Spicers Hidden Vale Retreat is 1hr 15mins from Brisbane and is the meeting point for your Scenic Rim Trail experience and the destination for your first night.
Meet your fellow travellers and guide at 2pm for the welcome and introduction. Spicers Hidden Vale is a historic 12,000-acre former cattle station. A number of buildings, including the barn and Chinese cottage are over 100 years old. You will learn about the history of the property including the unfortunate burning down (twice) of the homestead exactly 99 years apart. It’s said that Ian Fleming got his inspiration for James Bond 007 from former British spy and Hidden Vale resident Sidney Cotton.
After the welcome, we enjoy a short walk over to the Hidden Vale Wildlife Centre, a purpose-built $5m facility designed to rehabilitate and breed endangered animals in partnership with the University of Queensland. Wildlife we may come across include White Cheeked Wallabies, Australian King Parrots and Wedged Tailed Eagles. Hidden Vale is home to a healthy Koala population so sightings are possible. As the sun starts to set you’ll join the market garden tour learning about the produce & unique methods used by our chefs. Spicers Hidden Vale is home to the renowned One Chef Hat restaurant Homage, led by Head Chef Ash Martin. You’ll learn how fire has become integral to his cooking following the burning down of Homage in the 2018 fire. Tonight will be a dining experience as you taste foods from across the Scenic Rim region and the retreat itself. All of the dishes have been prepared with an element of fire and you’ll be able to watch the chefs cook in their outside coal-fired kitchen. After dinner, you’ll retire for a good night’s rest before we embark tomorrow.
After a hearty breakfast, we’ll board our purpose built 4WD to be transferred through our private nature reserve to the Scenic Rim Trailhead. All your luggage will be transported for you. Over the next five hours, we’ll slowly ascend through our private Nature Refuge. As we climb higher through the western part of the Scenic Rim you will learn about the history and ecology of the region. Mount Mistake is part of the ‘Main Range,’ a collection of over 40 mountain peaks, which are the remnants of a volcano that was active some 24 million years ago. The panoramic views open up as we head towards the ridgeline. The trail weaves through open eucalypt forests. Your mind will start to clear as you breathe in the fresh mountain air and the bird calls will become louder as your ears tune into the sounds of the bush. As we make our way along the ridgeline we enter a unique ecosystem, which protects an endangered species of rock wallaby. We’ll stop for morning tea on top of a rocky outcrop with views as far as the eye can see. Your guide will prepare you a cup of tea while you rest and take in your surroundings before we continue on. Throughout the trail, you’ll notice the beautiful xanthorrha grass trees with their green spiky bloom and charcoal trunk that feels like dragon scales. Grass trees are long-lived and slow growing with a lifespan of up to 250 years. You’ll come across trees that are up to 4m tall and hundreds of years old. As you stand below and peer up you’ll feel a sense of wonder. Your first day of walking is rewarded with the most incredible views along the range. You’ll walk along the ridgeline with plenty of time to pause and take it in. We’ll take the opportunity to have lunch while enjoying the views over the Little Liverpool Ranges and the fresh breezes that rise from the valley below. As we come out of the forest and into the farmland the ground rolls gently towards the Spicers Mount Mistake Farmhouse. You’ll be greeted with a well-earned beverage arriving with a sense of achievement having completed your first walk. With some free time in the afternoon, you might want to relax and enjoy the amazing views, while others might want to take a self-guided stroll to the local waterfall. Each of the six bedrooms has its own private ensuite and after a hot shower we’ll settle in for the evening around the stone fireplace. A hearty dinner will be served on our communal table as we share stories of the day that’s been.
