Photos by Lisa Owen & Scout Hinchliffe
- Rockhop along picturesque Christmas Creek to the stunning Larapinta Falls
- Take in the diverse and remote terrain on the hike up to the Stinson plane crash site
- Get stunning views from Point Lookout
As dawn skies brightened on another beautiful day in the Scenic Rim, the hiking trio of myself, Scout and Dale (along with a rogue kookaburra) were the early birds at the Stinson Park campground.
Amid the quietness of the picturesque creekside setting, Scout brewed up some coffee from the back of her van while Dale and I packed up our tents, and then we got on the road to nearby Lamington National Park.
The sun cast a golden glow on the high cliff face of Buchanan’s Fort as we slowly made our way along the gravel road and causeways to the start of the trail.
Today’s plan was to tackle the adventure combo of Westray’s Grave, Larapinta Falls, Stinson plane crash site and Point Lookout.
The Stinson airliner crashed in a storm in February 1937 in a remote and rugged area near Christmas Creek. Seven people – two pilots and five passengers – were on board. Two survivors were found by local legend Bernard O’Reilly, an excellent bushman who located the crash site after noticing a burnt tree many kilometres in the distance and tracking his way to it. A third man, Jim Westray, survived the crash, but sadly fell down a waterfall while going for help.
The rescue of the two survivors is the stuff of legend in these parts – and I grew up knowing of this story.
I’d done the walk to the wreckage about a decade before with the local SES group but hadn’t made it to Larapinta Falls or Point Lookout – so it was as much of an adventure for me as for Scout and Dale.
The first target was Westray’s Grave. The rough trail in this remote part of Lamington National Park winds along the right bank of Christmas Creek. There’s a lot of footpadding in the area, but this can often lead you astray.
If you take on this hike, keep Christmas Creek in sight. If the trail becomes hard to follow and you’re getting further away from the creek, you’re probably going the wrong way.
Once we realised we needed to stick to the creek, it was mostly smooth sailing although recent storm damage created some diversions. There are ribbons once you get about halfway to Westray’s Grave as the footpad narrows and weaves between the trees and over creekbeds.
From Westray’s Grave, you can choose to add on a rock-hop down Christmas Creek to Larapinta Falls. It’s a strenuous one-hour rock-hop down the falls, with some opportunities to walk along the bank which gets you there at a slightly quicker pace.
It’s slow going as the rocks are very slippery in places and often you are zigzagging back and forth across the creek. Be prepared to get your feet wet.
You’ll only see the falls when you’re just around the corner from them – and then wow! You are sure to be impressed by the towering falls.
Stinson Plane Crash Site
To get to the Stinson crash site from the falls, you need to backtrack. A couple of hundred metres back from Westray’s Grave, you’ll see a footpad going sharply uphill on your left. There’s also a small sign tacked to the tree with ‘Stinson Wreck’ written on it.
There’s a slightly tricky part just a few metres up, the arrow on the tree shows up, but you actually need to take a slight left to keep on the trail. Once you navigate past this bit it’s pretty smooth sailing navigation wise as there are ribbon markers every few minutes.
Trail wise, it’s steep, really steep – especially after two hours of rock-hopping so I hope you saved some energy.
It’s uphill most of the way with some rock scrambling required. The terrain changes a couple of times during your ascent, from dry forest to very wet rainforest so make sure you have a jumper on hand and be prepared for a slippery, sometimes muddy trail.
The Stinson wreck can be found to the left of the Stinson bush camp clearing. You’ll see two paths when you get to the bush camp, one straight ahead and one to the left.
The wreck is located about a five-minute walk from the camp site and is well marked. All that remains are twisted fuselage pipe struts, a memorial stone, and a geocache box containing a notebook where hikers have listed their date of visit and names.
Heading straight ahead from the bush camp will take you to Point Lookout in about 20 minutes.
Be careful at the lookout as there’s only a small ledge to check out the views and it can be very slippery.
The return journey back the way you come is a knee killer. You’ve been warned!
**Author Note: Do not attempt this hike if rain is forecast or it has rained the day before. The trail can be slippery even without any rain and the first part of the ascent to the Stinson is very steep and would be extremely dangerous in wet weather.
- Waterfall chasing
- Rock scrambling
- Swimming (in the summer months or be prepared to freeze!)
- 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
- Walking poles (if you have knee issues)
How To Get There
From Brisbane, head towards Beaudesert down the Mt Lindesay Highway. Turn right at the traffic lights in Beaudesert towards Rathdowney, remaining on the Mt Lindesay Highway. Follow this road until Laravale where the road takes a sweeping bend. You want to continue straight here onto Christmas Creek Road. Follow this down right to the end to a locked gate and a parking area straight after a concrete causeway. It’s about a two hour drive from Brisbane.
Expert. To do the combo route, you need to be fit and experienced hiker capable of rock hopping and rock scrambling and walking a very strenuous 15km route. Navigational skills are also essential as it’s easy to lose the track at the beginning.
Distance / Duration
15km, 8-10 hours. It’s about 1.5 hours one way to Westray’s Grave and another hour to Larapinta Falls one way. After retracing your steps from Larapinta Falls to Westray’s Grave, it’s about 2 hours up to Point Lookout via the Stinson memorial.
You can stay nearby the night before at Stinson Park Campground, which features flush toilets and firepits.
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