Crows Nest National Park north of Toowoomba has a day use picnic area and walking track to view the Crows Nest Falls and look down the Valley of Diamonds from Koonin Lookout along Crows Nest Creek.
The day use area has picnic tables and free gas BBQs, and toilets not too far away. There is lots of grass area to throw down a picnic rug or to run around.
There is a separate camping area with 13 set campsites. Some of the sites have a picnic table and wood BBQs which can be used for a small campfire. You need to bring your own wood, as collecting wood in a national park is not allowed.
The toilet block has a shower cubicle that you can use your own shower bag with. A donkey boiler is outside to preheat the water to put in your shower bag. A tap is at the donkey boiler, with an outlet going directly into the boiler.
There are a number of walks leading from the day use area, although three of them listed are side tracks off another, and the longest track is an extension of two others of which make a loop.
Crows Nest Falls Lookout is accessed by the Lookout Walk, or by the Pools Loop Walk. I took the Lookout Walk in one direction, then returned via the Pools Look Walk visiting the sidetrack walks along the way. You could do it either way because they rejoin before reaching the lookout.
I decided to continue through to Koonin Lookout first, and visit Crows Nest Falls Lookout on the way back. The walk through to Koonin Lookout is easy, about 2.2km one way and mostly flat or gentle slopes, with some sections of steps.
Koonin Lookout has a section looking across the valley, with a large dominant rock rising on the right. There is a fence with large steps up the side of it to the top of the rock which looks down the Valley of Diamonds, a section of Crows Nest Creek cut into walls of rock and large boulders.
The rock is has a barrier almost to the edge, so you can safely get close to the edge with a good view. Down in the valley, I could hear voices, and eventually spotted a couple hopping boulders working their way along the Valley of Diamonds below.
While not an official walk promoted on the information boards, there is a hard walk leading to Valley of Diamonds starting from behind the Cascades and down to Perseverance Creek.
Heading back, the Crows Nest Falls Lookout is just under 1km from Koonin Lookout. The lookout is above the falls immediately to the side of them. Below the falls is a beautiful waterhole that looks so inviting, but accessing the area is strictly prohibited around the falls.
It was incredibly dry, so the falls were non-existent, not even a trickle. It had rained during the night before, but not enough to fill waterholes, let alone create water flow in the creek.
Leaving Crows Nest Falls Lookout, I took the Kauyoo Loop track to head back towards the day use area. This section has the side tracks that lead down to Crows Nest Creek, and from these, you are permitted to access the water.
Kauyoo Look track is more rugged than the Lookout Walk track but still fairly easy with a few more steps to negotiate along the way. The side tracks, however, are more difficult, though not hard.
Bottlebrush Pool is a 50m sidetrack, starting with stone steps down to a ledge with a seat. The next 20-30 steps are narrower and a bit rougher, but not difficult, and brings you to the waterhole.
The water level is noticeably down, as the rocks show the normal water level by the different colouration. It was so quiet, and still fairly early with the sun barely reaching the bottom of the bank on the other side.
The next side track leads to Kauyoo Pool. This track is one of the harder sections, requiring to go a little further upstream. There is a large boulder to the right with a path to the left of it that opens up to a wonderful beachy section.
As mentioned earlier it was very dry, and the water was stagnant and not too inviting, but you can see how wonderful it would be when it is full and fresh water flowing. The rocks show the normal water levels, which would provide a mostly shallow beach waterhole, with some deeper sections next to the rocks.
I kept hearing a humming noise at the creek and noticed a constant traffic of bees coming to the dampness of water seeping up the rocks at the edge of the water.
Scrambling further upstream leads to more beautiful river landscape, and a smaller sandy section. Being dry probably offers an opportunity to access other areas that would normally too difficult to get to if it was flowing with water.
A hidden rock pool and waterfall lays behind rock ledges, where the Cascades above it flow into. The still water sitting amongst the cold rock walls offered a wonderful quiet place to soak in the quiet and calm.
Climbing back out to the Kauyoo Loop track, it isn’t too much further when the Cascades side track is found. As with everywhere else, this was very dry. I suspect you would normally get your feet wet crossing over here, which is necessary to walk into the cascades section of the creek.
The path is not particularly well marked, but is well walked so isn’t difficult to work it out. There are some difficult sections to scramble over though, requiring hands and feet in some sections.
The cascades are a series of ledges and crevices, which you can imagine the water has to flow back and forth across to go down to the pools below.
From the top of the cascades, the beach section of Kauyoo Pools can be seen, as well as the section further upstream.
A causeway leads further to the far side, above the pools. From here is where a walk that leads down to the Valley of Diamonds. The track isn’t noticeable, other than the presence of a sign warning the track isn’t marked and should only be undertaken by experienced bushwalkers.
It can be disappointing to see water landscapes when they are not in their full flowing glory. I enjoyed Crows Nest National Park, and the lack of water allowed a different aspect of the creek landscape to be appreciated. The normally hidden submerged formations are more clearly on display, and without the water allowed easier exploration into parts that may not normally be accessible.
To get there:
From the southern part of Crows Nest township on the New England Hwy, turn into Albert St at the police station and the brown sign to Crows Nest National Park. Follow Albert St, which becomes Three Mile Rd, for 5.3km, and turn right with another brown sign. Follow for about 500m, with the camping area to the left, or continue straight ahead for the day use area, both only another 100m or so.
Cost: Free for day use, Camping Queensland Park and Forest Fees
Wheelchair accessible: No
BBQ: Yes, gas at day use area, wood fire at camping ground