On Saturday morning we received a text message from the cousin-in-law:  “Would you like to join us for a picnic at Mt Glorious tomorrow?”
Well now who could refuse an invitation like that?

So on Sunday morning we packed some sandwich bits in the cooler, some cold drinks in another, chucked a few other essentials into the car and set off to this Glorious sounding place.  Within about 10 minutes we were already in the countryside and heading towards the mountains, past ranches with horses and big rambling houses.  We passed through a small town called Sanford, the kind of place you go to on a breakfast run if you’re a biker, as evidenced by the café’s packed with bikers.
We carried on driving, past  Palm trees, Wattle, Jacaranda, Cycad and lush undergrowth that filled the air with a scent strong enough to reach us through the car’s air-con.  A cricket game was in progress in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, just near Dawson Creek Rd and Goat Track Rd.  We ambled on enjoying the vast scenery on our Sunday drive.   The number of bikers on the road seemed ever-increasing and then all of a sudden we were in a mountain pass and we understood why they all came out this way.  It made us cry for our bikes, still unsold on a showroom floor in Dublin.  What a waste when we could be enjoying them here!

The road tightened in on itself, hugging the mountain, up and around, into the trees so tall we couldn’t see the top of them, although the mountainside was so steep we were on a level with the tops of some of them at the same time.  You can’t drive very fast on this road – the corners are way too tight and the gradient far too steep.  But oh, what fun on a bike!  This is the last time I’ll mention them – suffice to say there were hundreds of them on that road, all day, non-stop, and it made us awfully jealous.
(I find it nearly impossible to describe this place, but for those of you from S.A, if you’ve ever been through the pass at Nature’s Valley it’s like that, but far bigger and without monkeys.)

At the top of the mountain we reached the town of Mt Glorious.  How people live there, I don’t know, because it took ages for us to get to the top and by the end of it we could actually smell the engines from the strain of the drive!  We passed some poor dude pushing a bicycle up – it’s like 7km uphill, it must be some buzz on the downhill run to make that worthwhile!  I doubt my little 1.3l Toyota would even make it up some parts.
But Oh My, it was worth it for us anyway.  We stopped at the D’Aguilar National Park for a “little walk in the rain forest”.  (2.7km Later and I was well ready for lunch!)  Mind you, it didn’t feel like we’d walked that far, or for as long as we had by the end of it (apart from the ravenousness).

Rainforests are such pretty things.  There are birds and dappled sunlight, butterflies, leaves and trees, bugs and spiders.  Queensland rainforests have palm trees in them, which I thought was quite cool.  And Strangling Fig trees, that apparently start out as a seed at the top of the tree which then grow their roots downwards, slowly wrapping them around the host tree until they reach the ground and strangle the host until it dies and is gone, leaving the centre hollow – we saw a number of these in various stages of their macabre but beautiful life and needless to say, I got pictures.  Check out my flickr link, on the sidebar…

After our little hike through the forest we got back in our cars and continued driving.  We stopped for a quick peek at the spot that overlooks the Wivenhoe Dam, one of Brisbane’s two main water supplies.  It’s quite lovely and must be even more so when there is more water in it.  Ho hum.  What I found particularly impressive is that at this lookout spot they have a number of BBQ areas set up – complete with little stockpiles of firewood, all ready for us to use, if we so choose.  How very thoughtful of Queensland, don’t you think?

It was just a short drive further down the road, at the foot of the other side of the mountain to a picnic area called Red Cedar, a large grassed area with a few covered pagodas with tables and benches, more stocked BBQ spots, clean toilets, complete with bog-roll (just remember to check for red-backs and funnel-web spiders under the seats before you sit down!).  A creek runs around the edge of it and there are large trees providing enough shade so that people like us can set up our picnic on the grass under the trees near the water, if we prefer.  It’s all so very civilized.  Best of all, there was hardly anyone there – I was astounded that we had such a beautiful spot almost to ourselves.  All of this only about 35km from Brisbane city.

We ate our sandwiches, swatted a few flies and lazed on our blankets on the grass.  After lunch the girls got up to investigate the creek.  While K and the little one splashed in a pool I went off on a photo expedition, one of my favourite pastimes and so much fun when there is nobody with me to hurry me along.  And I only got zapped by stinging nettles once.
When I’d photographed everything there was to see, and the little one had splashed everything there was to splash, we gathered together on the picnic blanket again, half-dozing, watching the clouds change shape in the sky and half-listening to K read the little one a story.

What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon.