Dularcha National Park
If you enjoy the outdoors, and like some history, you need to check out Dularcha National Park. A mostly undiscovered gem in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, nestled between Landsborough and Mooloolah, I suspect only the locals know of it. Hidden in the bushland there is an old railway tunnel that was part of the old narrow gauge North Coast Line, a route that ran between Brisbane and Gympie. Although the tracks have been long removed, it makes an excellent trail for hikers, bike riders and horsemen.
An authentic piece of Queensland history, the tunnel was built in the early 1890’s using basic machinery and horses. Officially opened in 1891, it was a key piece of transport infrastructure in reducing travel time for passengers and freight. The rail line was relocated to its present position and train travel along this line came to an end in 1932.
Flora and Fauna
Dularcha National Park offers a mix of natural ecosystems from areas of less dense eucalypt forest, moving to into more subtropical dense rainforest type landscape in very little distance. On our trip we spotted a lone goanna, a pair of wallabies in the distance and of course we heard the bat colony in the tunnel.
The track itself is fairly flat, there are slight elevations, but they aren’t terribly steep. A mixture of compacted soil, leaf litter, rocks and patches of sand, bike riders needn’t be experienced nor particularly skilled. When riding ensure you do keep your wits about you as the track surface changed unexpectedly and constantly. For this reason, prams are not recommended. Hikers will find this a nice gentle walk, it’s a Class 1 track.
Before you commence your journey you need to be able to negotiate the gate. Designed to keep 4WDs and motorbikes out, push bikes have to be lifted over the hurdles. They’re knee high. Once you’ve cleared the gate you will find a great little track. It follows the current rail line through forest that ranges from cleared and open, to overgrown and dense. To get to the tunnel it is about 2 kilometres each way and the only junction you will come to is well sign posted with a map. Keep going straight ahead. Turning left leads to other more adventurous routes.
The main track leads from Landsborough to Mooloolah passing through the tunnel, however there are a few other tracks to try. Check out the National Parks website for more information (https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/dularcha/)
Dularcha National Park spans between Landsborough and Mooloolah, parking is available at both ends. We parked at the Landsborough end. Take the Roys Road exit off the Bruce Highway, following that to the traffic lights. Turn right onto Steve Irwin Way. Once you get nearer to Landsborough turn left over the train track onto Railway Street, continue left to Maleny Street. Immediately after the rail crossing turn right onto Cribb Street. Follow Cribb Street to the end, turning left onto Gympie Street North, then immediately right onto Myla Road. Myla Road turns to the left, continue driving straight ahead, the road then becomes Cunningham Avenue. As you go down the hill, right in the bottom right corner you’ll see some bush. That’s the carpark tucked away. It’s a small dirt carpark. Blink and you’ll miss it. On your satellite navigation, it’s the corner of Cunningham Avenue and Beech Road, Landsborough.
Our adventure was a biking adventure. Master Four rides remarkably well, he set the pace, Master Two was in a toddler seat on the back of my bike. The rocky track was a hit, they loved the bumps and made them feel like true explorers. Some of the hills were a touch too long for little legs, so we had to get off bikes and push them up. Bigger children would have no problems negotiating these.
As we approached the tunnel it did have an eerie feeling, it seemed very dark and ominous. Once closer we could see the light at the other end and curiosity got the better of us. Torches had been packed for the novelty factor and to provide reassurance. A bat colony have set up residence in the tunnel and we could hear them, however, we didn’t want to disturb them with our torches so we couldn’t see them.
Sitting outside the tunnel was a nice shaded spot for a snack and water stop before hitting the track to head back to the car. The whole trip took us just over an hour, stopping for water, snacks, photos, listening to the birdsong and to chat to other track users.
Before You Go
Always tell someone where you are going
Hats and sunscreen are a must
Bring plenty of water as there are no taps or bubblers for a refill
Pack snacks for sustenance
You will need good footwear, although not a challenging walk, the terrain requires sturdy shoes
If bike riding, a repair kit and pump wouldn’t go astray as the trail is rocky
A map can be downloaded before going, or there is a map in the car park you can photograph
There are no bathrooms, the closest ones are back in Landsborough city centre
The trails are shared, hikers, bike riders and horsemen are permitted, please be mindful and alert to other users
Dogs are not permitted
Once your bush experience is complete, no matter how you tackle the track, you may wish to continue the history theme and check out the Landsborough Museum, 6 Maleny Street Landsborough. Another great stop off on the way back to Brisbane is Skippy Park at 267 Old Landsborough Road, Landsborough.