Explore epic granite tors and cool off in refreshing creeks as you take on a plethora of achievable trails in one weekend at the stunning Gibraltar Range National Park.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- One weekend, at least four hiking trails (more if you’re fit and keen)
- Relaxing campground with excellent amenities
- Cool off with a refreshing creek swim just behind the campsite
There are plenty of short hikes to choose from in Gibraltar Range National Park, ranging from one to four hour return trips. Many of the trails here aren’t difficult and there’s a range to choose from, all on well-defined tracks, with some taking you to spectacular granite outcrops.
After a 5am departure from Brisbane, I arrived at the park just before 10am and got straight on the trails.
Distance: 6km return
Duration: 1.5-2 hour
As I arrived right when the day was heating up, the first hike I chose was the mostly shaded trail to Murrumbooee Cascades.
This trail starts from the right of the picturesque Mulligans Hut, a short distance from Mulligans Campground.
The trail winds through rainforest to a creek junction complete with a beautiful golden swimming spot. This trail is perfect for a middle of the day hike as it’s cool in the forest and you can refresh with a dip!
Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes
Distance: 6km return (The Needles only)
Duration: allow 1.5-2 hour
Returning back to Mulligans Hut, I next headed out to the Needles.
From Mulligans Hut, you cross the Little Dandahra Creek and then follow the path to a junction.
Take the right path and head along an old stock route before heading up an old logging track towards the Needles, a set of isolated granite tors perched above a deep gorge.
You can return the way you came and head back to the campground or make the hike a little longer by continuing along the Tree Fern Forest Walk.
After returning to the creek, I opted for a swim and then relaxed at my campsite for the afternoon ahead of an early start the next day.
If you still wanted to hike further on your first day, head out on the Little Dandahra Creek walking track which leaves from Mulligans Campground.
This hike is 13km return (you have to return the way you came) and takes about 3-4 hours, winding past granite outcrops, through montane heath and along the creek.
The following morning, I was the first one up and out of the campground and headed out to explore some more on two different trails. These hikes start halfway along the road to Mulligans Campground as you head back to the Gwydir Highway.
Duration: 1 hour
I started my second day in the park with a hike up to Anvil Rock.
This is a short and easy 2km hike that winds past and through smaller granite outcrops to huge boulders perched above the surrounding landscape. There’s a short scramble near the top and then you can explore the top of the outcrop.
In the early morning light, the view was spectacular.
Dandahra Crags Walking Track
Duration: 1.5-2 hour
Next door to the start of the Anvil Rock trail is the Dandahra Crags walking track. This was my favourite viewpoint of the weekend, although admittedly the hike to reach the crags along a fire trail was quite boring.
But it’s an easy hike until you get to the crag, then you have to do some rock scrambling to reach the top of the viewpoint for an expansive view of the Gibraltar Range and beyond.
I finished up my weekend with a short wander to Granite Lookout, in the neighbouring Washpool National Park, for a nice view.
If you have time and energy, you can also head further into Washpool National Park and hike the 8.5km Washpool Walk loop through rainforest and past waterfalls. Allow 3-4 hours. This trail leaves from the Coombadjha Campground.
I stayed at Mulligans Campground, which has flush toilets and cold showers, and each campsite has a picnic table and wood barbecues. Free firewood may also be available.
Read more: Remember to leave no trace
From Gwydir Highway, it’s a 10km dirt road to Mulligans Campground but it’s accessible by 2WD.
If you’d prefer a creek swim to a cold shower, you can cool off in Little Dandahra Creek located next to Mulligans Hut.
Washpool National Park also has camping facilities at Coombadjha Campground.
You can book your campsite on the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website. Day entry passes are applicable for both these parks or you can buy an annual national parks pass.
This is a remote area and you’ll need your basic car camping kit here including:
- Sleeping mat
- Sleeping bag
- Drinking water (there’s non-potable water available at the campground too)
- Camping stove (or use the wood BBQs at the campground)
- First Aid Kit
- Food for the duration of your stay (you’re in a remote area so stock up at home or at Grafton on your way)
- Warm clothing (you’re at a high altitude so it can get cold, especially at night, even in summer)
- Hiking shoes
How To Get There
Gibraltar Range National Park is located halfway between Grafton and Glen Innes off the Gwydir Highway. It’s about a 4.5-hour drive from Brisbane via Grafton and three hours from Byron Bay.
While a 4.5 hour drive each way may seem a lot for a weekend trip, it’s an easy drive. Head down the Pacific Highway to Grafton and then follow the Gwydir Highway to Gibraltar Range National Park.
The drive between Grafton and the national park is certainly picturesque as you pass the Mann River, wind up the plateau through rainforest with lots of twists and turns, and a couple of lookout points on the way.
Washpool National Park is across the road from Gibraltar Range National Park and is also accessed off the Gwydir Highway.
Beginner to intermediate
The hikes are not too difficult, largely traversing graded tracks and fire trails, although there are some rocky sections and some scrambles involved so care is needed as you reach the top of the outcrops and they may be slippery when wet.
You can do as little or as many hikes as you want or simply just enjoy your surroundings and relax at Mulligans Campground.
Be mindful the area is remote and there’s no mobile service in the campground and at lower sections of hikes. You can only get reception when you’re up high such as at the Needles lookout or at the Crags.
Read more: How To Use a PLB