Climbing In Mooball
Mooball National Park is a well kept secret. It’s on the map but when I first went looking for it I found no signs for it, anywhere. Without a topographical map what I had to do was look at the road map for the general location and try the various roads and tracks until I found it.
I found the entrance just into the Burringbar ranges on the way to Murwillumbah. It’s just a dirt track off the old Highway One and it’s very easy to miss. And dangerous to navigate to from the south.
The actual park is mountainous, as far as I know there is no flat country here. This means almost nobody comes here so there are none of the advantages of a much visited place such as developed trails, lookouts or parking and picnic areas. That’s not a bad thing it’s just a fact. I enjoy the places people don’t often go to, as long as I physically can that is.
It’s also rainforest country. Because of mountainous terrain to catch the clouds and the greenery to help produce them these hills are often shrouded in mist and right now it’s very wet, having been raining on and off for a few weeks.
One of the effects of this rain is the trees soak it up and take the opportunity to expand and grow which often means they shed the old inflexible bark that protected them since the last rains. This leaves them exposed in their fresh new forest colours.
The road through it is very steep in places and hilly almost every other place, though there are a few areas on the side for parking the car. There are fire trails throughout so at least there is some easy walking, it’s not necessary to break a trail or follow the ones made by motorbikes over the years.
This one is well out of the way. It’s on top of a hill where there was once a house and now there’s a radio mast, and goes down into the valley below where there are a few small farms.
I discovered an interesting looking mushroom on this trail. It’s furry, or shaggy haired, a unique expression of fungi.
These hills are around three to four hundred metres high and the walking is more like climbing at times and I love it. Once the body is used to the exertion it’s a pleasure to walk here. There is always some new nook or cranny to be explored or some old one in a new season, it’s always different.
You can even see the ocean from places here, it’s that horizontal white line in the distance, right of centre.
I went on from this place to one of the trails I know and parked the car, put my hat on and got my trusty stick from the back seat. It’s just a light young tree left to cure in its skin for a while, then peeled of its bark and sanded for smoothness and cut to size – around five foot long.
I find it invaluable these days, as an aid to walking and climbing and for touching things at a distance to see if anything moves. It’s also handy at times for steadying my camera hand, though you wouldn’t know it to look at some of the pix.
It was nice and easy walking on this trail. Cool, wet, with the occasional shower, and relaxing. As I got further up the trail I started hearing squeaks that sounded like frogs calling to each other. The sounds were coming from the side of the trail where the rainwater runs down so I stopped to check it out.
I was hunkered down facing the bank with my feet just in the water listening for the location of the sounds. They seemed to be coming from very distinct areas but when I moved the leaf litter I found only more leaf litter and dirt. I checked a number of areas like this but found no sign of the frogs at all. So I let them go, maybe they will show themselves another time.
I have heard it said the first is the hardest to find, but once you have seen one they are then all over the place. Well it’s true the first, of anything, is hardest to do. Like overcoming the primarily physical barrier of climbing the highest or hardest mountain. Or the barrier, primarily of will or resistance, to the detachment from mind – to realise no mind.