Bushpeople’s Guide to Bushwalking in South-East Queensland
Second Edition 1991 (ISBN 0 646 03753 6) (out of print)
The Barney/Ballow Region
- Special Notes
- Road Access
- The Border Route
- Mt Barney
- South Ridge (grade 3 to 3½)
- The Saddle-Summit Region
- Lower Portals and Mt Barney Creek
- The Southern and Western Routes
- The Northern and Eastern Routes
- South Ridge (grade 3 to 3½)
- Mt Ballow Massif
- Mt Ernest Region
- Mt May and Mt Maroon
- Nearby Peaks
The Barney/Ballow Region
The central Scenic Rim includes many of south-east Queensland’s best known and most spectacular mountains – Mt Lindesay, whose “wedding cake” shape is discernable even from the buildings of Brisbane in clear weather; Mts Barney, Ernest, May and Maroon, which offer spectacular and rugged bushwalking opportunities; and the large rainforest covered massifs of Mts Ballow and Clunie. These seven peaks form the core of the central Scenic Rim.
For descriptive purposes, this book divides the central Scenic Rim into the Barney/Ballow region (which includes Mts Clunie and Maroon) and the Border Ranges (including Mt Lindesay). This chapter describes the former region.
Bushwalking Conditions and Hazards
General Terrain: This region is mainly undeveloped and contains some of the most rugged bushwalking areas in southern Queensland. Few routes can be considered suitable for beginners. This is unfortunate since the region has become very popular with tourists and novice bushwalkers in recent years, due to the development of camping areas at places such as Yellowpinch and Mt May. This popularity has inadvertently led to an undesirable situation, with hundreds of people tackling trips beyond their abilities every year. Inexperienced bushwalkers need to realise that even the so-called “easy” routes in this region, such as South Ridge (the “tourist” route up Mt Barney), require a reasonable level of fitness and competence (refer to page 176).
There are several localities in the central Scenic Rim which should be considered extremely difficult and potentially dangerous, even for experienced bushwalkers. A few routes are rated at grade 7, and even very experienced parties normally require belay ropes in such localities.
Navigation: The amount of navigation skill required varies with each particular area. From the navigation viewpoint, many of the ridges in this region are reasonably easy on ascent but are much more difficult on descent. Such routes are recommended for ascent only unless you have travelled them several times. In the Barney area, careful navigation is sometimes also required to find the start of ascent routes, the way being confused by thick scrub and lack of views. Frequent cliffs, both large and small, are another common navigation hazard in the region.
In general, a reasonably good level of navigation skill is required to walk in the extensive rainforest and scrub areas of the western Barney and Ballow regions. In particular, descents along ridges require good compass skills in these western areas.
Climatic Hazards and Water Availability are variable in this region. While the northern ridges of Barney are definitely not recommended in summer due to their open and unforested nature, a few creeks, rainforest areas and southern ridges do offer enjoyable summer walking opportunities. The ridge routes are invariably dry throughout the entire region, so water must be carried in quantity. However, there are water points in several obscure localities in the western areas. In winter expect the region to be very co]d at night, frosts being particularly severe in the open farmlands surrounding the peaks. Watch out for thunderstorms in late spring and early summer. These can bring lightning and unseasonally cold weather.
Rockhopping on Mt Barney Creek downstream of the Upper Portals is much easier and faster than is typical for south-east Queensland, especially in spring and early summer when this section of creek can be an idyllic delight. In autumn when the weather is wet and in winter when many rocks are in perpetual shade, the creek becomes harder to negotiate, especially upstream of the Barrabool Creek junction. Upstream from Upper Portals the creek rapidly changes in nature, the slabs giving way to intermittent rocks and making travel slow and difficult.
Vegetation: Expect some difficulties with the vegetation on most of the less travelled routes, since very thick heath understories are typical of the region. To a great extent, vegetation density in the heath areas is influenced by recent bushfire activity, so the nature of some routes may change in time (note comments on page 179).
Particular note is required regarding environmental problems in this area, since the East Peak and saddle regions of Mt Barney have become very degraded in recent years due to abuse and overuse. Most of the problems are caused by people ignorant or uncaring of accepted bushwalking conservation practices, resulting in a great deal of unnecessary damage, especially around campsites. Rubbish and faecal pollution are only part of the problem. Many trees and smaller plants are badly damaged by people making shelters, campfires or bedding, to compensate for lack of suitable tents, stoves, sleeping bags and other standard equipment. Much of this damage will never repair unless visitor habits and numbers are controlled through management. At Mt Barney there is a considerable argument for the QNPWS to restrict camping to bona-fide bushwalkers who carry proper and adequate equipment. Strict number limits are also required, since severe damage is often caused by excessively large groups congregating in the saddle.
It would be beneficial for wood fires to be totally banned at the East Peak/saddle area. At popular campsites, wood has to be collected from considerable distances and carried or dragged back through the scrub. In thick heath areas such as at Mt Barney, much damage is caused to the living vegetation by this practice. If done frequently, the shrubs will actually be killed. The banning of wood fires from the East Peak- saddle area would also impress upon tourists and novice bushwalkers the seriousness of the situation, and the importance other national park users place on a responsible attitude towards camping practices.
Facilities and Camping
Base Camping: There are no national park camp grounds in this region, although there is a variety of official camping reserves and private camp grounds. The main sites are camping reserves at Yellowpinch and Flanagans Reserve (basic facilities), a camping reserve at Mt May (no facilities), and private camp grounds with full facilities at Bigriggen and Barney Lodge (see the Directory and advertisements later in this chapter). Refer to the road directions for details about the locations of these areas.
Throughwalk Camping: Most bush camp sites in the higher regions tend to be quite small, although there are occasional sites along the creeks which are of moderate size. As in other regions of the Scenic Rim, the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service places number limits on the sizes of throughwalking parties in this region. At the time of writing the management plan policies are being reviewed, but it is quite likely that maximum party size limits of around six to eight people will be applied. It is also hoped that special management efforts will be made to control the camping impacts in the East Peak/saddle area, and along Mt Barney Creek between Upper Portals and Lower Portals.
The 1:25 000 topographic maps published by SUNMAP are recommended for most bushwalking purposes. The most relevant sheets are Mt Clunie, Mt Lindesay, Teviot, Maroon and Palen Creek. There is also a good 1:25&thinsp000 forestry/national park map of the Barney/Ballow region, available through SUNMAP and other outlets. However, this doesn’t extend much beyond the park boundaries or clearly show all road access. It also doesn’t cover Mts May or Maroon. Consequently, check that your intended route is fully covered by the map before your trip.
The principal access points in this region are as follows:
Yellowpinch (from Mt Lindesay Highway): The camping reserve at Yellowpinch can be reached by turning right onto the Barney View road, 10.5km south of Rathdowney. Drive 6.7km, ignoring all turn-off roads (including the road marked “Barney View” 3km from the highway), then turn left at a T-junction (767 764). Drive a further 6.6km, ignoring all turn-offs. The camping ground lies at 737 714, just beyond a causeway on the Logan River. The road beyond the camping reserve has now been closed, although it may still be trafficable by four wheel drive vehicles (see topographic map for route).
Yellowpinch (from Boonah-Rathdowney Road): Turn south 39km from Boonah or 10km from Rathdowney, onto the road marked “Barney View”. Drive 3km and turn right onto a dirt road, then drive a further kilometre and turn left at a T-junction (the right hand road at this point goes to Flanagans Reserve, a picnic and camping area). After a further 1.2km you will reach the intersection described above (767 764), with the road from the Mt Lindesay Highway joining on the left. Drive straight ahead at this intersection for 6.6km, as outlined above.
