A mountain to yourself, a few scratched legs and a view to die for…you must have climbed Mt Ernest in Mt Barney National Park, QLD.
- A whole mountain to yourself
- Stunning views of Mt Barney and Mt Lindesay from the ridgeline
- Bush bash and rock scramble your heart out on the slog to the summit
With bush so thick we felt like we were swimming in a sea of ferns and steep rock scrambles sprawled with leaf litter that often had us sliding back down the hill, Mt Ernest was not an easy hike. The views once you slogged your way up to the ridge, sweat soaked, cloaked in dirt, but still smiling, were worth every step. And the best bit? We had a whole mountain to ourselves.
Mt Ernest (or Big E as he affectionately became known over our 8 hour hike) is Mt Barney’s neglected cousin. It sits adjacent to Mt Barney and alongside the distinctive Mt Lindesay. There’s no trail up Big E — but that just makes it more of an adventure for mountain lovers.
At 5.00am, the mountain squad of Rebecca, Scout, Sabrina and I headed up the fire trail from Yellow Pinch carpark in Mt Barney National Park. Just like Mt Barney, you have to walk along the fire trail and cross the causeway to reach the trailhead. This is an easy walk in the dark with headlamps and torches and you’ll likely see a beautiful sunrise as you start the hike.
To stay within national park grounds, Queensland National Parks told us to access Mt Ernest by crossing Cronan Creek from campsite 9, find the logging trail, and eventually that peters out and you’re on your own. We failed to find the logging trail but we started heading up, then crossed a dense fern lined gully before it got too steep, and headed up to the ridge line.
This was probably the hardest slog of the whole day. The ground was very loose underfoot and we were constantly sliding, rocks were slipping out from under us — take extreme care here to make sure you don’t kick rocks onto people below you.
Don’t forget to look behind you and you’ll start to see the peaks of Mt Barney as you ascend.
Once you reach the ridgeline, there’s plenty of viewpoints — and just wow. Seeing Mt Barney from this angle in the early morning light was simply spectacular. I’d only climbed Barney the weekend before so it felt extra special seeing how far I’d climbed. You also get a great view of Mt Lindesay — this is the closest I’ve been to Lindesay.
You’ll need your rock scrambling skills for the next part and a good head for heights. There’s some seriously big drop offs along the ridgeline. Watch what trees you grab onto here. Many of the trees here are dead or have very shallow roots so they would often break off in our hands.
After the ridgeline, it’s bush bash time. I hope you don’t mind vegetation hitting your eyes, mouth, every inch of your body, and getting covered in tiny scratches. Eventually you’ll just keep pushing through and get used to the art of swimming through vegetation. We joked we needed goggles for the summit slog, where we crashed through thick vegetation taller than us.
The ridgeline has the best views of Barney, but the summit has a pretty good spot on its right side towards Mt Barney and you can glimpse the tops of Mt Greville and Mt Edwards above Lake Moogerah to the left. From the summit, there is a traverse option but with the vegetation getting even thicker further along the summit, we decided to go back the way we came.
Going down is just as hard as going up. We all took a tumble on the way down — thankfully we were unscathed — well except for our knee joints. Just like Barney, Big E is a knee killer. Going down is a little easier to navigate as you need to find your way back to Cronan Creek and the creek line is easy to spot from the ridge, however there are a few gullies that you’ll need to try and avoid on your way down.
Please take into consideration:
- This hike is only for very experienced hikers, who know how to read a map. Do not attempt if you’re inexperienced.
- Please do NOT trespass on private land. If unsure, ALWAYS check with National Parks authorities in your area.
- Rock scrambling
- Bush bashing
- Headlamp/torch (if starting before sunrise)
- Long pants and long sleeved shirt for bush bashing
- Hiking shoes/boots
- At least 4-5 litres of water
- Jumper (in case of weather changes)
- Someone with navigational skills
- A good head for heights
- Insect repellant
How To Get There
Mt Ernest is accessed from Yellow Pinch carpark at Mt Barney National Park. From Brisbane, head towards Rathdowney. Turn right just after Rathdowney township onto Boonah-Rathdowney Road, and turn left onto Upper Logan Road after about 10 minutes. Follow the signs to Mt Barney Lodge, and keep right until you hit the carpark. The road is gravel for a couple of kilometres before the carpark. After recent rain, take care at the causeways if you’re in a 2WD.
Expert — there is no trail up to the summit of Mt Ernest. You will need to have some navigational skills and be a fit, experienced bushwalker. About 70 percent of this hike is a bush bash, the rest is rock scrambling or hiking up very steep ridges on loose rock and scree. It’s a strenuous hike and should only be attempted for experienced hikers able to walk for 8-10 hours.
Distance / Elevation
12km / 964 metres. The return hike will take between 8-10 hours.
Here are some more adventures in that area for ya!