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
Difficulty: moderate

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.

northbrook gorges - d aguilar national park - brisbane 10

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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NORTHBROOK GORGES - best short hike brisbane summer



Eloise is the creator and writer of She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

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  1. steph and zach dorworth

    This sounds perfect for us. We like to hike but short hikes only. Never been to Brisbane but really hope to go someday. So we will keep this in mind since it’s only an hour away from the city. Great post!

    1. Eloise

      Thank you, guys! I hope you’ll make it here on day. There are many short hikes not too far from Brisbane; we’re lucky with that 😀

  2. Beverley Goodsell

    I lived in Brisbane for nearly one year and never heard of this place. I wish I had now after what you have written. I am not quite so keen on going into the gorges and getting wet, but the weather can get hot, so it is a chance to cool off from the heat.

    1. Eloise

      Hi, Beverley. It’s surprising how many hidden gems there are not too far from Brisbane. You should be able to reach the first gorge without getting wet. I’ve read there are tracks going up and down to avoid swimming – but I believe it’s quite steep and really not as fun and beautiful 😉

  3. Medha Verma

    I think it sounds perfect to me, 6-km hike with an opportunity to get wet in the pools, I do not mind that at all! The views look amazing and even though you say the water was cold, I think if its a hot day, its probably a great escape from the city. Thanks for sharing this information!

    1. Eloise

      Hi, Medha! Yes, I feel fortunate to have this one close to the city! The water wasn’t very cold, actually. But I get cold quickly and once wet, as most of the gorge are in shaded areas, I was a bit cold. But really nothing too bad. Some people may love this cooling effect 😉

  4. Indrani

    Often it is like that we forget to explore our own backyards and we set out to explore the world. This hiking track seems adventurous and exciting. And the ease of getting to it for you from your place is definitely an advantage. Great set of pictures.

    1. Eloise

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Indrani. You’re right. Many of us often forget there are lovely places nearby that attract tourists from far away 😉

  5. Rocio Novarino

    Great advice! I have been in Brisbane but not in that zone. not a really sport person, but this just made me curious!!!

    1. Eloise

      Thank you, Rocio. It’s not the easiest walk but it doesn’t require an exceptional level of fitness at all 😉

  6. Paige Wunder

    This looks like the ultimate hot summer’s day hike. I love a good dip after a hike. I’ve not been to Brisbane, but this sounds like an epic day trip to take from there, when I do make it someday!

    1. Eloise

      Thank you, Page. This was more a good dip during the hike, which was fun! 😉

  7. Anita Hendrieka

    My brother lives not far from here I think and I have never visited! It looks like such a beautiful place to visit. I am definitley putting this on my list to do next time I visit him!

    1. Eloise

      I’m glad my blog made you discover a place to visit! 😀 It took me five years to do this one, finally!

  8. Boarding Call

    Looks like a gorgeous hike! I’ve never been to Australia but visiting so I can hike there is one of my must do’s! I will definitely save this post for the future planning 🙂

    1. Eloise

      I hope you’ll make it to Australia some day. There are amazing hiking trails here, you’ll love it 😀

  9. Carol Perehudoff

    This is totally my kind of hike. I’m all about shade. It sounds a little like river walking, which I did in Wales. There is something romantic about gorges.

    1. Eloise

      Hello, Carol! Thank you for your comment. I agree, there is something romantic going on there 🙂

  10. Jennifer

    What is the water temperature like in these gorges? In any case, I imagine I would’ mind getting in the water in that heat, especially if it’s also humid there. It looks like a fun day hike to go on.

    1. Eloise

      Hi, Jennifer. I’m very bad at guessing water temperature. It was refreshing, but not cold. We did it at the end of the day so as the sun was setting down – and because the wind picked up a bit – we were a bit cold walking back all wet. But honestly, most people will feel perfectly fine if it’s a hot day. I think I’m too chilly 😉

  11. Lena

    Wow, this sounds like fun. Have you ever been to Zion NP in Utah USA? They have a hike there called The Narrows. Similar but a lot more water entrance. At it to the list of places to visit/hike.

    1. Eloise

      I’ve seen photos of Zion NP and I’d love to hike there! Thanks for the tip for The Narrows. Not sure when I will finally explore the US, but it surely is on my list 🙂

  12. Rachel

    Great write up! I’ve never swam in a gorge before. Is it safe to say that the waters would be ‘calm’ and not require ocean swimming (against the current) skills?

    1. Eloise

      Hi Rachel, I’m not an expert in swimming in a gorge, but it does include some risks. I think all gorges are different and people always should look at local information to learn about the risks. It was calm when we went to Northbrook Gorges, but you always should be cautious. There’s a higher risk of hidden debris, water pollution or rising water levels than in the ocean, for example.

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