23 Jan 2021
“When were we here, last?”
“Before we were married. Before we lived with Jim & Ceiney…so 1997?” I said crunching along the track deep in thought.
“Before the Internet!”
“Oh my God!” Groaned Dave as we cracked up laughing.
The Pyramid track in Girraween National Park, is a highlight of the Granite Belt. We don’t have clear memories of this walk other than Balancing Rock, at the top, and we’re keen to revisit it.
Crossing a lazy creek the colour of black tea, we watched the water slide around granite boulders, and set off through the valley. We could see the one of the Pyramids rising above the canopy, our excitement rising with it.
“Is that what we’re climbing?!” Dave asked pointing through the trees.
“Sure is.” It looked steeper than I remembered.
Huge granite boulders, worn down to smooth strange shapes, littered the valley. Boulders perched on boulders; eucalyptus trees growing in and around them. I know it’s a cliché, but it looked like the handiwork of big burly giants. Surely someone had placed this boulder on top of that.
A side track lead through the strange shapes to Granite Arch, where the granite has been worn down to a precarious arrangement.
“How did that get there?” It’s a trick of time. That, and blotchy lichens that eat away the granite with a weak acid breaking down the ‘felspar’ – the pink mineral in the granite. I like the alternative facts: the Big Burly Giants theory.
Back on the track and we started the ascent; up hill, then up long shallow stairs that steepened into rocky steps arriving at the base of the Pyramid. Looking up at the exposed rock face, I was suddenly reminded of how steep this was going to be and was grateful we’d remembered to wear our grippy trail running shoes.
A white painted line proposed the route to the summit. Dave set off ahead of me, I took a moment to centre myself for the climb and followed him up. The steepness is hard to describe. It’s at that point where it’s difficult to stand up straight but on the cusp of needing to walk on all fours.
There are no steps or foot holes, all we had was the granite‘s texture and the grip of our shoes. Progress was slow and steady, concentrating on each careful footfall and not looking over the edge. It was equal measures of scary and exhilarating!
“Geez, you have to trust your shoes!” I said
“Trust the shoe!” Agreed Dave making me giggle. “Trust the shoe!”
Soon the rock face steepened again, and I focused on following one dot to the next, pushing thoughts of slipping out of my mind. A few sections were completed on hands and feet until we reached a rocky crevice and climbed over wedged boulders. It was here that we looked up, and took in the rugged range around us. The Granite Belt.
An English couple were on their way down, and we waited to let them pass through the narrow crevice.
“Trust the shoe!” Dave joked to the guy carefully picking his way down towards us.
“I trust mine… but I’m not so sure about her’s” he chuckled pointing a thumb over his shoulder.
“Is it harder coming down?” I asked
“Yeah, it’s harder psychologically going down.”
The route wrapped around the mound and under an overhanging shelf. I was grateful for the shade but felt it’s looming weight above us and kept moving. A final scramble and we were at the top.
The view as we reached the final rise, was dominated by the second pyramid, Girraween’s largest bald rock, looking like a partly hidden prehistoric monster. It’s such a familiar view, we have a photo of ourselves here in our early 20’s.
“It’s still balancing after all these years… I wonder how long it’s been here?”
“Do you think one day it will fall?” Dave wondered eyeing it’s narrow base.
Balancing Rock, sits spectacularly on the summit, defying gravity. This 10 tonne, 7.5 metre high x 6 metre wide granite boulder is balanced on a base of 1 meter. Yes, 1 metre! There’s even a gap under the base.
This precarious rock up-stages the cluster of other giant boulders on the summit of what is itself, a massive granite boulder.
From the shade of a native pine tree we ate a protein bar and watched a pair of Cunningham’s skinks lolling in the sun on the exposed rock.
“Just think, two days ago we were in the depths of a lush rainforest. It’s such a contrast” Dave said standing atop of the giant boulder looking across to the second pyramids exposed rock-face.
“Okay, and now for the decent…” I said wondering how my old knee injury would hold up.
We slipped back into the trance of focusing on each foot placement and following the route, one white dot to the next. I was prepared psychologically for the decent and it turned out to be easier than I anticipated.
Although at the really steep section, I dropped down to a sort of upside down crab move. Squatting down onto my ankles, bracing myself on my hands behind me, lifting my hips and walking on all fours. I felt a little ridiculous and started giggling. But I was making good progress and felt completely secure!
A group of walkers arrived at the base of the pyramid and were sizing up the climb just as I was reaching the base.
“I’m going to be like that lady” a young girl said nervously chuckling observing my upside down crab manoeuvre.
“It wasn’t graceful, but I did it!” I giggled, feeling the need to explain myself.
Back on two feet, we retraced our steps down through the boulder strewn forest, feeling a slightly smug sense of achievement.
We noticed a field of dead trees and stoped to take a closer look. They were covered in small bore holes and strange meandering tracks. Looks like some kind of boring insect damage?
We heard the river before we saw it. The sounds of splashing and laughing spilled into the forest and it wasn’t long before we were crossing the lazy river again.
“We are having some amazing adventures!” Exclaimed Dave feeling the same post scramble euphoria.
“That was exhilarating!”