Take a walk on the wild side!
When you’re sick of the same four-weekend walls, you need to escape to the country. Southern Queensland Country that is.
In less than two hours from Brisbane, you can instantly increase the size of your backyard, without the need of a new home. Southern Queensland Country is home to no fewer than 12 national parks, a handful of state forests and botanic gardens in between.
Our wide-open spaces are the stuff of weekend adventures – promising camera-rolls bursting with natural treasures like towering gums, cascading waterfalls and trickling creeks.
Make the most of the cooler autumn weather and escape to our country, with this guide that will have you walking on the Southern Queensland Country wild side.
Girraween National Park
If you prefer your national parks more raw and rugged than lush and leafy, you’ll want to drive three hours from Brisbane and explore Girraween National Park.
Girraween makes sense of its region’s moniker, the Granite Belt, with granite boulder formations dotted across its 117km2 landscape.
There are more than 17km of walking trails to choose from, so you’ll ideally want to base yourself here for a couple of nights camping to put boot to boulder on more than one track.
If you’re short on time, set your sights on the most famous of the walks, The Pyramid, which offers panoramic views over the park and a photo opportunity with the iconic balancing rock.
Bunya Mountains National Park
Australia’s oldest collection of Bunya Pines are reason enough to visit this national park, 237km north-west of Brisbane.
But when you find out Queensland’s second oldest national park is also steeped in rich Aboriginal history, there’s even more reason to go exploring.
If you turned back the clock as little as 220 years, you would find Aboriginal people gathered here from all over the country celebrating bunya nut season.
Today you’ll have to settle for seeing bunya nuts scattered on the forest floor, as you take one of the many walking trails which wind through the park, ranging from 2.3km to 10km long.
Tip: Time your visit for the last Sunday of the month when the Bunya Mountains Markets are held, for local produce to fuel your hike.
Crows Nest National Park
Pack a picnic and a sense of adventure to wander through the scenery, granite outcrops and eucalypt forests at Crows Nest National Park.
When exploring this park on the Great Dividing Range, look up to find gumtrees, stringybarks, bloodwoods and ironbarks.
Its flora might be diverse but this national park’s fauna is rare – home to a brush-tailed rock-wallaby which is so rare, it’s almost extinct in Queensland.
Choose between three walks, one which hugs the Crows Nest Creek, and the other two which stick to higher ground.
Follow the signs and make your way to the Crows Nest Falls lookout to see this 20m fall drop dramatically to rock pools below. For a birds-eye-view of the Valley of Diamonds, follow the signs for Koonin Lookout.
Tip: Don’t forget to pack your swimmers to cool off in Bottlebrush Pool after the Kauyoo Loop walk. which is deep enough to properly cool off.
Main Range National Park: Goomburra Section
Discover the western side of the Great Dividing Range with a visit to the Goomburra section of Main Range National Park in the Southern Downs.
It pays to pin your adventure down to just one section of this national park which spans some 30,170 hectares – almost 1.1 times the size of Honolulu.
For those wanting to walk with a view, the Goomburra section delivers a landscape cocktail with trails in a number of formats.
Bush walks range from easy 1.2km return trails through to ‘I’ve been in training’-challenging 12km hikes winding through open woodland, rainforests, creek crossing, before breaking out to scenic lookouts across the region.
From the top of the range, you’ll have views over the Fassifern Valley and out towards the Border Ranges.
Queen Mary Falls
The jewel in the Gondwana World Heritage-listed areas crown has to be Queen Mary Falls.
Not all waterfalls can lay claim to being located among UNESCO-recognised rainforest, so protected for the natural assets contained within, but Queen Mary Falls can.
This 40m drop, is best viewed via the Queen Mary Falls Circuit which takes about 40 minutes (2km) from the lookout at the top to the base of the falls and creek below.
If you’re stretched for time, stick to the short lookout walk and view the falls from the top-down only.
While the waterfall might be small by some international standards, what’s interesting is that this drop forms the headwaters for Australia’s Longest river system, the Murray Darling.
Myall Park Botanic Gardens
For a bloomin’ good time, set your sights on Myall Park Botanic Gardens in the Western Downs’ town of Glenmorgan.
This heritage-listed 132-hectare botanic garden has been artfully landscaped with purely Australian natives.
What started in the 1950s as a project to provide a public space for all to enjoy, is now an established botanic garden with a distinctly native twist.
Choose from a range of walks which will take you through themed gardens like the acacia, grevillea and gumnut trails.
Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the many picnic tables scattered through the park.
Passchendaele State Forest
If you prefer to explore the wild by putting your Ninja Warrior Skills to the test, make tracks to Passchendaele State Forest for Southern Queensland Country’s best bouldering action.
Boulder your way along granite of all grades, with multiple lines for exploring.
If it’s your first time, you’ll want to find “Middle Sector” which caters for plenty of bouldering styles.
Prefer to explore on two wheels? You can mountain bike the fire trails which wind through this national park.
Expect shady, good riding conditions all year round, thanks to a sandy track-base.