We don’t know a single person who’s seen Mount Barney from more angles than Lisa Owen. Here’s her guide to summiting the 1,354m high giant in the Scenic Rim of Queensland for the first time.

 

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Bundjalung Nation, the traditional Country of the Bundjalung people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

About Mt Barney

Standing at 1354m above sea level, Mt Barney is the highest peak in the aptly named Mt Barney National Parks. Its rugged ridgelines and challenging trail make it an enviable accomplishment for keen hikers. Mt Barney is home to some of the last surviving Gondwana rainforest in the country and its easy accessibility from Brisbane makes it a popular destination for bushwalkers.

 

Lisa Owen Mount Barney South Ridge Scenic Rim Queensland QLD Mountain Viewpoint Mt Barney View

 

Mt Barney is an impressive sight looming over a landscape formed by volcanoes many thousands of years ago, and as one of the highest mountains in Queensland, it has a reputation to match.

Read more: Navigating With a Map & Compass

Mt Barney History

Although the traditional owners did not climb the peak, the land around Mt Barney has been their home thousands of years. Their ancestors were the original owners of the land and their ongoing existence is felt throughout the area. Mount Barney is the result of a volcanic eruption that occurred around 24 million years ago.

 

Lisa Owen Mount Barney South Ridge Scenic Rim Queensland QLD Mountain Viewpoint

 

The first recorded ascent of the mountain occurred in 1828 when a group of colonists from the nearby Brisbane settlement attempted to ascend the peak. Out of the 3 who set out only one, Captain Patrick Logan was able to complete the difficult climb. By the 1840s the area had been opened up to cattle grazing and and later to cedar and pine logging, devastating the unique and diverse environment of the area. As a consequence of growing knowledge of the significance of the area, Mt Barney National Park was created in 1947.

Finally in 1994, the World Heritage Committee officially declared the Gondwana rainforests of the Scenic Rim area, encompassing Mt Barney, itself as a world heritage site.

How to Get to Mt Barney

The drive to Mt Barney from Brisbane takes just under 2 hours. From Brisbane, head to Beaudesert along the Mt Lindesay Highway and then follow the signs to Rathdowney. Turn right just past the Rathdowney township onto Boonah-Rathdowney Road, then take a left onto Upper Logan Road following the signs to Mt Barney/Mt Barney Lodge.

You’ll hit a dirt road, keep following along, keeping to the right. Park at Yellow Pinch Reserve and head up the fire trail.

Places to Stay Near Mt Barney

The best place to stay if you’re eager to get an early start on your ascent is the nearby Old Hut Site camping area, just 2km from the trailhead. The campsite is very basic and is a walk-in-site. It’s quite exposed and the weather can get gnarly if the wind picks up. BYO drinking water is essential at this site as there are no drinking water facilities.

The best place to stay with family or if you’d prefer not to brave those mountain elements is the comfortable Mt Barney Lodge that offers grassed and shaded sites with camping facilities as well as a range of homesteads and cabins for those who prefer the indoors before they go outdoors.

Skill Level

Advanced

It’s a strenuous, steep hike up South East Ridge with rock scrambling and free climbing. Navigational skills are required up the South East Ridge. South (Peasants) Ridge is also very steep and slippery in places.

 

Distance /  Duration / Elevation Gained

About 16km from the car park taking SouthEast Ridge up and South (Peasants) Ridge down / 8-10 hours / 1,154m

Essential Gear List For Mt Barney

  • Headlamp or torch (for early morning starters)
  • At least 3L of water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • A good head for heights
  • A hiking buddy
  • Queensland Maps.me app map
  • Jacket for the summit
  • Hiking shoes
  • Emergency beacon (some parts of the hike do not have mobile reception)
  • Long pants (some parts of the track are narrow and overgrown with vegetation and you may need to slide down steep sections of rock on the descent)

Experience of Hiking Mt Barney

I grew up in the bushwalker’s wonderland of Queensland’s Scenic Rim region – but I hate to admit that I only just hiked one of the biggest mountains in the region. Boy, I wish I’d done it sooner, because the views are spectacular and this is one of the best hikes I’ve ever done.

Once being a member of the local SES in this region, I knew there’d been many a bushwalker injured or lost on the slopes of Mt Barney. The mountain is known for rapid weather changes, resulting in people becoming disoriented or losing the faint trail.

With all this in mind, it was with some trepidation that I planned to hike Mt Barney. I started to get conditioned by hiking nearby mountains – Maroon, Greville, and Cougal. All the while, I was trying to find someone of equal fitness that was prepared to take on the slopes of Mt Barney because I didn’t want to be up there alone.

By the time a perfect Saturday of clear sunny skies and mid-20s temps rolled around, I’d managed to find a friend to tag along who’d summitted Barney once before, and off we set for my very first time hiking Mt Barney.

My First Hike on Mt Barney

We drove into the Yellow Pinch car park at 5am, the skies still dark and bright with stars. Only one other vehicle was in the car park.

Make sure you get an early start because you do not want to miss some of these boulder viewpoints at sunrise.

 

Lisa Owen Mount Barney South Ridge Scenic Rim Queensland QLD mountain First Light Viewpoint

 

With our torches in hand, we started along the fire trail to reach the base of Mt Barney. To get to the base, head up the hilly dirt trail until you reach a steel gate on your left. Go through the gate – not the trail to your right.

