This bushwalk explores the Green Mountains area of Lamington National Park from O’Reilly’s Guesthouse, combining a few of the trails into an extended loop. (It’s a walk from the archives: a bushwalk I did with my father almost 15 years ago that covers just under 50km over two days.)
Day 1: O’Reilly’s to Bithongabel campsite (6.2km one-way)
Having flown up from Sydney and stayed overnight in Brisbane on the previous day, we’re at O’Reillys and on the track by about 11am. It’s a fairly quick and easy walk along the Border Track to the Bithongabel campsite, which we reach by 1pm. Described as a “rough bush camp”, the camping area is on a steep escarpment over 1,000m above sea level on the southern side of the Border Track – so it gets fairly cold at night. We set-up our tent, and leave our camping gear here before setting out on the next part of our bushwalk.
Albert River Circuit (15km loop)
Backtracking a short distance, we re-trace our steps up the Border Track to where it meets the Albert River Circuit, then descend back towards the cliff line on the Albert River Circuit track. I’ve read somewhere it’s best to do the walk in an anti-clockwise direction, although I’m not sure why. We are doing the circuit in a clockwise direction. The track follows the edge of the Scenic Rim escarpment, entering into NSW for a while. Both the Albert River Circuit and Border Track criss-cross between NSW and QLD, with the border roughly following the top of the cliffline. There are two things that Lamington National Park is very good at delivering: views, and waterfalls, and we soon reach the Cominan Lookout, followed by Echo Point Lookout, where the views don’t disappoint. Both vantage points provide uninterrupted views out to the south-east over NSW: you can see from Mount Wupawn to Mount Durigan on the McPherson Range and south to the Tweed Range. The highest peak is Mount Warning (Wollumbin), which is the remnant of a volcanic plug.
Soon after Echo Point Lookout the track heads inland, descending to Alcheringa Creek which it then follows downstream. The first of many waterfalls along the Albert River Circuit is soon reached near the confluence of Alcheringa Creek and Albert River (Left Branch).
Alcheringa Falls is a small waterfall which cascades over moss-covered rocks, into a small pool.
The track now follows the Albert River Left Branch downstreams, passing more waterfalls. The next one is Gwahlahla Falls, a small cascade which drops into a small pool.
The walking track crosses the Albert River a couple of times, as it continues downstream.
The next waterfall passed by the track is Joolbahla Falls, which is one of the nicest falls along the track. The photo doesn’t really do it justice; the waterfall is surrounded by vegetation, with moss-covered rocks below the falls.
The Albert River Circuit generally stays on the northern side of the river, sometimes a short distance above the water, as it descends through the rainforest. There are a few more waterfalls, including Mirror Falls which is accessed via a short side-track.
One of the last waterfalls along the track is Echo Falls, where the river plunges into a narrow chasm.
There are a few more waterfalls after Echo Falls – you can hear Thunder Falls and Lightning Falls below the track in the Black Canyon – these can only be reached by a tough, off-track route (which I’ll come back to explore one day)! The Albert River Circuit now ascends steeply up the side of the valley, away from the river, and continues to ascend all the way to the Border Track, to complete the loop.
Day 2: Bithongabel campsite to Mount Hobwee (15km)
Today’s the longer of the two days… but we’re up and back on the trail fairly early (the 15km distance above is from Bithongabel campsite to Mount Hobwee and then back to the junction with the Toolona Creek Circuit). The first part of the route follows the Border Track out to Mount Hobwee. The track follows the top of the escarpment, with a few vantage points to the east. The first is Wanungara Lookout, which offers views down the Limpinwood Valley and to Mount Warning in the distance.
A bi further on is Nyamulli Lookout, with similar views. The well-made track undulates a little but is easy walking; other the occasional lookout there’s rainforest in every direction!
The next view through the trees is from Chakoonya Lookout. There’s an impressive vista from here, with the Gold Coast skyline visible in the disance (the coast is about 30km to the east).
After passing Yaragabullang Lookout, there’s some great views again from Dacelo Lookout. Dead ahead is the distinctive Mount Warning (Wollumbin).
There’s a few more lookout along the way, including Darrayabroo Lookout, as the track continues upwards through an Antarctic beech forest (which was severely damaged in a storm in 19830 to reach the summit of Mount Hobwee.
Although the highest point of the walk at 1,164m, there’s not much of a view Mount Hobwee. where there is a campsite. From here we-trace our steps to the the junction of the Border Track and the Toolona Creek Track.
Toolona Creek Circuit (9km)
We’re returning to the start of our bushwalk (at O’Reilly’s Guesthouse) via the Toolona Creek Circuit – it’s a 17.4km loop, but we did the first part of the loop along the Border track on the previous day. Today we have the more interesting part of the loop, which follows Toolona Creek past several small waterfalls and through the narrow Toolona Gorge. (We are again doing this loop in the “wrong” direction, with the recommendation being to walk the circuit clockwise.) The first waterfall as we follow the track along Toolona Creek is Poojabinya Falls, a small but pretty cascade.
There’s another cluster of waterfalls along the section of the creek (Emerald Falls, Kadjagong Falls, Wingboola Falls and Eerigingboola Falls) as the track descends steeply along the creek.
The track continues to descend, crossing Karoolgarool Creek before reaching Toolona Falls, the biggest waterfall along this track.
Below the Toolona Falls are some smaller cascades, including the Toolona Cascades, and the small Yilgahn Falls.
A short distance further downstream is Chalahn Falls, another impressive waterfall near the bushwalking track. Its has two streams of water, which cascade through through the rainforest onto moss-covered rocks, the top of one stream looking like a veil.
The track then follows Toolona Creek through the narrow Toolona Gorge, before reaching another picturesque waterfall, Gwongurai Falls, and then the smaller but equally photogenic Dwandarra Falls.
There’s a few creek crossings and rock-hopping, and more small cascades, as the trail continues up Toolona Creek.
The last waterfall is (I think) the most spectacular of them all… A (very) short side-trip off the Toolona Circuit Track, Elabana Falls is “one of the most iconic waterfalls in Lamington National Park”. It drops about 25m in a single fall, with some more small cascades below the main waterfall.
We’re now almost back, passing the Picnic Rock waterhole before reaching the Border Track for the last 2.3km back to the carpark near O’Reilly’s Guesthouse. We finish the day with the Tree Top Walk, and a climb up the Tree Top Walk Ladder which takes you 30m up into a Mararie Fig tree for spectacular sunset views.
You could also do this overnight walk as two day-walks, staying overnight at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Although the Border Track can be a bit dreary, both the Toolona Creek Circuit and Albert River Circuit are fantastic walks; the latter being a bit longer, but having the advantage of great views as well as many spectacular waterfalls.