Best Multi Day Hikes in South East Queensland

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Posted 2023-10-04 by Roy Chambersfollow
Have backpack, will walk

Heading off for days at a time with nothing but a backpack on your back with everything you need in it is a great experience. South East Queensland has some worthwhile walks to take on. There is enough variety as well to be of interest to anyone. I have focused on the more conventional walks, avoiding the wild and unsigned ones that do exist in the area as well.

Your feet can take you to many different places in SEQ's national park

I have already listed a number of great overnight circuits and other overnight hikes in South East Queensland, so these are all multi-night hikes. I will also provide some information about how to get to the start or end of the hikes and other tips.

Wilderness camping is great fun & connect you with nature

Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk
When people think about doing a multi-night hike in South East Queensland, they think about the Gold Coast Great Walk. This is a 3-day hike that links Springbrook National Park to O'Reilly's in Lamington National Park. Taking in 2 great national parks, it is a great little walk, and there are options to make it longer as well.

Rainforest in Lamington National Park

The National Parks Service recommends that you walk it starting at O'Reilly's and end at Springbrook but it can easily be walked in either direction. I think the reason for the recommendation is that there is greater ascent up to Lamington National Park so it is better to go down from Lamington than up to it. Plus the last day of the walk in that direction is much shorter. However, if you are starting late in the day it can be better to start at Springbrook and a lot of people I know have done it the other way around.

The view hiking up to or down from Binna Burra on the Gold Coast Great Walk

Overall it is a fairly tough hike with long ascents and sections that can be 21 or 23 kms long. But the border track between Binna Burra and O'Reilly's is mostly flat. You do have the option to split up the hike between Binna Burra and O'Reilly's by staying at Echo Point or Mount Bithongabel bush camps. It is also possible to extend your trip by doing day hikes at Springbrook, Binna Burra and O'Reilly's, or doing longer side tracks between Binna Burra and O'Reilly's. For example, starting at O'Reilly's, you can do the Albert Creek Circuit and camp at Echo Point, then the next day divert onto the Coomera Circuit on the way to Binna Burra. Then stay an extra night at Binna Burra, and leaving your tent behind, do Ship's Stern Circuit.

If you want a longer hiker, divert onto the Coomera Circuit for some great waterfalls

Getting access to the start and end of the hike is not too bad. O'Reilly's can arrange a pricey transfer service to or from O'Reilly's while at Springbrook, your main option would be a taxi or Uber. Often the best option is the car shuffle when you are with a group.

Binna Burra View

Overall this is a very lovely area to hike but I do think you can see more and get more out of hiking this area as day hikes. But the other highlight is that there is a cafe at Binna Burra and hot showers at the camping ground. So the middle of the trip is going to be a little more comfortable than a normal multiday hike.

Binna Burra Tea House

Sunshine Coast Great Walk

This 4 day 60 km walk is an easy-to-access walk with lots of entry and exit points, on the way. It is one of the easiest walks to access and there are even buses near the start and end of the walks though only on weekdays. While there are a few challenging sections on the walk with steep uphill gradients, it is generally a moderate walk.

Sunshine Coast Great Walk

The southern end of the walk is at the Baroon Pocket Dam and goes through beautiful rainforest past Kondalilla Falls, then past Baxter Falls and then past Mapleton Falls to enter into eucalyptus forests around the Gheerulla Valley, then a little bit more rainforest and some great views from the ridge line. If you are not getting a lift or did a car shuffle, then it is just a little more walking to end up in the town of Mapleton.

The start of the Sunshine Coast Great Walk at Baroon Pocket Dam

The walk is not that hard if you are not rushing, and there are places to stop, relax, and even swim as you go. The summer months can be the most difficult, especially around the Gheerulla Valley.

Kondalilla Falls on the Sunshine Coast Great Walk

As I said, on weekdays there is a bus that runs near to the southern and northern entrances to the walk. But for people coming by public transportation, the better option might be a taxi or rideshare from the train stations or the towns of Mapleton or Maleny. A lot of people do the car shuffle, though it is good to know that you can leave the car at one and return by bus or taxi/rideshare fairly easily.

