These overnight hikes are all less than two hours from Brisbane and offer some of the best hiking in Queensland!

 

After a rough outdoor season that saw raging bushfires followed by park closures due to COVID-19, Queensland’s National Parks are now (mostly) open again.

Queensland offers incredible overnight hikes in some of the world’s most beautiful natural places – and they’re just two hours’ drive or less from Brisbane. You can camp in the ancient Gondwanan rainforests of Lamington National Park, or high on the mountain ranges of the Scenic Rim. 

Many of the wildest camps near Brisbane have a level of accessibility that belie their remoteness. Few cities can boast overnight hikes that allow you to get so far into the wilderness so quickly.

But fear not! If you were hoping to find an easy hike for your very first overnighter, try out a remote camp for the first time, or just head to a drive-in campground where you can hike without a pack, Saphira’s got you covered.

Let’s launch into 14 of the best overnight hikes near Brisbane!

Need a hand? How to Tackle Your First Overnight Hike

 

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A Quick Note on Bushfire and COVID-19 Closures

Currently, many remote and usually less popular hikes are being swamped as restrictions have lifted. To avoid overcrowding go hiking mid-week if you can. Check social media groups and prepare a backup hike if you can.

Although every effort has been made to include current information on track and camp closures due to bushfire damage and COVID-19, don’t solely depend on the closure notes at the end of this article to plan your trip. Check the official park website for up-to-date information before departing. Hikes and camps affected by closures or other incidents are marked by an asterisk – scroll to the end of the article for the lowdown.

Read this: How To Explore Responsibly in Regional Areas This Weekend

Mt Barney National Park

 

 

1. Lower Portals Track

Campground: Lower Portals Bush Camp
Difficulty: Easy – This was my first overnight hike!
Time from Brisbane: 1 hour 45 minutes

For a less hardcore Mt Barney experience and a gentle introduction to overnight hiking, the Lower Portals track is a great option. As a bonus, you can cool off at the rock pools and admire the small waterfalls near the campsite. This 3-hour return hike (7.8km) isn’t recommended in summer – it has a tendency to get pretty hot.

Partner this little hike with a night at the Lower Portals Bush Camp*. The hike starts at the end of Lower Portals Road, 120km southwest of Brisbane.

2. Mt Barney Summit

 

 

Campground: Rum Jungle Bush Camp
Difficulty: Hard – Elevation Gain 1000m+
Time from Brisbane: 2 hours

Mt Barney is a must-do for any serious Queensland hiker. It’s huge, rugged, and beautiful. Start at Yellow Pinch Reserve Car Park*, a 2-hour drive southwest of Brisbane. There are multiple tracks to the summit, each more difficult than the last. All first-timers should use Peasant’s or South-East Ridge which are relatively well marked. 

All of the summit routes involve exposure and rock scrambling. You’ll find Rum Jungle Bush Camp in the saddle between the east and west summits – you can continue an hour up to the exposed summit with a daypack – just be aware that visibility and weather can deteriorate quickly.

You’ll need to leave Yellow Pinch Car Park by 8am to make it to the summit on time.

3. Upper Portals Circuit

 

 

Campground: Yamahra Creek Bush Camp
Difficulty: Easy-moderate Added walking distance without a 4WD
Time from Brisbane: 1 hour 35 minutes

Another great overnight hike in Mt Barney National Park is the Upper Portals Circuit, a 10km track with fantastic views of Mt Barney. The walk crosses Yamahra creek several times, with camp located 150m from Yamahra and Mt Barney Creek junction. 

The next day, you can either continue the circuit to Upper Portals, or head to Montserrat Lookout (similar distance return), which gives you possibly the best view of Mt Barney in the park. To do this hike, drive along Waterfall Creek Road to Cleared Ridge Parking Area (4WD). For 2WD, stop at Waterfall Creek Reserve Camping Area and continue on by foot for the remaining 4km (1.5 hours).

