The Border Ranges National Park delivers plenty of Jurassic vibes to tempt even the hardiest Queenslander south of the border. Conor takes on a punchy hit-list of hikes and waterfalls, before ending his day with a smile, a sunset, and two very tired legs.


Highlights

  • Bushwalking through the subtropical Gondwana Rainforest to several unique waterfalls
  • Stunning views from the Pinnacle Lookout over the Tweed Caldera
  • Visit ancient Antarctic Beech and Giant Red Cedar Trees

Border Ranges

After nearly 4 months on the road and several weeks hiking through the Scenic Rim, I finally made it from Cairns to the border between Queensland and New South Wales. I had zero plans of what to do once I left my home state and no idea what lay ahead on the other side. I pulled over on the side of the road and consulted my map. It wasn’t going to be a long drive to get to my next stop, the Border Ranges National Park was only half an hour away.

Located within the thin band of rainforests between Brisbane and Newcastle, known as the Gondwana rainforests, the Border Ranges contain relics of ancient flora and fauna mostly unchanged since the Jurassic Period. Being a huge fan of evolutionary biology and anything involving the outdoors, I decided this was the perfect way to cross the border into the new state.

Check out more from the Scenic Rim

Booyong Walk / Palm Forest Walk To Brushbox Falls

I headed off nice and early to the first attraction of the day, walking along the Palm Forest Walk from the Sheepstation Creek Camping Area. Brushbox Falls is only a 1km walk from the camp and keen to make the most of the day, I arrived far too early. The icy waters pouring from the falls added a briskness to the air that really let me know I was alive.

A Step Back In Time // Border Ranges National Park (NSW) by Conor Moore Brushbox Falls, waterfall

From there, the Palm Forest Walk connects to the Booyong Walk. This is the main track leading from Sheepstation Creek Camping Area to the tent-only Forest Tops Camping Area. Also found along the way is the Rosewood Loop.

Brindle Creek To Evans Falls

During the next leg along Brindle Creek, I was assured by park rangers and other hikers this was the pick of the trails. There were 3 falls according to the Maps.me app: Evans, Selva and Swanson Falls. What really grabbed my interest in Swanson Falls, wasn’t what people could tell me; rather, what people couldn’t tell me. Nobody I passed had visited the last waterfall on the track, so I headed off with great enthusiasm.

A Step Back In Time // Border Ranges National Park (NSW) by Conor Moore Brindle Creek

Brindle Creek is a very easy trail through thick subtropical rainforest. Throughout the morning the calls of cat birds and whip birds cried out across the rainforest canopy in a mesmerising, yet somewhat disconcerting, manner. If you’re unfamiliar with the call of a cat bird, the best way I can describe it is like the scream of an angry feral cat. Despite all the commotion, it wasn’t long until I reached Evans Falls.

A Step Back In Time // Border Ranges National Park (NSW) by Conor Moore Evans Falls

Selva & Swanson Falls

Next was Selva Falls, a far more picturesque and beautiful sight. The large boulders at the base of the falls made for a perfect spot to sit back for a snack.

Then there was Swanson falls. On Maps.me it appeared there was a well-defined walking track leading straight down to the falls – but after going around the back of a large Antarctic Beech tree, there was nothing but thick undergrowth. I circled back to the turn off, slid off my boots, rolled up my pants, and made my way up the creek. After 500m of climbing over rotten trees and being caught up in wait-a-whiles, I made it to Swanson Falls.

A Step Back In Time // Border Ranges National Park (NSW) by Conor Moore Swanson Falls

Red Cedar Loop

With wet pants and boots, I squelched along the Red Cedar Loop. This short track takes you to one of the giants of the forest, an enormous thousand-year-old Red Cedar. Many of the cedars in the area were logged across the 19th and 20th centuries, so it’s a wonder how this one managed to go unscathed.

A Step Back In Time // Border Ranges National Park (NSW) by Conor Moore Cedar tree

Pinnacle Lookout

With the hiking and waterfalls done for the day, there was only one thing left to do: catch the sunset at Pinnacle Lookout. This lookout would usually be best at sunrise as it faces eastward over the Tweed Caldera to the coast, but nevertheless it put on a show for us at dusk.

A Step Back In Time // Border Ranges National Park (NSW) by Conor Moore Pinnacle Lookout

With the sunset done, our time on the Border Ranges came to a close. Buggered after another big day I hopped back into the car, clapped the dirt off my boots and buckled my seatbelt. Better check with Google Maps where I’m heading next…

Essential Gear

  • At least 3 litres of water (more in warmer months)
  • Water purification tablets just in case
  • Lunch and high energy snacks
  • Camera and drybag
  • Insect repellent for leeches
  • Warm clothing (weather changes quickly)
  • Hiking shoes
  • Torch or headlamp
  • Spare pair of socks
  • Topographic map or Maps.me app (best practice is to always take a physical map)
  • Walking poles (if you have knee issues)

How To Get There

From Brisbane, head towards Beaudesert down the Mt Lindesay Highway. Continue along the highway until you reach the town of Rathdowney. From Rathdowney the Running Creek Road will take you on towards the QLD/NSW border. Along the way the road is renamed Lions Road and then Gradys Creek Road as other roads merge along the way.

The next turn will be left onto Simes Road and then another left onto Forest Road. After a few kilometres you will see NSW Parks signs and the turn off into Border Ranges National Park. The Sheepstation Creek Camp Ground is a short drive from the entrance with the turnoff on the left side as you enter the park. Do note that the roads off the highway are dirt/clay and can be very slippery in wet conditions.

Skill Level

Beginner-Intermediate – hiking skills are required to navigate the walking trails. There are sections of moderately steep climbs along the walks which are mostly stepped by large rocks. Creek crossings along the path have narrow timber boardwalks. In wet weather these dirt walking tracks can become muddy and slippery.

Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration

Border Loop Walk – 1.5km / 30 mins

Palm Forest Walk – 1km / 30 mins

Booyong Walk – 9km one-way / 5-6 hrs

Rosewood Loop – 6km / 1-2 hrs

Red Cedar Loop – 0.75km / 20 mins

Helmholtzia Loop – 1km / 30 mins

Brindle Creek Walk – 6km one-way 3-4 hrs

Falcorostrum Look – 0.65km / 15 mins

Bar Mountain Circuit – 4km / 2 hrs

 


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