Mount Barney National Park has many walk opportunities for different levels of hiking experience. I started exploring the park on a half-day hike up to Mount Maroon, which offered a perfect view of the famous Mount Barney. I loved the area and said I would be back for more. The Mount Barney hike had been on the to-do list since then. But that’s not a hike you can tackle on a sudden impulse. It’s only for experienced hikers. Read on to learn from our experience and prepare for your hike (I have included a checklist later in the post).
Distance: 17.5 km
Time: 8-10 hours
Difficulty: very hard
Disclaimer: The hiking time and difficulty are based on our experience. We are experienced hikers with a good level of fitness, used to hiking long distances and scrambling. We possess good navigation skills and use a Garmin watch* with a GPS navigation map. Always check the park alerts and notes, as trail conditions change over time, which may affect the hike’s level of difficulty.
Mount Barney hike is challenging. I found it harder than hiking Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mountain.
A day trip from Brisbane to hike Mount Barney is feasible, but you will have to start early for a very long day ahead. It takes about 2 hours to drive to the base of the mount. Then, allow 10 hours to reach the summit and come back to the car park. And keep in mind the sun goes down early in South-East Queensland.
We took the option to use the Mount Barney climb as an opportunity to treat ourselves to an excellent gateway weekend from Brisbane. We loved every moment of it.
How hard is the Mount Barney hike?
By Australian standards, Mount Barney is quite impressive with its summits culminating at 1,351m. It’s the most challenging mountain hike near Brisbane.
There are several ways to reach the top of Mount Barney, for different experiences and levels of difficulty. We went up from the South-East Ridge and went down through the South Ridge (Peasants Ridge) in one day.
You can also take the overnight expedition option and stop at a campsite between the two peaks of Mount Barney. I don’t recommend this option. You’d need to carry about 20kg in your backpack (water, equipment, food…). It doesn’t seem nice to me on a hike that’s already challenging. However, I’m sure the views at sunset and sunrise can be wonderful.
Mount Barney summit is not a hike for everyone. Don’t underestimate it.
Although it is, of course, not comparable to the world’s highest peaks or even to mountain hikes with snow and many other dangers, the walk is long and steep on exposed terrain. We had to do rock climbing at some point, not for too long but enough to impress those who are inexperienced.
Hiking Mount Barney requires some preparation and navigation skills. I heard stories and talked to someone who got stuck and needed to be rescued. It seems that it is not rare that people get lost. If you are only after the views from a summit, check Mount Maroon instead. It is a more accessible yet tremendous and fun hike that will bring the same reward. Climb Mount Barney for the challenge and the experience to reach the top.
Our ways to reach Mount Barney summit: South-East Ridge and Peasants Ridge
Going up the South-East Ridge was stunning.
The views were spectacular, and the track was challenging for us with some exposed climbing – although always possible and fun. We had a great time and were triumphant to reach the summit finally after 4.5 hours of effort and two deceptions of reaching a peak that we had mistaken for the summit, realising more efforts were required…!
I was glad we were not going back the same way we came up as climbing down is always more challenging for me with my fear of heights. Although Peasants Ridge is less steep, it was not easy. It is quite long and still falls sharply at some stages. It required a high level of attention, and I found it tiring, probably more exhausting than the way up from my point of view. The views and the experience are not as good on the Peasants Ridge as on the South-East Ridge.
I would not recommend planning a return hike via the Peasants Ridge only.
We all loved the hike and the great feeling of adventure and accomplishment that comes with it. And we loved a bit less the sore legs and arms in the next days for some of us!
From the car park, it took us just under 10 hours to do the hike – including a nice break for lunch at the top and many short breaks for photos and to enjoy the views (and rest!). We took our time: we could have done it faster if needed, but Mount Barney is not a hike where you want to compete at a high pace if you are doing it for the first time. Again the path is not easy to follow and has many challenges: it often required attention and analysis to stay safe and on track.
How to prepare for the Mount Barney hike?
