The first thing I hear are bellbirds – a thousand tiny cymbals pealing through a cathedral of tall gums.
It’s a lovely welcome to the Araucaria track, circling Enoggera Reservoir, in the Brisbane suburb of The Gap.
You can access the track via Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre – a Queensland National Parks Education Centre in the foothills of D’Aguilar National Park, the mountainous green shoulders of the city’s north-west.
From the Discovery Centre, clear signs lead the way down to the reservoir’s edge where there’s a man-made swimming beach and launch area for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
It’s clearly a popular weekend spot for young families – the grassy banks are a patchwork of picnic blankets and the water is alive with playful splashing and the gentle dip of oars.
The sounds gently recede as you follow the trail signs to the right of the beach. From here, the Araucaria Track threads its way through bushland at the edge of the lake – and there are great views looking back across the water to the dam wall and distant television towers of Mount Coot-tha.
I’m not an avid bird watcher – but it’s almost obligatory on this walk. Ducks and waterfowl frolic in their whimsical way. Cormorants show off the slick black sheen of their wings as they bask in the sun. A still-as-a-statue, snow white heron spies an unsuspecting snack in the shallows. And on a branch above, a King Parrot – with its vivid green and red wings – cocks a curious eye as I pass by.
Down below, in the muddy tangle of lily-pads, there’s a veritable town meeting of dumpy little freshwater turtles.
It’s an easy and pleasant walk along the graded track and there’s dappled shade most of the way – welcome on a warm day. The full 5 kilometre circuit takes around 2 hours to navigate and eventually leads away from the lake through wet eucalypt forest.
I feel no obligation to complete the entire Araucaria Track today – so retrace my steps back towards the picnic area. If you’re in the mood for messing about on the water, there’s the option to hire kayaks from Walkabout Creek Adventures, stationed near the beach. They also offer segways or mountain bikes to tackle the maze of cycling tracks that weave through the foothills (these are, thankfully, separate to the walking trails.)
Close by is the Dinosaur Dig pit – where little paleontologists get grubby unearthing prehistoric relics.
Keep following the track and it eventually leads to an elevated (albeit fenced) view of the old spillway. Here, graffiti artists have left their modern mark on the concrete walls of Brisbane’s oldest dam, built in 1866.
From this point, the trail leads downhill towards The Gap Park-n-Ride carpark – a handy ‘back-door’ access to the lake on days when the official carpark at Walkabout Creek is chockers.
Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre
Written & photographed by Carole Horne