Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk Sunshine Coast

Photo credit: Adam Creed © Queensland Government

Walking

    Stroll through open forest along this Thilba Thalba section of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk track. Photo: Ross Naumann, QPWS volunteer.

    Stroll through open forest along this Thilba Thalba section of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk track. Photo: Ross Naumann, QPWS volunteer.

    View from Narrows lookout. Photo: Ross Naumann, QPWS volunteer.

    View from Narrows lookout. Photo: Ross Naumann, QPWS volunteer.

    Enjoy a steep climb in the fresh air up Gheerulla Bluff. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Enjoy a steep climb in the fresh air up Gheerulla Bluff. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Portable fuel stoves are light and easy to carry. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Use fuel stoves only. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Walking options

    You can choose from a range of walking options—short, half-day, full-day walks, or do the entire four-day Great Walk. Purchase the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk topographic map brochure because it is your essential planning and walking track guide for this Great Walk.

    Track conditions

    The Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk area is managed to maintain its rugged condition. Be aware of what to expect and how to deal with problems. The track:

    • is clearly marked with a generally firm and stable surface
    • has some very steep grades
    • has creek crossings, some of which have bridges
    • width varies from walking track standard to narrow road width where it follows old forest roads
    • traverses areas that are separated by rural and urban land
    • follows footpaths and roadsides in some sections; take care and be alert to vehicle traffic!

    During high rainfall:

    • Do not attempt creek crossings; flash floods can occur without warning.
    • Rocks are very slippery when wet.
    • The track surface changes; it becomes muddy and slippery in parts.
    • Walking becomes more difficult, more tiring and takes more time.

    Track classification

    The Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk includes sections of Class 2, 3 and 4 walking tracks based on the Australian Standard track classification system. These are set out below to help you plan and prepare for your group's Great Walk.

    Class 2 track
    • track surface is hardened or compacted
    • may have gentle hill sections and occassional steps
    • is clearly signposted
    • no experience required.
    Class 3 track
    • formed track with some obstacles
    • may have short, steep sections and many steps
    • caution needed on loose gravel surfaces and at exposed natural lookouts
    • some experience recommended.
    Class 4 track
    • rough track
    • may have long, rough and very steep sections with few directional signs
    • caution needed on loose gravel surfaces and at exposed natural lookouts
    • for experienced bushwalkers.

    Limit your group size

    Do not walk alone. The ideal group size is four. Please do not exceed 12 people in a group. This allows for a more pleasant walking experience. Large organised groups and commercial users will need to obtain an organised event or commercial activity permit.

    Short walks

    There's quite a few short walk options. Be aware!

    • Distances and times—walking only; not rest stops etc—are estimates only.
    • Winter days are shorter; always plan to reach your destination well before dark.
    • Mobile phone reception is not reliable in this area.

    Also read:

    Half-day walks

    Baroon Pocket Dam to Baroon Lookout

    2.2km one way. Allow 1–2hrs. Class 3.

    Baroon Section map (PDF, 207.7KB)

    The track starts at the Baroon Pocket Dam and passes through open woodland ridges. It crosses bridges and boardwalks over palm-lined streams. Narrows lookout provides a splendid view into the Narrows Gorge. Please stay on the boardwalk, further up the track. It protects the habitat of the hip-pocket frog Assa darlingtoni against trampling. The Baroon lookout offers views of Obi Obi Gorge, Baroon Pocket Dam and its catchment.

    Kondalilla National Park to Flaxton Mill Road

    3km one way. Allow 2hrs. Class 2.

    Baroon Section map (PDF, 207.7KB)

    Follow the roadside signs from Kondalilla National Park to Flaxton Mill Road. Enjoy spectacular views over the Sunshine Coast and read about local history at the heritage sites along the way.

    Mapleton Falls National Park to Mapleton National Park (Delicia Road entrance)

    2.1km one way. Allow 1.5hrs. Class 4.

    Mapleton Falls Section map (PDF, 219.6KB)

    Start at the Mapleton Falls lookout and follow signs through the picnic area to join the Wompoo Circuit. At the circuit's upper end, the Great Walk track leads west out of the park onto Daymar Road. Watch out for traffic where the track crosses Delicia Road and enters open forest to the Delicia Road entrance.

    Delicia Road entrance to Mapleton day-use area

    3km one way. Allow 2hrs. Class 4.

    Mapleton Section (Delicia Road entrance) map (PDF, 287.5KB)

    The tracks and boardwalks lead through wet eucalypt forest and a palm grove. Walkers share the last 1.2km section with mountain-bike riders and horse riders.

