If you’re looking for a road trip from Brisbane during a long weekend and you enjoy hiking, you’ll love our North Burnett itinerary. This itinerary will take you to three different national parks. On this North Burnett road trip itinerary, you will explore:
- Cania Gorge National Park with and its stunning caves and rock formations,
- Auburn River National Park and its interesting granite rocks,
- Mount Walsh National Park with its great views from the top and the lovely Utopia Rock Pools.
We love road trips and sleeping in our car: it offers a lot of flexibility and requires less planning and commitment. But if you prefer to stay in one place and don’t like camping, this itinerary can still work for you; you’ll only have to drive a little bit extra. Check out accommodation options in Monto* or Munduberra*.
Responsible travel tip: Packing all your food for three days is a good way to save time on a road trip like this. However, tourism is a great source of revenue for communities, so shop local when you have time! You’ll even find a few veg and fruit stalls on the side of the road. The one next to the four painted silos in Munto is easy to find.
Summary of our North Burnett road trip itinerary
We managed to do most of the road in the evening after work, before day 1. It gave us extra time to explore Cania Gorge National Park. This article is a summary of the itinerary with a map at the end. For more details about each national park, click on the link to read related articles on the blog.
Day 1 in the North Burnett: Drive to Cania Gorge
If you can’t leave the evening before, you will spend most of your day on the road. It takes about six hours to drive from Brisbane to Cania Gorge National Park.
There are many hikes in Cania Gorge National Park. You’ll be sure to find one with an ideal length to fit in your first day according to when you arrive. I reckon the best hike in Cania Gorge National Park is The Overhang, so make sure this one is on your list!
Where to sleep for your first night
You’ll find a few options to spend the night near Cania Gorge National Park. We opted for a free rest area on the Burnett Highway (Coominglah Range rest area), and there’s even one with showers a bit further away (Lawgi rest area).
If you want better facilities, there are a couple of caravan parks (Big 4* in the direction of the lake and Cania Gorge Tourist Retreat closer to the tracks at the entrance of the Park). But, again, if camping isn’t your thing and you prefer to stay for two nights in one place, look for options in Munto* or Munduberra*.
Day 2: Cania Gorge and Lake
Take the time to finish the hikes in Cania Gorge you didn’t have time to do the day before. We were able to do all of them in 1.5 days, including the very long hike to Mount Castle Lookout (that I don’t particularly recommend).
If you still have time left, you can check out Cania Lake. There’s a lookout on the dam and the gorges. It was a good place to relax after hiking and spot cute wallabies.
Where to sleep for your second night
There are a few cheap camping spots in Auburn River National Park, but they were all booked when we organised our trip. Hence, we spent the night at a free rest area in Munduberra (Black Stump). But, again, if you’re after better facilities (i.e. showers), there’s a caravan park and a few other accommodation options in town*.
Day 3: Auburn River and Mount Walsh National Parks
It only takes about 45 minutes to drive to Auburn River National Park from Munduberra. The hikes in Auburn River National Park are short, and you should be done exploring the Park in the morning. When you reach the river bed, don’t stop there. You’ll see blue marks on the rocks that will lead you to the “dinosaur eggs”, two beautiful round rocks that have been shaped by the water over the years.
As you head back toward Brisbane, take a detour to Mount Walsh National Park (a two-hour drive in the direction of Brisbane). If you’re an experienced walker up for a rock scrambling challenge, you can climb Mount Walsh (it took us 3 hrs, return). If you’re keen for an easier and more relaxing walk, head to Utopia Rock Pools (it took us half an hour, return). Keep in mind when planning your day that both walks do not start from the same car park, you’ll have to dive for about half an hour between the two car parks.
It will take you about three hours to head back to Brisbane from Mount Walsh National Park.
Responsible travel tip: Did you know your sunscreen can pollute the water and harm animals? The best way to protect your body from the sun is to cover it with long sleeves and pants. If you do have to use sunscreen, choose a mineral one (like zinc) to avoid harmful substances (see the full list here) and apply it at least 20 minutes before entering the water.
Why isn’t Coalstoun Lakes National Park on this itinerary?
We hesitated to add Coalstoun Lakes National Park to our North Burnett itinerary. The pictures from above of the two crater lakes look stunning. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the view from the lookout is that impressive. Also, we read the lakes are, most of the time, empty (we weren’t travelling during the wet season). So we decided to skip it.
Tips and things to pack for your North Burnett road trip
I will not list here all the equipment you need for hiking or to organise a road trip. But a few things would have made our visit to these North Burnett National Park a lot harder if we hadn’t planned for them.
- Take a lot of water with you. You cannot drink the water in the national parks or rest area. We have a large water bag* we keep in our car boot and use to top up our reusable water bottles.
- Take bags for your rubbish. There are no bins in the national parks and no recycling bins at the rest areas where we stopped.
- Wear good hiking shoes*. It helps to walk faster on uneven surface.
- Download music and offline maps on Google Maps for driving. There’s a lot of driving packed in a few days and we didn’t have network or couldn’t even find a radio to listen to for many kilometres.