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Sunrise Hiking

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published June 11th 2014
Greet the day on top of a mountain
While I love getting up early to enjoy a sunrise, I had never even thought about hiking up a mountain to see a sunrise until I lived in Asia where it has been a tradition for thousands of years. In Australia it is becoming increasingly popular. Let's look at some of the best places to hike and watch the sunrise in South East Queensland.

Sunrise from Mt Warning
Sunrise from Mt Warning

Note: Sunrise hiking means hiking at night. Read more about night hiking here.

Mt Coot-Tha

With the summit lookout facing south east this is the perfect place to watch the sunrise without leaving the city. You could drive up to the summit if you wanted to, however you can either hike from the JC Slaughter Falls car park or up the Honeyeater Track. Both tracks are short enough that you could start when the sky is becoming light and arrive in time for the sunrise.

The summit at Mt Coot-tha is perfect for watching the sunrise over Brisbane
The summit at Mt Coot-tha is perfect for watching the sunrise over Brisbane

Unfortunately the Kuta Cafe on the summit doesn't open until 8am so it is a good idea to bring a thermos of tea or coffee and a snack.

Mt Warning

The story is that this is the place that the sun hits the mainland of Australia first, though apparently this is only true in winter. That doesn't stop it being a favourite place to hike up at night to see the sunrise.

Watching the sunrise at Mt Warning
Watching the sunrise at Mt Warning

Fit hikers can do this hike in less than two hours, though you may want to give yourself three. The last part of the hike involves dragging yourself up a chain. The last time I did this hike was on a warm summer evening yet it was still really cold on the summit and most people only wore t-shirts and shorts. So dress warmly please. My friend did the hike in autumn and it was -2 degrees Celsius on the summit.

Often the mountain is cloud bound but we very lucky and had clear views to Byron Bay and the cloud was all in the valleys below us providing a magical view.

Mt Nebo Lookout

This six kilometre return hike at Mt Nebo is both close to the city and and and fairly easy walk. The Mt Nebo lookout gives you views to the coast and Moreton Island.

Sunrise seen from Mt Nebo
Sunrise seen from Mt Nebo

Wild Horse Mountain

A friend recommended Mount Beerwah as the place to watch the sunrise on the Sunshine Coast however the summit track is closed for the foreseeable future. Instead, why not try the easier Wild Horse Mountain? Basically getting to the summit involves walking up a road. The lookout at the top provides 360 degree views of the surrounding area and is perfect for viewing the glass house mountains, but it also gives you uninterrupted views to the coast.

360 degree views from Wild Horse Mountain lookout
360 degree views from Wild Horse Mountain lookout

Mt Mitchell

On the Scenic Rim and the Gold Coast you are spoiled for choice of mountains with views to the east. If you were looking for any location I wouldn't go past Mt Mitchell at Cunningham's Gap. This reasonably easy walk takes you to a summit that provides 270 degree views. Unfortunately the last time I walked up Mt Mitchell the mountain was covered in cloud.

Some mornings the clouds cover the sunrise
Some mornings the clouds cover the sunrise
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Why? The magic of a new day seen from the top of a mountain
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