    Mapleton National Park protects a significant tall, wet sclerophyll plant community, with a canopy dominated by tall trees; mainly blackbutt, turpentine, brush box and flooded gum. The reserve provides habitat for three vulnerable and endangered frog species, wallabies and diverse bird life.

    Flaxton Mill Road to Baxter Creek suspension bridge

    6.2km return. Allow 4–5hrs. Class 4.

    Start walking from Flaxton Mill Road car park. The track takes you through open eucalypt forest, past rocky outcrops and downhill to Baxter Creek with its beautiful waterfall. Turn around at the Baxter Creek suspension bridge and return along the same track back to the car park. You'll need a reasonable level of fitness as the uphill return walk is quite steep in places.

    Full-day walks (only one-way distances shown)

    Consider parking a car at each end of your walk or organise for a friend or taxi to drop you off and/or collect your group when you're finished.

    Baroon Pocket Dam to Kondalilla National Park

    • 10km one way. Allow 5hrs.

    Mapleton day-use area to Gheerulla camping area (Sam Kelly Road)

    • 11.8km one way. Allow 6hrs.

    Mapleton National Park (Delicia Road entrance) (M4) to Gheerulla Falls

    • 7.3km one way. Allow 4–5hrs.

    For more detail: See Track notes below

    Long walks

    Try these long walks with just one or two camping nights; great for that long-weekend getaway.

    Baroon Pocket Dam to Mapleton National Park

    22.1km one way. Allow 10hrs.

    Camp overnight at Flaxton walkers' camp and return on the same track the next day. See track notes below for more details.

    Mapleton National Park Great Walk circuit

    34.7km return. Allow 20hrs.

    Set out for Ubajee walkers’ camp for the first night and Thilba Thalba for the second. See track notes below for more details.

    The entire Great Walk!

    Purchase a copy of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk topographic map brochure before embarking on this 58.8km Great Walk that takes at least four days to complete.

    Track notes

    The Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk is identified by four main sections.

    Section 1: Baroon Pocket Dam (M1) to Flaxton walkers’ camp

    Total distance: 16.1km one way. Allow 7hrs.
    1st leg: Baroon Pocket Dam to Baroon lookout
    • 2.2 km one way. Allow 1–2 hrs. Class 3.

    The Great Walk track starts at the Baroon Pocket Dam and passes through open woodland ridges. It crosses bridges and boardwalks over palm-lined streams. A short spur track leads to Obi Obi Creek, 265m from the start. Another spur track, 225m long, leads to Narrows lookout, which provides a splendid view over the Narrows Gorge. The main track continues up a ridge to a large gully. Stay on the boardwalk, further up the track. It protects the habitat of the hip-pocket frog Assa darlingtoni from being trampled. Baroon lookout offers spectacular views of Obi Obi Gorge, Baroon Pocket Dam and its catchment.

    2nd leg: Baroon lookout to Kondalilla National Park day-use area (M2)
    • 9.2km one way. Allow 5–6hrs. Class 3 and 4.

    This challenging section takes in rainforest patches in the deeper valleys and the beauty of Kondalilla Falls. The track leads from Baroon lookout down a steep slope to the banks of Obi Obi Creek. The natural-surface track crosses many of the creek's feeder gullies as it winds alongside 'The Obi' to the junction with Skene Creek. This section of track ends at the day-use area and is a good place to arrange for your transport to pick you up after your day's walk.

    3rd leg: Kondalilla National Park (M2) to Flaxton walkers’ camp
    • 4.7km one way. Allow 2–3hrs. Class 3.

    This leg of the walk follows the road system connecting Kondalilla National Park to Flaxton walkers’ camp. Walk east along the footpath on Falls Road to the intersection with Montville–Mapleton Road, which is the main road across the Blackall Range. Head north along the road to Flaxton Mill Road and follow this road to the Great Walks entrance. Then follow the Great Walk track for 2km to the Flaxton walkers’ camp.

    Section 2: Flaxton walkers’ camp to Ubajee walkers’ camp

    Total distance: 13.1km one way. Allow 7hrs. Class 3 and 4.
    1st leg: Flaxton walkers’ camp to Mapleton Falls National Park (M3)
    • 5.9km one way. Allow 2–3hrs.

    Leave the Flaxton walkers’ camp and follow a fire management trail. The track heads north down a very steep slope with many rocky outcrops. The walking track veers off the fire management trail and continues down the valley. Be careful, here, to stay on the track to avoid loose rocks and steep drop-offs.

