Sunrise is always magical, but watching the day dawn from the top of a mountain with no one else around is next level. These are the best places to catch the sunrise near Brisbane.
Most of my hiking buddies wouldn’t be surprised to hear that sunrise is my favourite time of day. (Although they probably wish it wasn’t, so I wouldn’t keep dragging them out of their warm beds at 2.00am every Saturday morning!)
I love sitting in the blue-tinged light with the stars still shining above me and seeing the light leak into the sky as the sun rises.
Then there’s the added bonus of having a whole mountain to yourself – because not many people are up before dawn, let alone hiking a mountain before the sun’s up.
Friends are always asking ‘What are the best spots to watch the sunrise?’ So here you go! Here’s my top 5 list of mountains to hike for the most epic sunrise spots near Brisbane.
1. Mt Maroon
Time: 3 hours
This was my first sunrise hike and I’ve been hooked ever since. We started the hike at 4.00am and missioned up the steep mountain in the dark. We reached the summit in 90 minutes just as an orange glow rimmed the horizon.
Mt Maroon is the perfect choice for sunrise, as you get a 360° view of the Scenic Rim and Mt Barney is right next to you. But it’s a tough climb to the top with a very steep climb at the start and then an exposed rock scramble halfway.
It’ll take experienced hikers about two hours to reach the summit in the dark. It’s recommended to do the hike in the daytime before attempting a sunrise hike due to the potential for navigational errors.
2. Mt Barney
Time: 8-10 hours
You’ll need to have a lot of commitment to reach Mt Barney at sunrise. The best option is to camp the night before at the Rum Jungle bush camp and then make the one-hour ascent to reach the top of East Peak in time for sunrise.
The ascent in the dark is tricky so you’ll need a good headlamp and sound navigational and rock scrambling skills.
Sunrise can be epic up here but can also be hit and miss as Barney’s summit is often cloaked with low cloud. But whether you see the sunrise or not, Mt Barney is still an epic climb you won’t forget.
The hike up Mt Barney’s south ridge from the Yellow Pinch carpark to Rum Jungle campground will take about 4-5 hours depending on your fitness and rock scrambling skills. Check out this handy guide to Mt Barney before you go.
3. Mt Cordeaux
Time: 2-3 hours
If you’re looking for an easier sunrise route, why not check out Mt Cordeaux?
It’s about an hour hike to the lookout along a well graded and gradually ascending trail, accessible from just off the Cunningham Highway. It’s about a 90 minute drive from Brisbane.
You’ll be glad you got up early to see the gorgeous views across the Scenic Rim from your rocky viewpoint.
4. Mt Greville
Time: 4 hours
Mt Greville has it all with its beautiful gorges, challenging path and rocky outcrops above Moogerah Dam. The best viewpoint is not on the summit but on a rocky outcrop called Slab Rock on the Maps.me app — or you can also get a good view from the top of the south east ridge. It can be a little tricky to find your way up in the dark so doing the trail in the daytime first is recommended.
Allow at least two hours for the ascent in case of navigational errors.
Mt Greville is located about two hours from Brisbane, and is accessible off Mt Greville Road, Moogerah.
5. Castle Rock
Time: 1 hour
There’s a number of sunrise vantage points across Girraween National Park. Castle Rock, Mt Norman, First Pyramid – it really depends how confident you are at rock scrambling in the dark and how early you want to get up.
Castle Rock was my sunrise spot of choice on a weekend trip to Girraween. It takes about an hour to hike and scramble the 2.6km to the top and then you have expansive views across the park. Stay at Castle Rock campground overnight for easy access to the trailhead.
Girraween National Park is located a three-hour drive southwest of Brisbane, near Stanthorpe.