Tag Archives: bush

Xanthorrhoea and Banksia Track Loop- Chermside Hills Reserve

Welcome to the Whistling Kite Collective’s Great Places to Visit series. This is where I review bushwalks and natural areas. Enjoy!

The Chermside Hills Reserve is a great natural area of Brisbane. This beautiful area is only 12 kilometres north of the CBD. Honestly, residents of this city are just so lucky to have such wonderful habitat places on their doorstep.

This wonderful area provides critical habita linkage and a variety of walking and cycling tracks.
This wonderful area provides critical habitat linkage and a variety of walking and cycling tracks.

This important bushland area provides a critical habitat link between the mountains and the coast (known as the Mountains to Mangroves Corridor). The Downfall Creek Environment Centre (open Monday to Friday at 815 Rode Rod, Chermside West) is a good starting and finishing point, as the site also offers a resource centre, track maps, indoor aquariums, activity sheets, touch and feel tables, water, timber playground, undercover bbqs and picnic tables and open grassed areas). The side of the Environment Centre wall is a painted mural of native animals in their habitats. My toddler loves this mural.

Lots of animals and bright colours attract little people to the wall.
Lots of animals and bright colours attract little people to the wall.
The shaded timber playground suits a variety of ages.
The shaded timber playground suits a variety of ages.

This Eucalyptus forest offers a variety of bikeways and walking tracks. The Xanthorrhoea and Banksia Track Loop bushwalk is a good distance for small children (about 1.2 kilometres and also suitable for prams as it is bitumen).  There is a good diversity of vegetation structure and floristics supporting abundant wildlife to engage the whole family.

Wide, sealed paths are suitable for prams in a natural forest setting.
Wide, sealed paths are suitable for prams in a natural forest setting.

Sensory play provided by this forest  include large logs, a timber bridge, small branches, crunchy understorey, rough grass trees, smooth eucalypt trunks and branches, shimmering tree sap from the iron barks, colourful leaves, glistening spiders’ webs and birds’ nests.

In autumn and winter the Banksias are in flower. These large, golden “candlesticks” are full of nectar. Little fingers and tongues retrieved the nectar from these flowers. “Very yummy nectar mummy!” We managed to leave some behind for the sugar gliders! This was a highlight of the walk through the Banksia track section

Banksia nectar is delicious for sugar gliders and toddlers! Photo courtesy of anbg.gov.au
Banksia nectar is delicious for sugar gliders and toddlers! Photo courtesy of anbg.gov.au

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The Xanthorrhoea track runs along the southern section of a small gully where we have seen swamp wallabies on a few occasions. “If we pat him, he might jump away”.  There are also plenty of bush turkeys, lizards and other birds in the area.

This area provides a good half day out when combined with a picnic or bbq lunch afterwards at the Environment Centre grounds. You can build your own adventure in this forest as several tracks can be linked for larger walks. Track maps are available online (http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/documents/environment/bushlandandwaterways_chermside_hills_reserves_track_map.pdf) or from the Environment Centre Monday to Friday.

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Sandstone Track, Toohey Forest, Queensland

A nice morning adventure through a quality woodland habitat
A nice morning adventure through a quality woodland habitat

Toohey Forest is just a few minutes’ drive south of Brisbane city and easily accessible via public transport. There are picnic tables, toilets and shady car parks.

The 780 m Sandstone Track is a relatively flat, easy walk with few steps, suitable for toddlers. The path is fine gravel. It comprises a couple of lookouts and a small loop section.

This level and wide walking track good for little feet
This level and wide walking track good for little feet

The beautiful dry woodland habitat provides a good mix of fallen timber for climbing and balancing acts. Exposed bush rocks prove great for jumping.

The woodland ground storey is great for tactile engagement - rough, smooth, prickly, shiny and fantastic!

The woodland ground storey is great for tactile engagement – rough, smooth, prickly, shiny and fantastic!

The vegetation offers various tactile stimulation opportunities with a variety of tree and shrub species, raspy leaves, colourful wild flowers, crunchy ground cover. Many common bird species can be spotted on the walk, as well as small spiders and insects.

Rocks for exploring and attractive lookouts feature in this walk

Rocks for exploring and attractive lookouts feature in this walk

The lookouts are not fenced so we held hands in these areas. We did this walk in Autumn and it was quite dry, however this walk would be especially lovely in Spring when more flowers are in bloom.

Loving the birdsong and dappled light throughout Toohey Forest

Loving the birdsong and dappled light throughout Toohey Forest

A great walk for the family and the length is perfect for little people. My toddler loved balancing on logs, climbing the rocks, finding friendly spiders in holes, bird watching and crunching through the dry understorey! This walk makes a nice morning out when combined with a picnic lunch and snacks on-the-go.

How we rock the forest

You don't need to pack the kitchen sink when rockin' the forest with small children.
You don’t need to pack the kitchen sink when rockin’ the forest with small children.

We love bush walking as a family. We adventure almost weekly. It brings us together and provides for beautiful shared experiences. Our standard kit is shown below. Various items are added to subtracted depending on the conditions and duration of the walk.

