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The Head Scenic Drive: Boonah to Killarney

Home > Brisbane > Day Trips | Escape the City | National Parks | Outdoor | Views
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published March 18th 2016
The road to Killarney is a great purely scenic drive
There are several great scenic drives in South East Queenland, however the best and purest scenic drive has to be the road from Boonah to Killarney via The Head. This lovely winding road has numerous scenic spots to stop at on the way, two very different cafes, a few short walks and of course the whole drive is book-ended by the two lovely towns of Boonah and Killarney.

The road over The Head is popular with motorists and motorcyclists
The road over The Head is popular with motorists and motorcyclists


The scenic part of the drive starts well before you even start on this drive. If you are driving from Brisbane then you have the option of driving via the Ipswich-Boonah Road. The moment you turn onto this road the traffic is gone and you are in scenic countryside. Alternatively you can go along the Cunningham Highway, which is similarly scenic then bypass Boonah to visit Lake Moogerah.

Lake Moogerah is a great stop just off Cunninghams Highway
Lake Moogerah is a great stop just off Cunninghams Highway


If you are driving from Southern Brisbane or the Gold Coast you would come via Beaudesert and Lake Wyaralong.

The Drive starts on Carneys Creek Road just outside of Boonah, which then becomes The Head Road and then becomes Spring Creek Road which takes you to Killarney. Most of the major scenic spots are well sign posted, while minor ones can usually be identified by a place to stop on the side of the road.

The scenic spots on the road are well signed
The scenic spots on the road are well signed


The road itself is mostly a single lane but all of the traffic here are people specifically doing the scenic drive plus as a few locals. No matter what Google Maps tells you, this is not the fastest route as the twisting narrow road will slow you down. If you are visitng Killarney from Brisbane, it is better to go over Main Range via Cunninghams Gap and go through Warwick. As a result, The Head road is one of the most pleasant roads to drive or ride. Everyone slows down and gives each a little wave as they pass on the narrow road. Yes, even people in big four wheel drives do this. In fact, because the road is so narrow they are the nicest and most grateful on this road.

The first stop up the mountain is the Teviot Falls Lookout. This lookout is not that well signposted and many people fail to see the falls itself, as they focus on the view of the mountains down Teviot Gap.

There are many minor spots to stop for views on the road
There are many minor spots to stop for views on the road


The first major stop is Carrs Lookout and Spring Creek Mountain Cafe & Cottages. Both provide similar views of the mountains with the lookout being free and Spring Creek Mountain Cafe serving delicious coffee, cake and meals made from the freshest local ingredients. For lunch on weekends, it is recommended that you book ahead.

The first major stop is The Spring Creek Mountain Cafe and Carrs Lookout. On a non-cloudy day you can see many mountains in the distance.
The first major stop is The Spring Creek Mountain Cafe and Carrs Lookout. On a non-cloudy day you can see many mountains in the distance.


There are numerous other little spots to stop along the way, including patches of farmland.

Beautiful countryside on the drive
Beautiful countryside on the drive


Once we hit rainforest country, I wound down the windows to enjoy the fresh mountain air and also to better hear the bellbirds (which we could hear with the windows wound up).

The road also goes through lovely forest
The road also goes through lovely forest


Once over the head you will arrive at Queen Mary Falls. This is one of the best spots to linger. There is a beautiful picnic area with both electric and wood fired barbecues, toilets and the falls itself. It is only a short easy stroll to the two lookouts above the falls and a 2 km walk down to the base of the falls and back up (lots of stairs but well worth the effort).

Queen Mary Falls
Queen Mary Falls


Directly across the road from The Queen Mary Falls Picnic Ares is the Queen Mary Falls Caravan and Tourist Park which includes The Falls Cafe. If you started early then the Picnic Area or The Falls Cafe are great places to have lunch. The Falls cafe is great country cooking and the menu has great regular and gourmet burgers as well as other meals. You can just have a break here with coffee and cake while sitting on the deck at the front watching the rosellas and king parrots which are attracted to the bird feeders.