Mt Barney Lodge is being developed at the time of writing. It is intended to be a low key camping and accommodation centre, with the camping area due to open in early 1991. It is located on the left just before Yellowpinch (see Directory and advertisement).
Lower Portals: Follow the Yellowpinch directions until 2.6km south of the intersection at 767 764. At this point (approximately 753 746), take a signposted right hand turn. Drive a further 600m, passing through a gate, and turn left. The car park and the start of the Lower Portals track lies about 1.7km further on, at about 733 746. Those familiar with the old access track via Drynans Hut should note that the old route is now closed and trespassers may be prosecuted. Therefore, avoid the entire Drynans Hut region which extends from just downstream of Lower Portals to Drynans Hut at 727 761.
Flanagans Reserve: Refer to the road directions given above for locating Yellowpinch from the Boonah-Rathdowney road.
Bigriggen Park: This commercial camping ground leased from the Beaudesert Shire Council lies adjacent to the Logan River and is readily accessible from the Boonah-Rathdowney road. Turn south 39km from Boonah or 10km from Rathdowney into the road marked “Barney View”, then drive 700m and turn right. From this junction, it is only a few kilometres to Bigriggen (see Directory and advertisement).
Burnett Creek: Drive south from Boonah for about 26km ignoring all turn-off roads. Three kilometres past the Maroon Dam turn-off, the Burnett Creek road turns off right. Mt Ballow can be climbed (by crossing private property) from various points along the latter half of this road. The far end of the road is not recommended in wet conditions.
Mt May and Graces Hut: Take the Burnett Creek road, then turn left after 2.5km into Newmans Road. Follow this for almost 2km until you find a junction near some houses. Take the right hand fork, which passes through a gate after about 500m before leading to the Mt May campsite (674 798; no facilities). Beyond the campsite the quality of the road varies considerably – sometimes it is in good condition and sometimes it is almost untrafficable due to deep water ruts. One fact is certain – it should be used only in dry weather. In wet weather the steep sections become very dangerous on descent, even for four wheel drive vehicles. The first steep pinch lies just after the Mt May campsite and later there is a much longer climb. While maps show the road continuing to Graces Hut (659 757), nowadays vehicular progress is stopped a kilometre beforehand by a locked gate on the top of the ridge (655 765). Signs mark the start of the walking track to Upper Portals, the ridge in this vicinity being open and grassy and providing brilliant views of the surrounding mountains. N.B. Newmans Road can also be followed from Maroon township.
Mt Maroon (Cotswold): This road turns south off the Boonah-Rathdowney road 2.7km east of Maroon township (start odometer at school). From the turn-off it is 3.5km to the small lagoon where the normal ascent route begins.
Knapps Peak is reached by turning off the Boonah-Rathdowney road about a kilometre east of Maroon township, into a side road signposted “Cannon Creek”. Refer to page 192 for more details.
White Swamp (Boonah Border Gate): This is used when climbing Mt Clunie. Drive south from Boonah towards Maroon, but after 16km take the right hand road marked “Carneys Creek”. Drive 26km along the this road, ignoring turn-offs, to the Boonah Border Gate.
Collins Gap Border Gate: This is the border gate on the Mt Lindesay Highway 27km south of Rathdowney. This access point is sometimes used when visiting the Mt Ernest region.
Access from New South Wales: It is possible to access the border route between Mt Ballow and Mt Clunie via the Lindesay Creek road which lies north of Woodenbong (do not confuse this with Lindesay View). Driving from Queensland, the turn-off lies on the right a few hundred metres beyond the centre of Woodenbong. Turn left after 4.7km and follow the road for 1.4km to a locked gate (622 643). From here it is approximately a 5km walk to the border, the road being managed by the NSW Rabbit Board.
The Border Route
The most popular bushwalking areas in the Central Scenic Kim are around Mts Barney, Ballow and Maroon, which are described later in this chapter. The actual Scenic Rim route, which in this region extends along the border from the Boonah border gate to Collins Gap, lacks the spectacular views and features of these nearby mountains. There are also several detractions along the route. These include the rabbit fence, which destroys the pristinity along much of this part of the border, and a section of severe logging regrowth south of Nothofagus Mountain.
However, there are still many features to attract walkers. The summit of Mt Clunie provides views and is well worth visiting. The route also forms a significant portion of the Scenic Rim route and there are many sections of attractive forest. In addition, the area between White Swamp and Collins Gap represents a vast and seemingly unexplored area on the map, and the fact that only a minority of people visit the area is sufficient to stimulate the exploratory instincts.
The region is described below in two stages. The full trip from White Swamp to Collins Gap would take about three days and be rated about grade 4½.
Mt Clunie to Mt Ballow
Mt Clunie provides interesting views and has attractive eucalypt forest on its western approaches. It can be ascended as a day trip from the Boonah border gate (grade 3½ to 4), or it can be traversed as part of a longer trip.
Leave your cars about 700m south of the Boonah border gate and simply follow the border fence south. The fence crosses over the summit of Mt Clunie, so there is no navigational difficulty. However, on both sides of Mt Clunie the fence takes an incredibly steep course directly up the slope. There are many steep and slippery sections of border and rabbit fence in south-east Queensland, at localities such as Wilsons Peak, Mt Superbus and Mt Cougal, but none compare with Mt Clunie.
The Border Fence can be followed for many kilometres along the winding ridge east of Mt Clunie, finishing about 4km south of Mt Ballow. If walking in the reverse direction, careful compass work is required when descending from Mt Ballow until the border fence is reached. Possible water points (reliability unknown) are 549 675, 563 671, 574 667 and 575 665.
Other Routes: The route from the Boonah border gate to Mt Ballow is actually a huge horseshoe. Inspection of the map shows that walking between the two points could also be done via two ridges – one running east from the border gate and the other west from Mt Ballow over Minnages Mountain. These could provide the basis of an interesting 2 or 3 day circuit walk which would probably be about grade 4. The route on Minnages Ridge is described on page 187.
Mt Ballow To Collins Gap
This section of the border is largely devoid of fence line and takes about 1½ days to walk with packs. It is mainly rainforest except for some areas near the east. Considerable navigation competence is required, compass work being necessary on most descents.
For several kilometres between the points 628 700 and 640 687, an old logging road is followed along the border crest. This is badly overgrown in most seasons and slows progress to a tediously irritating rate. Progress is good for most of the remainder of the trip, although careful navigation is required for several kilometres before the fence resumes west of Collins Gap.
There is a known water point at 659 682, although a number of other creeks just off the crest should also provide reliable water (especially those that drain southern slopes, such as at 640 688).
Possibly the best known mountain in southern Queensland, Mt Barney can be climbed by over twenty different routes. While most routes are either precipitous or very scrubby, they also provide excellent views. It is for its views that Mt Barney is renowned.
The severe environmental problems caused by overcamping and abuse at East Peak and the Barney saddle have already been mentioned in this chapter. Please be extremely responsible in your camping practices – avoid wood fires on or near the peaks, don’t damage the vegetation in any way and don’t take axes or machetes into the national park. Be careful not to litter or pollute the water supplies. For further details, see pages 171 and 176. None of the routes in the Barney region except South Ridge and Gwyala Peak are rated below grade 4, and even South Ridge is rated at grade 3 to 3½. Many of the ridges on the northern aspect of East Peak are particularly precipitous and difficult.
Unless otherwise noted in the following pages, assume that all routes discussed take at least one long day to complete, in addition to the time taken to walk to and from the base of the route.
