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The 5 Best Short Hikes in South East Queensland

Home > Brisbane > Escape the City | Lists | National Parks | Outdoor | Walks
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published March 21st 2016
Some of the best hikes are quick and easy
The 5 Best Short Hikes in South East Queensland

Most people enjoy being out in nature but not everyone enjoys hiking for hours. Luckily some of the most spectacular and beautiful hikes are only a few kilometres long.

Lace up your walking shoes
Lace up your walking shoes


So what is a short hike? A typical hike is going to be 10 to 12 kms and take 3 or 4 hours including rest stops and usually lunch on the track. A short hike is going to be 2 to 4 kms long and can usually be completed in around an hour. Shorter walks are not necessarily easier as some have steeper sections than most longer circuits. But because they are short, they can be easily completed by nearly anyone if there is no rush.

Even a short walk can have some challenges
Even a short walk can have some challenges


All these hikes have been selected because they include some special feature such as a great lookout, waterfalls or sometimes the combination of all of these. While it might seem that these walks are too short to bother travelling just to walk a few kilometres, most are in areas with many other attractions.

Rock hopping on a short hike
Rock hopping on a short hike


I tend not to do too many short walks, which means often I am missing out on the best spots. So let me know if you have any other fantastic hikes under 4 km.

Queen Mary Falls

The Queen Mary Falls has to be my favourite short walk in South East Queensland. Located on the Spring Creek Road scenic drive that goes from Boonah to Killareny. There is a lot to see and do on the drive, so a quick 2 km walk at a spectacular waterfall is the perfect length.

Queen Mary Falls
Queen Mary Falls


The walk starts at the Queen Mary Falls Picnic area where there are electric and wood fired barbecues, covered and outdoor picnic tables and toilets. Across the road is The Falls Cafe, both are perfectly places to have lunch after the walk.

Queen Mary Falls picnic and barbecue area opposite the Queen Mary Falls Caravan and Tourist Park
Queen Mary Falls picnic and barbecue area opposite the Queen Mary Falls Caravan and Tourist Park


You will see three starting points for walks at the park. The best one to take is the central entrance labelled the Cliffs Walk. This goes along the near cliff for a few hundred metres to a lookout with okay views of the falls, but then continues on to join the Queen Mary Falls Circuit. You can follow this track across the little bridge for a few hundred metres to a much better lookout with great views of the falls.

The falls with the cliffs walk lookout visible on the far cliff
The falls with the cliffs walk lookout visible on the far cliff


If you don't feel like walking the whole 2 kms, just head back the way you came. Otherwise continue on down the cliffs to the base of the waterfall. Local kids have been known to swim in the pools at the base.

The Queen Mary Falls Circuit takes you from the cliffs down to the lower falls and back up again
The Queen Mary Falls Circuit takes you from the cliffs down to the lower falls and back up again


Heading back up means lots of stairs, but the walk is not particularly long and anyone can do this walk if they are not in a rush. I was able to complete the circuit in around 25 minutes.

There are a few stairs on the path back up to the picnic area
There are a few stairs on the path back up to the picnic area


There are more falls to see nearby including the 600 metre walk to Browns Falls and the 10 metre walk from the care park to the lookout at Daggs falls. Or you can just walk across the road for coffee, cake or lunch at The Falls Cafe.

The Falls Cafe is across the road from the Queen Mary Falls
The Falls Cafe is across the road from the Queen Mary Falls


Kondalilla Falls

Kondallila Falls is one of the great swimming holes in South East Queensland and is well work the walk. It is a great part of a day trip to the Maleny and Montville region. This hike is in two stages, which in total make up at 4.7 km circuit. The first part is a 1.7 km circuit down to the upper falls and the swimming hole.

The Picnic Creek Circuit is an easy walk along well maintain paths and boardwalks
The Picnic Creek Circuit is an easy walk along well maintain paths and boardwalks


The second part of the walk is a little steeper than most walks in South East Queensland, including some stairs to the base of the lower falls and back up again. Once again, we are talking 3 kms for this part of the walk, so it is easy enough if you are not rushing.

Tackling the stairs on a rainy day
Tackling the stairs on a rainy day


While the small upper falls almost always has water flower over it, the lower falls can be a bit disappointing when the water levels are low. It is still a fun walk down and back up again.

The lower falls, much better when there is a lot of water flowing
The lower falls, much better when there is a lot of water flowing


This is a hike that is best done in summer, so that you can enjoy a swim after you make it back up to the top of the stairs. You can also return back to the car park where there are more facilities for a good picnic.

