Girraween, The Most Beautiful National Park You’ve Never Heard Of

After saying goodbye to Brisbane we decided that we’d head inland rather than continuing the typical van life direction of south down the coast. We’d already seen so much of that part of Australia and we wanted to do something different. Initially we’d planned to revisit Condamine River Road but upon arrival we found that the road had been shut due to flooding and we were forced to rethink our route. I suggested that we head to Queen Mary Falls, have some lunch and then go for a hike. Queen Mary Falls is quite a well known waterfall in the Darling Downs region, it plunges 40m straight off a cliff and in the right light produces rainbows (which we were lucky enough to see). The most popular circuit hike is 2km of ramps down to the base of the falls and then stairs back up to the main car park. It was a great way to stretch the legs. After getting back in the van and heading down the road a little bit we stumbled upon a second waterfall with a less majestic name, Daggs Falls.

We reached Girraween National Park in the late afternoon and set up camp at the surprisingly busy Bald Rock Creek campground. Girraween’s name means ‘place of flowers’ which it certainly lived up to the next morning when Matt and I decided to tackle the hardest hike in the park and climb the pyramid. Before things turned hectic (which I will get to) the track climbed gently through eucalypt forest where we spotted wildflowers of every possible colour nestled amongst the granite boulders. Before long the plants disappeared and we faced the ridiculous prospect of the pyramid. Imagine the steepest ramp you’ve ever seen, make it a bit steeper so you almost can’t walk up it, and that will give you a pretty good understanding of what the hike is like. Climbing the front face wasn’t even the worst part, to reach the summit we had to go to the left and skirt around the side, I kid you not this rock is sloping down towards a huge drop and you’re trying to walk on it half sideways while praying you don’t slip. I was shitting myself. We reached the top unscathed and were rewarded with an absolutely spectacular view over the park. The way back down was entertaining, I worked out fairly quickly that if I leant back and trusted my hiking boots I could shuffle down no worried but there were a surprising number of people that had climbed in sneakers that were trying to scoot down on their bums and tearing their pants to shreds on the granite in the process. On the way back to camp we incorporated The Arch and a section of the Bald Creek Circuit.

Matt has been jonesing to try out the new tyres and therefore after a bit of a rest we drove out to Sundown National Park where he had a bit of a muck around on the 4WDing tracks and firmly established that we had made a great decision increasing the size. I had to agree with him when I had a go in the van, it felt much more solid on off camber surfaces and was handing the rocky tracks like a champion. Sundown National Park wasn’t very interesting to be honest, the highlight was the lookout over Red Rock Gorge where we had lunch. We went back to Girraween via a local chocolate shop and set up for our final night there at the nicer Castle Rock Camping Area.

Campsite Reviews

Bald Rock Creek – Don’t get me wrong this was a nice campsite but I think it would be really challenging to park in if you had anything bigger than our van as a lot of the sites were really sloped. The environment was cool though as it was set amongst these huge granite boulders. $6.75pp/pn – 7/10.

Castle Rock – Definitely our favourite of the two campsites, this spot had large flat grassy sites and an abundance of birdlife. It was also much closer to the trail heads which made everything more convenient. $6.75pp/pn – 8/10.

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