Hidden in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast in the scenic Blackall Range, Kondalilla National Park is a cool mountain retreat.
The park is named after the spectacular Kondalilla Falls where Skene Creek drops 90 metres over the falls into a rainforest valley. Kondalilla, a local Aboriginal word meaning “rushing waters”, describes this park's waterfall during the summer wet season.
From 1842 until 1860, the Blackall Range was part of a large reserve declared by Governor Gipps to protect the bunya pine food source for local Indigenous groups. It was illegal to settle or clear land where bunya pines occurred.When reserve status was rescinded, pastoralists and timber-getters came.
In the 1880s prized timber including red cedar, white beech, bunya pine, blackbutt and tallowwood was logged in the Blackall Range. The forest around Kondalilla was logged heavily and widespread clearing of the tableland forests ensued as settlement proceeded. However, some small areas were set aside for recreation.
The first area to be protected was Kondalilla. The Falls were originally part of William Skene's selection and in 1893 they were known as Skene's Falls. He discovered this area on his property while searching for lost cattle.
From the early 1900s, people began visiting this area for its natural scenery, waterfalls and spectacular views.Mr Skene requested the Home Secretary's Department to have 80 acres of his property, including the Falls, declared a Reserve.The Reserve was gazetted as Bon Accord Waterfall in 1945 and six years later, the name was changed to Kondalilla.
Agnes and William Skene constructed their home, named ‘Bon Accord’, on their Blackall Range property during the 1890s. The house was built on the Montville-Mapleton Road near the turnoff to Bon Accord Falls near Flaxton. It is located at the top of a steep hillside, known as Skene's Cutting, on the Montville - Mapleton Road (Balmoral Road).
The cutting proved notoriously difficult to traverse during wet weather due to the heavy red soil in the area.The dwelling was renovated and added to over the years. It was refurbished during 2012 and in 2013 the old Queenslander styled home was placed on the market for $875,000 by Montville Real Estate.
Kondalilla National Park (327ha) was linked to Obi Obi National Park in 1988. With other additions, including former State forest, the park has increased in size to 1591ha.
From the Kondalilla Falls Road car park and entrance, visitors descend 50 meters along a track with multiple stairs to the grassed picnic area and walking track which leads through the rainforest to the falls and natural swimming pool.
Above the falls, tall open eucalypt forest mingles with rainforest species in the wetter areas. A drier forest grows on the western escarpment, featuring casuarinas with a grass tree understorey.
Subtropical rainforest grows below the escarpment, where soil and aspect is suitable, and riparian rainforest lines the creek. The stand of bunya pines is the most easterly in Australia.
Surrounded by farms and towns, this park is an important refuge for many animals and plants including the rare pouched frog, Assa darlingtoni and the bopple nut, Macadamia ternifolia, which is vulnerable to extinction in the natural habitat.
More than 107 species of birds have been seen in the park and 70 species of reptiles and 32 species of frogs have been recorded from the Blackall Range and nearby Conondale Range.
Kondalilla Falls are on the Great Walks Sunshine Coast track. Visit www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/great-walks-sunshine-coast/ for more details.
Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.