Queensland’s South-East corner contains a wealth of wonderful locations for hiking. The following are a few of my favorites that are accessible within a day-trip of Brisbane. Obviously this is by no means an extensive list, but a small selection of what’s on offer.

Springbrook National Park: Plateau Area

Springbrook NP has several great sections with a plethora of established walking trails. The majority of these lie upon what’s known as the Springbrook Plateau. Getting there from Brisbane is easy enough & will take you about 90minutes from the city.

The park contains some stunning & lush virgin rainforest, complete with powerful waterfalls that crash into steep-sided canyons. To experience some of the highlights try starting with the Purlingbrook Falls Circuit (4km return) which takes hikers to the base of the impressive 109m Purlingbrook Falls. Followed by the Twin Falls Circuit (4km) which again descends deep into a lush rainforest filled valley & allows walkers to pass behind two thundering waterfalls. Both of these walks can be completed within 2 hrs apeice, allowing plenty of time for a long lunch at one of the local cafes. For those looking for a longer hike, the 17km Warrie Circuit might be the ticket. Allow about 5-6 hours for this walk & keep in mind that in wet-weather the multiple creek crossings can get cut-off.

More info: Springbrook National Park

Springbrook

L: Getting behind the curtain at Twin Falls. R: Overlooking Purlingbrook Falls.

Laminton National Park: Green Mountains Section

A bit further west along the Border Ranges from Springbrook is Lamington National Park. Lamington NP is divided into two areas, Binna Burra & Green Mountains. Both sides of the park offer endless bush-walking opportunities, but as I’ve spent more time there, It’s Green Mountains that I’ve chosen to talk about. From Brisbane City it’s about a 110minute drive to Green Mountains, along some rather excellent narrow winding mountain roads.

At the day-use area you’ll find plenty of info about the park & it’s network of walking trails. There are several great circuits that all begin on the same trail, with several options depending on your fitness at how much time you have available. The Box forest circuit is shortest at 10.9km, my pick would be the longer 17.4km Toolona Creek circuit. The Toolona circuit takes the best the region has to offer including plenty of dense rainforest, numerous creek crossings & waterfalls. It also follows the edge of the escarpment for a while with views out to the South. Allow yourself about 6 hours for this option & be mindful of the shorter days in winter. For those looking to stay out longer, Lamington NP offers camping with vehicle access, along with several remote walk-in sites.

More info: Lamington National Park

Lamington

Having lunch at the appropriately named ‘Picnic Rock’.

The Cougals: East Peak

This walk isn’t as well known as the aforementioned, but offers a great day out hiking none the less. Technically speaking, the twin peaks of Mount Cougal (or The Cougals) lie within Springbrook NP, however in a remote & oft forgotten corner of the park. Access is via driving to the very end of the aptly named Garden of Eden Road. After following the road for a few KM, you’ll reach a small turn-around area with a driveway continuing to the left & a closed gate to your right. Park here & you’ll see the QLD/NSW border fence heading off to the west. Allow about 4-5 hours for this walk (depending on how overgrown the track is at the beginning).

Look for a narrow gap in the fence & a sign on the fence. Basically the walk follows the border fence for about 4.5km, at first through overgrown farmland then into the forest further along. You’ll have several opportunities to see the Cougals whilst walking along the ridge. The track can be fairly overgrown in summer months, but by always keeping close to the fence you should have no trouble with navigating. Keep an eye out for a fairly camouflaged sign on your right marking the border of the National Park. As the terrain steepens you’ll come to a fairly obvious point where the fence ends & the track takes a turn to the right. Have a look for a small cave hidden in the side of the mountain here. Following the now steeper trail upward you’ll soon come to the top of the east-peak. The panoramic views from here are worth the effort! Head back down the same way you came up.

More info: The Cougals

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L: Looking towards the Cougals during the approach. R: On the east peak, looking across the west peak and Springbrook Plateau.