The swimming hole at Kondalilla falls
The swimming hole at Kondalilla falls


The walk does have the option of continuing all the way down to the Baroon Pocket Dam. While this extended hike is a lovely walk and one of my favourites, it is 21 kms return walk over some quite steep ridges.

It is a lovely 21 km return hike from Kondalilla Falls to Barroon Pocket Dam
It is a lovely 21 km return hike from Kondalilla Falls to Barroon Pocket Dam


It is better to head to Montville or Maleny, maybe try some of the wine at the Flame Hill Winery or have some of the excellent coffee and cakes at the Upfront Club in Maleny. Kondilla Falls is a nice short walk that goes well with a visit to this region.

Flame Hill Vineyard
Flame Hill Vineyard


Rainforest Circuit to the Fassifern Valley Lookout at Cunningham's gap

Cunninghams gap is a great hiking location with several great walks to spectacular views. However not everyone has time to do longer hikes and many people passing through Cunninghams are merely heading over the Main Range. Luckily there are some short walks here, and my favourite is the Rainforest Circuit.

The view of Fassifern Valley and Lake Moogerah from the Rainforest Circuit Lookout
The view of Fassifern Valley and Lake Moogerah from the Rainforest Circuit Lookout


This 1.7 km walk goes to the Fassifern Valley Lookout with benches to sit and relax and enjoy the view. This walk is very easy and can be done by nearly everyone.

The rainforest on the Rainforest Circuit
The rainforest on the Rainforest Circuit


If 1.7 kms is not enough enough for you and you don't want to tackle harder walks like Mt Cordeaux or Bare Rock, then you can walk another 2.7 kms on the Palm Grove Circuit and return to complete the Rainforest Circuit.

Beautiful rainforest on the Rainforest Circuit
Beautiful rainforest on the Rainforest Circuit


The Rainforest circuit is one walk that I recommend to anyone crossing over the Main Range at Cunninghams Gap. There are some other interesting attractions in the area as well, such as the cute little town of Aratula which is where I often stop to pick up locally grown fruit and vegetables or go antique shopping. In addition Lake Moogerah is another great spot in the area to stop at.

Aratula has several coffee shops, antique stores and a nice fruit market
Aratula has several coffee shops, antique stores and a nice fruit market

Twin Falls Circuit at Springbrook

What is the Best short walk at Springbrook National Park? The answer is all of them. The three must do hikes here are Purling Brook Falls Circuit which goes from the top to the base of a spectacular falls, Natural Bridge, with its unique waterfall that goes through an arch, and, my favorite, which is the 4 km Twin Falls Circuit.

View from the cliff tops of Springbrook National Park
View from the cliff tops of Springbrook National Park


Features of this walk include passing through rock clefts and walking behind two waterfalls. There are places to swim here when there is plenty of water, but I have yet to be here when there is enough water to really swim at the falls.

Walking under the waterfall
Walking under the waterfall


Once of you have done this walk, you will feel ready to do more, such as Purling Brook Falls or the Natural Bridge

Purling Brook Falls
Purling Brook Falls


Sandy Creek Circuit, The Knoll section, Mt Tamborine

Mt Tamborine is the place to go in South East Queensland for well maintained short walks that include waterfalls, swimming holes, rainforest and great views. I scratched Cedar Creek Falls off the list because in summer the swimming hole is so popular it is impossible to even find a place to park beside the entrance to the road leading to the actual car park. Instead my favourite is the 2.6 km Sandy Creek Circuit.

There are great views at the picnic area at the start of the walk
There are great views at the picnic area at the start of the walk


First of all, the start of the walk as a great lookout and picnic area. This is by and far my favourite place to picnic or barbecue in Mt Tamborine.

Mt Tamborine is full of tracks through beautiful rainforest
Mt Tamborine is full of tracks through beautiful rainforest


The walk itself goes around Sandy Creek and makes for an interesting rainforest walk. I have to admit this part of the walk is really similar to other areas around Mt Tamborine.

Cameron Falls
Cameron Falls


The pay off is the lookout at Cameron Falls. You access the lookout via a side track off the main circuit. Not only do you have views of the falls, but also down to the valley as well.

The view from above Cameron Falls
The view from above Cameron Falls


There are plenty of other places to walk in Mt Tamborine, but if a short walk is enough for you, then head to Cedar Creek Falls (if you can find a place to park) and go for a swim. Then head to the Gallery Walk to visit the various curio shops and art galleries while snacking on fudge and ice cream. Finish it with a beer at the Brewery, Cheese from the Cheese Factory, Wine from one of many wineries or a fantastic meal at one of many different great restaurants.

Gallery Walk for your shopping and dining needs
Gallery Walk for your shopping and dining needs
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