After hiking to Elabana Falls via the Box Forest Circuit, I thought I had seen the best of what Lamington National Park had to offer. But the Toolotona Creek Circuit was even better: I stopped counting the number of stunning waterfalls we saw during our 20-kilometre hike.
Waterfall lovers should not miss Toolona Creek Circuit: it’s an incredible succession of picturesque waterfalls. With the lush rainforest surrounding the creeks, it’s a photographer’s heaven.
Distance: 20 km
Time: 6-7 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.
I counted only three waterfalls on the map (Elabana Falls, Chalahn Falls, Toolona Falls) but we saw at least twice as many. I searched online for their names but I was unable to match all of them with our photos: Triple Falls, Gwongurai Falls, Dwandarra Falls and Burraboomba Falls, plus a few cascades…
What an amazing surprise! They were all sensational. I cannot even decide which waterfall I preferred. It may have been Chalahn Falls. A few of them deserve a spot on the list of the best waterfalls in South East Queensland.
Things to know before hiking the Toolona Creek Circuit
The best time to hike Toolona Creek Circuit
We did the hike in mid-April and it seemed to be the perfect season for it.
As it was the end of the rain season, the waterfalls were full and spectacular. And because it’s not summer anymore, we had a sunny day without the humid heat. We even had to wear jumpers while hiking back on the Border Track!
We were in the shade most of the time so I wouldn’t mind doing this track during summer. However, I would certainly avoid hiking it on a rainy day as it would get incredibly slippery.
You may get less water running in the falls during winter, but it’s always a nice season for hiking in South East Queensland.
The hike isn’t difficult, but come prepared
The Toolona Creek Circuit is a long hike, but except for the distance, it’s not particularly difficult. It took us around 6.5 hours to finish it with many breaks. You do want to allow time for breaks to admire the beauty of the forest and the impressive falls.
The track gradually goes up and down, from the bottom of the creeks to the top of Bithongabel (nearly 1,200 metres high). There’s no scrambling required to go up. However, some creeks were a bit challenging to cross after the rain and this can slow you down.
The entire track was slippery and muddy so I recommend wearing waterproof hiking shoes to reduce your efforts (click here to view mine on Amazon* – I love them!). I also recommend wearing long pants to avoid leeches.
Responsible travel tip: It’s always better to cover your skin than to protect it with chemicals, especially when there’s a risk that they end up in the water. We didn’t need it but if you choose to wear insect repellent and sunscreen, make sure you don’t go in the water with it on your skin.
After reaching Mount Wanungara, the way back via the Border Track was a lot faster than hiking along the creek. Although the forest is magnificent, we stopped a lot less and it was very straightforward.
Check the condition of the track online
Because of its length, the Toolona Creek Circuit isn’t as popular as Box Forest Circuit or the Tree Top Walk. We only met a couple of people on the track on a sunny Sunday while we saw many groups once closer to O’Reilly’s Resort.
It means that after a storm, they don’t clean up that track as a priority. Make sure you check on the national park website that it’s open and safe. It may be more difficult to find the way after a storm as the path can be blocked by obstacles.
The detours are worth the small efforts
You really want to make the detour to Elabana Falls: it’s one of the most beautiful waterfalls you’ll see and it will only add 300 metres to your hike. Although we could see Mount Warning and the valley, we weren’t very impressed by the lookout at Mount Wanungara, but it’s such a short detour too that you should make your own opinion about it. Plus, it was way better than Toolona Lookout.
I also highly recommend checking out the Tree Top Walk on your way back: it’s easy and fun.
Wildlife on Toolona Creek Circuit
I love seeing the beautiful blue crayfish in the forest of Lamington National Park. It’s funny to find them out of the creeks, hiding in the bush. We also spotted an eel in the pool of one of the waterfalls.
Lamington National Park is very reputed for bird watching but we weren’t lucky enough (or maybe too noisy) to encounter any interesting bird during our hike. We saw a few birds back at the car park, in the bird feeding area.
Can Toolona Creek Circuit be done as a day trip from Brisbane?
The drive from Brisbane to the start of the hike takes approximately two hours. So it’s feasible as a day trip from Brisbane, but it will be a long day.
I recommend making a weekend out of it. You can spend the night at the Green Mountains campground, it will only cost you $12.70 for two people.
If you don’t like camping, the O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (click here to book*) is the best accommodation available in Lamington National Park. Alternatively, you can look for accommodation in Canungra (click here to book*), but you’ll have to drive a bit.
Have you hiked Toolona Creek Circuit? How was it? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where is Toolona Creek Circuit?
Toolona Creek Circuit is in the Green Mountain Section of Lamington National Park, in South East Queensland. The walk starts at O’Reilly’s Resort.
It takes about two hours to drive there from Brisbane and 1.5 hours from the Gold Coast. The last part of the road is very scenic but may impress those who aren’t used to driving in the mountains and those who tend to get unwell while travelling.
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