We wanted to participate in a Great Walk while we were in QLD and had planned 3 days to set aside to do so. We were deciding between the Gold Coast Hinterland and Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walks due to their proximity to Brisbane.
Unfortunately the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk had two major roadblocks for us.
- It is purely one way and with no public transport options (private services were at least $80 each way and uber from closest train station would be at least 30 mins) we would have to inconvenience someone to make the 1.5 hour trip from Brisbane to both drop us off and pick us up.
- One of the campsites, Binna Burra Lodge, is privately owned and has to be called to book. Since it was school holidays they only had certain days with available sites that were not possible for us.
So we decided to go with the Sunshine Coast Hinterland which was not only accessible by public transport but because of its loop structure it could be altered and made flexible for our time frame.
The entire Great Walk is 58km and takes an estimated 96 hours or 4-6 days to complete. We used the Sunshine Coast Hinterland topographic map to plan our hike and the guideline that beginners should be walking no more than 16km (10miles) per day. We were warned that this is not an easy hike with a steep incline and varying terrain.
PLANNING OUR ROUTE
We started by looking at the Journey Guide to the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands. For the hike specifically we looked at the NPSR Sunshine Coast Hinterland website information and getting an overview of what to expect. Read some guides and looked at tips from other walkers. We also made sure to read the advice about ‘walking softly’.
WHERE TO STAY
A camping permit needs to be purchased for each campsite in advance at $6.15 per person/night, It was super easy with the Queensland National Park Booking Service QPWS. It was very user friendly, all that was required was to set up an account with an email and then we could see the updated availability of sites and book and pay for them with a debit or credit card. It’s also convenient that it allows you to edit your bookings, such as changing the date or booking a completely different campgrounds.
WHAT TO TAKE
Besides planning the route of the hike we also needed to figure out what was required of multi-day hiking itself. See ‘How to plan for a multi-day hike’
HOW TO GET THERE
1.Train – Brisbane City to Nambour Train Station – 1hr 45min – $3.20
We were dropped off at Bowen Hills Train Station and caught the IPNA to Nambour Train Station. This was a cross-country style train so the seasts were comfy and spacious, and the carriage was fairly quiet. The train moved quite slowly which meant we could appreciate the scenery and towns we were passing, such as the Glass House Mountains. The trip would have take 1hour and 45 minutes, but with some rail delays it took another 30 minutes.
2. Uber – Nambour Train Station to Delicia Road – 15minutes
We were planning on catching the public bus to Mapleton but with the delay we missed it by 5 minutes and instead called an Uber. We had asked to be dropped off at Mapleton Falls (M3), but there was some misunderstanding with the GPS and instead we were dropped off at Delicia Road (M4). The uber took 15minutes and cost … (although it would have been a little less without the confusion).
The drive from Nambour to Mapleton is very hilly with some very windy roads and incredible views. After leaving Obi Obi Road, Delicia Road becomes a dirt road but is well maintained. To the right was a sign and an area to pull off for the Delcia Road (M4) entrance Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk!
After an hour we walked around the corner down Post Office Road to Mapleton Post Office bus station to wait for the 890. On the bus we paid in cash for adult tickets going 2 zones which was $3.10 each. This is a private run company so it was a smaller size coach bus which meant we had comfy seats and the bus driver was very friendly. However, the bus had been 15 mins late and the trip seemed slow the trip due to the winding roads and stops. It took 25minutes to reach the train station.
We worried we were going to miss the train but fortunately we made it in time and caught the NAIP train back to Brisbane. There was a delay coming back and we switched trains and then caught the bus to my dad’s house. We stopped at Miss India for some delicious, hot curries and then walked to his house where we promptly showered and ate.
– DAY 1 –
Delicia Road (M4) to Ubajee Walkers Camp
(5.1 km / 2-3hr)
DELICIA ROAD (M4) @ 0KM
We decided the best starting point for us was the M4 entrance at Delicia Road. There is a sign welcoming walkers to a start of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk. Straight away the walk enters into lush rainforest.
After a short while the path becomes shared with a biking track and eventually leaves the dense rainforest into very flat open terrain.
UBAJEE WALKER’S CAMP @ 5.1KM
After 5.1km of walking we arrive at the first stop for the night;
Ubajee Walkers’ Camp. We pick a site and set up the tent.
GHEERULLA VALLEY @ 5.2KM
Then we walk about 100m to get a view of Gheerulla Valley. We head pack to the camp to make dinner and rest inside the tent listening to an audiobook.
