Take a visit to the beautiful Southern Downs region. Like us you won’t believe how much there is to see and do and all within a short drive of the small township of Crows Nest. We found beautiful National Parks, spacious picnic areas, tiny villages and lovely walking trails.
Here’s our top 6 things to do in and around the Crows Nest area.
1. CROWS NEST NATIONAL PARK
Crows Nest National Park is located just six kilometres from the township of Crows Nest. Access to the park is suitable for both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles.
The nearby walking trails lead to lookouts and water falls. I walked part of the way to The Cascades, but as it was raining I didn’t venture any further. But just from the short walk I did do, I found the area to be very picturesque. It really made me want to see more.
We were super impressed with the appearance of the camp ground. There are 13 sites available of varying size. Most sites are big enough for a camper trailer and some sites are even suitable for caravans. Each site has its own fire pit and BBQ. There are toilets available, (complete with a sleepy- eyed possum) and also a boil your own water for showers fire drum. Sites start at $6.15 for one person. You can book on-line or self registration is available for some sites.
2. LAKE PERSEVERANCE AND LAKE CRESSBROOK
These two lakes supply most of the water to the regional city of Toowoomba. Lake Perseverance is the first dam that you come to after leaving Crows Nest. It has two viewing areas where you can stop to take photos. The first one looks out over the dam and the second one looks down into the spillway area. Once you cross the dam wall there is a small picnic area, with a larger area further round to the right. With a storage capacity of 30,100 megalitres it’s an impressive site!
But our favourite was Lake Cressbrook….maybe because it has an awesome camping ground there. There are limited sites available for camper trailers and caravans but plenty available for tents. It had a very clean amenities block with showers and toilets.
Swimming is not permitted in the lake but you are able to kayak and fish, and judging by the amount of boat trailers around you might be lucky enough to catch something.
3. MUNTAPA TUNNEL
The Muntapa Tunnel is all that remains of the railway track that ran between the towns of Oakey and Cooyar. Completed in 1912 and opened in 1913 it remains the longest single bore tunnel in Australia. It took 13 months to complete and workers and their families camped at the construction site.
These days the tunnel is home to a colony of rare Bent-wing bats. To allow the bats to roost without being disturbed, the middle section of the tunnel has been fenced off . As you walk into the tunnel you can smell the distinct odour of ammonia from the bat ‘poo’. It is an eerie kind of feeling walking into the darkened tunnel but as your eyes become accustomed to the gloom you can make out the shape of the bats hanging from the roof of the tunnel.
Above the tunnel is another nice picnic area. The walk down to the southern end of the tunnel is an easy one with a flat grass pathway. However to access the northern end of the tunnel there are a number of steps that you need to walk down.
Not far from the Muntapa Tunnel is the small town of Cooyar. We stopped to have a look at a Suspension Bridge that crosses the creek there and we were surprised to find a free camping area right on the edge of the creek.
There is even power available for a cost of $5.00 which you can pay at the pub. There were a couple of vans set up and there is plenty of room available. The pub looked very inviting as most old country pubs do. Try and time your visit for a weekend when the pub is doing a Pig on the Spit. I know that’s when I would be visiting.
5. THE PALMS NATIONAL PARK
The Palms National Park is a small area of remnant palm-filled sub-tropical rain forest. It is located just north of Cooyar. A 650 metre walking track winds its way through this small patch of lush rain forest past ancient Piccabeen Palms. Bunya and hoop pine species can also be found in abundance. The park sits on an area of approximately 60 hectares and the original section of it was donated by landowner Charles Boldery. Thousands of fruit bats call the park home and to say they were noisy would be an understatement!
6. MAIDENWELL AND COOMBA FALLS
Maidenwell is another tiny village with not much else in town than a pub, a shop and a few houses. However, the big plus for this little town is that it has not one, but two FREE camps. One is located behind the Maidenwell Pub, which is under new ownership and offer meals, including Pig on the Spit nights. The camping area is a large grassy area behind the pub and looked to be nice and roomy. The other free camp is just across the road and is limited to a stop of 48 hours. There is a public toilet nearby as well as a BBQ and picnic table.
Just a short drive down the hill, is Coomba Falls. This lovely pool of water is a popular spot for locals to cool off in the summer months and I can see why. Sadly, a lack of rain when we were there meant that there were no falls. But it was still a beautiful spot. A steel walkway with a number of stairs leads down to the falls. There is also an abundance of ‘black boy’ grass trees in the area. These are Australian natives and they can take up to 20 years to form a trunk.