South Ridge (grade 3 to 3½)
South Ridge is the easiest route on Mt Barney and leads to the Barney Saddle, located between East and West Peaks. The ridge has a good track along its entire lenglh. However, despite it being nicknamed Peasants Ridge and being regarded as the “tourist route” to the summit, it requires reasonably good fitness. If you are not an experienced bushwalker, you should exercise or play sport regularly in order to consider yourself adequately fit to climb Mt Barney. Even by the “tourist route”, there is simply no easy way to climb a 1300m high mountain. Parts of the ridge are very steep and it may seem never-ending if you are not used to bushwalking. There are many stories of experienced walkers, descending South Ridge late in the afternoon, meeting evidently unfit and tired walkers about a third of the way up asking, “How much further to the top? Can’t be far now, ah?” Remember to always carry emergency items even on day trips e.g. torch, map, compass, watch, parka, pullover, first aid kit, water bottle and a little extra food.
The ridge also has several climbing difficulties. While these are not hard by bushwalking standards, many of the novices who travel the route find them very tough. Furthermore, the top of the slab section (the most awkward pitch) lies above a small cliff, the danger of which is easily overlooked. Loose earth and twigs make the path slippery above this cliff. There have been a number of serious accidents on the ridge, and sadly these have included a fatality.
To reach South Ridge, follow the road from the Yellowpinch camping reserve, crossing the ridge and descending to a floodway on the Logan River (728 698). Continue on the road for about 2km beyond the floodway, to a point where the road divides (715 697). Here a large national park sign blocks the road climbing the hill straight ahead, while the main road swings left down through a gate (this left hand road soon leads to a creek crossing). Take the right hand fork up the hill. This actually starts ascending Mezzanine Ridge, but the track laler contours left and crosses a creek onto South Ridge. The track is heavily trodden virtually all the way to the Barney saddle, although there are some false offshoot tracks at the very top. The ridge is reasonably well shaded but dry, so water should be carried.
Most people on day trips take between 2 and 3 hours to climb to the Barney Saddle from the start of South Ridge, but this depends greatly on fitness. There have been instances of people taking one hour and others taking eight hours. In addition the walk from Yellowpinch to the start of south Ridge takes about an hour.
On descent from the Barney Saddle, the track to South Ridge can be found to the south-east of the Rum Jungle campsite. It initially climbs over a knoll (697 713) before taking its descent course. Care is needed in the first few hundred metres to avoid taking a couple of false offshoot tracks.
Perspectives for Thought
Between the late 1940s and the late 1960s, Mt Barney’s abundance of ridges and creeks prompted feverish bushwalking exploration and discovery of numerous different routes to the summit. Early bushwalkers were particularly enthusiastic about the mountain’s precipitous northern aspect, where there are routes as hard as any in Australia. South Ridge was one of the last routes to become known, mainly because it doesn’t extend all the way to the valley. In comparison to the northern routes, those early walkers considered that the new route was so straightforward that they nicknamed it Peasants Ridge. This is how the ridge obtained its “easy” reputation. Unfortunately, this is misleading for novice bushwalkers today, many of whom have quite different perceptions of the word “easy” and would marvel at the toughness of those early walkers.
Sadly, the discovery of South Ridge has also had a dramatic detrimental effect on the mountain; allowing large numbers of inexperienced bushwalkers to travel into the heart of a rugged wild area. The situation has continued to worsen over the years, with an increasing proportion of visitors having little idea of environmental and safety practices. Vegetation continues to be destroyed to provide shelters, bedding and firewood, due to the failure of visitors to carry stoves, tents, warm clothing and quality sleeping gear. During the 1960’s, Mt Barney was regarded as the “Mecca” of bushwalking in south Queensland, being given a level of respect which could be considered the bushwalking equivalent of strong religious zeal. Often it was also a meeting place for bushwalkers of different origins, and the ultimate bushwalking communion was sharing thoughts when camped in the saddle at the end of a hard day’s walk.
Nowadays the saddle/summit area caters for more backpack campers than ever, but experienced bushwalkers are rarely found among them. In recent years experienced walkers have all but surrendered the saddle/summit area as a genuine overnight bushwalking location, and many – especially those who remember the mountain in its pristine condition – regret that South Ridge was ever discovered.
The Saddle-Summit Region
There are two campsites in the Saddle region. The first is at Rum Jungle, located in the Saddle proper. The second lies at the old hut site 150m down to the north. Both are in a badly degraded condition. Water is available in most seasons from the small creek near the old hut site, although it is advisable to obtain water supplies from well upstream.
Permits must be obtained from the QNPWS in order to camp either on the summit or in the saddle of Mt Barney. Please do not litter or damage the vegetation and please use fuel stoves instead of wood campfires (see pages 171 and 176 regarding camping practices here).
To reach East Peak from the saddle, pick up the track leading up from the old hut site. You still have 250m in elevation to climb and the route involves some scrambling, but there is no major technical difficulty. This final climb takes between 30 minutes and an hour. There are some small degraded campsites just to the east side of the summit.
The route to East Peak is fairly distinct despite the multitude of scrubby tracks. In descent, keep to the left hand tracks when you get close to the old hut site.
West Peak is slightly higher than East Peak but the views are not so sweeping. It is ascended from Rum Jungle, starting at the mossy slabs just to the west. The route is less distinct than that up East Peak and also involves some climbing difficulties. Depending on the exact route taken, some of these difficulties may be moderately hard. There are no campsites on the summit.
Lower Portals and Mt Barney Creek
Lower Portals is one of the most popular areas at Mt Barney. Following the road directions given previously, this gorge on Mt Barney Creek can be reached in an hour’s walk from the car park via a good track. Along the western section, the track is located just inside the national park boundary (refer topographic map).
When returning from the Portals to the car park, care is needed not to miss the point where the track crosses the creek. Walking downstream on the left bank, look for a slab after about 400 metres. This marks the creek crossing, which lies just inside the national park boundary. Lands downstream of the boundary are private property and are strictly out-of-bounds (see page 173).
To travel further upstream, it is necessary to bypass the Portals by a track across the ridge to the north, crossing the small saddle at 700 744. To locate the track from the campsite, walk westwards for a hundred metres or so before ascending. In descent the track can be found in the gully on the left of the bend at 700 743. It is also possible to swim through the Lower Portals, although the entry and exit at the top end is difficult.
Mt Barney Waterfall, which lies on a tributary of Mt Barney Creek at 697 735, is a popular destination of day trippers venturing above the Portals. A popular overnight trip is the rockhop between Lower and Upper Portals, Mt Barney Creek being noted for its wide easy slabs. The trip is relatively easy in drier seasons and normally takes about a day (one way), although several sections higher up may be difficult in winter and after rain. Another route between the Lower and Upper Portals is the ridge system north of Mt Barney Creek, leading between the Lower Portals bypass track and the knoll at 675 743. It also gives access to various parts of Barney Creek. Information on routes near the Upper Portals is given on pages 184 to 186.
Normally most routes on the western side of Mt Barney are very scrubby, but in 1989 severe bushfires cleared out the undergrowth from large areas. At the time of writing it is uncertain what further changes will result. In places where the canopy trees have survived, easier walking conditions can be expected for some years. However, in places where canopy trees have been killed, regrowth is likely to grow quickly and be thick and weedy, hindering walking considerably. The exact extent of the fires is also unclear, so parts of the original thick scrub may still be encountered. Moving in a clockwise direction around the mountain from South Ridge, the recognised routes are described below:
Egan Creek (grade 4; descent about 3 to 4 hours): Also called Eden Creek, this is mainly used as a descent route since it is navigationally easier in this direction. Simply walk south from the Barney Saddle at Rum Jung1e and begin the descent. The creek is set among open rainforest and is very pretty. There is some steep country and at least one large waterfall to negotiate, so it requires reasonable fitness and considerable scrambling agility. Allow yourself about double the time that you would take to descend South Ridge. At the bottom, you cross an overgrown road just before Cronans Creek. Follow this to the left (down the Cronans Creek valley) until it joins up with the road at the start of the South Ridge track. N.B. Due to several diverging tributaries, ascent of Egan Creek is not recommended unless you know the route.