I will not give advice here about preparation for mountain hiking as I am not experienced enough. This is only quick feedback from my experience of hiking Mount Barney. If you are preparing for this hike, I do suggest you seek more information from other sources. Make sure you have checked the following:
- Good level of fitness: it is a full-on 10-hour hike
- Map and compass: the path is not marked. And it is not always obvious which way is the way to go. It is easy to get off track so a topographic map and a compass would be useful for this type of hike. We did not find a great map online but read it can be bought. As it was too late for us to acquire it, we relied on a GPS watch to refer to when we had doubts and track notes and advice from other people who did the hike before.
- Equipment: this is a serious hike for which you should wear proper shoes with ankle support*. They note that the weather can change quickly so check you have the right clothing. And having a headlamp* in case the hike takes more time than you planned is a smart idea as the sun goes down early in South-East Queensland. Also, as usual for hiking, you’ll need to protect yourself from the sun and a first aid kit*. Check out this article about the equipment I recommend for Mount Kosciuszko – you’ll find inspiration for Mount Barney.
- Water: they recommend taking at least 4L per person.
- Season: Summer would give you more daylight hours to take your time, but the heat and the humidity would make the hike hard. On the contrary, Winter can be slightly too cold at the summit if you are used to Queensland temperatures! We did it at the very beginning of Spring and loved the weather conditions and the beautiful flowers blooming.
- Weather: The hike can quickly become more challenging when the climatic conditions are not great. They warn the weather can change quickly during the Mount Barney hike. Hikers must be ready for this. We were lucky to have great weather, and still, the path was challenging and not always easy to find. The difficulty would naturally dramatically increase with rain and reduced visibility. You can check the weather conditions online before your hike. But it is also important to bring equipment to protect yourself in case the weather suddenly changes. In addition to warm and water-resistant jackets, we also like to have an emergency thermal blanket.
Where to find more information about hiking Mount Barney:
- Map of the National Park
- Concise Route Notes (with comments/advice/feedback to give you a better idea of what to expect)
- Longer route notes
Check The PeakFinder App. It won’t help you to prepare for the climb, but it can enhance your experience at the summit to help you identify what you are looking at!
A weekend in the Mount Barney region
You’ll find different options for accommodation from a cheap campsite to luxury lodges.
If you want to sleep as close as possible to Mount Barney, there are camping spots at the base of the mountain (Conan Creek), about three kilometres away from the carpark (by foot only!). You can also camp near the summit and do an overnight hike. But that’s only if you’re brave enough to carry a heavy backpack up there!
The only other camping I found that you could reach by car is at the Mount Barney Lodge. They also have huts if you don’t like camping.
We chose to stay in a cosy cottage this time. The Hill Station at Barney Creek Vineyard Cottage* was a fantastic experience. We loved the atmosphere they created there and the remoteness we had. The views of the mountains are splendid. And the luxury of relaxing in the spa and then next to the fireplace with a nice dinner was just perfect after a day full of effort.
Things to do around Mount Barney
Mount Barney is not the most touristy place in South East Queensland, so activities around are limited. I guess the best activity – apart from climbing the mountains of course – is to enjoy the relaxed pace of the area and nature. No rush is needed during this nice break from the city. Jennifer from the Barney Creek Cottage allowed us a late checkout and gave us some ideas for our Sunday:
- driving the Barney View Road for beautiful views on the different mounts in the area
- visiting the Scenic Rim Hampers for some local products and saying hello to the alpacas. (Unfortunately, it was closed on the day we went as they were attending an event somewhere else)
- abseiling at the Mount Barney Lodge
- horse riding at the Lillydale Farmstay
- driving the Scenic Rim Wine Trail on the way home. We chose that option and had lunch at the Kooroomba Vineyards and Lavender Farm (read more here).
I found the Mount Barney hike was enough for the weekend. But if you feel like walking more, there are short hikes nearby. I highly recommend the Lower Portals and the Mount Maroon half-day walks. A short detour to the Yellow Pinch lookout will give you an amazing, close view of Mount Barney.
Have you hiked Mount Barney? I’d love to read about your experience, leave a comment below!
Where is Mount Barney?
Mount Barney is the highest mount in South-East Queensland. It is at the end of the Scenic Rim, an approximately 2-hour drive south of Brisbane. The start of the South-East Ridge and the Peasants Ridge are both from the Yellow Pinch car park, past Mt Barney Lodge.
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