If you’re after a spicy challenge and don’t mind some hair-raising rock scrambles, Spicers Peak could be the mountain for you. Or you can take the easy option and get Moogerah Lake sunrise views just 300m from the carpark.


Highlights

  • Go from carpark to scenic lookout in minutes
  • Spectacular mountain views on your way to the summit
  • Hiking and rock scrambling opportunities

Sunrise and scrambling / Spicers Peak Lisa Owen mountain, view, person

Experienced Hikers Only: This hike requires sound navigation skills and may involve rock scrambling with a deadly level of exposure. If you’re not comfortable in these conditions, why not try climbing one of the many other mountains in the Scenic Rim region.

The Lowdown

When I arrived back on Aussie soil after 9 months gallivanting around the globe, of course I wanted to head back to my beloved Scenic Rim mountains. And what better way to initiate myself back to South East Queensland’s mountains than by bagging a new peak?

Spicers Peak in Main Range National Park has been on my to do list for years — I got distracted by all the other peaks in the area! But this particular weekend, I made a plan with my newest hiking buddy Dave to leave Brisbane at 4.00am headed for Spicers Peak.

In typical “my weekends are for exploring, not sleeping in” style I was keen to catch the sunrise from the Governors Chair lookout before tackling the hike up to the top of Spicers Peak. Fun fact — the lookout is called Governors Chair because it was a rest area for Queensland’s governors when their journeys over the Great Dividing Range took them through Spicers Gap. The mountain pass was named Spicers after a convict superintendent.

It’s only a 300m walk from the Governors Chair carpark to the lookout, and then bam, you can watch a beautiful sunrise. I got there just in time to see the sun pop over the horizon, lighting up Moogerah Dam and the nearby mountains of Mt Greville, Mt Barney, Mt Moon, Mt Maroon and many others in this part of the world.

Sunrise and scrambling / Spicers Peak Lisa Owen sunrise, lake, mountains

Peak Bagging Time

After getting some happy snaps, it was time to climb a peak. You start at just under 800m elevation and go up to 1,222m so it’s not a long hike, but you’ll need navigational and rock scrambling skills. Heading slightly downhill through the grass from the Governor’s Chair lookout, you’ll spot a fire trail. Start following this (you’ll see Spicers Peak looming in the distance through the trees), making sure you keep to the fire trail veering to the left.

Eventually the fire trail turns into a narrow footpad just past some Queensland National Parks signs, leading you up through the grass, and you start your ascent. The soil can be pretty loose underfoot and it gets steep quickly so make sure you’re wearing shoes with good grip. And I hope you’re not afraid of getting dirty — you might need to use your hands to get up the hill because of the gradient and the slippery soil.

Follow the footpad until you reach a rocky outcrop on your left. You’ll see 2 trails up — one veering to the right, and one going through the rocks on your left (junction pictured below).

Sunrise and scrambling / Spicers Peak Lisa Owen sunrise, lake, mountainsYou have two options here dependent on your experience and how comfortable you are with exposure and rock scrambling. You also need navigational skills to figure out the route.

Only attempt either of these routes in dry weather. The path on your right is a more protected option and is described in detail in the book Take A Walk South East Queensland. You need to follow the footpad up, follow the cliffline, find the cliffbreak to the west and then scramble up boulders to reach another cliffline before contouring left, walking along the base of the cliffs where you can then climb to the top of the ridge.

The left path takes you on a more direct route up through the rocks to a steep, rocky and exposed section which can be loose underfoot. Be aware that you have cliffs immediately on your left and be very careful on exit as it is narrow and there’s a steep drop off, stick to your right as much as possible. Extreme care is needed and only very experienced members of your hiking party should attempt this route.

At the top of the rock scramble, you’ll reach the grassy area pictured below, and the summit right in front of you.

Sunrise and scrambling / Spicers Peak Lisa Owen mountain, scramble, person

This is the best spot for photos as views are minimal at the summit due to dense tree cover – so it’s not essential to hike to the summit.

The final section of this hike taking you to the summit is badly eroded in places and is sketchy and should only be attempted by very experienced hikers. If you’re not confident with heights, rock scrambling or very little places to put your feet, then turn around at this grassy section. There’s really no need to go any further.

If you choose to head up to the summit, follow the footpad up the grassy knoll, making sure you veer to the right of the summit.  The footpad starts to get very narrow – and you have to maneuver around some rocks. I couldn’t get around one particular boulder without a little help because I didn’t have long enough arms!

Sunrise and scrambling / Spicers Peak Lisa Owen mountain, view, person, backpack

After you get past the tricky bit, head up through the forest and then celebrate because you made it to the summit. Return back the way you came up.

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Photography

Essential Gear

  • Hiking shoes with good grip for the slippery path and rock scrambles
  • Camera
  • Insect repellant (there are lots of ticks in Main Range National Park)
  • Sunscreen and hat
  • Hiking buddies
  • Warm jacket for sunrise if you’re doing this hike in the cooler months

How To Get There

Spicers Peak and Governors Chair Lookout are accessible from the carpark at the end of the Spicers Gap (dirt) Road. From Brisbane, take the Western Freeway towards Ipswich, then take the Cunningham Highway until you reach Lake Moogerah Road on the left not far past Aratula. Follow this road until you reach the Spicers Gap sign on your right and then follow this dirt road all the way to the end.

The drive from Brisbane will take around 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on traffic. The condition of Spicers Gap Road can vary and Queensland National Parks advises that only high clearance vehicles can make it up to the Governors Chair lookout.

At the time of writing (August 2018) the road looked recently graded so 2WD vehicles may be able to make it up but it’s not guaranteed. If in doubt, find a friend with a high clearance vehicle.

Skill Level

Advanced — Peak should only be attempted by experienced hikers familiar with other mountains in the area involving some rock scrambling, such as Mt Maroon and Mt Barney. There are several steep rock scrambling sections requiring agility and confidence with this type of terrain, and if you’re small like me, you may need a helping hand. One wrong step could have you falling down the mountain.

Do not attempt this hike solo and it’s best to go with 3 or 4 people for safety.

The trail is not marked — you’ll need navigational savvy to follow the footpad up, find the correct route up to the summit, and negotiate several rock scrambling sections. It’s best to attempt this hike in the cooler months as long grass at the beginning of the hike is likely to be a snake paradise when it’s warmer.

Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration

5km / 440m / 3-4 hours return depending on your time at the top taking in the view.

 


More Peaky Blinders to fill your weekend

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Summit Mt Mitchell and Mt Cordeaux // Main Range NP (QLD)

Helicopter Spur & Mt. Howitt // Victorian High Country (Vic)

Hiking the 10 Highest Peaks in Australia