    The track passes from open forest to rainforest on the lower slopes, before entering a piccabeen palm forest on Baxter Creek’s banks. You'll see many epiphytes—plants that grow on other plants, but don't take nutrients or water from them—such as, staghorns, elkhorns and crow's nest ferns. Follow the track to the rock-strewn creek, where there's another short track leading to the waterfall’s base.

    Cross the creek via the suspension bridge, then head back up the steep slope to join Obi Obi Road. Continue west along the footpath on Obi Obi Road and then the footpath along Mapleton Falls Road to get to Mapleton Falls National Park.

    2nd leg: Mapleton Falls National Park (M3) to Mapleton National Park (M4: Delicia Road entrance)
    • 2.1km one way. Allow 1.5km.

    Take the Wompoo Circuit track from the lookout at Mapleton Falls National Park. Look for and take the Great Walk track, at the upper end of the circuit, to head west and then out of the park, for 400m along Daymar Road. Walk straight across Delicia Road and enter open sclerophyll forest. The M4 meeting point (Delicia Road entrance) is only 500m.

    3rd leg: Mapleton National Park (M4: Delicia Road entrance) to Ubajee walkers’ camp
    • 5.1km one way. Allow 2–3hrs.

    Follow the Linda Garrett track along the headwaters of Gheerulla Creek. The track joins the firebreak system and a multi-use track network. Walkers need to follow the Great Walk signs, but be aware that you'll share the first 2.3km of this track with mountain-bike riders and horse riders. The Great Walk leaves the multi-use track to access Ubajee walkers’ camp that’s situated at the Gheerulla Valley’s edge. There's impressive views down the Gheerulla Valley from the nearby Ubajee viewpoint.

    Section 3: Ubajee walkers’ camp to Thilba Thalba walkers’ camp

    Total distance: 13.5km one way. Allow 7hrs. Class 4.
    1st leg: Ubajee walkers’ camp to Gheerulla Bluff
    • 11.2km one way. Allow 5–6hrs.

    Leave Ubajee walkers’ camp and head north to Thilba Thalba. You'll notice the Great Walk track joins an old logging road at the base of the slope. This gradually leads uphill and over a ridge.

    It's a very pleasant walk, often with lots of bird song near the creeks. The vegetation soon changes to a drier, open woodland as you get higher on the slopes of the lower Gheerulla Valley.

    Get ready for a steep climb! The track heads away from the creek to a rocky ridge that goes up to Gheerulla Bluff.

    Take care!

    Flash floods can wash you away. There are several creek crossings on this leg.

    • Don't attempt to cross Gheerulla Creek during or after heavy rain as it is prone to flash flooding.
    • Don't even attempt to cross it if heavy rainfall is expected in the area.
    • Expect to get your shoes wet crossing the creeks even in normal conditions.
    2nd leg: Gheerulla Bluff to Thilba Thalba walkers’ camp
    • 2.3km one way. Allow 1–2hrs.

    The walk along the ridge through dry, scribbly gum forest offers views over the Mary Valley to Kenilworth, Conondale Range, Gympie and north to the Cooloola sandblow.

    A spur track leads up to a knoll—Thilba Thalba viewpoint—with views over the lower Gheerulla Valley to Mapleton National Park’s western section. Continue on the track to Thilba Thalba walkers’ camp.

    Section 4: Thilba Thalba walkers’ camp to Delicia Road entrance (M4)

    Total distance: 16.1 km one way. Allow 9–10hrs. Class 4.
    Shorter option: Thilba Thalba walkers' camp to Mapleton Forest Road 13.7km one way. Allow 8hrs.

    Leave Thilba Thalba walkers’ camp and exit at the Leafy Lane trail head onto Mapleton Forest Road. Car parking is very limited, but a good place to meet if you want to arrange for transport home.

    1st leg: Thilba Thalba walkers’ camp to Gheerulla Falls
    • 8.8km one way. Allow 4hrs.

    The wide natural surface of this track section follows easy grades over dry woodland ridges and moister forests of the valley heads. You'll see brilliant views of the Gheerulla Valley and beyond. The legacy of logging and land clearing is evident along the track.

    Keep following the ridgeline. The track takes you to Delicia Road. Cross over and head east along the fence line which follows the cutting of the original Pioneers’ road, known locally as the Hindu Track.

    The track crosses Delicia Road again at the gate and continues down through wet sclerophyll forest to a small clearing on the banks of Gheerulla Creek. From here, a 100m spur track leads up to Gheerulla Falls.