Walking distance: 7 km
Walking time: 4-5 hours
Today we pass over from Spicers land into the Main Range National Park. As you venture forward you will feel the forest folding in around you. The area we are exploring is of national significance following the 1994 declaration by the World Heritage Committee. Some 14 years ago Gondwana rainforests including most of the Main Range National Park was decreed a World Heritage Area. You will learn about the fascinating ecology of the rainforest and surrounding ecosystems along your journey. There is also a curious history to the region having been extensively logged in the 1900’s. Walking through living history makes you truly appreciate those who fought for national park protection in the region. The path we take is, in fact, an old logging trail and you will see remnants of the past & learn of its history as you traverse the landscape. Today’s walk is smooth going and relatively flat so while its the longest day by distance it’s easily achieved. Today will likely be a day of reflection as you enjoy the chatter with your fellow walkers, learn from your guide and take solace in the quiet stretches. Your mind will clear as it focuses on what’s in front of you rather than the future or the past. In the final stretch of your day we emerge from the forest and onto the ‘winder trail’ you can see the old iron winder that was once used by timber getters to winch the logs along. We turn off the open cut trail and through our final stretch of forest before arriving at Amphitheatre Eco Cabins. As you walk into camp you’ll see a sense of awe with the light coloured wooden treehouse like cabins set above the forest floor. The eco-cabins have been built to the highest sustainability standards and you’ll enjoy a tour of the camp after you’ve had a hot shower, rested and before congregating in the common pavilion for a hearty dinner & well-earned beverage. You are assured of a good night’s rest in your private cabin with signature Spicers beds, separate room for sorting your gear and a daybed that can be used as a single bed should you prefer. Each cabin has a private balcony with an incredible louvre window that opens up to the views of the valley below and the mountain behind. The camp got its name from its amphitheatre setting, an open circular space with a central space for the cabins. After dinner, you’ll retire to your cabin. As you wind down and drift off you’ll hear birds calling and possibly the throaty ‘ok-ok-ok-ok’ call of the endangered Fleay’s barred frog.
Walking distance: 18 km
Walking time: 8 hours
Setting out after breakfast, today explores a number of ecosystems venturing deep into the national park. The lookout vantage points early in the day offer a spectacular view of Mount Castle. As we descend we become enveloped by the canopy and this natural cover will provide cool temperatures throughout the day. The ecosystems of today’s journey are particularly noticeable starting in a wooded forest with beautiful walkways fringed by boulders & contrasting bright green foliage. We cross a dry rocky creek bed and as you look up and down it’s a magical sight. Enjoy stepping back in time and absorb the forest around you. Large stands of red cedar, white beech and hoop pine once stood proudly in these forests. Search the forest for the subtle reminders of the harvesting that took place here between 1840 and 1985? As we journey deeper we enter an unharvested section of the park and the trees get thicker and taller, don’t forget to look up. In the towering trees above you’ll see giant staghorn air plants, these beautiful plants grow without soil and will grow just about anywhere so long as they receive filtered light & are protected from winds. Keep an eye out for Albert’s lyrebird, the endangered eastern bristlebird and the vulnerable black-breasted button-quail. We’ll take lunch at ‘the cathedral’ a zone of giant Crow’s Ash trees (Australian Teak) hundreds of years old. The circumference of some of these beauties is astounding. As you rest quietly it feels as though you are sitting among a village of elders. As we take our final descent the path crisscrosses the ridge and we take leave of the rainforest and traverse through an ancient eucalypt forest. As the canopy opens you may encounter kookaburras, pale-headed rosellas or if you are lucky a wedge-tailed eagle. Reaching the valley floor we arrive at the source of Dalrymple creek with mountain spring water flowing & a cool green pool to swim in during the warmer months. We’ll rest a while and you can refill your water bottle from the waterfall. From here it is a gentle ascent into Timber Getters Eco Cabins.
Morning tea, lunch & afternoon tea are enjoyed on the trail, arriving into camp in the afternoon.
Walking distance: 8.7 km
Walking time: 8 hours
Enjoy your last breakfast with us in the main lodge at Spicers Canopy at approximately 8:00am, after which the Scenic Rim Trail team will collect your bags and transfer you either back to the starting point to pick up your vehicle or back to Spicers Balfour Hotel in Brisbane.
Walking distance: 13.7 km
Walking time: 7 hours
After breakfast at Hidden Peak cabins our trip concludes