Savages Ridge (grade 5 to 6; full day): Normally very scrubby, this is one of the major areas affected by the 1989 fires (see previous comments). It can be used for either ascent or descent. In the former case start just west of Egan Creek at about 706 694 and travel up to Savages Point, the knoll located at 688 712. In descent keep to the east of the ridge when travelling down from Savages Point. Savages Point gives a rather unusual view of the twin peaks of Barney.
There are several variations for negotiating west peak. If ascending from Savages Point, keep close to the ridge initially and aim towards the chimney gullies which break the peak’s western cliffs. These provide the shortest route to the summit, although in wet weather they may be very difficult to climb (there are possibly a couple of gullies in this vicinity, some harder than others). If this route doesn’t prove feasible, simply contour north around the base of the cliffs to the West Peak/Barrabool saddle.
A 30m abseil or belay rope is recommended to negotiate the gullies in descent, especially in wet conditions. From the summit, strike straight through the scrub towards Savages Point until you find one of the gullies, where you will probably need to abseil about IMO under awkward scrubby conditions (but note the previous comments about the possible existence of several routes of varying difficulty). Less experienced parties are advised to descend via the West Peak-Barrabool Saddle and then to contour back through the scrub below the cliff line.
Savages Ridge forms part of the Barney Traverse, a grade 6 route traversing both the East and West Peaks of Barney which ascends via Logans or South-East Ridges and descends via Savages. This weekend or extremely long day trip gives an excellent and compact appreciation of Mt Barney.
The Barney Spur (grade 5 to 6; throughwalk) is the name given to the long ridge running from West Peak via Savages Point and Burrajum Peak, out to the border at 673 680. In terms of sheer effort and thickness of vegetation, this is normally one of the most difficult ridges on Barney, although the extremely thick heath scrub around Burrajum Peak is now likely to have been cleared out by the 1989 fires. Good navigation skills are required to follow the vague ridge crests after the route enters rainforest south-west of Burrajum Peak. Water can often be found at a gully just off the route at 674 697.
Apparently it is also possible to ascend Burrajum Peak directly from Cronans Creek, but no information is available about the nature of this route.
Note the comments regarding the ascent and descent of West Peak given in the description of Savages Ridge if using the Barney Spur.
Gwyala Peak makes an interesting return day trip from Upper Portals (grade 3 to 3½; perhaps 4 to 5 hours return from the campsite), or it can be used to access the Barney Spur (see comments and grading above). From Upper Portals, simply ascend the ridge which lies directly south of the campsite. The ascent route is straightforward although some navigational care may be needed on descent. The peak is rainforest covered, but near the summit on the north-west side there is a large rock slab which gives good views towards Mt Ballow, while just east of the summit there are places where you may be able to obtain limited views through trees towards Mt Barney. A much underrated peak.
Long and Short Barrabool Ridges (grade 5; throughwalk): To access the Barrabool Ridges, start by rockhopping up Barrabool Creek. Short Barrabool Ridge (the quicker route) starts at the first creek junction (679 730), while Long Barrabool Ridge starts at the second junction (677 726). This is another area which is normally very scrubby but was burnt out by the 1989 fires. Barrabool Peak has space for camping and offers unusual views of Mt Barney. The ridges are better suited to ascent but can be used for descent with careful navigation. There are several scrambling difficulties.
Midget Ridge (grade 4½; throughwalk) starts at the large bend on Barney Creek at 686 739 and can be used for ascent or descent. This is another area which is normally very scrubby but was burnt out by the 1989 fires. Keep west of any cliffs and you should not encounter any climbing difficulties. There are no campsites on the ridge except for a couple of small sites in the Midget Peak/West Peak saddle. View spots are rare but Midget Peak (also called Bippoh Peak) offers unusual perspectives of Mt Barney and its northern ridges, especially Leaning Peak. N.B. Before discovery of South Ridge, Midget Ridge was apparently the “easy” ascent route for Mt Barney.
The Northern and Eastern Routes
The northern and eastern routes are typified by cliffs and rocky terrain, although there are also many areas of thick scrub. Some routes are extremely precipitous.
Barney Gorge (grade 4 to 5½; 2 to 5 hours one way, plus the walk on Barney Creek): The gorge is a very popular route, especially in spring and early summer when the dry rocks provide easier travelling. There is a lot of rockhopping, and some scrambling around cliffs and waterfalls, so the exact difficulty will depend on the season and wetness of the rocks. When rockhopping along Mt Barney Creek, the start of the gorge is easy to miss, but can be located by the large camping site on the opposite bank. In ascent it leads directly to the old hut site, while in descent the gorge creek is easily found by descending straight down to the north from the saddle. Two waterfalls require care, the lower one normally being passed by a long detour on the west, and the upper one by a scrubby route on the east. In dry conditions it may be possible to bypass these waterfalls by shorter routes.
Long and Short Leaning Ridges (grade 7; full day): Both these ridges are extremely airy, requiring careful scrambling and climbing near precipitous drops. They join near Leaning Peak. Short Leaning Ridge starts at 696 735. It is best accessed by firstly rockhopping to the top of Barney waterfall at 697 735, bypassing the falls themselves on the eastern side. Long Leaning Ridge starts near the junction of Mt Barney and Barney Gorge Creeks at 690 738.
A belay rope is strongly recommended on these ridges. In any event a 50m abseil rope is required to descend off Leaning Peak towards North Peak.
Moonlight Slabs (grade 6; this grading is based on the northern part of Eagles Ridge): This is the name given to the route which follows Barney Waterfall Creek (697 735) up to the Isolated Peak-North Peak saddle (703 727). However, since the first bushwalking party ascended and named the route, the location (and existence) of the moonlight slabs themselves has become something of a mystery. Apparently the lower part of the route is not too difficult, the waterfall itself being bypassed on the eastern side. To ascend further from the saddle, follow the Eagles Ridge route (see below). Note that the most exposed section of Eagles Ridge lies between the saddle and North Peak, which is the reason for this route’s high grading.
Eagles Ridge (grade 6 to 6½; at least one full day): By many regarded as the premier ridge on Mt Barney, Eagles Ridge is a long arduous route with many ups and downs and just as many outstanding view spots. It ascends and descends quite a few of the “minor” peaks of Barney, including Toms Tum (704 734), Isolated Peak (also called North-East Rock) and North Peak. All offer excellent views, the changing nature of the views being the major attraction of the ridge. However, it is a very long route. A 50m abseil and belay rope is strongly recommended. The ascent of North Peak is via some exposed slabs and anyone not competent and experienced at scrambling in exposed situations will require a belay rope at this point. In addition many parties abseil from several of the minor peaks. Although there are scrambles to bypass all the abseils, the alternative routes are sometimes difficult to locate.
Start just before the Lower Portals track meets Barney Creek (703 747). Any of the ridges running south along this section will lead onto the ridge. The first high point is an unnamed knoll, from which Toms Tum is easily climbed. The abseil off Toms Tum can be avoided by descending east along a rocky spur which leads off just back from the summit. Descend a short distance down this spur, then look for a route to the right which leads into a ferny gully back towards the main ridge.