The suspension bridge at Baxter Falls on the Sunshine Coast Great Walk

If there is any criticism, it is that is not as much a wilderness walk as some people prefer. You will pass through popular day trip destinations like Mapleton Falls and Kondalilla Falls as well as walk along the road for some sections. But it is still a really beautiful walk and well worth doing.

The boring part of the Sunshine Coast Great Walk

Scenic Rim Trail

This wonderful 47 km trail was created as a partnership between Spicers Retreat and the National Park Service. Which unfortunately means that it was designed to favour the high-paying hikers on walks organised by Spicers Retreat who get to stay in private cabins cut into national parkland. This was done in exchange for Spicers Retreat constructing the trail, though in reality, much of the trail already existed as official and unofficial paths.

Lush rainforest on the Scenic Rim Trail

The hike runs from Spicers Retreat through to Cunninghams Gap . You are only supposed to walk it in one direction and when you book campsites you have to book all 3 in order and can't just do a there and back walk to the campsites and it stops faster hikers from doing it in just 2 days. Also, there are places you could exit the walk to make it a 1 or 2 night walk.

Waterfall on the Scenic Rim Trail

However, speed walkers who want to do the first 2 sections in one day have a way to game the system. Basically instead of camping at the walkers camps, you can go to the car camping area at the Goomburra section . Many people do an overnight from Cunninghams Gap to here and back as well.

Some people elect to do an overnight walk from Cunninghams Gap, staying at the drive in campsites instead of the walker's camps

The official walkers campsites are pretty small with only enough room for 3 tents, which can really restrict the size of groups walking the trail. I have also noticed how poorly marked the trail is compared to the ones constructed by the national parks, so it is recommended that you take a good map with you when hiking this walk.

Very small campsite for public campers on the Scenic Rim Trail, near the huge area carved out of national park rainforest with cabins for Spicers Retreat's paying customers

However it is a spectacular walk with great lookouts in the Goomburra Section , Bare Rock and at Mt Cordeaux . There are side trips to waterfalls, but you will encounter plenty of waterfalls near the end of the second day.

A lookout on the Scenic Rim Trail

The walk is not the easiest to get to. This is because there is no direct road between the 2 sections of the walk, so it is a long drive between sections. You could talk to Spicers Retreat to see if they can arrange a transfer. Normally these are from Brisbane to Spicers Retreat. So really it comes down to the classic car shuffle or a friend who is prepared to drop you off or pick you up.

The view from Bare Rock on the Scenic Rim Trail

Overall, this is a walk that is worthwhile doing. Though a lot of the best features of the walk can be seen on day hikes. The building of cabins that meant the clearing of the national park rainforest has helped galvanise the movement against future private developments in national parks, so that is a good thing too.

Cooloola Great Walk

This 5-day walk goes from the Noosa North Shore up to Rainbow Beach and is a popular walk for more experienced hikers. The walk includes lakes, sand dunes, rainforest and beaches, and is not known as an overly difficult walk, but it is still challenging at times.

Northern entrance to the Cooloola Great Walk

The northern end is at Rainbow Beach, and it is a short walk from where the buses drop you to the trailhead. In the south, you either need to walk to take a taxi or rideshare to the trailhead from where you parked your car or from downtown Noosa.

Part of the Cooloola Great Walk track

Most people argue that the best way to do the walk is from Rainbow Beach in the north to Noosa in the south, with the last couple of days then being through the most beautiful landscapes. I would argue though it is easier to get dropped off in the south and then make your way back home from the Rainbow Beach, where you can easily shower at the beach, eat at the Surf Living Saving Club, and stay in cheap hotels. But given that I am arguing for practicality over beauty, I have mixed feelings about this argument as I write it.

Rainbow Beach at the northern end of the Cooloola Great Walk

Another note is that while it is a 5 day walk, the area is crisscrossed with well driven 4 wheel drive tracks. Well not exactly crisscrossed, but there are enough that people can get evacuated easily enough if there is a problem. But still, you want to have some experience and confidence before tackling this hike.

Sandy section of the Cooloola Great Walk

K'gari/Fraser Island Great Walk

K'gari has long been the name local indigenous people used, and recently the Queensland government officially changed the name back to this from Fraser Island. But you can use whichever name you prefer. K'gari, pronounced gurri, means happy and is often translated as paradise, and the island is one of the must see islands of the world.

