Remote and Rugged // Finding The Steamers (QLD)

The Steamers are rock formations found in a rugged remote area of Main Range National Park. They are so named due to their magnificent stature that resembles the shape of a steam boat. The high protruding peaks are named the Stern, Mast, Funnel and Prow and project above deep valleys on both sides of the amazing vantage point located on the Stern.


  • Bushbashing
  • Rock Formations
  • Birdlife, Navigation

The Lowdown

I spent most of 2015 absolutely fascinated about The Steamers and to this day I have re-visited the area half a dozen times and still, the terrain, the sound of local bellbird colonies and, of course, the Stern lookout never cease to amaze me. I have guided a couple of friends to this lookout and while they admit the terrain is testing and at times unforgiving they gasped in awe when they finally arrived at the lookout. I always aim to be in front of them on their final approach to the lookout and watch their eyes beam as the Mast fills their view.

I have been undecided whether to share this trail on the internet as it was quite an experience finding the lookout from a topographical map. I have provided directions that will take you to the base of the Prow but if you wish to be proper tested then finding your own way up is what I recommend. Also you’ll be able to enjoy some small caves along the way (perfect for snack and water breaks).

This area is a perfect spot for hikers with experience and who wish to be tested physically and navigationally. For your efforts I can guarantee you will be rewarded with what I so often refer to as “the best view in South East Queensland”.

Please note: This track is only to be completed by EXPERIENCED hikers who have sound navigation skills

Essential Gear

  • Minimum 5L water in Winter and 8L in Summer
  • Food for up to 8 hours + for worst case scenarios
  • Mount Superbus Topo map (1:25000)
  • Camera
  • First Aid Kit (including compression bandages)
  • Gaiters or long pants

How To Get There

The Steamers: From Brisbane: 2.5 hours

Head to Emu Vale (East of Warwick) and drive approx. 20-25km along Emu Vale Road. This road turns to dirt after approx 3-5km and shortly after turning to dirt you will find the first of four decent sized river crossings (only suited for 4WD’s).

Follow this road almost to the end at which point you will find another road on your left (Old Mill Road) which will not be signed, however, there is a gate that you will need to open and shut again. From this point you will need to follow Old Mill Road across another nine river crossings before veering right down a vehicle track (again no signs).

Follow this track until you hit another gate and your journey on foot begins. That is all the direction I will give as there are no definitive tracks to follow so your approach will be determined by your hiking and navigation skills (this is the fun part – so enjoy).


  • Navigation
  • Bushwalking (bush bashing)
  • Bird Watching
  • Photography

Skill Level

This trail should only be attempted by experienced hikers who are comfortable using topographical maps or who own a GPS. This trail isn’t officially graded but should be considered as very hard due to the remoteness and difficulty of the terrain. Be sure to do your planning and research of the area (google maps) before attempting, always have a backup plan.

Distance Covered / Elevation Gain

15.3km with an elevation gain of 720m and a reaching a maximum elevation of 1087m. Excluding the break at the Stern lookout the hike took 4 hours and 2 minutes but this time is quite quick as I know the terrain quite well. I suggest planning for 6-8 hours if it is a first attempt starting from the base of the Prow.

Dan Parkes knows how to have fun. Check out his other microadventures…