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Donnellys Castle

Home > Queensland > Adventure | Fun for Children | National Parks | Picnic Spots | School Holidays
by Karina Bryer (subscribe)
I'm a mother of four with two coeliac children. I'm always on the lookout for great gluten-free spots around Brisbane and feature gluten-free cooking in my blog: I'm also a muso and enjoy live music around town.
Published April 6th 2016
Play at being a bushranger in these fantastic formations
secret hideout Donnellys Castle
Massive boulders provide secret hiding spots.

What could be more exciting than exploring the nooks and crannies of a bushranger's hideout? Donnelly's Castle near Stanthorpe provides the perfect opportunity. This rocky granite outcrop, which provides massive boulders which are just as spectacular as some of the rock formations in Girraween National Park, is far more accessible for young adventurers.

Donnellys castle rocks
Rocks stack together to form secret passages

This rock formation, which you will find a short drive out of Stanthorpe near Pozieres, was named after Ned Donnelly, an early settler of the area. Now a crown recreation reserve, the area is maintained with picnic tables and barbecues (not in great condition) by the local Lions club. The site offers boulders to scramble over and hidden passageways to explore, as well as spectacular views of the surrounding area from the 200m walk to the top.

View Stanthorpe
A short walk up one of the highest rocks provides spectacular views of the Granite Belt

Local tales name the site as one of the hideouts of the infamous "Captain Thunderbolt", who earned his fame as one of Australia's longest roaming bushrangers. During his time Fredrick Wordsworth Ward (aka Captain Thunderbolt), the son of a convict, escaped from Cockatoo Island after being incarcerated for horse stealing, robbed numerous establishments and coaches and earned himself the nickname of the "gentleman bushranger." Walking between the rocks, there are many nooks and crannies which offer protection, and it is not hard to imagine him setting up a nice cosy campsite under their protection.

Picnic Donnelleys castle
Picnic tables dot the site

The only downside to the area is that many of the rocks have become a target for graffiti, however if you can ignore this, the site is quite spectacular for it's natural beauty and views. A nice spot for a picnic lunch offering lots of exploring for children, though there are no toilet facilities. For the parents, the drive home presents numerous opportunities to stop and sample the drops from local vineyards as well as cheese from the cheese factory (on the pretence of a toilet stop of course!)
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Why? An easy walk to spectacular views and natural rock formations.
When: Anytime
Phone: 1800 688 949
Where: Donnellys Castle Road, Pozieres, near Stanthorpe
Cost: Free
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