The Sunshine Coast Hinterland’s Conondale & Blackall Ranges

by Christina Cannes

Approximately two hours north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland offers some relatively easy off road experiences as well as plenty of wild swimming at local water holes. We travelled through the Conondale and Blackall Ranges over the course of a long weekend to chase waterfalls and get our tyres dirty. Adding to the panoramic views, there are plenty of small, country towns scattered throughout the area with delicious cafes and quirky shops.

Booloumba Creek

Nestled among the subtropical rainforest of the Conondale Ranges is Booloumba Creek, an idyllic camping spot situated along the banks of a clear, rock-lined stream perfect for swimming. The camping areas at Booloumba Creek are limited to owners of 4WDs (or high clearance vehicles) as there are several creek crossings along the main road. Camping areas one and three are situated along the creek and for tent camping only. Area four is a large, open field and suitable for caravans, camper trailers and in our case, roof top tents. There is an amenities block with flush toilets and fire rings at each camping area. Sites must be booked in advance through Queensland Parks.

The camping area is great for families as there is swimming in the creek nearby offering plenty of entertainment in itself. Each bend of the creek provides a new experience, from rope swings, to small rocks for jumping, even a tiny waterfall.

For the adventurous, there is a steep 4WD track up Booloumba Creek Rd to Booloumba Falls. The track is graded, but precipitous and can be deeply rutted after significant rainfall. It was slow going up this track due to ruts and the winding nature of the track with its very steep drop offs on one side. About halfway up, there is a look out over the ranges which is worth a stop. To access the parking area for Booloumba Falls, it’s further down the track and a quick right turn. It’s about a 2km hike from the parking area to the falls, but well worth the exertion.

Booloumba Falls

The waterfall is not only gorgeous, but has a very wide, deep swimming area full of clear water. The boys loved jumping from rocks on the steep side into the icy pool and swimming across to the shallow rocky side. From there, they could clamour over the falls, back to the rocky jump off point all over again. There is also ‘the breadknife’ a rock formation where Booloumba and Peters Creek meet which is further down from the falls.

We spent three days, two nights camped at Booloumba Creek, swimming, bush walking and enjoying the fire at night. There were also heaps of other families camped around us which made for a nice, calm, playful environment.

Point Glorious Through The Blackall Ranges

For the final leg of our journey, we ventured a bit further south to the country towns of Yandina, Mapleton, Montville and Maleny. There are respective waterfalls in each town, Mapleton being the only one with no swimming option. Point Glorious is accessed via Yandina and offers stunning views of the Sunshine Coast all the way to Noosa Heads.

From Yandina

This leg kicked off from the small, country town of Yandina (from Booloumba Creek it’s about an hour drive, Kenilworth to Eumundi) into the Blackall Ranges. Before we left, we stopped by Wappa Falls for a quick swim and some old fashioned rock jumping. From Yandina, we tracked west towards Cooloolabin and the Mapleton National Park. Here the bitumen falls away to a dirt track, and the signs all point to Pt. Glorious. It’s a slow going drive, easy to navigate and winds through dark, green rainforests. At the terminus, there are two platforms which provide sweeping views from Lake Cootharaba in the northwest to Noosa Heads and all the way to Moreton Island in the east.

Mapleton, Montville, Maleny Waterfalls

From Pt. Glorious, you track back and then turn towards Mapleton at a T-junction. From here it’s an easy dirt track through the rest of the National Park. We stopped at Mapleton Falls on our way into town and took a loop track bush walk to overlook the massive waterfall that unfortunately cannot be accessed. From Mapleton, we drove along the ridge of the Blackall Ranges to Flaxton and stopped by Kondalilla Falls, a national park with a wonderful swimming hole and walking track. There is also Gardner Falls in Maleny which offers up some great swimming and along the way be sure to stop by the Montville Café Bar and Grille for a pint of Guinness.

Booloumba Creek Camping Area, Conondale Ranges
Three main camping areas, area four is the only camping area for 4WDs and camper trailers or caravans
Toilets, water (no drinking), fire rings and creek access
For two adults, two children, two nights with a 4WD + tent, total cost $47.60
Book sites in advance through Queensland Parks

FAST FACTS

Location: Booloumba Falls is 130km north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast

Fauna: The Conondale Range is home to more than 120 species of birds as well as the threatened but seldom-seen yellow-bellied glider, cascade treefrog and red goshawk. http://www.exploreconondales.com/content/flora-a-fauna

Flora: Luxuriant rainforests, Bunya pines, tall eucalypts,

Bush walk: The Conondale Range Great Walk is a 55k trek that starts and finishes at Booloumba Creek. It takes roughly 4 – 7 days to complete. http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/great-walks-conondale-range/

Things to do: If you have small children, the Ginger Factory in Yandina is worth a few hours, as it’s home to the well-known Buderim Ginger and has delicious ice cream, rides and activities.

Also visit the Kenilworth Cheese factory nearby in the main town of Kenilworth h

Pubs: Kenilworth Hotel, established 1939, great local pub meals!

Montville Café Bar & Grill, Guinness on tap!

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