A cheaper place to eat is the The Falls Cafe at Queen Mary Falls
A cheaper place to eat is the The Falls Cafe at Queen Mary Falls


Another stop is Daggs Falls. Just stop, walk 10 metres to the lookout, take some photos, and keep on driving. The spectacular waterfall is worth the quick stop.

Daggs Falls is right beside the road, no walking required
Daggs Falls is right beside the road, no walking required


The last falls is the smallest but has the most interesting walk. Be aware that it is a rough and muddy track along and across a beautiful creek to Browns Falls. While it is not difficult for most people, you might rethink the walk if you are wearing clothes or shoes that you don't want to get dirty (we managed to do the walk dressed for a nice lunch without getting any mud on our clothes, so it is more of a caution than a warning,)

Visiting Browns Falls requires walking 600 metres down a muddy, rocky creek track. Don't wear your good shoes.
Visiting Browns Falls requires walking 600 metres down a muddy, rocky creek track. Don't wear your good shoes.


From Browns Falls, the land opens up into beautiful farmland. This is Killarney where the black soil is two feet deep. They grow a little bit of everything but the steep hills means that most of the area is cattle country. If you have timed your trip properly your mind will be turning to steaks for lunch or dinner at the Killarney Pub.

As you approach Killarney the land opens up into scenic farmland
As you approach Killarney the land opens up into scenic farmland


Vegetable lovers need not despair. As you approach the town you will see a few roadside vegetable stalls. Simply stop, grab the vegetables that you want and put money in the tin. We picked some lovely pumpkins for $1 and $2 each.

Near Killarney you will see roadside vegetable stalls
Near Killarney you will see roadside vegetable stalls


A lot of people have never heard of Killarney and even fewer have visited it. It is not on any major routes, so if you arrive here you are either lost or meant to be here, rather than passing through. While it is a sleepy country town, it is not a bad destination with a number of attractions.

The town of Killarney
The town of Killarney


Along with country cooking from several cafes and the pub, it is also worth visiting the Heritage Centre or shop at one of several shops selling local handcrafts and products such as the Willow Gallery. These places are usually run on a co-op basis with several local people taking turns at running the shop, while part of the sales goes to the rent and upkeep of the shop.

Killarney has several shops selling handmade crafts and local produce
Killarney has several shops selling handmade crafts and local produce


After Killarney the thought goes to returning home. Of course you don't have to leave with several places to stay in and around town, including The Queen Mary Falls Caravan and Tourist Park where you can camp, park your caravan or relax in a cabin and Spring Creek Mountain Cottages for amazing views without having to get out of bed. You can also stay in town.

Cabin at the Queen Mary Falls Caravan & Tourist Park
Cabin at the Queen Mary Falls Caravan & Tourist Park


There are several routes out of town without having to return the way you came. The most scenic is to return to Boonah via the four wheel drive track through Cambanoora Gorge. This is a well maintained track which has 14 crossings of the Condamine River. Typically these crossings are knee deep across a stony causeways. These causeways change often due to the flowing river and this is what makes this road high clearance four wheel drive only (soft roaders proceed with extreme caution).

Don't forget the alternative 4WD route through Cambanoora Gorge
Don't forget the alternative 4WD route through Cambanoora Gorge


The quickest way back to Brisbane is via Warwick and the Cunnighams Gap. Longer scenic routes suitable for multi-day trips included heading north through Toowoomba or south through Stanthorpe and Tenterfield, before heading back towards the coast or Brisbane.

The Author travelled to the Killarney Region as a guest of Southern Queensland Country Tourism.
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Why? This is the best purely scenic drive in SEQ
Where: Starts at the town of Killarney or Boonah. The reverse trip is great when returning to Brisbane
Your Comment
with some of these drives would be good to include approx. mileage and/or driving time from Brisbane or Ipswich.
by heath (score: 0|7) 1181 days ago
I loved this drive when I did it - it did get quite narrow at times though, so its good to drive slow.
by Jane Wong (score: 3|1007) 1135 days ago
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