Rainforest section of the K'gari/Fraser Island Great Walk

If you visit the island you either need to join a tour, drive a 4 wheel drive or walk, and of course, you are reading this list because your preference is to do the walk. The K'gari Great Walk is a 90 km hike from beach to beach through the heart of the island. Generally, people are going to hike this in 6 to 8 days, though with 6 days it is 15 kms per day which is normal for hikes, but gets complicated by getting to both the island and the start of the hike. Plus the hike takes in a lot of attractions, meaning you may not be inclined to rush as much as you would with other hikes.

Footsteps across a sand blow on the K'gari/Fraser Island Great Walk

The biggest complication is getting to the start of the hike. First, you have to get to the island, which means first going to Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay and then travelling to the island by Ferry. Once on the island, you have to travel to start of the hike, which is not close to where the ferries drop people off. The Fraser Island Taxi Service is run by a couple who are often hard to contact as they are out driving around most of the day out of mobile phone coverage. Plus, they often take holidays and don't get anyone to fill in for them. The advice is to keep trying until you get through, and then they provide wonderful service.

On the ferry across to K'gari/Fraser Island Great Walk

However, you can walk to the southern end of the hike or the middle point from the ferries, which means it is possible to do part of the hike without using the taxi service. The northern end requires a taxi. The Inskip Point Ferry goes to the start of a 20 km walking track that takes you to the start of the hike at Dilli Village. Then the halfway point of the hike is Boorangoora/Lake McKenzie where you camp and then on the last day walk one of 2 alternative tracks to Kingfisher Bay and the ferry to Hervey Bay. I should also point out that there is a plane that lands on the beach that can drop you off at the start of the hike, flying in from the mainland.

Boorangoora/Lake McKenzie is one of the highlights on the K'gari/Fraser Island Great Wal

Some highlights of the walk include Lake McKenzie , Central Station , Lake Wabby and the Valley of the Giants. Plus of course, the island has some very amazing rainforest that is a pleasure to walk through.

Kingfisher at Central Station on the K'gari/Fraser Island Great Walk

Yes, there could be dingoes on your walk, but they are less of a problem than the news makes out. The southern portion of the walk includes some campsites with dingo fences which makes camping safer. In fact, for many people visiting the island, the dingoes are one of the highlights.

Dingo on K'gari/Fraser Island

Conondale Great Walk

The Conondale Great Walk is unique among the great walks in South East Queensland in that it is a circuit. This 4 day 56 km walk through the lush rainforest of the Conondale National Park does have some great highlights, but much of it is not that interesting. This means that most people do this hike after having done the ones listed above first.

Conondale Great Walk

Generally, it is advised that you walk it counter clockwise so that the last includes Booloumba Falls, Artists Cascades , The Stranger Cairn and Gold Mine. Most of the rest of the walk is just rainforest other than the spectacular Summer Falls, so it is nice to end on a high.

Artists Cascades, Conondale Great Walk

Now you can add an extra section to the walk and make it a 5 day hike by taking the detour to Mt Allan and camping at Charlie Moreland Campground. Some fitter hikers will just add in Mt Allan as a detour without making it an extra day.

Hiking over Mt Allan as a side trip from the Conondale Great Walk

Because it is a circuit, it is easy enough to drive and leave your car and pick it up on the way out. If you are driving into Booloumba Creek Day Use Area and Campground , it is recommended that you have a 4 wheel drive for the creek crossings, but you can leave your car at the entrance to the National Park and walk the few extra kilometres in. Some people choose instead to leave their car at Charlie Moreland Campground as it is more accessible, though that adds another day to the hike for most people.

You need a 4WD to get to the entrance of the Great Walk, or you can just wade across the creeks

Mulgumpin/Moreton Island Hiking

Most people visit Moreton Island by tour, staying in the resort or 4 wheel drive around the island. But there are a number of hiking options on the island. While the island is not really set up as a hiking destination there are vehicles and walking tracks that cross the island, plus you can walk around the entire island via the beaches.

4 wheel driving on Moreton Island

Getting there is usually done by the Micat Ferry which drops you off at the wrecks. There is also a 4 wheel drive taxi service on the island that can drop you off at your preferred starting point.