Main Range National Park

4. Cascades Circuit

Campground: Manna Gum Camping Area
Difficulty: Easy – Drive in campground, pack-free hike
Time from Brisbane: 2 hours

The Cascades Circuit provides a less intense Main Range experience. The Manna Gum Camping Area adjacent to Dalrymple Creek is accessible by car. It’s a large campsite shaded by tall Manna gums and has toilets. From here, you can do the 3 hour Cascades Circuit which meanders through eucalypt forest and rainforest along the creek. Manna Gum Camping Area is just over a 2 hour drive southwest of Brisbane in the Goomburra section of Main Range National Park.

Alternate Route: The steeper 2.5 hour Ridge Track also connects with Manna Gum Camping Area. Poplar Flat Camping Area is close-by.

5. The Steamers

 

Campground: Lizard Point
Difficulty: Off-Track/Expert Best for hikers who are handy with a compass
Time from Brisbane: 2 hours

The Steamers are an iconic rock formation in a remote part of Main Range National Park. There are multiple approaches, but this one provides a smorgasbord of landmarks in close succession. Hike to your camp at Lizard Point (6km, 540m elevation, 3-4 hours) and enjoy the panoramic views. Then, leave your bags and make the 2km return trip (2 hours) to the Titanic-esque Steamers. 

Mt Superbus (South-East Queensland’s highest peak) is a 2.4km side trip on the way back on day two, and the tragic site of the Lincoln Wreck is nearby. This is an off-track hike that requires navigation and route-planning experience. Park around Brett Road at the end of Spring Creek Road, under 2 hours drive southwest of Brisbane.

6. Sylvester’s Lookout to Hole-in-the-Wall

 

 

Campground: Laidley Creek Falls Bush Camp
Difficulty: Off-Track/Expert – Best for navigationally competent hikers
Time from Brisbane: 2 hours 15 minutes

This remote Main Range bushbash takes you to a quirky rock formation. Start at Sylvester’s Lookout for a 1-2 hour hike to Laidley Creek Falls Camp. It’s a 50m walk to unobstructed views of Mt Castle from here. 

 

Ditch your bags and head to Hole-in-the-Wall (not quite a hole anymore) and then Boar’s Head – allow another hour for both. You’ll be treated to incredible views of Mt Castle and the surrounding ranges. There are several car parks so you can customise this overnighter to suit you. Drive southwest from Brisbane towards Goomburra (2 hours drive), then take Forestry Reserve Road and head left to park at the end of Lookout Road*.

Alternate Route: Cunningham’s Gap to Mount Castle via Mt Cordeaux and Bare Rock, 22km, see Take A Walk in South-East Queensland (John and Lyn Daley)

Lamington National Park

 

7. Border Track*

Campground: Echo Point Bush Camp
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate – Long distances but easy to follow tracks
Time from Brisbane: 1 hour 30 minutes

The Border Track is a mainstay in Lamington National Park – it connects the Binna Burra and Green Mountain sections. It also features views of Wollumbin (Mt Warning). This is a well-trafficked 21.4km one-way track – perfect if you’re looking to try a 20km+ day. 

Start at the end of Binna Burra Road*, 90 minutes south of Brisbane, and take the Border Track all the way east to Echo Point Bush Camp (on-track). Return home the same way! 

Alternate Route: You can also start at O’Reilly’s and, using Echo Point Camp as your base, complete the Albert Creek Circuit (21.8km) instead of the Border Track.

8. Illinbah Circuit*

 

 

Campground: Illinbah Bush Camp*
Difficulty: Moderate – Steep and long, river crossings required, but technically on-track
Time from Brisbane: 1 hour 30 minutes

This 17km circuit in the Binna Burra section meanders along the Coomera River. In Koombumerri dialect Coomera means blood or vein. The easier direction is anticlockwise and leaves all the river crossings for day two. 

