The Main Range National Park is located about 90 minutes south west of Brisbane. It’s spread across 30,000 hectares and features a variety of hikes up to mountain summits, waterfalls, and along winding forest tracks.
Mt Mitchell and Mt Cordeaux are two mountains you can hike in Main Range National Park, and together with a couple of my friends, I set off to summit both these mountains on a day trip from Brisbane.
We first set off on the Mt Cordeaux track. The 3.4km track leads through beautiful lush rainforest before the trees thin out and you’re lead to the first of two lookout points to take in the view. A couple of minutes further along the trail you’ll head up steep rocky steps to the second – and more spectacular – lookout.
The lookout is a natural rocky outcrop with expansive views over the surrounding mountains, Fassifern Valley and out to Moogerah Dam.
From the Mt Cordeaux summit, you can then continue along the track onto Bare Rock. The track leads you through three kilometres of exposed grassy hills and then into rainforest over a well maintained and slightly inclined trail.
Bare Rock offers another rocky outcrop providing a view on the other side of Mt Cordeaux and surrounded by enchanting mossy trees. We were the only ones up here with most people seeming to only go up to Mt Cordeaux, so it’s a great spot to enjoy the views and have a bite to eat, especially as it’s also less windy than the Mt Cordeaux summit.
The round trip to Bare Rock via Mt Cordeaux is 12.4km and will take regular hikers about 3.5 hours to complete.
Across the Cunningham Highway is the track leading up to Mt Mitchell. We commenced the ascent at2pm. It’s not as windy on this side on the road and the track is surrounded by eucalypt forest rather than rainforest.
The trail initially winds up a slight incline before levelling out as you walk around the sides of the mountain. The last kilometre of the trail feels like it goes on for a while as it corkscrews up to the narrow rocky summit.
The return hike from Mt Mitchell is 10.2km and will take around three hours to complete.
Both mountains are easy to summit in a day if you start by mid morning.
The weather is quite changeable up in Cunningham’s Gap. During my hike, I experienced a combination of hot and sunny conditions followed by cold, damp and windy weather the higher I climbed. There were also some brief rain showers during my day trip. A rain or windproof jacket may come in handy on the hike so it’s a good idea to at least throw it in the car just in case and you can always grab it in between the ascent of the two mountains.
How to get there
Mt Cordeaux and Mt Mitchell are accessible from The Crest carpark in the Main Range National Park. The carpark entrance is located at the top of the mountain pass on the Cunningham Highway, about 15 minutes drive from the town of Aratula. Coming from Brisbane, the carpark is located on the right hand side of the road and is clearly signed as you approach.
From Brisbane, it’s about a 90 minute drive along the Ipswich Motorway and onto Cunningham Highway. Follow the signs to Warwick.
The Mt Cordeaux track leads up from the carpark side. The Mt Mitchell track is on the other side of the highway. Take extreme care when crossing the highway as it’s a very busy road frequented by large trucks.
Hiking to the summits of both mountains total a distance of 23 kilometres and will take around 6-7 hours to complete.
The Bare Rock via Mt Cordeaux track is 12.8km return and will take around 3.5 hours. Mt Cordeaux is 1135 metres above sea level.
Mt Mitchell is 1175 metres above sea level. The track is 10.2km return and will take around 2.5-3 hours.