Girraween National Park’s name might translate to ‘place of flowers’, but its more than just its blooms that attract avid hikers and nature explorers to its borders.
Instead, it’s the large angular tors and precariously balanced boulders that attract 120,000 visitors to its natural surroundings each year.
It’s easy to see why – combine the massive granite outcrops with clear flowing streams, dense eucalypt forest, wetlands, and shrubland and you’ve got over 11,000 hectares of nature to explore.
To help you discover Girraween National Park, here’s everything you need to know before you go:
Where is it?
Drop a pin on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, 200 kilometres inland from the coastline and you’ll find Girraween National Park.
While it’s accessible from Brisbane, Toowoomba, or the Gold Coast as a day trip, if you plan on tackling any of the longer walks, you’ll want to stay the night.
With Stanthorpe less than 30 kilometres away, the wine capital of Queensland makes for the perfect basecamp for a weekend getaway.
Why do people love Girraween National Park?
While other nearby national parks – think Springbrook and Lamington – offer visitors dense rainforest to explore, Girraween National Park provides a point of difference with its rock formations taking centre stage.
Just one search of the hashtag #Girraween and your Instagram feed will be filled instantly with snaps of walkers atop, against, or walking through its famous granite boulders.
For a Leaning Tower of Pisa moment at Girraween National Park, set out on The Pyramid track to snap your pic of yourself holding up the ten-tonne, seven-and-a-half-metre-high, six-metre-wide boulder (aka Balancing Rock) which sits precariously on a base of just one metre.
There’s no doubt this walk will ensure your Instagram followers will be double tapping with envy, but be prepared to get the heart rate up along with way with rock scrambling required to reach Balancing Rock.
Tell me about the nature?
While a large portion of the national park is exposed, it doesn’t mean you won’t find an abundance of native plants and flowers.
Putting any florist to shame, you’ll find golden wattle, pea flowers, dainty orchards against red-gums, stringybark, and blackbutt trees.
Listen out for the rustle in the bushes from spiny echidnas, red-necked wallabies as well as lizards and snakes, and listen out for the calls from parrots, honeyeaters and fairy-wrens as you wander Girraween’s 17km of walking trails.
What is there to do?
Whether you prefer to step it out for a leisurely walk, hike to the highest point, spin the pedals along a trail, or buckle up in the 4WD, Girraween National Park has it all.
It’s not just about increasing the heart rate, either – there’s two day-use areas to throw down the picnic blanket or fire up the barbeque, and a creek to cool down on a hot summer’s day.
If you plan on tackling the pièce de résistance of climbs (aka Mount Norman), you’ll need to park the car at the Mount Norman day-use area.
This four-kilometre, Grade 4 trek is sure to test any experienced hiker, with rock climbing experience required to reach the top.
If the park’s highest peak isn’t calling, step it out along The Sphinx, Turtle Rock, or Castle Rock for alternative Grade 3 and 4 trails.
Choose the northern part of Girraween National Park for easier walk options from Bald Rock Creek day-use area and the Visitor Information Centre – including the 280-metre Wyberba Walk and the 1.2-kilometre Dr Roberts Waterhole.
Get insider’s knowledge before you hit the trails at the Visitor Information Centre, where you can learn about the landscape and local wildlife. Be sure to plan ahead if you’re visiting during school holidays for a chance to join one of the ranger-guided walks.
Where to stay?
With two camping grounds suitable for tents and trailers, as well as seven remote bush camp locations – there’s plenty of options to DIY your accommodation at Girraween National Park.
Prefer the camping comforts of toilets, a shower, barbeques, and picnic tables? Head to Castle Rock, which offers non-powered sites suitable for camping and camper trailers; otherwise, Bald Rock Creek provides the same luxuries, albeit sans showers.
If your accommodation on wheels comes in the form of a caravan or motorhome – you’ll need to navigate your way to Castle Rock which is better suited for bigger rigs.
While there are seven remote bush camps to choose from, you’ll need to obtain a camping permit and make sure you brush up on your navigation skills before setting off, as they are not signposted.
For a more luxurious overnight for your Girraween National Park experience, book a cabin or cottage in Stanthorpe.
Make sure you are dressed for success when visiting Girraween National Park –from your feet all the way to your head.
Suitable footwear is a must – keep in mind boulders are slippery when wet, so you’ll need a shoe with a firm grip.
While summer days may be warm, the temperature can drop to below 15 degrees at night. Make sure you pack plenty of winter woolies if visiting in the cooler months, where the temperature can drop to below zero.
Don’t forget to always carry water and sun protection, and the trails are best explored with a buddy.
If you’re making a weekend of it, why not reward yourself with a visit to one of the local cellar doors on the way home.