Vague tracks usually lead through the ferns, initially ascending towards the ridge crest, but then leaving the crest again to bypass a large rock pinnacle on the eastern side. After the pinnacle, ascent back to the main ridge is done via a tight scrubby gully. Isolated Peak is climbed after this point. Fit parties wold take between 3 and 5 hours to reach Isolated Peak from the Lower Portals car park, depending whether overnight gear is carried.
There are several route options to descend from Isolated Peak to the saddle. The easiest route has little technical difficulty except for a short section of down climbing, although an abseil rope may be necessary if this route cannot be found. There are probably also a number of route options for ascending from the saddle to North Peak. On the normal route, the ridge is followed up from the saddle, around to the left of some short rock obstacles, then up three pitches of slabby rock. The climbing becomes more exposed and slightly harder as you ascend, although it is not of extreme difficulty. It may also be possible to avoid any climbing and exposure by undertaking a long traverse to a sloping scrubby ledge on the left, although the viability of this route is unknown.
After the top of the climbing pitches, the summit of North Peak is easily attained. To travel from North Peak to East Peak, you will initially have to divert around a short chasm close to the summit of North Peak. After this it is best to keep as close to the main ridge line as possible in order to avoid thick scrub lower down the slope.
North-East Ridge (grade 6; full day): The start of this ridge is found by walking along the Lower Portals track for about ten minutes to the crossing of Rocky Creek (726 747), then following Rocky Creek upstream for about ten minutes to a major junction (727 745). The ridge starts between the two tributaries and leads up to Isolated (North-East) Peak, from where the Eagles Ridge route is followed. N.B. Rocky Creek can also be followed downstream to the Rocky Creek Portals (about 20 minutes one way), although private land must be crossed.
North Ridge (grade 4½; ascent about 5 hours): An underrated ascent route, the ridge running directly east from North Peak. There are patches of thick scrub, and several rocky sections need to be bypassed low on the south side, but there are also good views in the upper section.
To find the beginning of North Ridge, start by ascending Logans ridge from just north of the gate at 742 720. After about 2km you will reach the national park boundary fence just beyond a knoll (724 719). Continue a further 600m along the ridge, then contour right to cross Rocky Creek at about 715 722. Once Rocky Creek is crossed, you are on North Ridge. To travel from North Peak to East Peak, you will initially have to divert around a short chasm close to the summit of North Peak. After this it is best to keep as close to the main ridge line as possible, in order to avoid thick scrub lower down the slope.
Rocky Creek (grade 4½ to 5½; 3 to 5 hours down): A good descent route in dry weather – simply descend east from the North Peak-East Peak saddle. It is popularly combined with either Logans or North Ridges to make a long day trip for a fit party. There is much scrambling on steep ground and a few difficult sections, but in normal conditions (i.e. when the creek and rocks are virtually dry) these are not severe. However, avoid this route in or after wet weather.
At about 715 722, the right hand bank opens up, and it is possible to travel directly east over the lower parts of Logans Ridge to the Yellowpinch road. This is open going and very easy – follow the reverse of the directions given above for the start of North Ridge. Alternatively, you may choose to follow Rocky Creek down to the Lower Portals track, which crosses the creek about ten minutes from the Lower Portals car park. Rocky Creek can also be followed downstream from the Lower Portals track to the Rocky Creek Portals (about 20 minutes one way), although private land must be crossed.
Logans Ridge (grade 5½ to 6; 6 hours one way): This is the original 1828 ascent route of Mt Barney by Captain Logan, the first European to climb the summit (his expedition was originally intended to search for Mt Warning). The ridge can be reached by following up any of the spurs west of the road just before the first Yellowpinch ford (739 715). However, the northern spur, which starts just north of the gate at 742 720, is more open and slightly easier. Logans Ridge involves a considerable amount of scrambling but there are only two very exposed sections. The first is unavoidable, and involves scrambling in a short chimney and up a tree. The second section is just before the summit. A direct ascent here can be difficult and dangerous, but it can be avoided by traversing right into a gully. Follow the gully up until cliffs obstruct progress, then traverse back left along the base of the cliffs to regain the ridge. From here an easy scramble up a short chimney gully will take you to the summit. Parts of the upper section of Logans Ridge provide excellent views of Mt Barney’s east face.
South-East Ridge (grade 4; 4 to 5 hours one way): A direct route to the summit of East Peak, starting just west of the second Yellowpinch ford at 728 698. From the ford ascend the hill to the west, then descend on the other side to a small saddle. From here on it is uphill all the way. The slopes are invariably steep but there are only a few difficulties, none of which are very severe. The first, about halfway, is a razorback which is easy but requires care. Later there are a number of short scrambles, although none are exposed. Just before the final summit climb, the ridge levels off for a short distance (about 706 712). By carefully descending from this point for a short distance through the scrub to the north, a view can be obtained of Mt Barney’s massive east face.
The last major climb of the ridge lies just beyond this level section. One chimney looks difficult and exposed when viewed from a distance, but turns out to be quite straightforward. However, between the chimney and the summit, care is required in one brief section where you scramble upwards for perhaps four or five steps immediately above the east face. Although the section is so easy and quick that few people even notice the drop below, care is required. There is little scrub between you and the cliff edge at this point and any mistake could lead to a fall of some 300m. South-East Ridge is recommended for ascent only unless you know the route well, since there are many diverging ridges not shown on the maps which confuse the descent. Some lead into thick lantana patches on the lower slopes, another onto a cliff buttress.
Mezzanine Ridge (grade 5½ to 6; 5 hours one way): This ridge is so named because it lies seemingly inferior between the more prominent South and South-East Ridges. However, it is considerably harder than both, with an awkward and exposed razorback about halfway and some hard scrub-pushing and route-finding in the upper sections. Start off on the South Ridge track, but instead of following the old road when it turns left across the slope towards the creek crossing and South Ridge (see description on page 176), stay on the ridge and head straight up. A rope is recommended. Suggested for ascents only.
Other Routes: Apparently it is possible to ascend and descend via the creek between North-East and North Ridges, which is supposedly easier and prettier than Rocky Creek. The creek between South and Mezzanine Ridges is also feasible, but is extremely difficult to enter and exit at its upper end. No doubt numerous other exploratory possibilities exist.
Mt Ballow Massif
The Mt Ballow Massif is usually regarded as including Mt Ballow itself (Junction Peak – 621 727), the peaks of the Ballow Range (Double Peak, Durramlee Peak and Mowburra Peak), and the various other peaks nearby – Montserrat Lookout, Focal Peak, Mt Philip, Big Lonely, Minnages Mountain and Nothofagus Mountain. This is the general area described here.
Virtually the entire region is covered in rainforest, although views are obtainable from Montserrat Lookout, Double Peak, Mowburra Peak, Minnages Mountain and from parts of Durramlee Peak. Some of these views are outstanding, with the first three mentioned locations giving particularly good and unusual views of Mt Barney’s western aspect. From parts of Minnages Mountain there are also good views of the Main Range and Teviot Gap.
Junction Peak and Nothofagus Peak are covered in antarctic beech (Nothofagus moorei). These trees provide much of the enchanting appeal for trips in this region.
Upper Portals, Mt Barney Creek and Mt Ballow Creek
Upper Portals: From the start of the walking track on the ridge above Graces Hut (see road directions on page 174), the Upper Portals can be reached in about an hour (4km one way; grade 2). The old access route via the hut is now closed, but a walking route has been provided along the ridge to the south-east. The start is clearly signposted. The new track follows a disused vehicle road and the way is well defined. It proceeds along the ridge lop for about a kilometre, then at about 664 758 it branches off to the right on another old road which descends steeply to Yamahra Creek just downstream of Graces Hut (662 755). The old route is then followed, crisscrossing Yamahra Creek, to the Upper Portals. There is a campsite at the junction of Yamahra and Mt Barney Creeks although it is sometimes crowded. The Upper Portals lie several hundred metres downstream.
