Lovely walk, amazing falls & swimming hole, great views
Thanks to recent work by Queensland National Parks, these once-secret hiking destinations now have signposted paths. Walk up to one of the best lookouts in the area and also head to the perfect waterfall swimming hole, in Mount Barney National Park.
Swimming in the perfect swimming hole at Cronan Creek Falls
The Cronan Creek Track is a 13 km return track that starts at the Yellow Pinch Car Park, at the end of Upper Logan Road. I believe it was originally a logging track, when they did extensive logging in the area before the Mount Barney National Park was established. In the past, the track lead to nowhere official, though tracks lead up Mount Barney started from this track.
One of the interesting features of this track is the number of creek crossings. I have walked this track in waterproof boots and with some rock hopping, it is possible to walk the track without getting your feet wet. These days, I wear hiking shoes, so I just walk through the water and the water drains from my shoes. Note: The best socks for this are the nylon/cotton sports socks, which have cotton padding at the heels and the front of the foot while the rest is nylon. These dry out quickly. In winter, wool socks retain warmth and comfort even when wet. Full cotton socks just become soggy and should be avoided when you expect your feet to get wet.
One of many creek crossings on the Cronan Creek Track
Recently, the Queensland National Parks has made changes on the track to give people better access. By changes, what I mean is that they have basically just added signposts to unofficial tracks and maybe done a little work on those tracks.
300 metres in, where the new and other paths meet, there is a gate and a path leading off to the right up the hill. There is a signpost warning you that this track is steep, but no sign telling you that the track leads to a lookout.
The steep rough track up to the Yellow Pinch Lookout
The track leads up about 75 metres first to a little area with views through the trees towards the south. When we walked it, we weren't sure if this was the lookout or whether we needed to continue further up as there are no signs, but you can clearly see the track continues up the hill.
Continue from there another 75 metres up to the lookout for much better views of Mount Barney and the surrounding area. While the track is steep and rough, the views are definitely worth it and many people visiting the area will come to Yellow Pinch just for these views.
Enjoying the view of Mt Barney from the Yellowpinch Lookout
There are 2 hiking campsites along the Cronan Creek Track, about 2 to 3 kilometres in. The first smaller Burbank Camping Area apparently has a capacity for 12 people. The one further up, Forestry Camping Area, is larger but apparently can only take a maximum of 2 people. There are no toilets and water is from the creek, which I would even be tempted to drink without treating as it just runs off the mountain with no houses or farmland in its catchment area.
Previously these lovely falls were a little known secret. You had to find a cairn of rocks on the side of the main track, bush bash your way down to the creek and rock hop up to the falls. The secret nature of the falls meant few people ever bothered to come along this track.
But as people discovered the almost perfect falls, with its little deep swimming hole, rock ledge leading into the water and open rocky area to sun yourself after a swim, it became more and more popular. Queensland National Parks basically added a signpost and don't seem to have done much more to the short track leading down to the falls beyond clearing out some vegetation along it.
You will still need to rock hop or walk through the creek to get the falls itself
The path ends a little way from the falls and you need to either rock hope and scramble up to the swimming hole or walk up the creek. It isn't far and is worth it.
Some people might want to continue up along the main track a little way past the falls and look for a way down to the top of the falls. This just gives you a different view if you can be bothered to do this.
After the hike
The nearest place to the hike is Rathdowney. There is not much in town. There is the General Store, which has okay coffee and, based on every person I know who have tried their burgers, not very good hamburgers, and the Rathdowney Hotel, referred to as the Rathey. Here you have a great beer garden, cold beer, and juicy steaks. The trick is to time your walk to either be early enough for lunch service that ends at 2 pm or late enough so you arrive for dinner service that starts at 5:30 pm. Remember, there is no dinner service on Sunday nights.
The nearest place to go after the hike is Rathdowney, and the best place in the town is the famous Rathdowney Hotel
The Cronan Creek Falls is one of the great little waterfall swimming holes and is well worth the walk and creek crossings to visit. It has gone from an obscure and little walked hike and a secret location to a popular walk. For those just looking for a short walk, then the Yellow Pinch Lookout is worth making a detour just for the views.