Girraween - this Garden of Eden lies nestled in the valleys of the New England Tableland on the northern side of the Queensland/New South Wales border (260km south-west of Brisbane via Warwick) on the New England Highway. Named by the local aborigines, Girraween means "place of flowers". In late winter and spring the bushland provides us with a spectacular display of wildflowers.
A walk along the Junction Track starts at the bottom of Bald Rock Creek camping area, where you immediately enter into a heathy forest. Dominant trees are Angophora floribunda (Rough-barked Apple), Eucalyptus brunnea (Brown Gum) and E. obliqua (Messmate Stringybark), with an understorey of Dodonaea hirsuta (Hairy Hop-Bush), Daviesia latifolia (Hop Bitter Pea), Leptospermum novae-angliae (New England Tea Tree) with its beautiful pink flowers, and other Leptospermum species that all look the same. Some day they will bring both pleasure and pride when we key them out properly.
The track continues across Bald Rock Creek, then follows it along its northern bank, as it meanders its way downstream, passing through heathland, open rock pavements and patches of scrubland. Wildflowers are in abundance along the track, providing a breathtaking display that includes Hardenbergia violacea (Purple Coral Pea), Hakea dactyloides (Finger Hakea), Calytrix tetragona (Heath Myrtle), Callistemon pallidus (Lemon Bottlebrush), Pimelea linifolia (Slender Rice Flower) and many other plants too numerous to mention.
A cloud of blue flowers off to the right requires a closer look. Is it Wahlenbergia graniticola (Granite Bluebell)? No, it is Hybanthus monopetalus (Lady's Slipper) growing on the edge of a perched watertable (swampy area). Also growing in the morass was Drosera spatulata (Rosy Sundew).
At the Junction, Bald Rock Creek is joined from the south by Ramsey Creek. Here a large granite outcrop forms the creek bank. Rock pools and slides are popular with visitors in summer. Enjoy a cool swim in one of the pools before making your way back to the camping area.
The Junction Track is a fine example of Girraween's topography and complexity of vegetation patterns. As the track passes through the various plant habitats - swamps, wet heaths, heaths and scrublands - it becomes quite evident that the plant species are dependent on their habitat for their survival. Change the environment by either drought or flood, chemical or mechanical interference, and the plants soon die out, or are overgrown by other plants that prosper in the new environment.
The Park is open to the public every day. Admission to the Park is free. No domestic pets are allowed.
Two camping areas are provided in the National Park. A camping fee is charged. Permits should be obtained in advance. Check which camping area is open, if you have a preference, as the camping areas are rotated for revegetation and conservation.
Access to Girraween National Park is via two routes. The first route is from Stanthorpe via Ballandean and Wyberba - good bitumen road for 35km. This route is recommended for caravans. The second route is from Stanthorpe via Storm King Dam - good bitumen road for 12km and fair to rough unsealed road for 14km. This is a nice, scenic route.
For more information on Girraween National Park, contact the Ranger in Charge, Girraween National Park, via Ballandean. Q. 4382. Phone 07 4684 5157.
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