Dawn Chasing // Sunrise from Mt Maroon (QLD)

While most people were sleeping, Lisa and six fellow explorers were wide awake at 2am pulling on their hiking boots and hitting the road. Their destination: Mt Maroon.

Photos by Ben Wright, Casey Eveleigh & Lisa Owen

Highlights

  • Uninterrupted 360 degree views of the sunrise and surrounding peaks
  • Challenging rock scramble/climb up a gorge by torchlight
  • Good chance you’ll have the peak all to yourself
  • Only a couple of hours drive from Brisbane or the Gold Coast

The Lowdown

At 4am sharp, Dan, Ben, Jess, Bec, Challen, Casey and myself began our quest to see sunrise from the summit of Mt Maroon, and commenced the ascent up a washed-out dirt road to the trailhead.

Following the line of headlamps snaking up through the fields, it didn’t take long until I was breathless and sweaty, with the trail quickly steepening as we left the cow paddocks behind and started up the mountainside.

Ben learnt early on that Maccas hash browns and a sunrise hike don’t mix but we persevered on, focusing on our feet as we clambered up rocks and over tree roots.

With an unplanned detour off course after we got a little disorientated in the dark, our trusty navigator Dan quickly had us back on course for the rock scramble/climb up the gorge.

While the trail is obvious in most parts, and there are ribbons and orange triangle markers scattered along the way, there are a couple of points where the trail is indistinct over rocks, especially in the dark, so it’s handy if you go with someone who has done the trail before if you’re attempting sunrise.

This was my first time up Mt Maroon and I’m glad I couldn’t see what was ahead of me on that rock climb up the gorge. Heights don’t scare me, but I think I would have found the trail ahead a little daunting if I could see the close to vertical rock scramble in the shadow of a towering cliff face. But in the dark, it was one step at a time following the person in front.

Slow and steady, all seven of us made our way to the top of the gorge, did some bush bashing as we veered slightly off track again, and moved as fast as our legs could muster once we saw stripes of red, yellow and orange lining the horizon as dawn quickly approached.

We made the final push to the summit with five minutes to spare – making it up in 90 minutes.

Tossing off our backpacks, we knew we were in for a show. There were clear skies above us, but also clouds and mist adding texture to the brightening sky. Darkness turned to a grey-blue light and then the sun started to light up Mt Maroon, the valleys below and adjacent Mt Barney.

I’ve travelled the world but this sunrise is one of the best I’ve seen. The 360-degree views from Mt Maroon, the energy from the invigorating hike up, the majestic cliff faces of Mt Barney, the surrounding peaks, and the misty, bright green valleys below made this one special sunrise.

There are plenty of viewpoints to watch nature’s show from the summit so be ready for some more rock scrambling to find your perfect vantage point. We were the only people up here for sunrise, with other hikers only reaching us by 7am.

We loved the view so much we rock hopped and took in the view for over an hour before we started the descent.

Essential Gear

  • Headlamp
  • Hiking boots
  • Jumper for the summit
  • At least 3 litres of water
  • Snacks
  • Camera

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Rock hopping
  • Photography

How To Get There

Take the Mt Lindesay Highway to Beaudesert, then follow the signs to Rathdowney. Only a couple of minutes past the Rathdowney township, turn right onto Boonah-Rathdowney Road and travel down here for about 15 minutes until you reach Cotswold Road on your left. Mt Maroon carpark is located at the end of Cotswold Road. Cotswold Road is a gravel road but is 2WD accessible. However, at the time of writing, the road was rutted out near the formal carparking area, so 2WDs may want to park in the grassed areas off the road just before the carpark and take the short walk to the trailhead. The trip will take about 90 minutes from Brisbane.

Skill Level

Intermediate to expert. Rock scrambling required, and some navigational skills will come in handy especially in the dark.

Distance/Elevation

6km / 966 metres

 

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