Queensland's got some mighty soaring temperatures during a good half of the year and some days the best way to escape it is to head for the hills. Here's the top ten walks that range from coastal, to waterfall spotting to deep canyons to dense rainforest.
Explore the lush rainforests, deep canyons and towering waterfalls that make up the Springbrook National Park on the 17km Warrie Circuit. This walk across the Springbrook Plateau will take about 5-6 hours and keep in mind there are many creek crossing which you might not be able to pass after heavy rain.
If you’re after something a little more easier, try the Twin Falls Circuit or the Purlingbrook Falls Circuit at 4km apiece. These walks will leave you with plenty of time to enjoy coffee and cake at one of the great cafes in Springbrook.
There’s no shortage of short and half-day bush walks in Lamington National Park to choose from. At 1,000 metres above sea level, this national park is often 5-8 degrees cooler than Brisbane, making it ideal for a day’s bush walking during the summer months.
We recommend the Box Forest Circuit track for those looking for a challenging half-day walk. This 10.9km return hike will take you through rainforest and past pink-barked brush box trees before leading you to Picnic Rock and Elabana Falls. Keep an eye out for the giant bearded dragons and bush turkeys common in this part of the park. If you’re back before 2.30pm, grab lunch at Gran’s Kitchen (part of O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat).
Pass rocky headlands, sandy coves perfect for a mid-afternoon dip and see dolphins leaping out of the clear blue ocean on this 10.8km walk. Winding its way along Noosa National Park, all the way to Hells Gate, this is an easy day walk for those more interested in swimming and picnicking than working up a sweat.
There’s plenty of secluded beaches such as Tea Tree Bay, Winch Cove and the unofficial nudist beach further around the point at Alexandria Bay. Keep an eye out for dolphins, turtles or manta rays.
If you’re short on time, we recommend walking from Noosa to the Sunshine Beach Life Saving Club where you can catch a bus back to Noosa.
Explore the craggy peaks of Mount Ngungun in Glass House Mountains National Park. You’ll be walking through open forest and woodlands before reaching the 360 degree viewing platform at the summit of Mount Ngungun. Remember to wear supportive footwear - you’ll be climbing over some rocks to reach the top!
If this two-hour hike just isn’t enough for you, attempt Mount Beerburrum (1 hour) or Mount Tibrogargan (3-4 hours). There are plenty of campsites dotted in the national park if you want to spend a whole weekend conquering as many peaks as your legs will allow.
Epic views and some impressive granite rock formations await on this popular all-day hike in Girraween National Park. Begin the walk on the southern side of Pyramids Road, opposite the visitor information centre and branch off before Castle Rock. The track is gentle, along the side of a ridge, where you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take in views of Mt Norman and if you’re walking in Spring, fields of wildflowers.
You’ll first reach The Sphinx, a large circular granite rock resting on top of a flat pinnacle. The next stop is Turtle Rock - a giant rock that resembles a turtle’s back.
Please also keep in mind that sections of the track can become slippery after rain.
Take your pick from the short walks, or combine a couple, at Cape Hillsborough National Park. From the resort area, you have the choice of four walks, each between 1.2km to 2.8km, to explore the area’s ecological diversity, stunning beaches, and volcanic history. Head out on the Beachcomber Cove Track to see geological formations caused by a 34 million year old volcano or learn more about the medicinal qualities of the plants used by the Yuibera people on the Yuibera Plant Trail.
The longest walk, at 2-2.5 hours return, along Andrews Point track provides numerous scenic views from the many lookout points dotted along the way. The forest along this track is also home to over 25 species of vividly-coloured butterflies and 150 bird species. Remember to time your walk in with the tides so you can cross the causeway over to Wedge Island.
The 56km Mackay Highlands Great Walk is a must-do for any seasoned Queensland hiker but if you’re short of time, this might walk can be cut into sections perfect for a weekend excursion. Try the Pine Grove to Broken River section to start with. This is a fairly easy 10 km (one way) walk through lush rainforest across the Clarke Range. Have a picnic at Broken River before heading onto Fern Flat where you can choose to pitch a tent for the night.
Another, more challenging section reserved for experienced walkers is Crediton Hall to Denham Range. Wind your way through farm land, up to a rainforest and through Crediton State Forest on this 19.5km (one way) track. Spectacular views await at Denham Range camping area.
These walks can be rugged and remote so wear appropriate clothing and carry plenty of food, water and a first aid kit. Walk only between April and September to avoid wet and dry weather extremes.
If you enjoy a little rock climbing mixed in with a challenging uphill hike, then take on Queensland’s highest peak - Bartle Frere. At 1622 metres above sea level, you need to be prepared for a steep ascent, difficult scrambles over large boulders and climbing up rock faces.
The first section of this path takes you through a dense rainforest complete with low hanging vines, frogs and extremely humid conditions. The rainforest then thins out as you arrive at a campsite and steep platform where you’ll be treated to 360 degree views of the Atherton Tablelands and the Great Barrier Reef. After a final scramble over some huge boulders, you’ll arrive at the summit.
It takes a full day from the basecamp car park to the summit and back so be sure to pack plenty of food and water.
If you love waterfall hikes, then head to Girringun National Park where you’ll have a selection to choose from. This gigantic national park is made up of five sections stretching from Cardwell down to Townsville.
From the Blencoe Falls campground, you can take a two hour return walk to see one Australia’s most famous waterfalls - Blencoe Falls. These falls plunge 90m to the pool below before cascading a further 230 m to the bottom of Blencoe Gorge. You’ll also pass the equally-impressive Herbert River Gorge with its towering cliffs and surrounding rainforest.
The trek up Mount Sorrow is not for flip flop lovers. You need sturdy shoes and a sturdy sense of determination to get to the top but once you get there you’ll feel like King Kong for the day. The view of the Cape Tribulation coast is epic. The tree snakes, if you’re lucky enough to see one, are startlingly beautiful. The spangled drongos (the bird!) can be spotted with their forked tails and inky black plumage and flocks of top knot pigeons are also lurking. And the dense Daintree jungle at the beginning is lush and eases you into what lies above.
Mount Sorrow is a 6km walk and you’ll climb 680 metres up. The second half is a total thigh killer, scrambling over tree roots and you’ll be hanging onto a rope in one part. Once at the top, push on a little further past the lookout to the boulders as the view will make you inhale deeply. From there you can pick out the crazy shadows of the Great Barrier Reef and dream about visiting Snapper Island.
If you don’t want to find leeches in your trousers then go in the dry season. We’re not kidding.
To get to the start of the walk, park at the Kulki day use area just north of Cape Tribulation and walk 150 metres up the road to a gravel pull-off area. The track begins there. Some people nail this walk in three hours but if you want to allow some huffing and puffing time allow five.