Enchanting forests of ancient Antarctic beech trees, peaceful camping spots, mist strewn valleys, and mountain views await you on an overnight adventure to Mt Barney National Parks’ Double Peak.
- Remote summit and campsite
- Beautiful sunrise viewpoint
- Route finding challenges through trackless terrain
Please note: This hike is for very experienced hikers skilled in navigation. It traverses remote, rough terrain and is not on signed or graded trails. It can be disorienting hiking this terrain due to lack of visual references. Please make sure to carry sufficient water as there are no water sources on the trail until the end. It’s not recommended to attempt in the summer months due to the lack of water sources and its remote location.
Day 1 – Mowburra, Durramlee, and Double Peak
Hidden in a remote part of Mt Barney National Park lies Double Peak. It’s not often visited and only by the very experienced – those used to faint footpads, frequent trackless terrain, and tackling (and tripping over) thick, twisted vines. But as it’s considered one of the best viewpoints in the national park, Double Peak is certainly special and worth the uphill slog.
The hike starts hard with a footpad-less slog up a ridgeline towards Mowburra Peak. A ‘choose the path of least resistance’ start.
After topping out at a rocky outcrop about an hour into the hike, our trio of hikers started to weave through a forest, trying to stay on a footpad but losing it easily. We curved around the ridgeline, reaching Mowburra Peak after a couple of hours of taking in the views.
Then it’s onwards to the next peak, Durramlee. As the crow flies, it’s not far but you need to traverse overgrown forest to get there. We lost the footpad and ended up going in a circle while trying to dodge a lazy python, thick vines, and stinging trees, but finally fought our way to Durramlee Peak.
Durramlee’s views were limited, so it was quickly down the other side and into the saddle where we found our remote bush camp for the night. It was a small level clearing in the middle of an Antarctic Beech forest and offered up enough space for our three tents.
Before night began to fall, we checked out the route to the summit of Double Peak. It’s a beautiful ascent, surrounded by the twisted, giant trunks of more Antarctic Beech trees. The terrain is slippery, the footpad weaves over rocks covered in a carpet of dark green moss.
We reached the summit in about 15 minutes and were in awe of the expansive views of Mt Barney and beyond.
After taking some time to absorb the landscape, it was back down to set up camp. The bush campsite was wild and peaceful. There were no views but the peacefulness of the site more than made up for it.
Day 2 – Double Peak (Again), Montserrat Lookout, and Upper Portals
At 5am our alarms rang out in the crisp air. After layering up, we headed back up to the summit of Double Peak. In the dark, the rough foot pad leading up the mountain was indistinguishable and we slipped and stumbled up the peak, again following the path of least resistance as close to the middle of the short slope as possible.
We arrived at the summit just after first light and perched on the sloping rocky summit, careful where we put our feet on the dewy, mossy rocks. As sunrise neared, cloud started to drift through the valley, enveloping the peaks below in a fine mist. Further in the distance, the classic Mt Barney cloud swirled over its East Peak, and then the light began to glow through the mist.
We stayed there until the sun rose completely, hypnotized by the golden light enveloping the peaks beyond.
After our summit sunrise, we returned to pack up camp, have breakfast and were on our way again. It was a steep but short ascent returning to the summit of Durramlee Peak, then we had to find the turn that would take us down to Cedar Pass.
We slowly descended through the beautiful, moody forest, finding faint footpads here and there in the thick terrain which shielded any views of the surrounding peaks.
At Cedar Pass, we spotted a neat bowerbird nest! It was another steep, bush bashing uphill climb to Focal Peak, with low hanging vines constantly tripping us up or catching on our backpacks.
But we knew more views were waiting for us at Montserrat lookout so after barely a pause at the summit, down we went through burnt forest which had suffered badly in the 2019 bushfires.
From here, it started to heat up as we made our way out of the dense forest and crossed an open ridgeline on our way towards Monsterrat.
After another patch of thick disorientating forest, we made it to our last peak of the hike. The views didn’t disappoint at Montserrat lookout, but we were feeling pretty weary by now, and keen to get down to the Upper Portals for a refreshing dip.
A steep descent off the side of Montserrat led us down to Yamahra Creek, and then it was a short walk to the Upper Portals for a much deserved swim.
- Hiking tent
- Sleeping bag and mat
- At least 4-5 litres of water (there are no water sources on the trail until you return to Upper Portals nearing the end of day two)
- Water purification tablets or water filter to refill at Upper Portals
- Long pants and long sleeved shirt
- Hiking shoes
- Food to last two strenuous days of hiking
- Warm clothes and rain jacket
- Insect repellent
- Head torch
- First aid kit (including snake bite kit)
- Cooking equipment if you’re planning a hot meal or drink at camp
- Topographic map and compass
Read more: Packing List for an Overnight Hike
How To Get There
You have two options on a starting point for this hike depending if you have a 4WD or not.
Option 1: If you have access to a 4WD, start from the Cleared Ridge car park. Waterfall Creek Road, located between Waterfall Creek Reserve and Cleared Ridge carpark, is accessible only by high clearance 4WD.
Option 2: If you don’t have a 4WD, you’ll need to start from the Waterfall Creek Reserve car park at the base of Mt May. This will add about 90 minutes to your total hike time on both days as you’ll also end the hike here. It’s a 5km slog from Waterfall Creek Reserve to Cleared Ridge. Best to start early on day one if you have to walk this section as it’s open to the sun and an uphill slog.
Waterfall Creek Reserve is about two hours drive from Brisbane via Boonah. Access is off Newman Road (dirt road but 2WD accessible), which turns off from Boonah-Rathdowney Road.
The terrain is rugged and steep, and you’ll need very good navigational skills. This hike is strenuous both physically and mentally given the terrain and the focus needed for the navigational challenges. Rough footpads exist in some places but can be easily lost – you can get disorientated very quickly in some areas of this hike deep in the forest as there’s no visual references of the peaks around you.
It’s recommended to only attempt this hike in spring or autumn as you’ll struggle to carry enough water in summer, and during the winter it’ll likely be very cold overnight.
If you’re using navigation apps such as Wikiloc, they should only be used as a guide – you’ll still need to be able to follow a footpad and read the terrain.
Duration / Elevation / Distance
2 days / 1250m / 30km approx
The highest point you’ll reach is Double Peak at 1,250 metres but you’ll constantly ascend and descend throughout the adventure. You’ll cross a total of five peaks on this hike.
If starting from Cleared Ridge car park, you’ll begin and end at around 500 metres. From Cleared Ridge, it will take about 5-7 hours with an overnight pack on day one to reach the saddle between Durramlee and Double peaks, including short photo and rest stops.
On day two, it’s about a 5-6 hour hike to Upper Portals from the Double Peak campsite depending on your navigational skills, then another 45 minutes back to Cleared Ridge.
Remember to add another 90 minutes to total hike times for each day if starting and finishing at Waterfall Creek Reserve. You’ll cover about 30km over the two days depending on where you start and if you make any navigational errors.