    2nd leg: Gheerulla Falls to Delicia Road entrance
    • 7.3km one way. Allow 4–5hrs.

    Take the main track from the clearing and cross the creek (creek crossing 1). This heads up the ridge to the junction of the track leading back to Ubajee walkers’ camp. Walk on to either Delicia Road entrance (M4) or the shorter alternative exit at Leafy Lane trail head on the Mapleton Forest Road.

    Walk safely

    Expect the best but prepare for the worst—you are responsible for your own safety. Sections of the Great Walk are remote and isolated. Accidents do happen, even to experienced bushwalkers. Nature can be unpredictable—storms, fires and floods can happen in a flash. Be aware of your surroundings, stay alert, use your senses and exercise sound judgment.

    General safety guidelines

    • Obey all safety and warning signs.
    • Never walk alone.
    • Ensure experienced adults accompany children.
    • Know your exit points—follow your progress on your topographic map and know your nearest road crossings or track exit points in case you need to get out quickly.
    • Avoid walking in extreme heat or high fire danger.
    • Avoid creek crossings during floods or after heavy rain.
    • Watch your head! High winds can cause branches to fall. In extreme winds, camping is not advisable, and walkers' camps may be closed temporarily.
    • Creek and tank water is unsuitable for drinking without treatment.
    • Plan to complete your walk well before sunset.
    • Be surefooted. Wear sturdy, enclosed boots or shoes.
    • Stay on marked tracks or you might get lost.
    • Keep your group together.
    • Always watch for changes in weather.
    • Know your group’s limitations and change your plans as necessary.
    • Check your map regularly to mark your progress against features on the track.
    • If someone is ill or injured, or difficult weather sets in, make camp and wait for conditions to improve or help to arrive.

    Stay hydrated

    Carry enough bottled water—four to six litres—for each day. Drink enough water throughout the day.

    Things that sting

    Avoid stings and scratches—wear protective clothing and keep away from stinging leaves and thorned vines along the track.

    Stinging trees and wait-a-while (or lawyer vines) are common and they hurt:

    • shiny-leaved stinging tree (Dendrocnide photinophylla)
    • giant stinging tree (Dendrocnide excelsa)
    • wait-a-while vine, also called lawyer vines, (Calamus muelleri) have sharp spines and sometimes overhang the track.

    Animals: You may encounter wild pigs, dogs and dingoes—do not approach, encourage or excite them in any way. For more information see the be dingo-safe web page.

    Snakes: Snakes prefer to avoid us and are rarely seen, but be careful.

    • Prevent snake bite—always wear shoes, watch where you walk and use a torch at night.
    • If you encounter a snake, calmly walk away or well around it.

    Ticks and leeches: Regularly check yourself for ticks and leeches throughout the day and before you go to sleep. Remove them immediately—refer to your first-aid book for instructions.

    Do not leave food for native birds and animals. Goannas, possums, kookaburras and butcherbirds have caused serious injuries because people have fed them or encouraged their attention. Native birds and animals need their natural diet to survive. Eating processed foods can cause them to become sick or die.

    Bushfires

    Bushfires can occur without warning and you must take measures to remain safe. Find an appropriate area for refuge according to the conditions, such as a road, firebreak, waterway or already-cooled, burnt ground. Avoid areas with deep leaf litter. Stay low to the ground if it appears less smoky.

    • Early reporting can avoid disaster.
    • Call 000 to report a bushfire and acts of arson.
    • If phones don’t work and the situation is life-threatening, critical or serious, activate your emergency beacon device.

    Be aware:

    • Not every fire is a wildfire.
    • Rangers carry out prescribed burns, usually in autumn and winter.
    • Walking tracks will be closed during prescribed burns and emergency authorities are notified.
    • Do not enter areas that are closed.

    If it's flooded, forget it

    Heavy rains upstream can cause creeks to flash flood, where a huge volume of water can suddenly wash down the creeks and gullies. Only cross creeks when it's safe.

    • Do not cross creeks during floods or after heavy rain.
    • Stay on higher ground and wait until the waters recede.

    If you think you are lost

    • Stay calm.
    • Do not keep walking until you know where you are.
    • Use your map and compass or GPS to find your position.
    • If hopelessly lost, stay in one place, ration your water and food and try to contact help.

    Emergency contact information

    • Call triple zero (000) for critical, serious or life-threatening situations only.
    • If your phones don't work, activate your emergency beacon device.

