Trying to escape the heat in Brisbane and looking for some outdoor fun? Look no further: Northbrook Gorges is the perfect hike for these hot days.
Only one hour from Brisbane CBD, you’ll already lose a few degrees as you start hiking in the shade of the forest. And when you start warming up from walking, it is time to go for a swim. It’s one of the best rock pools near Brisbane.
Distance: 6 km
Time: 3 hours
Disclaimer: the hiking time and difficulty are based on our experience. We’re experienced hikers with a good level of fitness and used to hiking long distances and scrambling. We have good navigation skills and use a Garmin watch* with a GPS navigation map. Always check the park alerts and notes; trail conditions change over time which can impact the level of difficulty of the hike.
Getting wet is the only way to access the beautiful Northbrook Gorges
The 6-kilometre hike (return) wasn’t particularly hard, but you don’t want to rush it. There are a few tricky parts with slippery rocks where you should step carefully – especially with wet shoes. It took us a bit more than three hours to complete the hike with many photo breaks.
To hike Northbrook Gorges, you need enclosed shoes that you don’t mind getting soaked. Indeed, you will scramble in the rocks and cross the river multiple times – and eventually swim. Make sure you check the weather forecast before you leave. You never want to be in a gorge when the water level rises because of a storm.
Responsible travel tip: When possible, cross the river walking on the rocks popping out at the surface. Reduce stepping into the water to a minimum. That’s actually a canyoning rule (not that I’m an expert: I only did canyoning a couple of times in the Blue Mountains and in Cairns – highly recommended by the way!). Some fish and other animals lay eggs under the rocks and stepping next to the rocks can compromise the eggs – that’s why it’s better to walk on the rocks instead. Plus, it’s a good way to work on your balance and develop skills for when you cannot step anywhere else but on the rock (like when crossing a freezing river in Mount Kosciuszko!).
We stayed almost dry (water up to our knees) for the first gorge, but finding a traverse route in the second gorge to avoid the water seemed impossible. Despite the 30° in Brisbane, we weren’t particularly keen on getting entirely wet as we weren’t hot. But we had no other choice to continue the hike. Facing the beauty of the gorge, we jumped in without hesitation. It was worth being a bit cold: the second gorges are stunning.
Don’t forget to take a dry bag for your car keys if they’re electronic or check out this travel tip to keep them safe with your vehicle.
Responsible travel tip: Your electronic isn’t the only thing to protect during the hike… If you’re worried about getting sunburnt or stung, it’s a lot more eco-friendly to wear long sleeves and pants rather than contaminating the water with sunscreen and insect repellent. Human waste can also contaminate freshwater rivers. Hence, if you need to pee, wait to find a spot in the forest further away from the river.
Brisbane has many gems accessible on day trips. Even after years living there, I still find new places to explore; it’s amazing. And I’m even more surprised by the few numbers of people we meet on these amazing tracks. We hiked Northbrook Gorges at the end of the afternoon and only met two other small groups of hikers who were on their way back.
I wouldn’t say this hike is worth travelling overstate for it, but almost. Although the gorges aren’t huge compared to bigger national parks in Queensland like Carnarvon Gorge or Oxley Wild River, for example, the carved rocks and the lush nature are beautiful and worth checking out. And it’s fun to make your way through the river! It’s not often that we could do that during a short hike, in a safe environment and with water that isn’t too cold!
Have you hiked Northbrook Gorges? Did you like it? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where are Northbrook Gorges?
Northbrook Gorges are only one hour away from Brisbane City, in D’Aguilar National Park (where you’ll also find the popular Cedar Creek Waterfall). Head in the direction of Wivenhoe Lookout and drive 3.5km down the road. You’ll find a small car park on the right just after the Northbrook Creek bridge. That’s where you can walk down to the river. Once you reach the river, turn right, pass under the bridge and walk until you reach the gorges!
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