The walk starts at Binna Burra lower day-use area, 90 minutes south of Brisbane. Walk along the beginning of the Gwongoorool track then turn right, continuing an 8km descent into Illinbah Bush Camp. The next day is strenuous and involves 12 river crossings – be prepared to get wet! It’s well worth the 400m detour at the end to dip in the idyllic Gwongoorool Pool. It might sound obvious, but don’t attempt this hike after heavy rain!

9. Stinson Crash Site

 

Campground: Stinson Remote Bush Camp
Difficulty: Off-Track/Expert – Best for hardore bushbashers interested in local history
Time from Brisbane: 1 hour 55 minutes

The Stinson airliner crashed in Lamington in 1937, and the survivors were found several days later by Bernard O’Reilly. A huge crew of Beaudesert locals, including the local hermit Charlie, joined in the rescue. This hike is great for history buffs as you can camp near the plane wreck at what was the base camp for rescuers. 

The track follows the footsteps of Bernard, starting at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, heading to the wreck and out again via Christmas Creek (very inconvenient car shuffle required). Be warned: the whole thing is 37km, it’s overgrown, and it’s hard. Recommended reading: Green Mountains by Bernard O’Reilly, and Once Upon a Mountain by Bruce McDonald.

Alternate route: For a guided hike that takes care of navigating and the car shuffle, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat runs trips several times a year. Otherwise, no car shuffle is required if you hike in and out from Christmas Creek, but it’s a gruelling ascent and descent. Poles, ankle support, and knee support recommended for almost everyone.

D’Aguilar National Park

Get fancy and create your own overnighter using this helpful map, which shows the fire trails and bush camps in the south section of D’Aguilar. Connect a few trails into a loop, pick a camp en route, and you’re set!

10. Northbrook Mountain

Campground: Northbrook Mountain Bush Camp
Difficulty: Easy Straightforward short track, a bit steep. One of the best bush camps in D’Aguilar
Time from Brisbane: 1 hour

Starting near Maiala Picnic Area 1-hour northwest of Brisbane, the walk to Northbrook Mountain is along a well-used and clear fire trail (no need to worry about getting lost). It’s about 5km one-way from the Lawton Road starting point, and although the walk itself isn’t anything to write home about, the campsite more than makes up for it. 

This is one of the most picturesque campsites in the area, nestled 15 minutes from the summit of Northbrook Mountain, with panoramic views. Return the way you came the next day or continue exploring D’Aguilar National Park.

11. Aquila Loop

Campground: England Creek Bush Camp
Difficulty: Moderate – Long and steep hike along clear fire trails
Time from Brisbane: 50 minutes

If Northbrook Mountain isn’t challenging enough, add a few more hours to your adventure with the 24km Aquila Loop. Descend along Joyner’s Ridge Road near Maiala Picnic Area, and then along England Creek Road before camping creekside. 

The next day you make a steep ascent (several hundred metres) to Northbrook Mountain before returning to Maiala Picnic Area via Lawton Road. This loop can be done either direction. Maiala Picnic Area is just a 50-minute drive northwest of Brisbane.

12. Dundas Road

Campground: Dundas Road Bush Camp
Difficulty: Easy – Most accessible remote camp in D’Aguilar
Time from Brisbane: 50 minutes

The track to Dundas Road Bush Camp starts from behind the Mount Nebo waste transfer station and is a super easy walk. It’s extremely short and easy to follow, so it’s perfect if you want to practice carrying in all your gear and camping before doing a longer overnighter.

Starting from Mt Nebo Road, walk along Dundas Road for just 1.6km before setting up camp. The camp contains a sheltered water tank (don’t rely on it being drinkable) and picnic table. Follow Mt Nebo Road northwest of Brisbane to get to the waste transfer station, about a 50-minute drive.

13. Kobble Creek Waterfall

Campground: Middle Kobble Bush Camp
Difficulty: Moderate Steep ascent
Time from Brisbane: 1 hour

Located in the southern section of D’Aguilar National Park, the 4.7km one-way walk to Kobble Creek Waterfall can be turned into a steep and remote overnighter. This hike follows the Lepidozamia track and Middle Kobble firebreak to Middle Kobble Bush Camp. 