    Walk softly

    Feel privileged. The Great Walk is one of Queensland's natural treasures. Help to look after these special places. Be aware of and minimise your impact.

    Tread softly and leave no trace

    • Staying on the tracks.
    • Leave no litter.
    • Take nothing.

    This area is totally protected. It is an offence to remove anything—living or dead—from the area.

    Keep waterways clean

    Obi Obi Creek flows into the Mary River—the main water source for Kenilworth, Gympie and Maryborough. Please don't pollute their drinking water with soap, detergent, skin creams, repellents, toothpaste, urine and food scraps.

    Washing

    • Do not let detergent, soap, shampoo and toothpaste get into the creeks.
    • Don't wash in the creeks, as the sunscreen or insect repellent you're wearing will kill aquatic life.
    • Use hot water and a scourer to clean dishes instead of detergents.
    • Wash dishes and clothes at least 100m from waterways.

    Bush toileting

    Take it all out with you! The best option is to take a human waste disposal kit with you. They’re now available from camping stores. Follow the maufacturers directions and dispose of the waste properly once you've finished the walk.

    If you have to bush toilet:

    • Dig a 15cm deep hole, at least 100m from waterways.
    • Cover all faecal waste and toilet paper with soil.
    • Do not bury used women's sanitary products or disposable nappies; take them out with you.

    Camping

    Minimise your impact and try to leave the walkers' camps looking even better than you found them.

    • Only camp in the camp sites at the designated walkers' camps.
    • Don't dig trenches.
    • Don't flatten or break any vegetation.
    • Don't tie ropes to trees.
    • Pick up even the smallest piece of litter.
    • Turn off water tank taps properly.
    • Check your site thoroughly before leaving to ensure nothing is left behind.

    Rubbish—carry it out

    What you carry in, you must carry out. There are no bins here; it's a wilderness walk!

    • Pack light! Remove unnecessary packaging at home.
    • Keep a small sealable bag handy for food scraps and rubbish as you walk.
    • Don't bury rubbish in the bush. It changes the soil's nutrient and pH levels and can take years to decompose.

    Also see: Rubbish: take it home—a short video.

    Cooking—use a fuel stove only

    Campfires are prohibited at walkers' camps. There are a host of reasons for this and penalties apply.

    • Open fires increase the risk of wildfires.
    • You'll trample plants searching for firewood.
    • You'll remove habitat for small creatures that rely on logs and fallen timber to survive.
    • Even bringing your own firewood can introduce soil pathogens, fire ants, toads and other pests.

    Be a clean and safe camp cook:

    • Either plan to eat cold foods or use a fuel stove.
    • Use manufactured fuel appropriate for your appliance.
    • Test your fuel stove before you leave home.
    • Never leave fuel stoves unattended.
    • Never use fuel stoves inside your tent.

    Campers' toilets

    All three walkers' camps have hybrid toilets, that use a specialised treatment process to decompose the waste.

    • They can only decompose faecal waste, urine and toilet paper.
    • Do not place any rubbish, tissues, wet wipes, plastics or sanitary items into toilets.
    • Always close the lid after use.

    Also see: Bush toileting and washing—a short video.

    Do the frogs and forest a favour

    Soil and detritus can contain fungal spores, particularly amphibian chytrid fungus and phytophthora root fungus.

    Be frog-friendly:

    • Clean and disinfect things before you leave home—shoes, tent pegs, camping equipment.
    • Remove soil from your shoes and camping gear before moving to the next walkers' camp.
    • Keep to designated roads, tracks and creek crossings.
    • Keep waterways clean—no soaps, creams or insect repellents.
    • Avoid disturbing rocks or trampling plants.

    Also see: Stop the spread of weeds and pathogens—a short video.

    Please don't try to catch frogs or touch them. Take a photograph and note their approximate sizes and identify them once you're home. It is illegal to remove or damage anything—living or non-living.

    A significant number of frog species depend on this area for survival, including the endangered Fleay’s barred frog and giant barred frog, the vulnerable cascade treefrog and tusked frog, and the hip-pocket frog. The southern dayfrog and southern gastric brooding frog are thought to be extinct, as despite considerable research, neither species have been sighted since 1981.

    Keep wildlife wild

    Our food is bad for wildlife! It's unnatural and animals that come to rely on hand-outs can become aggressive to people, especially children, when they are scrounging for food.

    • Never feed any wildlife.
    • Keep food hidden in sealed containers in your pack.
    • Never hang rubbish bags from trees.
    • Leave no rubbish behind.

    Remember, this area and everything that lives here is totally protected by law.

    See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.