptures, we were greeted by some live music, cake and a cup of tea! However I think the strongest recommendation for the Phoenix Gallery has to come from how our crazy-active boys managed to spend the few hours here without a playground or big open spaces and still enjoyed their visit. They were happy to walk through and 'explore' the rainforest at a leisurely pace while we could do the same. They perhaps didn't appreciate the artwork like we did, but they had fun nonetheless!
Amenities: Limited, although the owners were very accommodating with our little ones' urgent toilet requirements! 👍👍
Cost: Free to look at, but you might be tempted to purchase some of the sculptures! 👍👍👍👍
Parking: Shouldn't have much trouble finding a spot to park, although there might be a bit of a walk! 👍👍
Access: A little difficult to for prams - the terrain is a little bit hilly! 👍👍
Entertainment: Finding the sculptures hidden in the gardens provided some great fun for the kids! 👍👍👍
Best for: A nice spot for a relaxing family visit! 👍👍👍
Wildlife: Plenty of forest - I'm sure that there were creatures out there, just a little difficult to find! 👍👍👍
Summary: We were surprised as to how our boys took to this one. It must have been a bit of an adventure for their little minds to go wandering through the gardens! We all enjoyed it and it was more of a relaxing visit than an exciting one! 👍👍👍
Hints: Make a day of it and explore other areas of this pleasant little mountain village!
Brisbane Family Explorers