Yarriabini National Park is special country, of shared significance to the Dunghutti, Ngambaa and Gumbaynggirr peoples. The name means “koala rolling down the mountain”, the dreamtime story is represented in the mosaic artwork at the Pines Picnic Area. Clement Hodgkinson was an early European explorer to the area in the 1840s, and paints a vivid picture of the lives of the people in his 1845 book Australia, from Port Macquarie to Moreton Bay. Mt Yarrahapinni at 498m with its communication towers is a local landmark that dominates the surrounding area.
The Yarriabini National Park Plan of Management (2015) contains a map of the park with a “Summit to Sea Walking Track” marked in yellow. We set out to explore this route, but decided climbing Sea to Summit was a nicer challenge than a downhill run.
We parked at the beach carpark near Middle Head, and set off uphill on the grassy Middle Head trail. We stopped first on Cooks Knob for morning tea, there is no view to be had here. Despite a history of logging, there are beautiful forests of flooded gum (Eucalyptus grandis), bungalow palm and remnants of old growth forest on this shady walk. We saw the largest earthworm we’ve ever seen high on Ridge Trail. We enjoyed our packed lunch at the picnic tables at Yarriabini Lookout just below Mt Yarrahapinni itself, with the resident lyrebird providing a glorious and loud soundscape to complement the wide view of the Macleay River valley towards Smoky Cape.
Snack bar makers Nature Valley awarded a grant of $55,000 in 2020 for rejuvenation of the 12km “Summit to Sea Walking Track” that connects Mt Yarrahapinni to the coast. The purpose of the grant is to “enhance accessibility along the track by adding boardwalks, steps and managing vegetation”. The track, once reopened, will be ” an amazing walk across a mosaic of different habitats, providing visitors with the opportunity to connect to an area that is highly significant to the Dunghutti, Ngambaa and Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal people.” We didn’t notice any evidence of track-making activity on our walk in May 2021, but look forward to a new track perhaps the same as that marked on the NPWS map avoiding the road sections that we walked along Grassy Head Forest Rd and Tower Rd.
This trail is also suitable for trail-runners and sections are popular with mountain bikers. Allow about 40 minutes for a car shuffle, leaving a vehicle at the top, unless you are keen to walk twice the distance!