• Kerry Warnholtz

White Rock Conservation Reserve & The Art of Listening

"If you belong there your country will find a way to call you back.

Country needs to be remembered, needs to be listened to, needs to know that we can still speak its' language."

~ Aboriginal elder in TV series 'Double Trouble'


White Rock is a large outcrop of sandstone rock formations and forms part of White Rock Conservation Area in the greater Ipswich region.

When I saw photos it reminded me of wild and remote places of WA or the Flinders Ranges in SA. What better way to get a feel for those places I can't travel right now, by visiting places close to home, where I can get a sense of something even a little similar.

History = Meaningful

I think learning about places that we travel to...learning about the people that inhabited the land and what took place, adds an extra level of meaning and significance to our travels and our own stories. It also deepens our respect and connection to the land.

White Rock has cultural significance for the indigenous Ugarapul people, who were the original inhabitants of the Ipswich Region, the Fassifern and Lockyer district. And White Rock was used for womens' business.

Interestingly from 1912, it was also used for military training as a rifle range during World War I, WW2 and the Vietnam War. I didn't get a chance to extensively explore but apparently there are remnants of gun pits and bunkers (made from rocks) in the surrounding areas.

The Art of Listening

For me, an important part of travel is to be still and be present to what is going on around us and using all of our senses to get a real feel for a place. If we are still long enough, we can not only observe what is unique to that place; we can also hear what we would normally silence with noise, in order to fill the void.

However, if we listen carefully, there is not silence but many sounds. The sounds of birds and other animals that pierce the silence. The sounds that are carried in the wind, such as the leaves rustling in the trees and the creaking of branches.

While sitting on the big boulders of White Rock, I listened to the strong wind in the trees. It transports me to a magical place and soothes my soul. I feel great peace in its' solitude. The energy and vibrations I feel bring great comfort and put distance between me and the current (pandemic) madness and overwhelming sensory overload of civilisation.

View from White Rock looking over the valley below.

A small bird with a twig in its' beak, sits on a dead tree jutting out of the rock formation.

A shallow cave within the walls of White Rock

Hiking Trail

There are a variety of trails you can walk, ranging from 200m one way for the Little White Rock Lookout Circuit up to the 19klm return, Yaddamum Trail. I walked the White Rock Multi-user Trail, which is 6.5 km return because I wanted specifically to see White Rock.

This trail is also used by mountain bikers and horse riders. It's considered a beginner level trail and takes approx. 3 hours to walk at a comfortable pace. For me, it always takes longer because I stop to photograph or to sit and observe and listen. I spent considerable time exploring White Rock itself.

The hike begin at Paperbark Flats Picnic Area, and is an easy walk to the bottom of the ridge before you get to a set of large steps up to White Rock.

Vegetation and Topography

When you begin the walk at Paperbark Flats Picnic Area, it starts out flat with sparse vegetation and trees consisting of mainly (you guessed it), Paper Bark Tea Trees, which are native to the sandstone soils of this area.

You will see a great variety of trees and natives...Eucalypts, Melaleuca, and Wattles along the trail, as well as grasses. You'll also notice the increasing number of rocks, boulders and knolls as your venture further along.

Something else that made my walk magical were the many Glasswing Butterflies (see gallery below) which appeared to be guiding me along the trail.

The topography begins to change and you'll find yourself walking next to a ridgeline with a dry creek at the base. It starts to get a little hilly and you will get to a junction which takes you to the foot of White Rock and up the stairs to the top of the ridge.

The effort to get to the top of the ridge and White Rock itself is well worth it.

White Rock Conservation Park

patterns in the sandstone rock wall

sandstone rock formations

Patters and textures of sandstone rock formations
Zooming in to the the beautiful patterns, colours and textures of the sandstone rock wall.
granite boulders at the base of White Rock

Blue sky backdrop to White Rock

Can you see it? Sometimes just by looking up you can find something different.
It never ceases to amaze me what pretty plants can grow in the most unexpected places.

I hope this post and photos has inspired you to get out and experience White Rock Conservation Park for yourself.

I know in visiting this beautiful site, it has inspired me to want to return and complete the 19km Yaddamum Trail. It's still a ways off for me, but definitely a worthwhile goal.

Next time I'll be sharing with you photos of my next walking trail, Queen Mary Falls. A short hike, but worth just the drive out to Main Range National Park and return walk to the falls.

Kerry :)

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