Kondolilla National Park is a small national park north-west of Brisbane in the sunshine coast hinterland. It's easily accessible from the highway or the back way through Samford and Mt Mee (the back way being much more beautiful, but time consuming). I went the back way.
It was an overcast day, but when you're shooting rainforest - or any Queensland bush really - that is a good thing. The Queensland sun is very harsh and if it is shining down on you then you're going to have a frustrating time trying to get an acceptably exposed shot. It restricts you to working in the golden hours, and that makes things very hard for someone with a day job!
Mt Mee was a great drive, but as is the story with many great Queensland drives, it is very rare to find a good angle that is unobstructed. It was already late in the day though, so I moved on.
There was a great atmosphere at the top of the range at Maleny. Although the Glasshouse Mountains were fully shrouded in cloud, the view to the ocean was clear, with low mist hanging below the mountains. However, again, time was on my mind and there were no good angles to be found from my quick glances at the roadside.
I got to Kondolilla late in the afternoon, and was expecting quite a long walk from what had been written on the Government's national parks page. I gathered up my gear (17-40, 70-200, tripod) and set out.
Right at the start of the trail there's a relatively small but interesting and well positioned waterfall. The track crosses a man-made bridge just after it. Waterfalls were what I was here for, so I set down and took some photos.
I've received more than one comment on this photo saying the vignetting is too much. While I do agree there's a lot of vignetting on there, I have to wonder if they're talking about the gradient of the water, which is actually mostly natural. The vignetting is fairly light in this photo in comparison to some of my other recent stuff.
The track winds through some quite dense rainforest right after the waterfall. Dense rainforest is quite difficult to capture usually - there is so much going on that it just comes out as green noise. Your best hope is to find some kind of feature you can compose around. A lot of the time this ends up being the track.
The track ascends into some airier forest with ferny undergrowth. I have to admit I love this kind of vegetation, it's such a great atmosphere. I took a whole slew of photos, but most of them fell down on composition or some other intruding elements.
Now that we're over the ridge, the track rapidly descends into the valley. It continues into some even different vegetation - a mixture of dense trees and palms. A very interesting kind of forest. About this time you start to notice the constant sound of rushing water, and seeing the waterfall behind the trees as you pass by.
The track opens into a small area with an open view of the falls, but of course, the cloud breaks and the sun shines directly onto them! Just my luck. I can't very well have a blog post about Kondolilla falls without a picture of Kondolilla falls though, so here is an unprocessed photo to simply give you an idea of what the waterfall looks like.
We pass down to the very bottom of the gorge, and cross the stream coming from the falls. Since this area was below the canopy, I stopped on the bridge to take a photo.
The track then passes back up the other side of the gorge, all though this time the vegetation is mostly dense rainforest and mostly uneventful with few good opportunities for photos. The uneven light had returned again as well. After a couple of snapshots at a creek crossing, I put the camera away and headed back to the car.
It turned out to only be around a 2 hour walk with photo stops. If you are fit, and not taking photos, you could easily finish this walk in under and hour, I think.
Mapleton Falls is a waterfall just outside of Mapleton, which is just up the road from Kondolilla. I stopped by and took some photos from the looking which hangs over the edge of a cliff, and gives decent views over the valley and a side-on view of the waterfall. It also gave me a good chance to try some of the perks of my new tripod!
A couple of weeks later I had the chance to tag along to Mt Barney Lower Portals. It had been a while since I'd been down to this area and I certainly did not remember how prominent Mt Barney or Mt Maroon were. They do have a reputation in SE QLD, but you really have to see the mountains for yourself to see why.
Unfortunately, today was not the day to climb them, though. We did a walk into one of the lower areas of Mt Barney where the creek runs down from the mountain. The combination of very strong and uneven lighting, and mostly light bush interspersed with gum trees meant there were very few opportunities for photos.
That's all for this week. I just got back from a big adventure down to Armidale, Waterfall Way, Dorrigo and Bellingen though, so there is a few reports from the trip coming up! Hopefully I will get time in the next few weeks.