If the water is low, agile people may be able to scramble and swim down through the Portals gorge, although a rope may need to be left in place at several locations to aid the return journey. In high water the Upper Portals are extremely dangerous. Normally they are bypassed by a track high on the northern bank. This starts a few metres upstream from the gorge and is a clear track despite an indefinite start.
Upper Portals Ridge: In this general area there are four good vantage points to view the surrounding peaks. The first is the start of the walking route, already described. Others are Montserrat Lookout (page 186), Gwyala Peak (page 180) and the ridge north of the Portals.
This latter ridge can be used to make an excellent circuit day walk to the Upper Portals (anticlockwise grade 2½; clockwise grade 3 to 3½). It is especially recommended as an exit route from the Portals – simply head upwards from the highest point on the track which bypasses the gorge on its north side (see above). Navigation is straightforward in this direction, although the steep ascent passes through a patch of thick heath vegetation. Once the top of the ridge is reached, progress is unimpeded and the ridge crest can be followed first northerly and then north-westerly back to the official access route. There is much attractive open forest and some brilliant close-up panoramas of the Barney/Ballow massif.
The ridge is less suitable as a descent (walk in) route due to navigation difficulties at the southern end. However, several options are available for experienced navigators. By taking the spur running south-south-west from the knoll at 671 736, you will meet the track which bypasses the Upper Portals high on the northern bank. This track can then be followed to either the upstream or downstream end of the Portals. Alternatively, the spur at 674 735 leads further down Mt Barney Creek. However, the ridge further east (680 737) is not recommended since a number ot.clit.t.s cause very slow progress.
There are several other useful routes in this vicinity. The ridge leading north-north-east off the knoll at 675 743 (spot height 762m) can be used as a quick walking route to the Lower Portals, or to give access to various parts of Barney Creek (see page 178). Another fast route to the Lower Portals area is via an old road which descends north off the ridge at 673 750, then follows the valley down to meet Mt Barney Creek about a kilometre downstream of Lower Portals.
Mt Barney and Ballow Creeks: Mt Barney Creek changes dramatically in character upstream from the Upper Portals, the wide easy slabs of the lower reaches giving way to intermittent rocks and becoming more slippery and difficult. Campsites are very rare, although there are good sites at the sharp bend at 661 730.
It is possible to rockhop via Ballow Creek all the way to Cedar Pass north of Focal Peak, and via Barney Creek at least as far as the T-Junction at 654 704. However, unless conditions are dry (e.g. late spring), the going would be rather slow and unrewarding.
Montserrat Lookout, Focal Peak and Mowburra Peak
Montserrat Lookout provides rewarding and spectacular views of Mt Barney, with Mt Warning visible in the far distance. The lookout is less than an hour from Graces Hut (1½ hours with throughwalk gear). From the point where the official access track descends to meet Yamahra Creek (662 755), simply walk upstream towards the hut for a short distance before ascending to the south just before some stock yards. If walking from Graces Hut, ascend the ridge which starts beyond the stock yards on the other side of the small tributary of Yamahra Creek 70m to the south. The ridge is covered in open eucalypt forest and is easy going.
Mowburra Peak also provides good views of Mt Barney. It can be done as a day trip although takes longer to climb than Montserrat Lookout. Ascend via either of the ridges to the south-west of Graces Hut. If you intend descending from Mowburra Peak to Graces Hut, study the maps carefully since it is easy to take an incorrect ridge (added confusion is caused by the area lying near the junction of four maps).
It would be possible to do both Mowburra Peak and Montserrat Lookout as a very long day trip from Graces Hut (grade 4½), by walking via Focal Peak and Cedar Pass. If this is done it would probably be easier to climb Mowburra Peak first. Ascend to the shoulder of Durramlee Peak (634 746), then carefully follow a compass bearing down the veering ridge to Cedar Pass. Water is available at a soak just to the west of the Pass. Ascend Focal Peak and follow the ridge to Montserrat Lookout. It is also possible to contour around Focal Peak, but due to thick scrub and rough terrain it is often quicker to walk over the summit.
Montserrat Lookout can also be climbed via its south-eastern ridge which leads up from the Upper Portals campsite. The ascent is straightforward – simply cross to the north-western bank of Mt Barney Creek upstream of the Yamahra Creek junction, then walk uphill. On descent, start 50m south of Montserrat Lookout and maintain a course towards the east summit of Mt Barney.
Another variation is to use Montserrat Lookout and Focal Peak as an ascent route to the Ballow Range. There are small campsites at most of the saddles between Montserrat Lookout and Cedar Pass.
The Ballow Range from Mowburra Peak to Junction Peak is less than five hours walking for a fit party. It is entirely rainforest and has some minor navigational difficulties, but travel is rarely impeded. Good campsites are not plentiful, but with care small sites can be picked out at most of the saddles if necessary. There is a large campsite amid the beech trees on Junction Peak (Mt Ballow) and more sites on its northern shoulder. Small parties have been known to bivouac on the rock shelves of Double Peak. The nearest recognised water point on the range is just to the south-west of Cedar Pass, although it would probably also be possible to obtain water by descending east from some of the saddles between Double Peak and Junction Peak. For environmental reasons, wood fires should not be used in this area.
On the south side of Double Peak, there is a cliff which may require a belay rope. If ascending Double Peak from the south, the cliff break lies just to the right (east) of the ridge. Descent is slightly more awkward but some searching will find the correct path just to the left of the ridge. The cliff is not large but is typically wet and slippery and has a further drop to the east. A 25m belay rope would be adequate.
The Ballow Range is usually done as a 2 or 3 day throughwalk on a circuit from either Graces Hut or Burnett Creek. In the former case ascent can be made via either Montserrat Lookout or direct to Mowburra Peak, and descent via either Big Lonely or Snake Ridge on the east of Nothofagus Mountain. From Burnett Creek, Minnages Mountain and Mt Philip are common routes. All are described in this section.
Big Lonely and Nothofagus Mountain
Both of these peaks are heavily forested with few views. Attractions include the beech forest on the summit of Nothofagus Mountain and some marvellous box and New England ash trees on the eastern ridge of Big Lonely.
Big Lonely is reached via a ridge off the northern shoulder of Nothofagus Mountain. This veers in a semicircle and requires careful compass work. After crossing over Big Lonely, descent to the junction of the two Ballow Creeks is made via its eastern ridge.
Alternatively, Nothofagus Mountain can be crossed to its south-eastern shoulder, where a long scrubby ridge leads off to the east to the junction of Mt Barney and Ballow Creeks. This has been nicknamed Snake Ridge because of the many subtle direction changes along its length, and it requires even more accurate compass work than the Big Lonely route. There are some cliffs near 638 707 but these are readily bypassed.
If doing either of these routes on a 2½ day trip, you could camp for one night on the Ballow Range and another night at the campsite on Mt Barney Creek at 661 730 (page 186). This would be about a grade 4½ throughwalk.
Minnages Mountain and the Western Ridges
Minnages Ridge and Mt Philip are the two major western approach routes to Mt Ballow, although several other routes may also be possible. All ridges take considerably longer than the ascent routes from Graces Hut since the starting elevation at Burnett Creek is almost 350m lower.
Minnages Mountain can be approached via either its northern or western ridges, and in fact the two routes provide an excellent circuit day walk (grade 3½). The views from the summit are somewhat limited, but the north ridge has a number of good vantage points with unusual views of the Main Range. Minnages Ridge can be followed further east to Junction Peak.
Mt Philip can be climbed from the ridge which leads up from the west and meets the crest just down from and south-east of the summit. This route leads straight to Durramlee Peak and has no major difficulties.
