It may not compare in stature or beauty to Canada’s mountain ranges, but as far as unique and noteworthy landmarks go, Toowoomba’s Table Top Mountain holds its own.
Standing in the shadow of Picnic Point, the flat-topped mountain is not just a pretty sight; it’s also a popular hiking trail.
I’m not really a mountain climbing or hiking person. But every now and then I get these bursts of invincibility and ideas about being a fit outdoorsy type. Recently one of these bursts carried me to the top of Table Top.
I hold one of these same bursts responsible for compelling me to climb Vancouver Canada’s Grouse Grind a few years ago. Known as Mother Nature’s Stairclimber, the hike is famous in Vancouver for being exactly what its name suggests: a grind.
It’s straight up a mountain for 2.9km, with no flat bits, plateaus or breaks. Just up, up, up.
It was one of the most gruelling workouts of my life. I can think of dozens of better ways to spend tourist time in Vancouver, but if you do ever head up the Grind be prepared for hundreds of aggressively fit Vancouverites to sprint past you screaming “on your left!”, stairs, stairs, and more stairs and not a hint of view until you get to the top.
They say there’s a lumber jack show and bears and all sorts of other attractions at the top of Grouse Mountain. I wouldn’t know, I didn’t see any of that. All I saw after reaching the top was a kiosk where I might be able to take my tomato red face and weary legs and sit for a minute, and think about the consequences of my actions.
It took about three days for my red face to subside, recover somewhat from what I’d done and realise I was pretty happy with my achievement. I had visions of climbing the Grind in a different Lululemon outfit every day and scoffing at tourists about how they wouldn’t enjoy it. Then I remembered who I was and spent the rest of my time in Canada under a blanket eating ice cream.
So it was with memories of the Grouse Grind fresh in my mind that I laced up my shoes to conquer Table Top for the first time in my Toowoomba-living life.
As a 1.9km return hike Table Top Mountain is a mere patch on the Grouse Grind in distance but it’s challenging in its own way. Mostly, I was surprised to find it was less hiking, more rock climbing.
The trail starts at the base of a camel’s hump, so it goes straight up with no delay. You basically have to climb a mini version of a mountain before you get to the real thing. It’s a good cardio workout, because even though it’s steep, the rocks are huge and easy to grab onto so you can go quite quickly.
At the top there are some truly steep parts, with really loose rocks and slippery dirt. The final ascent to the summit is a scramble up a cliff. I had actual, genuine fear doing this. At one point I was clinging to the rock face, frozen. I was the girl in the movies who delays everyone from getting out of the building before the blomb blows because she doesn’t want to climb up the elevator shaft.
However, I got a grip and made my way to the top and was greeted by spectacular sunrise views of the Lockyer Valley.
Going down that scramble section of cliff was just as, if not more, scary than going up. Unlike the Grind, there’s no cable car to take you to the bottom. But once you’re past the slippery bits it’s a fairly easy run back down to the base. And after a climb you’ll be riding high on a sense of achievement, and shopping online for Lululemon outfits.
How to get there: Drive down South St and keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Eventually you’ll hit a car park and the start of the trail. Or, you can start from Picnic Point for a longer 11km circuit. For more info about the route check the Aussie Bushwalking website.
Have you climbed Table Top? I want to know about it. Tell me your best time in the comments section.