– DAY 2 –
Ubajee Walkers Camp to Thilba Thalba Walkers Camp
(13.5 km / 7hr)
After a quick breakfast of up and go and bananas we pack up the tent, make sure our water is full and off we go.
GHEERULLA CREEK @ 6.9KM
We walk down hill for about 1.8km. At the bottom we turn right to go anti-clockwise around the loop and start the slow upwards climb north.
The path runs along and across Gheerulla Creek.
LUNCH @ 12KM
After another 5.1km we stopped at a log to eat our pre-made sandwiches for lunch.
SAM KELLY ROAD EXIT @ 13.4KM
We continued on for another 1.4km and came to the Sam Kelly Road exit. Here we made a sharp left turn and started the deep ascent to Gherrulla bluff.
It is important for the growth of these parks that controlled fires take place and this area had just had one a couple of weeks prior. So there was a lot of black with some bright new life poking out.
GHEERULLA BLUFF @ 16.3KM
This was the toughest part of the hike. It was looking to rain so it was very hot and miggy. But after 2.9km we reach Gheerulla Bluff.
We stop for a drink break and to admire the view. We also saw our first snake! A very small one that slithered straight off the trail when we got too close for comfort.
THILBA THALBA VIEWPOINT @ 17.1KM
We continue for another 800m and turn left to the Thilba Thalba viewpoint. It’s only about 100m up off the main track and is a small lookout with a steep drop over the side. From here you can see the foliage covered hills.
THILBA THALBA WALKERS CAMP @ 18.6KM
It starts raining after 10 min so we head back down to the main trail and power walk the last 1.5km to Thilba Thalba Walkers Camp. Once here we set up our tent in record speed and 5 min later it stops raining and the sun is out again.
We take the opportunity to make an early meal as we are both super hungry, filter more water and try and dry out our clothes a little. It starts raining again at about 5pm so we retreat to the tent for more audiobook.
– DAY 3 –
Thilba Thalba Walkers Camp to Mapleton Forest Road
It rains all night and doesn’t stop until about 8am in the morning. Fortunately, we found out our tent is in fact very waterproof and everything stayed dry, except for maybe one small corner.
Today is the longest day of them all so we pack up, eat up and head out. The first part of the walk is downhill with the same burnt terrain on our left and dried out trees on our right.
GHEERULLA VALLEY VIEWPOINT @ 23.1KM
The path comes out to a road where you cross and continue back into thick, thick rainforest. With the rain it was wet but very shady which was really nice change from the days before. After abou 4.5km there is the **Gheerulla Valley viewpoint** which is another chance to take in some amazing views.
GHEERULLA FALLS @ 31.9KM
After 8.8km we stopped for lunch at **Gheerulla Falls** where we met a fellow walker or who was taking a day trip. We were also attacked by leeches! Although they were only on our clothes and backpacks so it was easy to get rid of them with sticks. They were mostly small but we made sure to inspect ourselves/each other before heading off again. We had salt prepared just in case.
LOOP INTERSECTION @ 32.7KM
We walked another 800m to the loop intersection at the bottom of the hill.
UBAJEE WALKERS CAMP @ 34.5KM
We then started the 1.8km climb to Ubajee Walkers Camp. Its a continuous uphill walk but once at the camp we have the chance to use the bathroom and refill our water.
MAPLETON FOREST ROAD @ 37.2km
Then we contiued along the flat, open path for 2.7km to the exit for Mapleton Forest Road.
LEAFY LANE @ 37.3KM
We turned left and after 100m we were at the road and trail head for Leafy Lane.
TAMARIN DRIVE NEAR MAPLETON FOREST ROAD BUS STOP @ 38.7KM
We turned right and headed south down Mapleton Forest Road. We were only able to walk on the road but there were not that many cars passing by and it was easy for us to move over. The road then enters the suburbs of Mapleton. We walked 1.4km to the Tamarin Drive near Mapleton Forest Rd bus stop to catch the Glasshouse Coaches route 890 Maleny – Nambour to Nambour Station.
MAPLETON TAVERN @ 39.7KM
Unfortunately we had just missed the bus and the next one wasn’t for another 1.5hours. So we walked another 1km down Mapleton Forest Road turning left at Delicia Road and then left at Obi Obi Road to reach a small collection of shops next to Mapleton Lilyponds. We stopped at Mapleton Patisserie & Bakery for coffees and an apple turnover. We also used the public bathroom behind Mapleton Tavern to change our shirts and apply deoderant.