Other Routes: The saddle west of Yamahra Creek is easily approached via its western ridges. It may also be possible for experienced parties to ascend via two ridges which run north-west off Double Peak and its southern shoulder, although no information on the routes is available. One has a cliff line evident on visual inspection from the valley and the starting points of all ridges would be awkward to find among the gullies and farmland below.
Mt Ernest Region
East and south-east of Mt Barney are a number of peaks and outcrops which provide good bushwalking opportunities not appreciated by many walkers. These include Mt Ernest, Campbells Folly and Mt Gillies.
This peak is normally climbed from the east. The ascent is a fairly straightforward ridge walk (grade 3 to 3½), although there is a good deal of loose rock. Permission must be obtained from the landholders east of the peak. The turn-off to their property is on the Mt Lindesay Highway 21km south of Rathdowney and is marked by a very distinctive letter box. Enquire with the QNPWS ranger at Boonah regarding the landholder’s name and phone number rather than turn up at the doorstep unannounced.
Ascent Routes: The eastern ridge (730 681) is the main ascent route. Other feasible routes include the two ridges directly west of the homestead (728 678 or 728 674) and the south-eastern ridge (724 670), although if using the latter you need to take great care that you don’t end up on the precipitous south ridge (720 666) by mistake. It would probably also be possible to climb the north-east ridge, which leads down to the Logan River just upstream from the Cronans Creek junction. On all these ridges it is necessary to take careful note of the return route, since there are several ridge divisions which may cause navigational confusion on descent, and many of the gullies in this area are blocked by large cliffs.
Mt Ernest Traverse: This follows the crest of the ridge out to the border at 679 673, and is possibly the most spectacular trip in this area (grade 4½). With an early start, it can be done as a long day walk by fast fit experienced parties with good scrambling and navigation skills. An idea of the traverse can be obtained when Mount Ernest is viewed from the south ridge of Mount Barney. From this angle, Mount Ernest presents a spectacularly jagged skyline, with a series of sloping organ-pipe cliffs directly facing you. The traverse route proceeds along the very crest of these organ pipes, with spectacular sweeping views. There is a good deal of loose rock and scrambling although there are only a few exposed sections. You need to reach the summit for an early lunch to have time to complete the traverse in a day. To descend from the summit to the traverse route, walk back a few metres, then head downwards directly towards the top of the organ pipes. This appears very steep but there are no cliffs. From here until the end of the organ pipes, stay on or near the crest of the ridge. This takes several hours. Provided you stay on the correct route, the scrambling should only be of moderate difficulty, although care is required in a number of razorback sections. People afraid of heights may prefer a belay in a few places.
The ridge makes a slight twist to the left (not clear on some maps) at the end of the organ pipes, before resuming its west-south-west direction. Good navigation is required from here until the border fence is met at about 679 671. The last few hundred metres of navigation south from the knoll at 679 674 is particularly confusing. Once the fence is met it is simply followed to Collins Gap.
If you wish to avoid the border fence, a number of creeks and side ridges leading down from near the western end of the organ pipes would provide alternatives for completing the Mt Ernest Traverse e.g. the ridge at 700 668 which leads down to the south, or the ridges and creeks in the vicinity of 695 682 which lead down to Cronans Creek. However, these routes would be exploratory and it would be unwise to include them on a day trip itinerary. Some old bushwalking guide books also mention the old forestry road which starts at 711 654 as a means of accessing Mt Ernest. There are several possible campsites for small parties on the top of the ridges. There are no regular water pick-ups but water could probably be obtained by descending to the south from saddles in the main ridge.
This peak lies east of Mt Ernest at 754 678 and provides excellent views of Mt Lindesay. The eastern face is very sheer, making a spectacular sight from the Mt Lindesay Highway. It is usually climbed from the south-west, from near the quarry at 742 670 (about grade 2½). Access is via the property already described (see the description of Mt Ernest) and permission should be obtained. It is also possible to ascend and descend the mountain from the north, although this route is considerably harder. Cliffs block most of the western approaches. There is no water in this area.
Mt Gillies and Stonehenge
Mt Gillies (765 717) lies amongst the indistinct sprawl of ridges and rocky terrain north of Campbells Folly and east of Yellowpinch. The area has many outcrops of boulders and spires which provide a great deal of interest. Some of these are quite large and spectacular, while others form small but intriguing mazes. Dry eucalypt woodland covers most of the ridges and the heath understory produces excellent spring wildflower displays.
The area can be explored from a variety of directions, being bounded by the Mt Lindesay Highway, the Barney View road and the Yellowpinch road. Most access requires permission to traverse private lands. Two of the best access routes are ridges near Mt Barney Lodge – one ascending from the small dam at 752 720 and the other from 750 715. Another possible route is the ridge east of Yellowpinch, ascending to the knoll marked 422m (745 707), then east to the main crest and north along the crest to the summit. It would also be possible to ascend from Stonehenge (see below). However, care is needed when descending the peak since the gullies have many cliffs and much loose rock. Allow yourself plenty of time for exploration and route finding. Additional navigational confusion may be caused due to the area lying on the junction of two topographic maps (Mt Lindesay and Palen Creek). The region is usually waterless.
Stonehenge (785 724) is a jumble of large boulders about a kilometre south from the Barney View road. Several hours can be spent exploring and scrambling around this feature.
Mt May and Mt Maroon
Mts May and Maroon are two semi-isolated peaks lying north of Mt Barney, connected to each other and to the Barney-Ballow massif by a loose pattern of low sprawling ridges. This whole region is dry eucalypt woodland and heath, excellent for spring wildflowers, with Mt Maroon in particular presenting a glorious array. There is little or no water in the area, except possibly for the creeks in Paddys Gully and in the valley south of Mt May. For this reason the region is mainly visited on day trips, although various circuit throughwalks can be organised if you camp on Mt Barney Creek.
Mt May (grade 2½ to 3)
The main peak of Mt May has excellent and unusual views of Mt Barney.
About 3km beyond the Mt May campsite, the Graces Hut road suddenly turns right onto flat ground after a long steep ascent (670 776). From this point, the peak can be climbed in under an hour by a good track up the obvious south-western ridge (grade 2½). There is little difficulty except for an easy climb up a short rock face.
Traversing between north and south peaks is slightly more difficult due to some scree and rock ledges, but presents no major problems.
The other main ascent route used for Mt May is via the ridge which starts adjacent to the Mt May campsite (674 798). The heavily eroded track which ascends this northern ridge is easy to follow in ascent, although there are occasional sections of loose rock and scrambling. The track can be quickly found by ascending the obvious steep slope immediately east of the Mt May campsite. Allow 2 to 3 hours for the ascent (grade 2½ to 3). If used for descent, care is needed when navigating in the vicinity of 677 789, since the turn-off down the ridge from the main crest is not always obvious. Descending parties may also experience occasional difficulties navigating around small cliffs and scree slopes.
Many parties use both routes described above for an excellent circuit day walk from the Mt May campsite. It is best done in a clockwise direction, ascending via the northern ridge, then descending via the south-west ridge and back along the road to the campsite.
Another northern ridge that starts just downstream from the Mt May campsite can also be used to ascend the peak. This ridge runs on a similar course to the ridge already described, but it receives less usage and has no track. It is not quite as steep as the former ridge and gives a better overall appreciation of the region, although several sections would require careful navigation if the ridge was used for descent. Walkers are encouraged to ascend by this route to ease the erosion on the former ridge. At the bottom, the start of the ridge can be found by crossing the gully just north-east of the camping area before ascending (676 800).
