3 national parks near Brisbane you need to visit

If it’s a nature fix you’re seeking, then these three national parks in the Southern Downs and Granite Belt will keep you satisfied for days.  From chasing waterfalls to seeing glow worms after dark to being alone in the wilderness for days, these parks all offer trails well worth lacing your boots up for!

1. Girraween National Park

Image by @spurwaya via Instagram

Girraween National Park is dramatically speckled with natural rock formations and spectacular boulders balancing precariously on mountaintops, making this park incredibly unique (and very popular for photographs!). There aren’t any rainforests here, only towering granite outcrops and with more than 17km of walking trails, there are plenty of options for exploring.

For those who like their walks short, try the Granite Arch walk (1.6km, 30 mins return), a gentle stroll that takes you through Girraween’s own granite archway. If you want to go high, The Pyramid walk (3.6km, 2 hours return) will take you up a steep climb where the unbelievable ‘Balancing Rock’ teeters right next to you (hiking boots are recommended).  For more trails and tips, check out this How to Guide and get ready for some seriously insta-worthy views!

How to get there: Follow the New England Highway south of Stanthorpe, and continue past Ballandean before turning left on Pyramids Road. There is parking available at the Information Centre of the Bald Rock Creek day-use area.

2. Main Range National Park

image of girl at Browns Falls

Image by @danno_29 via Instagram

World heritage listed Main Range National Park is divided into three main areas: Cunningham’s Gap and Spicer’s Gap, Goomburra and Queen Mary Falls, each offering unique rainforest experiences. Not sure which section is for you?

Cunningham’s Gap and Spicer’s Gap

Travelling from Brisbane to Warwick, you’ll encounter the Cunningham’s Gap and Spicer’s Gap section as you pass over the Great Dividing Range. Here there’s a range of walks from the Moss’s Well track (120m return) suitable for little kids, to the popular Mt Cordeaux track (6.8km return) which provides spectacular mountaintop views back to Brisbane.

Goomburra

The Goomburra section of Main Range National Park is home to rugged mountain ranges, spectacular lookouts, lush subtropical rainforest and some of the region’s most beautiful swimming spots. There are also private and national park campgrounds close by, as well as lodges if you like your creature comforts.

Queen Mary Falls

Visiting Queen Mary Falls is a must do on any Southern Downs and Granite Belt trip. Embark on the easy Queen Mary Falls circuit, a 40-minute walk that takes you from the lookouts at the top of the falls to the creek below. From late October to November, look out for fireflies and glow worms at dusk. Chase more waterfalls by heading off on The Falls Drive, which takes in Browns Falls, Daggs Falls, Queen Mary Falls and Carr’s Lookout and provides an alternative route home from Warwick to Brisbane via Boonah.

3. Sundown National Park

Image by @jcrme via Instagram

Want to go remote with zero distractions and the chance of not seeing anyone else? On the Queensland/New South Wales border lies Sundown National Park, a rugged wilderness of spectacular steep-sided gorges, sharp ridges and peaks rising the more than 1000m.  It’s an adventure junkie’s paradise, with a range of challenging walks, as well as campsites and fishing holes only accessible via four wheel drive tracks. While all the access roads are unsealed, some spots are accessible without a four wheel drive including the Broadwater camping area and Nundubbermere Falls section.

How to get there: Sundown National Park is 250km (3–4hrs drive) south-west of Brisbane via Stanthorpe, and 70km north-west of Tenterfield. It has three entry points—each leading to a different section of the park.

While You’re Here

Make a weekend of it by checking out these other things to do in the area:

You May Also Like…

3 Must do Spring Break Getaways Near Brisbane
A Local's Guide to Sundown National Park