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Published February 3rd 2013
Vast expanse of native bushland seven kilometres from CBD
Views of Brisbane City peeking through the trees from the Whites Hill Summit
Being surrounded by the four densely populated suburbs of Carina Heights, Camp Hill, Coorparoo and Holland Park, it might be surprising for some to learn that Whites Hill Reserve is far more than just a pocket of green space in Brisbane's south-east.
Exploring this place makes it feel almost big enough to be a suburb in its own right, except instead of houses and roads you've got 53 acres of native bushland perfect for hiking, picnics and recreation and all just seven kilometres from the CBD.
The sheer size of the nature reserve makes it confusing to know where the best place to enter is, but judging by the signposts and main car park on Boundary Road in Camp Hill, this entrance is the most logical option. But that said, you can also enter the reserve from Pine Mountain Road in Holland Park, and Jones Road from Carina Heights.
Living just a couple of kilometres from the reserve, I had never truly appreciated how large and how much space it encompasses. On my first visit I got a little bit lost and didn't manage to find the summit – I also got caught in a hectic rain downpour about 30 minutes into my walk, so had to return to my car at the Jones Street entrance, drenched like a drowned rat.
More rainforest than bushland near the Pine Mountain Road entrance at Holland Park
On my second visit to the reserve, I entered via the Boundary Road entrance where there is a large sports recreation complex with several soccer, football and cricket fields. If you've got kids needing to let off some steam or want some wide open spaces to let your dog off the leash, this place is ideal. There are also lots of amenities here including BBQ areas, toilets and sports clubhouses. You might even be able to watch the Holland Park Hawks playing one of their home soccer games if your timing is right.
There are sporting facilities galore at the reserve's main access point at Boundary Rd, Camp Hill
My second trip to Whites Hill Reserve was far more successful. The weather was much brighter and I saw a completely different side to the bushland, at last finding the Whites Hill Summit. Here you get fantastic views of the Brisbane City peeking through the eucalyptus trees.
I was also interested to learn that here at the summit there once stood a teahouse open to the public. The story is that the Whites family acquired this massive amount of land in 1873, for which the ridge and hill became known Whites Hill. The wealthy family built a house of palatial proportions on the site and also opened a tea house to the public which became popular with locals and tourists for its sophistication and stunning unobstructed views of the city. This was also a popular wedding and party place as the Brisbane public used this private house for many social events.
The Whites Hill Summit where a mansion and tea house open to the public once stood.
Sadly now the house has been pulled down, the teahouse long gone and the land sold back to the council for conservation, however the stunning views from the summit still remain. The top of the hill is also the perfect place for a picnic with the Whites Hill summit trail being a relatively easy one kilometre walk from the sport grounds on a well defined path. The beauty of this reserve is that you have so many different trails to choose from, which makes there so much to explore over several visits.
The longer trail is known as Sankey Mountain Circuit. While not much of a mountain, it provides a good length walk with a viewing platform from the 'summit', although not as impressive views as where the Whites family home stood. As it puts you right back where you started you'll also not have to worry about getting spat out at some random part of suburbia a long way from where you parked.
The 2km Sankey Mountain Cct, also has a 'summit' of sorts, and picnic area.
And as such this is my main piece of advice for walking in Whites Hill Reserve – make sure you pay attention to the signposted path that you take, as there are many options along the way and getting lost would be easy. However if you don't mind the feeling of getting lost, just see where the trails take you - its an adventure after all.
If you were like me and have heard but not yet visited The Whites Hill Recreation Reserve do yourself a favour and get out of the house and among the Tallowwood, Grey Gum and Blue Gum trees. You may even be lucky enough to see a koala if you point your eyes skyward. Encompassing a vast area with a series of well-blazed trails you'll feel you have the place to yourself all while being just on the fringe of suburbia.
While always knowing it was there, I can definitely say Whites Hill Reserve needs to be discovered yourself to be fully understood and it's a place where I'll be going back to when I need to feel miles away from suburban city living.