There’s a tonne of mountains to summit and peaks to bag around the Scenic Rim in South East Queensland. Lisa Owen set herself the challenge of reaching 10 peaks in 10 weeks. Here’s how it went down.

 

‘Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.’ – Jack Kerouac

 

When I first started hiking, I never knew I would end up having such a penchant for mountains. But as each weekend rolls around, I’m always thinking – which mountain can I climb this week?

I Climb Mountains For Fun

For the views, the challenge and the fitness benefits (those exercise endorphins can last me days after a good mountain sesh). Often there is literally blood, sweat and tears on the way to the summit – but that’s part of the adventure.

Growing up near a plethora of mountains, I set out on a mission to climb 10 peaks in 10 weekends across Queensland’s Scenic Rim.

This is how the challenge unfolded. All the mountains are located about a 2-hour drive from Brisbane near the regional towns of Boonah and Beaudesert. All trail distances and times are return.

1. Mt Cordeaux/Bare Rock

Distance: 12.4km
Time: 4 hours
Skill Level: Beginner-Intermediate

The first mountain I climbed in the Scenic Rim region was Mt Cordeaux with an extra section added on up to Bare Rock. The Mt Cordeaux trail leads through beautiful, lush rainforest before the trees thin out and you’re lead up to a rocky outcrop with expansive views over the surrounding mountains, Fassifern Valley and out to Moogerah Dam.

To reach Bare Rock, head through exposed grassy hills and then into rainforest over a well-maintained trail.

Bare Rock offers another rocky outcrop providing a view on the other side of Mt Cordeaux and is surrounded by enchanting mossy trees.

2. Mt Mitchell

Distance: 10.2km
Time: 3 hours
Skill Level: Beginner

Across the road from Mt Cordeaux is Mt Mitchell — so you can actually do these 2 mountains in one day for a double peak challenge.

The Mt Mitchell trail initially winds up a slight incline before levelling out as you walk around the slopes of the mountain. The last kilometre of the trail feels like it goes on for a while as it corkscrews up to the narrow rocky summit.

3. Flinders Peak

Distance: 9km
Time: 3-4 hours
Skill Level: Intermediate

The trail up to Flinders Peak doesn’t waste much time before it starts heading up. First through grassy hills with a good view of the peak you’re about to climb, and then up a rugged dirt path past gumtrees and lantana.

The trail is easy to follow up the hill, then you’ll reach the ridgeline and get some rockhopping in.

To get to the first major viewpoint (nicknamed Little Mt Flinders), you’ll need to do a short rock scramble and climb.

The summit is a little deceiving, it looks harder to reach than it actually is from the first lookout – but it’s actually only a 15 minute hike down into the saddle and up the moderately steep mountainside.

At the summit, the view is blocked by a helicopter pad and TV towers, but continue past the buildings, scramble down a couple of boulders and you’ll be able to enjoy some great views.

Lisa Owen 10 Peaks in 10 weeks Scenic Rim QLD Flinders Peak

4. Mt Maroon

Distance: 6km
Time: 4-5 hours
Skill Level: Intermediate

The climb up Mt Maroon isn’t a long one, but it’s a tough one, particularly at the start with a very steep push up.

About halfway up there’s a steep gorge that you’ll need to rock scramble up. It’s not for people scared of heights!

It takes about 1.5-2 hours to reach the summit and then you’re in for a treat. Mt Barney looms large on your right and Mt Lindesay is also in sight.

The 360° views are certainly worth the climb.

Dawn Chasing // Sunrise from Mt Maroon (QLD) Ben Wright, Lisa Owen, Mt Maroon, Queensland, dawn, clouds

5. Mt Cougal

Distance: 6km
Time: 5-6 hours
Skill Level: Intermediate (Advanced if attempting West Peak)

Mt Cougal is part bush bash, part rock scramble, and part leg burner.

The hike starts off Garden of Eden Road, heading up through fields of sugarcane, then through rainforest, before a steep ascent up to the East Peak. Only fit, experienced hikers with rock scrambling, bush bashing and navigational skills should go up the West Peak. Keep in mind that East Peak has the best views, with the West Peak almost completely closed in. In the cooler months, the trail is fairly easy to follow as a lot of people head up there. Beware of ticks.

