Summer camping in Queensland usually means hot days and humid nights, with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms rolling through camp. But one way to escape the heat is to head into the hills, to gain some elevation and feel the fresh cool breezes of a rainforested mountain top.
The south east corner of Queensland offers plenty of campgrounds in the surrounding mountain ranges that offer a cool change and on this trip I check out the Manna Gums campground in the Goomburra section of the Main Range National Park.
Goomburra is an area of rainforest amongst grazing land in a long deep valley, just 30 minutes drive north of Warwick or 90 minutes drive south west from Brisbane. There are several accommodation options available including a 4WD adventure park, privately operated campgrounds and cabin-style bungalows however I elected to set up in the National Park with its lower cost and less rigid site options compared to commercial campgrounds. The two adjoining National Park campgrounds of Manna Gum and Poplar Flat have toilets and fire pits however you need to bring your own firewood.
The surrounding mountains, valleys and creeks make Goomburra a draw card for any nature lover keen to get off the beaten track and it is an area popular with campers and bushwalkers wanting to be immersed in a rainforest experience.
I ended up picking a spot in northern corner of Manna Gum that was private, had plenty of space and backed onto Dalrymple Creek. I was soon set up, including the camper’s awning knowing that afternoon showers can appear quickly in the mountains at this time of year.
There are several walks gazetted in the Goomburra section of Main Range National Park, each providing a different perspective on this unique part of the country. The walk to Araucaria Falls takes you through subtropical rainforest and past rock pools and towering hoop pines. The half hour hike to Sylvester’s Lookout is well worth the effort with spectacular views across the Lockyer Valley to Brisbane as your reward.
Before striking out on the bush walks I made lunch, which I ate while watching antics of the bell birds and blue headed wrens that were darting in and around the camp. My plan was to follow the walks accessed from the campground on the first day then pack up camp the following morning and drive to each of the walking tracks that branch of Lookout Road.
The rain forest hikes are not too difficult and mostly on well formed paths, with the occasional branch or log to clamber over where trees had fallen and not yet been cleared. Parts of the park are still recovering from the bushfires that swept through in the previous summer, with trees now deformed and pushing leaves from their trunks in a last attempt to survive the fire’s damage. I was fortunate to have a clear day and enjoyed terrific views across the Lockyer Valley and the nearby features of Mount Castle and hills of the Scenic Rim.
I’d been chatting with other X3 owners about the foibles of the camper and difficulty some where having with closing the camper and packing the awning, so when breaking camp I put together a video illustrating our X3 pack up sequence.
With the camper packed and hitched I took last of the short forest walks and headed for home, but true to form I found a back road through Goomburra to Pilton that kept me off the black top for as far as possible, and then wound down the range on the picturesque Gatton Clifton Road.
You can find out more about the Main Range National Park area in the guide at this link.