Nearby is the top of Kobble Creek Waterfall, with the possibility of a dip at the bottom if conditions are right (it’s often dry so be prepared). This hike includes a 350m ascent that takes 3 to 4 hours. To get to the trailhead, drive 1-hour northwest from Brisbane along Mt Glorious Road, turning off at Lepidozamia Break.

Wyaralong Dam

 

Mt Joyce is Brisbane's Most Underrated Campground, Saphira Schroers, Wyaralong Dam, view, lake

 

 

14. Mt Joyce

Campground: Ngumbi Base Camp
Difficulty: Easy – Limited elevation. Suitable for big groups, and for people who like free camping.
Time from Brisbane: 1 hour 15 minutes

Mt Joyce is a secret gem near Brisbane. Park at the Eastern Trailhead and then walk 7km (2-3 hours) to Ngumbi Base Camp*. Ditch your bags, backtrack about 300m, and head up a steep slope to the summit of Mt Joyce (2 hours return). If you don’t like steep ascents, skip it and explore the abandoned school building at the camp instead. 

The summit route provides stunning views of Wyaralong Dam and iconic Scenic Rim peaks. The camp has a toilet, water tank, and a huge clearing, perfect for meteor shower gazing. Head to the end of Wyaralong Dam Access for the Eastern Trailhead, a 1 hour 15-minute drive southwest of Brisbane.

Alternate Route: Eastern Trailhead to Western Trailhead (27km). Car shuffle required.

Tips for All Hikes

  • Take a Topographic Map
  • Download the trail notes onto a detailed wayfinding app (not Google Maps)
  • Do further research than just this article
  • Avoid hiking alone, especially if you’re a newbie hiker
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back
  • Check the Queensland Parks website for safety and gear advice for your chosen hike 
  • Wear sensible clothes (sun-safe, long, not cotton) and ankle-supporting footwear
  • Treat all water whether it’s from a creek or a water tank
  • Never rely on known water tanks or creeks near a camp for your water needs – carry in enough water
  • Look into getting First Aid/Wilderness First Aid training
  • Carry a Personal Locator Beacon when going remote or doing tricky hikes
  • Check the weather (river/mountain hikes should be avoided in the rain)
  • Carry a First Aid Kit

 

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Relevant Closures as of Writing (June 2020)

All Camping:Camping bookings are only being taken ONE MONTH IN ADVANCE until further notice. Some camping restrictions are in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep our visitors safe.’

Mount Barney National Park

Affecting Mount Barney Summit: ‘The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), will conduct planned maintenance along the Yellow Pinch walking track, from mid-May to the end of June 2020.’ The track is open but hikers are expected to give way to machinery.

Affecting Lower Portals Camping: Lower Portals Bush Camp is currently closed due to fire damage.

Main Range National Park

Affecting Hole-in-the-Wall: Lookout Road is closed for maintenance. Good navigation skills are essential as new growth after the bushfires has obscured the already-vague track.

Lamington National Park

Affecting Border Track: The entire Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park (see map of all hikes in the Binna Burra section) is closed due to damage from the 2019 bushfires. This means you cannot complete the entire Border Track until it re-opens. However, all tracks west of Wanungara lookout on the Green Mountains side, including Echo Point campsite, are still open.

Affecting Camping in Lamington National Park: If you’re considering the Green Mountains Camping Area as an alternative to Echo Point, beware it’s closed for renovations until later in 2020.

Affecting Illinbah Circuit and Camp: Both are in the Binna Burra Section of Lamington National Park and therefore currently closed.

Affecting Stinson: A recent landslide may have obscured the plane wreck.

D’Aguilar National Park

There are some road closures in the northern section of the park.

Wyaralong

Affecting Mount Joyce: Camping at Ngumbi basecamp has re-opened, with social distancing restrictions.