Killarney Glen a place of beauty and history

20 Sep 2011 11:11 AMSusan Guthrie
Killarney Glen a place of beauty and history

Located in Lower Beechmont, the property Killarney Glen has been owned by the Fitzgerald family since the late 1800s, with Patrick Maurice Fitzgerald (1909 – 1997), or Paddy as he was known, being the first European to be born on the plateau.


Paddy always had a close affinity with the land and explored many of the untouched valleys, including the Back Creek Gorge before any of the native hoop pine was removed. Back Creek itself, coursing north as it drops off Beechmont Plateau flows over many spectacular waterfalls and through Killarney Glen before reaching the Coomera River.


In 1971, the defence department decided to resume the property as a buffer zone for the Canungra Land Warfare Centre covering hundreds of acres of land surrounding Killarney Glen. This was the start of a 26-year battle to keep this unique, landscaped property open to the public.


With support from the local community and media, in 1977 Killarney Glen was listed by the Australian Heritage Commission on the Register of National Estates for its social, aesthetic, historical and natural value.


A favourite with visitors is the short but slightly steep walk down through the property to original bush huts that sit above the magnificent Killarney falls and gorge. These falls, and others close by, are unique for flowing over the rocks of the Chillingham Volcanics. Approximately 200 million years ago, a chain of violent volcanoes ran from Chillingham in northern NSW to the north of Mt Tamborine and covered the area in ash and rhyolite flows. These erosion resistant rocks allowed the creek to cut a narrow gorge with keyhole falls at the end and sculptured caves worn into each side.


Paddy ran a productive banana farm on the steep western slopes of Killarney Glen, but after some landslides on the hill he and his son Pat replanted the slopes with over 7000 rainforest trees including hundreds of hoop pines and white beach, which were once prolific in the area. They also planted 200 rare species of trees and their work was recognised by the Australian Heritage Commission.


Killarney Glen is often closed to the public for several days a month while the army is training nearby but on most weekends and school holidays is open to the public. While no overnight camping is allowed, there is a pair of outhouses for your convenience.


Entry to the car park can be found on the eastern side of the Beechmont–Canungra Road just before the steep section of road. Extra care needs to be taken near the top of the falls as the rocks are very slippery. Even though the property is no longer owned by the Fitzgeralds, Pat still maintains the Killarney Glen in good condition and will gladly tell you the story if you happen to see him there.



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The walking track into Killarney Glen has been severely damaged, and the sign removed, following a 'hazard reduction burn' authorised by Defence and carried out by QFES in June 2016. Burnt trees and limbs have been cut and dropped along the track, making it impassable in places. The forest and wildlife will recover from the fire, in time, but the track will not, unless a concerted effort is made to reverse this damage. With hundreds of people a day seeking out the heart-shaped pool at the base of Killarney Falls, and dozens more abseiling down Back Creek Gorge from Denham Scenic Reserve to Killarney Glen, it is imperative that a sustainable Management Plan be developed for the whole of the Back Creek Watershed. With a little imagination and cooperation by 3 tiers of government (Commonwealth, State and Scenic Rim Regional Council) all 6 waterfalls in Back Creek Gorge could be made accessible in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, relieving pressure on existing National Parks and providing much needed jobs and income for the Scenic Rim. Minimal infrastructure is required, in the form of parking spaces, walking tracks and toilets. It's time the Commonwealth Government honoured the agreement announced in Parliament by former Member for Forde, Kay Elson, on the 14th March 2000.

Killarney Glen a place of beauty and historyMarie Robb

Killarney Glen is jnot in Lower Beechmont.It's on the road from Beechmont to Canungra. Around a bend nearer the bottom of the mountain the top, you'll find a tiny sign off to the right, if you travel from Beechmont down to Danungra.

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