Mount Barney

My favourite destination in SE has got to be the rugged massif of Mount Barney. For those looking to really stretch their legs Mount Barney is the place to go. At 1354m this is the 2nd highest peak in SE QLD & an impressive one at that. There a plenty of routes to the twin summits of the mountain, but I’ll just mention a couple of the more established & well known. By and large the most common & least demanding route is the South-Ridge, or Peasants Ridge. Starting from the Yellow Pinch car park you first skirt around the flanks of the mountain until heading up the ridge. The track leads you into the saddle between the two peaks, from where either can be climbed. A large clearing in the forest is known as Rum jungle, which is also a remote campsite. Follow a trail from the north of the clearing & you’ll soon reach a small creek beside another open clearing, this is the old hut site.

My personal pick would be the steeper but far more direct South-East Ridge. The initial approach is the same as Peasants, but you take an earlier right-hand turn to gain the ridge. Look for a track at right-angles to the main path, with a obvious marking carved in the trunk of a large tree. The track hugs the ridge-line, with some more exposed sections giving wonderful views. There are a couple steeper sections & some light scrambling, but nothing an experienced hiker won’t find achievable. Decent options are back the way you came up or down to the saddle & descend Peasants Ridge. For a further challenge, Logan’s Ridge is steeper yet again, & more exposed – I’d not reccomend this for a first time visit – rock climbing experience is needed & some parties may need to use a rope for sections. For more info on Logan’s & other routes – check out Robert Rankin’s excellent guidebook.

Please note that any route to the summit of Barney will be a LONG day, with over 1000m of elevation gained. Allow for 10-12 hours of walking & take plenty of water. I generally prefer to tackle the mountain over two days, camping at one of the designated campsites in the saddle (book online). There is a spring-fed creek for drinking water & that great feeling like you’re far away from it all.

More info: Mount Barney

L: On the way up Logan Ridge, looking towards Mt. Maroon. R: Watching sunset behind the West Peak, from the East Peak.

Glasshouse Mountains

Not far North from Brisbane, about an hour’s drive, are the stunning Glasshouse Mountains. This cluster of craggy peaks jut steeply from the landscape & are remnants of the areas rich volcanic past. The two most popular peaks for walkers to climb are Mount Ngungun & Mount Tibrogargan.

Both peaks have well maintained access trails to their respective summits. For those looking for a challenge, Tibrogargan offers a great scramble to its 364m summit. From car-park to car-park, allow 2-3 hours return for the walk. Rockfall is an ongoing risk on parts of the summit track, so be aware of signage indicating this. The 360 views from the top are stunning, on a clear day you can easily see the high-rise skyline of Brisbane & beyond.

If you’re looking for a less challenging objective, Mt. Ngungun by contrast provides equally as rewarding views, but without the need to scramble to reach the top. The track switch-backs upwards through the forest with some beautifully crafted stone steps in the steeper sections. Allow 1-2 hours return for the hike depending on your fitness & how long you want to enjoy the views from the top.

For the rock climbers – both Tibrogargan & Ngungun also offer bountiful opportunities for roped climbing – Further info & guides can be found at The Crag.

IMPORTANT: It’s worth noting that at the time of writing Mt. Coonoowrin in the Glasshouse Mountains is closed to the public. There is a very high risk of rockfall in this area & fines apply for unauthorized access.

More info: Glasshouse Mountains

L: Looking south towards Mt.Tibrogargan about halfway up the Ngungun summit track. R: Watching sunset over Mts. Coonoowrin & Beerwah, from Mt. Ngungun

L: Looking south towards Mt.Tibrogargan about halfway up the Ngungun summit track. R: Watching sunset over Mts. Coonoowrin & Beerwah, from Mt. Ngungun

Further rescources

Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service 

Online topographical maps of QLD, including all of the areas mentioned: QTopo

SE bush-walking guidebook, available from Paddy Pallin Fortitude Valley: Take a Walk in SE Queensland

SE QLD bush-walking & climbing guidebook , available from Paddy Pallin Fortitude Valley: Secrets of the Scenic Rim

 

About The Author

Lachlan Gardiner

Lachlan works as a freelance photographer, writer and videographer. His practice lies somewhere between storytelling and being a total gear nerd. Often found hiking, mountaineering, climbing, cycling, packrafting, or just hunting down the next story - Lachlan will take basically any excuse to get into the outdoors. In between all of the above, he also works in our Paddy Pallin store in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

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