Lisa Owen 10 Peaks in 10 weeks Scenic Rim QLD Mount Cougal

6. Mt Greville

Distance: 12km
Time: 4-5 hours
Skill Level: Intermediate

You’ll need some basic navigational skills to conquer Mt Greville and to follow the footpadding and make your way up the gorge. The easiest route is up and down South East Ridge, but for a bit of variety you can tackle the gorges. If you’re going to take the gorge route, it’s best to go up Palm Gorge if this is your first time as it can be hard finding the gorge entrances from the top.

The summit is pretty closed in and offers limited views — you’ll get the best views around the South East Ridge side, looking out to Moogerah Dam.

Lisa Owen, Mt Greville, Moogerah Peaks National Park, Queensland, South-East Ridge, descent,

7. Mt Barney

Distance: 12km
Hours: 8-10 hours
Skill Level: Advanced

Mt Barney was on my bucket list for a long time before I made it up there for the first time. I was a bit intimidated by the mountain after hearing of many walkers getting lost or spending a cold night on the mountain after encountering bad weather or running out of daylight.

Mt Barney is a majestic mountain that offers spectacular views on a sunny day but it’s not an easy hike.

For first timers, there’s a couple of options to ascend and descend the mountain. If heights worry you, you can go up and down via South (Peasant’s) Ridge. For more of a challenge, head up the exposed South East Ridge and down South Ridge.

The hike can take anywhere between 7-10 hours return.

8. Mt Ernest

Distance: 12km
Time: 8-10 hours
Skill Level: Advanced

The best way to describe Mt Ernest is ‘the ultimate bush bash’. You have to navigate your way to the ridgeline from Cronan Creek through long grass and ferns, and up a slippery scree littered slope.

Once on the ridgeline there’s breathtaking views of Mt Barney (the best I’ve seen so far) and also Mt Lindesay.

This is another hike that isn’t recommended for people scared of heights due to some serious rock scrambling and negotiation along narrow ridgelines.

If you thought the bush bash at the start was hard work, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The push up to the summit is a tough one through dense scrub and ferns.

While the ridgeline offers the best views, there’s another great view of Mt Barney from the summit.

Lisa Owen 10 Peaks in 10 weeks Scenic Rim QLD Mount Ernest

9. Mt May

Distance: 10km
Time: 4-5hours
Skill Level: Intermediate

Mt May offers one of the best views in the Scenic Rim. You get views down to Maroon Dam, across to Mt Barney and all the peaks in between.

The best viewpoints are from the slopes of the North and South peaks rather than the summits.

It’s a fairly quick and dirty climb as far as Scenic Rim mountains go and you can get up and down in about 3 hours and then walk the 4km back along the fire trail to the campground.

Lisa Owen 10 Peaks in 10 weeks Scenic Rim QLD Mount May

10. Wilson’s Peak

Distance: 6km
Time: 5-6 hours
Skill Level: Intermediate

The hike up Wilson’s Peak is easy to navigate but boy, it’s a steep one. The trail follows the rabbit proof fence along the Queensland/New South Wales border.

It’s up, up, up and more up to the summit — and can be super slippery even when it hasn’t rained for a while (don’t go near this mountain if it’s raining).

While the summit is pretty closed in, you can still get views over Main Range National Park and on the way down you’ll spot Mt Lindesay.

Lisa Owen Wilson's Peak QLD Queensland viewpoint

Wilson’s Peak cliffside

When To Go

The best time to hike these mountains in Queensland is in winter. Many of them are very exposed — and also are a breeding ground for snakes due to their dense terrain. Hiking season in South East Queensland runs from around May to end of August if you’re looking to avoid snakes (although always be on guard). The cooler months will also make the hikes more enjoyable out of the scorching sun.

Essential Gear

The majority of these peaks are recommended only for fit, experienced hikers. Many involve some level of navigational skills – and it’s recommended you go with someone who has done the mountain before.

  • At least 3 litres of water
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Hat and sunscreen
  • Long pants for bush bashing
  • Insect repellent
  • First aid kit
  • Topographic map
  • Hiking buddy
  • Jumper and/or wet weather jacket (in case the weather changes)
  • Torch
  • Good hiking shoes


Read More:
How to Stay Safe in the Bush (and Keep your Mum Happy)

Before you go, check the weather forecast and don’t go if a storm or heavy rain is forecast. You should also reconsider mountains such as Mt Barney if there’s been heavy rain in the days leading up to your hike.