You never know what you will find so take care, check the weather and park alerts before you go.
This terrain is always changing, fallen trees and slippery slopes.
There are a few websites that mention this Gold Coast Hinterland bush walking track, but the details are a little sketchy.
Our first attempt to locate this bush walk we went down Garden of Eden Road after visiting Arthur Freeman Lookout.
The road comes to an abrupt end and you are confronted with a track that clearly is not accessible to the public and one behind a locked gate, with an abandoned vehicle shrouded in undergrowth.
There is no visible signage from the outside of the gate…at the time of writing.
However after more research and comments left on my blog by Sam from Currumbin Beach who left detailed directions on how to find the start of this bush walking adventure.
I am pleased to say it was discovered. (If I had been a little more adventurous and climbed the gate I could have saved sometime.)
How to find Mount Cougal bush walking trail
My companions on this bush walk were my ‘fit’ eighty four year old Father and my son Gene. Travelling from the Gold Coast, head for Currumbin then Currumbin Creek Road turn left at Tomewin Mountain Road this sign comes up fairly quickly so watch out for it.
Follow Tomewin Mountain Road passed Arthur Freeman Lookout through the NSW tick gates to The Garden of Eden Road on your right. This is a one lane dirt track but you don’t need a 4WD, continue to the end of the road around 5km and park your vehicle in the small parking area away from the gate and the roadway. Map of location
|How to get to Mount Cougal – Garden of Eden Road|
View Arthur Freeman Lookout – Tomewin Mountain Road in a larger map
This is the only signage for the trail
Climb over the locked timber gate, and immediately turn left and follow the track up the hill, the doubled strand barbed wire fence is on your left and will remain in sight for most of your journey.
(You will then see ‘The Cougals sign’ on the fence from this side) The fence hugs the border between Queensland and New South Wales.
Straight away you are climbing and there is thick undergrowth and loose rocks so take care.
The ground was damp and slippery and I should imagine given the terrain it would be much the same throughout the year, I am only glad its winter, you apparently can get attacked by leeches in the warmer months given the lush vegetation.
If you are accustomed to using a walking pole you will be using one here, instinctively you start looking for some kind of support to help you with the gradually climb. It wasn’t long before we found sticks or should I say tree branches to give us support. You are climbing straight away.
Wild Cane Grass Forest
After climbing, the trail levelled off and we stumbled on a unique sight, there stretched before us was wild cane-grass growing in large clumps and forming a dense forest like structure for quite some distance; you could almost believe you were standing in the middle of a sugarcane field down on the coastal plains of Murwillumbah.
Continuing along the ridge the area opens out to grasslands with spectacular 360 degree views.
Currumbin Valley is stretched out before you right down to the sea, Mount Warning melting into the blue haze and Condong Sugar Mill on the Tweed River bellowing out smoke in the cool morning air in the distance, certainly a sight to behold.
In front of you is the reason for your journey Cougal Twin Peaks, waiting to be conquered yet again by enthusiastic bush walkers.
It’s a great spot to stop and recuperate after your first climb and prepare yourself for the big one. There is history attached to this location, formation of the twin peaks of Mount Cougal—’Ningeroongun and Barrajanda’ were named after two hunting dogs..
Stories demonstrate the Yugambeh’s understanding and connection with their country. The landscapes held many stories that were passed down through the generations. The formation of the twin peaks of Mount Cougal—’Ningeroongun’ and ‘Barrajanda’—is an example. ‘Gwyala’, a great Yugambeh hunter of long ago, had two wonderful hunting dogs—’Ningeroongun’ and ‘Barrajanda’. They were trained to chase kangaroos close in to the camp for capture.read the whole account.
Watch out for Hazards on the trail
From here on just keep the fence on your left and don’t wander off the trail. The terrain is constantly changing; at times you think it could be someone’s garden with staghorns strategically placed on towering trees and clumps of wild ferns at their base and of course the tell tail sign of seeded plants that have been carried by the wind.
There is no continuous ascent as you might think, just as you believe you are climbing the trail and getting closer to your destination it quickly descends.
The rainforest canopy is very dense in some sections and when the wind drops there is total silence only the occasional twig or palm frond falling through the tree canopy or so we thought!
Come to think about it we never actually saw any falling only heard movements through the trees and some of those sounds were low on the forest floor! All jokes aside this is rugged country and ‘no walk in the park’ as we are about to find out in a big way.
Take your time and stop for breaks
We stopped quite a bit, it is hard going when you are concentrating on your steps and making sure you place your feet on firm ground. The trail is littered with vines, fallen trees that have died or collapsed by termite infestation or maybe have been struck by lightning, we became used to climbing over them.
In some locations they have taken the barbed wire fence down so you are crisscrossing over the barbed wire fencing lying across the trail so take care.
However the fallen trees were handy to sit on during our many breaks to munch on treats, we did stop a fair bit I think some of it was psychological this was a lot harder then we expected.
Nearing our final destination the twin peaks of Mount Cougal, the trail starts to narrow notably the barbed wire fence is ever present to guide us on our course.
We start to climb in earnest now with little to hang onto other then the chicken wire on the lower part of the fence, it is tempting to grab onto but best left alone.
The trail in front of us resembles a staircase, entwined with a maze of tree roots, like a scene from ‘Lord of the Rings’ however it’s very presents signal the prize of completion.
Up to this point my father had successfully negotiated all the challenges, but now he was done!
Up to this point my father had successfully negotiated all the challenges, fallen trees, and changes in the terrain without any drama. This section before us will require the most exertion and the look of horror on his face signalled clearly that today we will not all be completing our journey.
We continued to climb but now the trail ahead looks almost vertical like a ladder, a living root mosaic. Moving forward for all of us wasn’t an option. So close but yet so far! The summit was so close around 10minutes.
Decided to go it alone a big mistake!
So we decided I would keep climbing till I reached the rocky outcrop were the trail veered to the right. I quickly disappeared into the tree canopy and reached the rocky outcrop, but alas couldn’t go on without my companions.
So I carefully headed back down the trail and this is where things took a nasty turn. I was within a metre of my companions and lost my footing grabbed the first thing within reach which was ‘our guide’ the barbed wire fence…remember I mention the doubled bared wire fence, I found out how much that hurts if the first strand doesn’t get you the second one will.
Our first aid kit had already been raided by one of our party, bandages used for blisters, so band-aids and tissues were my only choice.
That finished any hope of completing our journey today and completing this bush walk. I think against the concern for my plight I believe I may have seen a glimmer of relief! (I could be mistaken)
A couple of pieces of chocolate to qualm the shock of the ordeal and I was ready to head back. It never ceases to amaze me how quick the return journey is, our round trip took us over 4 hours and we didn’t make the summit. So make sure you start early in the day to allow plenty of time for stops.
Experienced bush walkers only on this trail
What an adventure! This is a great Australian bush walk/hike and one we will be completing again soon. Will let you know the outcome soon. A final note this walk should only be attempted by experienced bush walkers and make sure you take plenty of bandages in your first aid kit.
Update…we did eventually make it to the top of Mount Cougal
|Take a virtual tour of Mount Cougal|
|This would normally be a really simple walk, just requiring a bit of confidence in fitness, but on the day we went there had been quite a bit of recent rain so things became quite slippy toward the top. Watch Shaun’s video below for all the details of their climb.|
Below are some useful links to enrich and prepare you for your impending experience on this beautiful Gold Coast Hinterland bush walk.
|Images of Mount Cougal|
|More Images of ‘The Cougals’|
|Culture and history|