Queensland’s new Scenic Rim Trail

By Ken Eastwood | August 12, 2014

The latest trail to open up in Queensland is a four-day walking and glamping experience through the World Heritage-listed highlands.

JUDE AND SCROO TURNER have a dream. The property owners want the world to know how great their little corner of south-eastern Queensland is, with its hidden forests, bubbling creeks and sumptuous summit views.

They dream of a long, multiday bushwalk along some of the highest mountain ranges in the state, along the ancient volcanic spines of the Scenic Rim from their own property and Main Range National Park in the north-west of the rim, to bushwalking meccas in Lamington National Park.

The first stage of this dream has just been realised, when Jude opened the Scenic Rim Trail. This four-day, guided, 33km walking experience on their private property is the latest trek to be admitted to the Great Walks of Australia group, alongside the likes of such classics as the Larapinta Trail (NT), Overland Track and Bay of Fires (Tasmania). It is the first walk from Queensland to join the national group.

Scenic Rim Trail part of the Gondwana Rainforests

The walk rambles along rough creeklines in valleys and through pleasant open woodland, scaling summits with stupendous viewsa and creeping through dark, World Heritage-listed hoop-pine forests, among 500-year-old trees where every surface is covered in lichens, moss, elkhorns and birdsnest ferns.

Thirty per cent of Skroo and Jude’s 2800ha cattle property has been set aside as a nature reserve that forms part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, a series of rugged mountain ranges extending into New South Wales as far south as Barrington Tops National Park.

The nature reserve helps protect 10 endangered ecosystems, and 27 at-risk animal species, including bush-tailed rock-wallabies, koalas and eastern bristlebirds.

The new Scenic Rim Trail goes through the nature reserve, but also through parts of Main Range National Park. The trail is a mix of four-wheel-drive track, well-formed hiking trails and rough scrambles, with some challenging steep ascents and descents. Most experienced bushwalkers should have no trouble.

After being picked up from Brisbane, and transported 90 minutes’ drive south-west along the Cunningham Highway, the first day’s walk involves an ascent of 1168m Mt Mitchell, which has 360-degree views back to Brisbane, then down a ridgeline to the luxury safari camp of Spicers Canopy. 

Trekking Queensland’s Scenic Rim

The second day is an easier ramble around the property, including some boulder-hopping along creeks where yabbies, tiny fish, azure kingfishers and flycatchers can be seen. As you approach the safari tents again, past nonchalant Angus cattle, squadrons of rainbow lorikeets rocket over your head, a fly-past to welcome you back.

Day three is the hardest of the walks ­– an 11km hike uphill from canopy, at about 600m above sea level, up to Spicers Peak Lodge at 1200m. The walk doesn’t go in a straight line, however, but first climbs Spicers Peak, initially through open ironbark and stringybark woodland, where brown quail and wallabies can be seen darting through the grass.

The track passes thick, gorgeous groves of xanthorrhoeas, and then up some tricky basalt escarpment to gain glorious views over the Maryvale Valley and across the range to the coast.

The best bit is to come though – a wander on a barely seen track through towering hoop pine and white beech forest, with rich birdlife. There are whipbirds and lyrebirds, brush turkeys, catbirds, satin bowerbirds and a host of other avian forest dwellers. A tricky descent follows and a steep climb up to Spicers Peak Lodge, the highest non-alpine lodge in Australia.

The following morning walkers are left to their own devices, but those who can pry themselves away from spa treatments can explore the tracks around the lodge, plunging back into a small section of rainforest, or heading out to a lookout with views over the Maryvale Valley and back over the route that you have just walked.

More information: www.scenicrimtrail.com

When to go: March to November