Start: Banksia carpark
End: Banksia carpark
Distance: 14 km
Time: 3 hrs
The plan today was to do the 4.5 km Stoney Creek circuit in the Byfield State Forest and finish with a swim in one of the rockpools at the “day use” area near the walks end. I headed off at 6:30 am to drive the 45 minutes from Yeppoon to Stoney Creek. After what seemed like forever, down a dirt road, I finally arrived to find the walk closed due to “plantation management activities”, disappointed to say the least.
A quick check through my walking guides and I found a suitable 14 km (return) bushwalk not too far away in the Byfield National Park; Banksia carpark to Sandy Creek. Sounds like a creek swim is back on….
This walk is the first section of the Creek to Coast Trail which is a 9 km one way hike from the center of the NP out to the coast.
The walk starts at the Banksia carpark on Stockyard Rd, there is an information shelter detailing the Creek to Coast Trail and the flora and fauna in the area. I quickly took some photos of the signage here to read through later as the March Flies were thick and took every opportunity to dine on me when standing still. I quickly got the walk started and was relieved to see that the little or rather huge bighters didn’t cause much bother when on the move. Don’t forget to pack the insect repellent, you will be grateful.
The trail is just wonderful, winding through eucalyptus, native hibiscus and pine forest with spectacular grass tree undergrowth, some of the best specimens I have seen, and to see them in this abundance was truly beautiful. I recommend doing this walk with gators as for the most part, the trail takes you right through forest undergrowth with spikey cycads, waist high grasses and the occasional thorny weed just waiting to grab onto and tear any exposed skin. I came away with my fair share of battle scars.
There are a number of creek crossings along the walk, with only one under water on this occasion. It wasnt deep and with my trusty Gortex boots, my feet stayed dry.
The trail is very well identified with orange triangular markers at regular intervals and directional signage at major junctions. The path is also well worn and some of the steeper drops to the creek bed crossings are managed well with wooden stairs installed, making for easy navigation.
Approximately 4.5 km into the walk there is a junction, left takes you to Sandy Creek and right takes you to Sandy Creek carpark. I went left in search of the sandy creek with a nice cooling swim on the mind.
From here the path changes quickly, the once firm and easy on the feet surface turns to deep soft sand. The trail heads quite steeply up hill for 1.3 km and the walking became very difficult as my feet sunk into the sand on each step. Working up a serious sweat, the creek couldn’t come fast enough.
After slogging my way up hill through the grey soft sand, I made it to Sandy Creek. Imagine my dismay when the realisation hit, Sandy Creek was exactly that; a dry sandy creek bed with not a drop of water in sight. There was to be no swimming today…grr.
It wasn’t all bad, the lack of swimming hole was made up for by the chance to stop, take off the pack and take in the views of the surrounding Byfield National Park. Thick scrub leading to nearby mountains that look worth a revisit to climb in the future.
Returning to the junction and feeling a little more worn out than expected after all that sand, I weighed up my options; Banksia carpark (4.8 km), Sandy Creek carpark (900m). The thought here was that I could scope out the 4WD track and see if there was a short cut back to the trail head. With the decision made I took the inquisitive route and headed to the carpark.
It wasn’t long before I was regretting the decision, the track turned back to soft sand and the hard slog began again. Not one to back down from a challenge, I persevered, the potential short cut was just around the corner.
Just as the mozzies were getting the better of me, some luck came my way as a passing 4WD stopped and informed me it was 14 km back to Banksia by the track. Bugger, that luck didn’t last long. So I guess the decision was made, and I walked the 5.7 km back via the designated walking track.
On the homeward stretch it struck me; I quite like the out and back walks. You see the environment from two perspectives, and the return always seems more relaxed. You know where you’re going, what’s around the next bend and what the track is like underfoot. You start to see more, take in more and the appreciation of the space you’re in is amplified. It seems that it’s quite often at this stage that I see wildlife, and on this occasion I was not disappointed. There were butterflies everywhere, honey eating birds flitting from grass tree to grass tree and what is seemingly becoming quite common, a large goanna scurried past and up a tree.
I really enjoyed this bushwalk, the Byfield National Park is quite unique in terms of flora and the well maintained trail makes for safe walking. The Sandy Creek not having water may have been unexpected by me, but the effort up the hill was definitely worth the views. It’s a quiet solitary walk, clearly not used by many and as a result, you feel as though you have escaped. I highly recommend this bushwalk…..don’t forget the insect repellent.