Micat Ferry arriving at The Wrecks on Moreton Island

The most common hike starting from The Wrecks is Rous Battery Battery Walking Track where people wild camp on the beach at Rous Battery. But if you want more than an overnight hike and wish to see more of the main attractions of the island, then you want to hike north from The Wrecks, and there are campsites at Cowan Cowan and Bulwer.

Campsite on Moreton Island

Heading around the northern end of the Island, you get to North Point and Blue Lagoon campsites. These campsites have toilets and showers, so they are more comfortable than many hiking campsites. Some people will head back to the starting point via Middle Road, which can be narrow at some points and you have to share it with 4 wheel drives.

North Point on Moreton Island

The alternative is to get dropped off on the other side of the island by the Moreton Island Taxi Service and then hike back around the north. You can even get yourself dropped off by helicopter if want to arrive in style. A lot depends on how far you want to walk in a day and whether you want to focus on the highlights or are prepared to do the hard slogs as well.

Helicopter at Moreton Island

One of the best parts though of course is that there are shops, cafes and bars on the island. So near The Wrecks, there is Tangalooma Resort, which doesn't allow people who are not guests to come in and use their cars and shops, but if you try not to look like a hiker (ie, leave your pack with your hiking buddies) they probably won't stop you. Bulwer has the Castaways Cafe and Store where you can get a cold drink, a full meal and lots of things in between. Kooringal has the Gutter Bar which again has nice meals and a general store should you need anything.

If you ignore the sign & don't look like a hiker you can sneak into the restaurants & shops at Tangalooma Resort

Lamington National Park

Some people love to go on hiking holidays but are not so keen on having to carry everything with them for days. In South East Queensland, there is actually an option that is excellent for this, and it is Lamington National Park. I have already mentioned in this article about the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk that passes through Lamington National Park. But one option is to just stay in Lamington, maybe camping, in a campervan, in a glamping tent or in cabins, and do multiple days of walks returning after each walk.

At the base of a waterfall at Binna Burra in Lamington National Park

Lamington National Park has two main areas, Binna Burra and Green Mountains , the latter of which is always called O'Reilly's. In each place, you have multiple accommodation options, as well as a cafe and restaurant. So both places are great spots to base yourself.

At Binna Burra the Coomera, Ship's Stern and Illinbah circuits all provide full days of hiking, and then you can do shorter hikes on the day you arrive or leave to round out your trip. In the Green Mountains section, you can do Albert Creek Circuit and, Toolona Creek Circuit and West Canungra Creek Circuit, with the option of a few shorter hikes to bookmark your trip.

Accommodation at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat in Lamington National Park

But there is another way that I know some people have done hikes at Lamington. You could take your backpack and gear and start with the Albert Creek Circuit, camping at Echo Point. Then the next day you hike to Binna Burra, diverting on to the Coomera Circuit and camping at Binna Burra. Here there are laundry facilities, showers and a camp kitchen. You can also get food from the cafe or lodge. Then do a day hike, of say, Ships Stern. But you can also do an overnight hike on the Illinbah Circuit, but kind of better to leave your gear and do it one day. Then the next day do a shorter track before hiking back along the Border Track and camping at Bithongabel on the way back. Then walk out to the Green Mountains Section via Toolona Creek Circuit. That is 4 nights so far, but you can always camp another night and do some more walks.

View from Echo Point in Lamington National Park

While there are some other options for hiking with accommodation in South East Queensland, the one that most people actually prefer is the Lamington hikes. I think it is the joy of having a nice base camp while also doing multiple days of hiking. It also means you can just drive to where you will camp and not have to look at car shuffles or other transport options.

On the border track between Binna Burra & O'Reilly's

Other Hikes

This is not a complete list of multi-day hikes in South East Queensland. Some other options include the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail , which is great for cycling but can also be hiked, the Cooloola Wilderness Trail, Mt Donaldson Circuit in Sundown National Park, and hiking Mt. Superbus, Lizard Point, and the Steamers. Plus there are some off trail hikes around the area as well that are worth researching if you love a true wilderness adventure. Overall there is a wide range of fantastic hikes through diverse environments in the area that are well worth exploring with boots on your feet and a pack on your back.

261566 - 2023-07-21 06:04:07


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