Ergobaby soft carrier
What would I do without this carrier? It is by far my best ever baby purchase. Mine has a handy zip pocket that can carry a nappy, mobile phone, small camera and keys. Our infant is carried in this. She can breast feed, sleep, chat and admire the surroundings. Of course, she wears her Whistling Kite Collective bonnet for enhanced bushwalking comfort!
ergobaby

Kathmandu framed carrier
Our lovely toddler can generally walk great distances for a little person, but sometimes she needs to be carried for a rest.  This carrier is good, but there are many on the market. This carrier also has a zipped storage area that can carry most items required for a half day walk. She is up high and can see over Dad’s shoulders.
kathmandu carrier

Insulated lunch box
Healthy snacks and more substantial lunch items.  For a half day walk we usually take sandwiches, fruit, crackers, natural yoghurt, crackers, assorted dried fruits and nuts; packed with an ice brick.
lunch box

Melobaby nappy change wallet.
There are lots of brands available, but I love this as it has removable microfibre change mats. I holds four disposable nappies, plastic bags for used nappies, small bottle of hand sanitiser, wet wipes and a spare flannel cloth. Now we have two children, we use disposable nappies for bushwalking.

Camera
We have a Sanyo video and still camera, plus the cameras on our phones. My Ergobaby carrier pouch holds this camera for quick access. I find that my Nikon DSLR is too large for on-the-go photography when we are with our children. It only comes on particularly scenic walks or when I know flowers are on display.
camera

One pair of spare pants for each child.
If we are beach or creek walking, then I pack a whole replacement outfit!

Water- two bottles

30 + Sunscreen
This is applied prior to our walk and we carry some with us. Its absolutely essential for young children in Queensland, Australia.
sunscreen

Small microfiber travel towel.
images

If I am taking the girls for a walk by myself our walks are shorter and our kit is very minimal! We always have suitable footwear for each adventure…

She is a fast runner. You must be so proud…

Standard footwear for toddler wrangling...
Standard footwear for toddler wrangling…

Apart from the fact I lack the will, there is a very good (two year old) reason I can’t wear stilettos in public. Hmmm. Imagine some chase music. There is a bush turkey running for its life through the bush, closely followed by my shrieking toddler. Behind her is another bush turkey trying to keep up with its mate, closely followed by me. I’m trying to act cool, but sprinting after two birds and a toddler whilst wearing a maternity bra is not hilarious! Yes, any footwear other than flat sandals firmly strapped to my feet or a running shoe just won’t do for me at present.

Yes, my cherub is a runner; a fast one. She is at an adorable age where the world is unfolding for her in miraculous ways and almost everything is a joy to behold. Personal safety is not one of them. She can examine a dew-laden spider web for the longest time and describe it in the most beautiful way. There is innocence in her joy that makes my heart sing.

When she takes off without a moment’s notice though, I sigh on the inside and try to keep from freaking out! The parenting resources tell me this is a phase that will pass. I hope so.

I catch the toddler as the bush turkeys double back to the picnic tables (they are experienced with this situation of course). I crouch down and reconnect with her. She is so excited and instantly starts gesturing and telling me all about the fast bush turkey with the big tail that waggled as he ran. I find myself in a bind. I want to rouse and say “Don’t run away!” I also don’t want to stifle her curiosity and imagination. Really, for how long is she going to marvel at a bush turkey’s waggling bottom? What I do is this:

  1. Listen to her.
  2. Hold her and tell her I worry when she runs away and I would be very upset if she got hurt and I wasn’t there.
  3. Empathise and ask her to please stay with me when we are out.
  4. Describe simple consequences. For example, repeat offences will mean a swift car trip home!
  5. After the children are in bed, drink a large glass of wine.

Lately, she has been staying with me more often than not, but those occasions when she runs away make me crazy! The last time a lovely friend held my infant (and reassured me) while I collected my toddler off the ground. She was lying behind a parked car staging a protest… Ahhhh! Who knows what my cherub’s future holds? Maybe she will take part in some bush olympics against the animals. For now, I shall be in training…

Bellbird Grove – Brisbane Forest Park and D’Aguilar National Park

Quality creek exploration
Quality creek exploration

Brisbane residents are super lucky to have this wonderful place only 25 minutes from CBD.

The Turrbal Loop Circuit is an easy walk comprising a few wide steps, boardwalk and a soft path suitable for toddlers. It is 1.7 km long, so depending on the age of your children, some carrying may be involved (more on how we rock the forest coming soon- stay tuned). From the beautiful Rose Gum Picnic Area, the track winds through flooded gums and continues along Cedar Creek.

The vegetation is beautiful, ranging from woodland with a grassy understorey to wet riparian mixed forest with a shaded, herbaceous ground layer. I even saw basal leaves of ground orchids today (hooray)!

Walk on one track, or both to add distance.
Walk on one track, or both to add distance.

This very nice walk offers small children a range of sensory experiences including steps, boardwalk, bridge crossings, stone paths, pebbly beaches, crystal clear water, tadpoles, insects, fallen debris, colourful leaves, forest fruits (like red lilly pilly berries), bellbirds, birdsong and river rocks.

Cedar Creek is perfect for water play
Cedar Creek is perfect for water play

Facilities include undercover and outdoor picnic tables, bbq’s, toilets, water and open grassy areas.