Brisbane’s weather can sometimes be rather fickle to say the least – beautiful one minute, bloody hot the next and pouring rain in 5 minutes time!  I’m finally getting a few days off for the Christmas / New Year break so I’m indulging in some simple ME time – greedy eh? However, I don’t need to be out when those horrid thunderstorms hit with hail etc. So, I’m keeping it simple.

Riding and exploring are two things that just come to mind in my pleasure zone.  My injuries have determined that I enjoy some shortish rides and enjoy other passions along the way.  So, with bike ready, me ready and some bushwalking shoes packed, I went exploring the great outdoors.

By now you all know about my ever diminishing circles… Be aware I used all the old back roads but Google these days tends to tell me they either don’t exist or that I should indeed be using ONLY the main roads (I have news for Google and it’s all bad!).

You’ll get the idea – not too far but enjoying some local terrain.  I ended up at Acacia Road at the top of Karawatha Forest – the bottom end is Illaweena.

What’s Karawatha?

Karawatha Forest Park located 18 kilometres south of Brisbane’s CBD adjoining Compton Road at Karawatha and Kuraby is approximately 900 hectares in size and is one of the largest areas of remnant bushland within the city.

Karawatha Forest contains over 320 native plant species and a variety of habitats from freshwater lagoons and sandstone ridges to dry eucalypt forests and wetlands. Karawatha contains some of the last remaining wet heathlands and melaleuca wetlands in Brisbane. This habitat is an important refuge for over 200 species of wildlife including the highest diversity of frog species in Brisbane and a number of rare and threatened species.

One of the most successful wildlife movement solutions in Brisbane is the land-bridge linking Karawatha Forest on the southern side of Compton Road to bushland on the northern side of Compton Road.

Karawatha Forest Park and an adjoining corridor of Brisbane City Council managed bushland to the west form part of the largest remaining continuous stretch of open eucalypt bushland in South East Queensland known as the Flinders Karawatha Corridor. This corridor extends from the south west of Karawatha Forest to Flinders Peak in Ipswich and beyond. The corridor is 56 hectares in size and 60 kilometres long.

Visitors to the reserve can enjoy picnics, bushwalks and nature study. There are two picnic areas within the forest:

  1. Illaweena Picnic Area which can be accessed from Illaweena Street, Drewvale. Gates open at 6am and close at 7pm.

  2. Acacia Road Picnic Area which can be accessed from Acacia Road, Karawatha (toilet facilities available). Gates open at 6am and close at 6pm.

Karawatha lagoon

Karawatha lagoon

Well it was exchange the bike boots for my new Keen hiking shoes – test drive!

My intention was to do a casual 5-6 km – the reality was 16km of walking through things I had never bothered to explore, even though it’s in my own backyard!

Now I don’t know about you, but the photos taken on the phone show me that if this place were anywhere else, people would flock to see it – being ‘at home’ so to speak, people are pretty thin on the ground. With that said, there are plans for an educational centre…

Brisbane City Council plans to commence building an environment discovery centre in Karawatha Forest in early 2015 to educate residents and visitors about the natural area’s environmental significance and to align with Council’s commitment to building a sustainable future. The new discovery centre will be located at the site of the existing Acacia Road Picnic Area (located off Acacia Road), which forms part of Karawatha Forest Park.

The hiking shoes worked a treat and I got to see things sitting right next to the Gateway Arterial, the Logan Motorway, Beaudesert Road and Toll!  Now just imagine, you disappear a mere 1/2 km into the bush and you rarely hear any traffic noise. You are right in the middle of one of the busiest parts of the Brisbane road networks for all types of vehicles from small to large and you’re lost in a world that seems so distant from the hustle and bustle of ‘real life’.  Fair enough, I went deep into the guts of the place and explored, but it brought me back to reality.

How much do we miss by assuming it simply doesn’t exist in our ever-growing cities?

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