Walk some more, hop a gate, step through a creek, then you pass a couple of national park signs. Keep going and look for wide trailhead with a log step at the start that winds quickly uphill, which is about 3.5km from the car park. It’s not marked, but this is the South East Ridge.

I had the Maps.me app downloaded to my phone and could see the trails on this in flight mode. We used this throughout the morning to make sure we were keeping on trail.

You can also ascend up South (Peasants) Ridge which is a little further along and signed. We chose South East Ridge as it’s more challenging due to the exposed ridgeline, and if you start early, you’ll get to see a cracking sunrise.

The South East Ridge quickly heads up through a forest of gum trees before you start climbing up a rocky trail. Try to reach at least the first of the boulder viewpoints for sunrise and you’ll be grateful you got up so early as the sun gradually lights up the surrounding valleys and mountains.

Summiting Mt Barney

Following the first boulder viewpoint, there are a couple more rocky outcrops that’ll give you breathtaking views over the Scenic Rim region, and close ups of Mt Ernest and the easily recognisable knob of Mt Lindesay.

About halfway up the South East ridge, the fun begins – if rock scrambling is your idea of fun (obviously it’s mine!). You’ll start picking your way up the ridge, and at times the trail will become indistinct so keep a close eye on where you’re going.

In some sections, the ridge is quite exposed so you must have a good head for heights to do this route and the ability to rock scramble and free climb. The second half of the ascent is hard on the legs as you go steeply up along the ridgeline – so take it slow and steady.

 

Lisa Owen Mount Barney South Ridge Scenic Rim Queensland QLD mountain Ridgeline View

 

There are some false summit moments when you believe you’re nearly there but then you realise the summit of the East Peak still rises above you. This happened at least three times to me.

The views from the 1351 metre East Peak (slightly smaller than the West Peak) are on point, with views across to Mt Maroon, Mt Ernest, Mt Lindesay, and Maroon Dam. Make sure you bring a jumper for the summit – it gets cold up there!

Descending Mt Barney

Hopefully you still have energy and the leg strength to continue on – what goes up must come down.

Pick your way down the East Peak to the Rum Jungle Campground, below the West Peak. The trail is easily lost and it’s slow going, but you’re looking to get down to the creekline and then you’ll find tracks to Rum Jungle.

We found our way by following the trail down East Peak and also picking a recognisable point in the saddle of a small clearing where we saw people, and continually aiming for that.

The route from Rum Jungle back to the car park is the South (Peasants) Ridge route and is well marked. There are orange trail markers, and arrows carved in trees and spray-painted on rocks to show you the way both up and down.

The trail is very easy to follow and doesn’t have the very steep exposed rock scrambles like the South East Ridge. It’s a steep and rocky path though and can be slippery so take care as you wind down the mountain.

South Ridge isn’t as scenic as South East Ridge. While you get views over to Mt Lindesay and Ernest, it’s not as open as South East Ridge but it’s a good choice for the descent – or those who don’t have such a good head for heights.

Mt Barney – The Verdict

Mt Barney can be done as a day hike or an overnight by camping at Rum Jungle Campground in between East and West Peaks. Make sure you check the weather forecast before you go – the trails can be slippery and would be extremely difficult if rain is about.

We did the day hike in 7 hours, however it’s best to use the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service’s estimated time of 8-10 hours as a guide.

So my verdict on Mt Barney? In perfect weather, this is a scenic, challenging, and diverse hike that experienced hikers will thoroughly enjoy. It definitely wasn’t as daunting as I’d imagined – but I owe that to the weather and the trail being reasonably easy to follow as there are lots of people traversing the mountain during the cooler months.

Would I do the hike again? Most definitely.

Tips for Hiking Mt Barney

  • Be hiking fit and test your fitness and navigational skills on nearby mountains such as Maroon and Greville
  • Do the day hike on a sunny day and start early
  • Try to go with someone who has hiked Mt Barney before
  • Be prepared to hike for up to 10 hours and be warned, your knees are going to hate you by the end of this hike!
  • Mt Barney’s waterways are an important habitat for frogs. Do not disturb any frogs, tadpoles, or eggs and don’t use any soaps or detergents around creeks!
  • And remember to leave no trace!

Mt Barney FAQs

Where is Mt Barney located?

Mt Barney is located in Mt Barney National Park, Queensland, just under 2 hours south-east of Brisbane near the small town of Rathdowney.

How do you get to Mt Barney?

From Brisbane follow the Mt Lindesay Highway to Rathdowney. After Rathdowney, turn right on to Boonah–Rathdowney Road then turn left on to the Barney View–Upper Logan Road turn-off. From here, follow the signs to Yellow Pinch trailhead.

Is Mt Barney good for beginners?

In short, no. This hike is a strenuous and steep walk requiring a high level of fitness and good navigational skills. A significant amount of rock scrambling is required to summit Mt Barney and it’s highly recommended walkers have previous experience.

How long is the Mt Barney hike?

The walk is about a 16km, 8-10 hours return hike from Yellow Pinch trailhead.

How high is Mt Barney?

Mt Barney is 1,154m above sea level.