Another excellent day trip, with superb wildflower displays on the summit plateau and unparalleled close-up views of the central Scenic Rim and Mt Barney’s craggy profile. The usual ascent route takes about ¾ day for the return trip (grade 3). Follow the road directions previously given for Cotswold and leave cars near the old dam at the end of the road, or in the clearing just beforehand.
The main ascent route starts on the high open hill just to the south-west of the dam. It initially ascends the mountain’s steep north-east ridge (743 805) before veering right into the major gully. Nowadays a heavily worn track leads up the ridge, then veers off across the ridge’s western side to the gully. However, if you miss this track, simply ascend the ridge until cliffs appear to block the route. with the cliffs in sight but at a point some distance below them, traverse right into the gully. Care will be required if you don’t know the route, for there are several places to traverse. One is reasonably easy, but the others are more difficult and could be dangerous to inexperienced walkers.
The gully has a great deal of scree and great care must be taken not to dislodge rocks. The danger is greatest in the lower section. At the top of the gully there is a small waterless camping area next to a small dry creek – this is the start of the summit plateau. Cross the camping area and dry creek and wind your way up to the summit through the slabs and wildflowers. The vista of Mount Barney unfolds on the final crest.
It is possible to climb around to the left of the cliffs at the top of the north-east ridge, although care is required. If you camp on Mt Maroon, please avoid the use of wood fires.
Mt Maroon can also be readily ascended from the west, climbing either the ridge just north-east of Paddys Plain (710 783) or the main watershed ridge from Mt May. The latter is difficult to trace on the map but passes over the knolls marked 445m (707 804) and 512m (713 800), before joining the ridge from Paddys Plain higher up the slope. It is also possible to ascend from the south, by a long scrubby ridge starting from the road at 734 772. This latter route crosses private property.
A gorge starting on the summit plateau of Mt Maroon provides an excellent descent route to Paddys Plain, although the route may be difficult to recognise without prior experience. There are at least two gorges close together on the west of the summit plateau. The correct route is the more northerly gorge – marks of previous usage and possibly a vague track should soon become evident. The gorge provides the opportunity for an energetic circuit day trip, climbing the peak via the north-east ridge then descending to Paddys Plain. It is then possible to return to the cars by the mountain’s north-west "shelf’, which extends broadly between the knolls at 713 800 (512m) and 724 806. This shelf, visible from the Boonah road, is fairly flat walking for the most part, although some of the sides are very steep. Care is required at the north-eastern end (726 806) where you will need to search around for the best place to negotiate a steep descent into a small creek. Cross to the creek’s eastern bank to descend to the paddocks below.
While reasonably easy to descend, Mt Maroon’s western gorge is not recommended for ascent without prior experience of the route, since it has at least one obscure division which confuses the way.
Paddys Peak is the unofficial name given to a small peak at 700 773, just south-west of Paddys Plain. Seemingly unremarkable, this sprawl of spurs and ridges gives some excellent views of the north aspect of Mt Barney. The best view spots may be hard to find but lie on its south-eastern ridge around 704 768. Keep to the south of this ridge as you traverse it and the views should appear through gaps in the trees.
There is also a small waterfall downstream from Paddys Plain which is worth a visit, but note that access to all private lands in this area is restricted.
Several circuit throughwalks are possible in the May/Maroon region, traversing various mountains and ridges and camping on Mt Barney Creek. For example, if leaving cars on the Graces Hut road, the trip over Mt May and Paddys Peak, then returning via Mt Barney Creek, can be done comfortably in a weekend (grade 3½).
The watershed ridge between Mts May and Maroon also provides an interesting route. It can be followed in its entirety, although it is difficult to trace on the map and careful navigation is required in several places to identify the exact route. It makes an obscure divergence from a more prominent ridge system at 688 787, then passes over the knolls marked 445m (707 804) and 512m (713 800).
Knapps Peak (grade 2½ to 3; ¾ day)
Although this peak is separated from Mt Maroon by 9km of cleared grazing lands, it is probably better associated with the Barney area than with any other region. Located to the north of Maroon and approximately midway between the Main Range and Lamington, it provides sweeping panoramas of the three main arms of the Scenic Rim crescent – Lamington National Park (eastern Scenic Rim), the Barney/Ballow region (central Scenic Rim) and the Main Range (western Scenic Rim). The peak is especially recommended in late autumn and early winter, when the atmosphere is often very clear. At this time of year, it is frequently possible to pick out the glistening white waters of Lamington’s Morans Falls far away in the east, as well as the sharp western ridges of Castle Crag, Lost World and Mount Widgee. To the south, the massive rock buttresses of Mt Maroon loom quite close, neatly framed on either side by Mts Lindesay and Barney. In the west lie the peaks and ridges of the Main Range from Wilsons Peak to Cunninghams Gap. Brush-tailed rock wallabies and wildflowers, including the small cerise blooms of Bossiaea rupicola, are other attractions of the area.
Knapps Peak is not in national park. For this peak particularly, bushwalkers should make great efforts to respect the rights and privacy of local landowners and to maintain good relations with them. The usual access is via a property named Green Hills, but enquire with the QNPWS ranger at Boonah regarding the landholder’s name and phone number rather than turn up at the doorstep unannounced. Green Hills is reached by tuning off the Boonah-Rathdowney road about a kilometre east of Maroon township, onto a side road signposted “Cannon Creek”. After about 4km, the turn-off to the property is found on the right, marked by a large wooden letter box. Follow this road for another kilometre to the farm house. Please treat the property with the greatest respect. Don’t use campfires and be very careful not to drop litter. The peak is shown in the corner of the Maroon 1:25 000 topographic map (752 884), while the farm house at Green Hills is marked just west of the peak (733 883).
Possibly the best ascent route is the southern ridge, reached by walking down Knapp Creek. After several kilometres of easy walking on cattle tracks, you will reach a gate on the southern bank (751 869i on the topographic map, caves are marked at this point, but these are actually about 700 metres further downstream). Start the ascent at any convenient location across the creek from the gate. There are a few steep sections and some loose rock, but the climb is only of moderate difficulty. The peak has a large cliff immediately east of the summit.
Another approach route to the mountain is via the north-west ridge, extending from a small peak called Ben Lomond which has a number of interesting features. However, at the time of writing access to Ben Lomond is totally restricted by landowners.
Mt Toowoonan (¾ day, grade 2 to 2½)
This mountain is located just west of Maroon Dam, overlooking the lake shores. However, while it is a notable peak of the district, it is entirely on private property and obtaining the landholder’s consent to traverse the land is currently extremely difficult if not impossible. It is included here simply as a matter of record in case access conditions ease in the future. While not as inspiring as many mountains in the region, it gives views of the Main Range and parts of its southern and eastern flanks should provide interesting perspectives on the Barney/Ballow area.
The Maroon Dam Outdoor Education Centre may be a good place to start enquiries about how and where to approach the landholder in hope of obtaining permission. Apparently it can be climbed by virtually any of its numerous ridges, although some are obviously much steeper than others. Reportedly there is also a considerable loose rock danger in some places and the steeper ridges should be avoided by large groups for this reason. The relevant map is the Teviot 1:25 000 sheet.
|Queensland National Parks And Wildlife Service|
|Boonah:||P.O. Box 121, Boonah. Q. 4310. Telephone: (074) 63 1579.|
|Private Camping Areas|
|Bigriggen Park:||MS 768, Rathdowney. Q. 4287. Telephone: (074) 63 6190.|
|See road directions and advertisement on page 173.|
|Mt Barney Lodge:||MS 768, Rathdowney. Q. 4287. Telephone: (075) 44 3233.|
|See road directions on page 173 and advertisement on page 181.|