Leader – Michele
Total Distance walked - 8.3k
Accompanying us on this walk was Pat Fitzgerald from here on Beechmont. His father lived down at Killarney Glen and they were responsible for having the area excluded from army use after much damage had already occurred. Pat is still very involved at Denham Reserve. Pat is very passionate about his work in these scenic areas and has a wealth of information which he happily imparted to us for our benefit.
After making our way down to Back Creek we explored some of the many cascades and waterfalls cutting their way through the narrow gorge. This walk should be done again to explore some of the scenery we didn’t get to see. The running water has created beautiful sculptured formations all along the creek so cameras were clicking to take advantage of the many photo opportunities to be had. We had smoko before making our way up to Denham Reserve to visit the falls there.
At Denham Reserve we visited the Denham Falls Lookout before making our way down into the gorge to visit Lip Falls where we had lunch and lots more great conversation. Again there were many places we didn’t get to see because of time limitations.
Below is a write up of the Killarney Glen area and its history – Michele
Located in Lower Beechmont, the property Killarney Glen has been owned by the Fitzgerald family since the late 1800s, with Patrick Maurice Fitzgerald (1909 – 1997), or Paddy as he was known, being the first European to be born on the plateau. Paddy always had a close affinity with the land and explored many of the untouched valleys, including the Back Creek Gorge before any of the native hoop pine was removed. Back Creek itself, coursing north as it drops off Beechmont Plateau flows over many spectacular waterfalls and through Killarney Glen before reaching the Coomera River.
In 1971, the defence department decided to resume the property as a buffer zone for the Canungra Land Warfare Centre covering hundreds of acres of land surrounding Killarney Glen. This was the start of a 26-year battle to keep this unique, landscaped property open to the public. With support from the local community and media, in 1977 Killarney Glen was listed by the Australian Heritage Commission on the Register of National Estates for its social, aesthetic, historical and natural value.
A favourite with visitors is the short but slightly steep walk down through the property to original bush huts that sit above the magnificent Killarney falls and gorge. These falls, and others close by, are unique for flowing over the rocks of the Chillingham Volcanics. Approximately 200 million years ago, a chain of violent volcanoes ran from Chillingham in northern NSW to the north of Mt Tamborine and covered the area in ash and rhyolite flows. These erosion resistant rocks allowed the creek to cut a narrow gorge with keyhole falls at the end and sculptured caves worn into each side. Extra care needs to be taken near the top of the falls as the rocks are very slippery.
Paddy ran a productive banana farm on the steep western slopes of Killarney Glen, but after some landslides on the hill he and his son Pat replanted the slopes with over 7000 rainforest trees including hundreds of hoop pines and white beach, which were once prolific in the area. They also planted 200 rare species of trees and their work was recognised by the Australian Heritage Commission.
Killarney Glen is often closed to the public for several days a month while the army is training nearby but on most weekends and school holidays is open to the public. While no overnight camping is allowed, there is a pair of outhouses for your convenience.
Even though the property is no longer owned by the Fitzgeralds, Pat still maintains the Killarney Glen in good condition and will gladly tell you the story if you happen to see him there.