AN EASY 3.2 KM CIRCULAR WALK IN MOUNT JERUSALEM NATIONAL PARK that takes you to a spectacular lookout over Mullumbimby, Mt Chincogan and out to the Pacific Ocean. Its a good walk for children and those not so able – that’s me with my crook knee! I love this walk.
It’s that time of year when the Australian bush is flowering in all it’s glory so Sunday found me out with the grandchildren on a bush-walk in Mt Jerusalem National Park – which we are lucky enough to have right on our doorstep.
I remember the very first bush-walk I went on when I came to Sydney over over 35 years ago – for me it was one of those eureka moments – the ones in your lifetime you never forget. We came across to the first flowering shrub on our walk in Ku ring gai NP, and my knowledgeable friend said “that’s Prickly Moses – Acacia ulicifolia”. And so it went on for the whole day – one amazing plant after another and I didn’t recognize one of them, let alone know their name. It was like being at a huge party where you don’t know a soul. The diversity was absolutely astounding. Then we spotted the glorious crimson Waratah Telopea speciosissima (the state emblem of NSW) and she explained that the Latin name meant ‘the most spectacular plant seen from afar’ – I was hooked. It’s been a fascinating journey ever since – which continued on Sunday.
Charms of finches: The warmer weather has brought the birds flocking to my garden including dozens of these beautiful double-barred finches. I then discovered the collective noun for finches was a ‘charm’ – very poetic and very apt I think.
- Take the Wilson’s Creek Road out of Mullumbimby and climb up the hill for about 7 km taking a right turn onto Koonyum Range Road.
- This road will become gravel and you will enter the Mt Jerusalem National Park. The beginning of Rainer’s track is about another 8 km.
- You know you are almost there when you pass the first sign on your right to Rainer’s track – DON’T TAKE THIS ONE – confusing I know – but it can be a loop walk.
- You will also notice that the vegetation becomes quite sparse on top of the hill and the soil changes to a white sandy look. This is Teale’s Lookout and worth a walk up there – a couple of minutes.
- Keep going until you get to a second sign on your right to Rainer’s Track 1.6 km – this is the one you take. It’s a fire trail with a vehicle gate across the entrance and a few spots to pull your car off the road to park.
On the way up to our walk on Koonyum Range, a fat black and gold echidna was waddling across the road and I wondered if it had a puggle in its’ pouch. This is the very cute name for the baby echidna – also shared by it’s monotreme cousin, the platypus. These are the very unusual creatures of the Australian animal world in that they are marsupials (have a pouch) but unlike other marsupials, like kangaroos, they lay eggs instead of live babies. It’s amazing what you find out when you do your kids school assignments!
- This track is unique in the Byron Shire – because of its soil. It’s almost white, fine and granular – an extrusion at the surface of the surrounding clay. For this reason it supports a rare community of plants – many of which you would normally only see on sandstone heathland. The only other spot that has these kinds of native plants is around the water tower – another high spot, in Byron Bay.
- This is why I find it so interesting to walk up here – I recognize the species from my time in Sydney. I am still am trying to get up to speed with rainforest subtropical species.
- The dominant communities of trees will also be an indicator of what understorey plants you can expect to find with everything from banksias, grevilleas, pea plants, geebungs, hibbertias, bush rose and ground orchids – and many, many more.
2023 I took to walking up here when my husband was terminally ill during Covid lockdowns. When I could get away, I found my solace up here and decided to undertake a floral survey – noting what was flowering month by month – photographing them and drawing many of them. I found it very therapeutic and this walk became my solitary diversion and place of peace and inspiration.
- When you get to the end of the track you will come to a large dam. This was blown out of the surrounding rock to irrigate the banana plantations that stretched below the rim of the escarpment all around the back of Mullumbimby. They have gone, but it is now used by water bombing aircraft during bushfires – and tired bush walkers who want a dip.
- If you just continue past the dam for 100m you will get to the rim of the escarpment with wonderful views over Mullumbimby and out to sea. You will also see the remains of a large rusty pump and pipes that were the feed from the dam to the plantations below.
- You will now have to retrace your steps back to your car.
So there was a lot to talk about with the little ones on the way and lots of flowers were out including the lovely native iris Patersonia fragilis. The views were lovely. It didn’t rain. We only had to carry two of them – and then we finally got there.