The Cascades Circuit goes through lush riparian rainforest
The Goomburra section of the Main Range National Park in the Scenic Rim has a number of great and unique hikes, with one of the most beautiful being the cascades walk. This 6.5 km walk includes more creek crossings than you can count, a couple of lovely waterfalls and a swimming hole.
Follow the creek on the cascades circuit at Goomburra
Goomburra is a town just over Cunningham's Gap and is also the name for a section of the Main Range National Park. This section is not often visited by day-trippers because you have to drive out to Goomburra and then back to the entrance of the National Park, making it about a 2 hour drive from Brisbane.
Camping under shady trees at the Mana Gum Camping Ground in the Goomburra Section in the Main Range National Park
However, Goomburra is very popular among campers, with 2 campgrounds in the national park, plus campgrounds, glamping and cabins nearby. Combined with multiple hikes in the area, there are often more campers than other visitors in the area.
There are commercial campsites, including glamping options in Goomburra, just outside of the national park
The hike starts at the end of the Manna Gum Camping Area in the national park, where there are toilets and plenty of parking. It is basically the end of the road as you drive into the camping area.
The best way to hike the circuit is clockwise, starting through the little Dalrymple Circuit, which is a great short stroll with information signs and is perfect for people with young kids. From the Dalrymple Circuit, you join onto the Cascades circuit which branches off to the left. There are no signs on this part of the circuit, but once on the circuit, there is only one path and it hard to get lost.
The Dalrymple Circuit has educational signs, boardwalks and benches
The circuit follows Dalrymple creek and crosses many times. The creek crossings vary in quality from good stepping stones to wet and wobbly rocks. There is even the occasional log over the creek as well. I am not sure how many creek crossing there are, as I lost count after the 10th creek crossing, but I would say that there are at least 20 crossings. For me, the best way across was just wading through the water and letting my feet get wet. Yes, even if you have waterproof boots, you will find often the water is too deep to keep your feet dry, so trail runners or other shoes with good drainage are the best option.
It is possible to keep your feet dry on every creek crossing with a bit of rock hopping
Other than the creek crossings, most of the path is fairly good, with one washed out part that required a bit of scrambling, one steep section and a few stairs. There are also orange triangle direction markers at a number of the creek crossings, so it is reasonably easy to keep on the path.
Other than the creek crossings and the occasional washed out section, the path is pretty good
Overall, the main attractions of the walk is that you are walking through a rich riparian rainforest and along the creek. But there are a number of highlights, including one waterfall with a lovely swimming hole below about halfway through the hike. Even in winter, this would be a good place to stop for a snack or lunch break.
These falls have a nice little swimming hole at the bottom
At the end of the hike, you will find signs for the ridge circuit. If you stay on the Cascades Circuit, it is fairly boring, including a section that is a direct road, and so it is more interesting to follow the ridge circuit part of the walk out, though you have to hike up and down the ridge.
It took us about 3 hours to do the 6.5 kms walk without the ridge circuit. Much of this was being slowed down for the creek crossings as well as stopping to take photos. What you end up with is a pleasant stroll which can be stretched a bit with a swim in summer.
After the hike
Normally I would recommend a place for coffee and cake after the hike, but there is not much in the area. We brought a little camp cooker and made our own tea and coffee at the Kurrajong Picnic Area where there are picnic facilities. If you also bring your own chairs and tables, you could also chill out at the camping ground as well.
Kurrajong Picnic Area in the Goomburra Section of the Main Range National Park
Other than that, there isn't much until you get back to Aratula, unless you like service station coffee. But then the Aratula Hotel is a great place for a classic no-frills pub meal.
Being a little out of the way, many experienced hikers have not bothered to come out to Goomburra. But it is well worth doing as a day trip when combined with the lookouts and other walks in the area. Alternatively, make a weekend of it with a camping trip.