Tenterfield & Girraween National Park

Tenterfield & Girraween National Park

WITH a precious long weekend (thanks Queen Lizzie) up our sleeves, Kirsten and I took off early last Saturday morning and headed south of the border, deep into the beautiful “Granite Belt” region of northern NSW.

We’d long been talking about tackling some of the trails in the Bald Rock and Girraween National Parks down in the region, so with near-perfect, cool, hiking conditions available to us, we took our chance by the horns.

Early morning on the road south of the QLD border.

Bald Rock National Park

Located about 3½ hours south west of Brisbane and just north of the NSW country town of Tenterfield, Bald Rock National Park is best known by the massive outcrop of granite which rises up through the bush. Measuring 750 metres long x 500 metres wide and rising up above the surrounding landscape by around 200m, Bald Rock is the largest granite monolith in Australia. That is, it’s the largest single chunk of granite in the land… and a bloody big “chunk” it is too!

Access to the top of Bald Rock is provided by two walking tracks that depart the nearby day-use area. The first is a direct, fairly steep trail that heads straight up the rock’s exposed face, and the second, the “Bungoona Walk”, heads around to the eastern side of the rock where it passes through a number of massive piles of granite known as “The Arches” before ascending to the summit at 1,277m above sea level.

Exploring Bald Rock National Park's 'The Arches'.
Exploring Bald Rock National Park's 'The Arches'.

Exploring Bald Rock National Park's 'The Arches'.

Kirsten finds some free climbing opportunities amongst 'The Arches'.

Exploring Bald Rock National Park's 'The Arches'.

Heading along the trail on the way up to Bald Rock.

Heading along the trail on the way up to Bald Rock.

The first breathtaking glimpse of the largest exposed surface of Bald Rock.

To give you some kind of perspective of just how big the rock is, see if you can find the guy sitting upon the smaller rock in the photo below.

Bald Rock is HUGE. No doubt about it.

Bald Rock is HUGE. No doubt about it.

Kicking around at the summit for a half hour or so taking pics and exploring the landscape at the top, we eventually made the decision to take the direct route back down to the car park where we ran into a few of the furry locals.

No more mystery as to what is nearby.

Say cheese.

More exploration at the summit of Bald Rock.

More BIG rocks.

More exploration at the summit of Bald Rock.

Skippy.

Bald Rock, check. Kangaroos, check.

Bald Rock National Park Info

  • 290km (3hrs 40mins) from Brisbane, QLD [map/directions]
  • 32km (34mins) from Tenterfield, NSW [map/directions]
  • From Tenterfield, take the Mount Lindesay Road for 25km along a sealed road. Turn into the Bald Rock Access Road (also sealed) for 5km before reaching the Bald Rock picnic area. Simple.
  • Allow 3 hours for the well marked, medium level “Bungoona Walk” (3km) to the summit of Bald Rock. You can save time by carefully making your way back down to the picnic area via the direct, exposed face, granite path.
  • Vehicle entry fees are $7 per vehicle per day, payable in cash at allocated pay stations.
  • For more information, visit the NSW National Parks website.

Boonoo Boonoo Falls

On the way back towards Tenterfield for the evening, we took the time out to visit a few smaller points of interest along the way including various stream crossings, en route to the impressive “Boonoo Boonoo Falls”.

Crossing one of Bald Rock National Park's many streams and rivers.
One of the beautiful calmer sections of the Boonoo Boonoo River.

The location where famous Australian poet, Banjo Patterson, proposed to his sweetheart, Alice Walker, back in the early 1900’s, the Boonoo Boonoo Falls consist of a number of secluded rock pools through which the cool waters of the Boonoo Boonoo River flow, before plunging 210m over a granite cliff’s edge into the gorge below.

Boonoo Boonoo Falls.

Boonoo Boonoo Falls.

Boonoo Boonoo Falls' rock pools, ideal for swimming.

Kirsten exploring the rock pools.

Boonoo Boonoo Falls' rock pools, ideal for swimming.

Boonoo Boonoo Falls' rock pools, ideal for swimming.

More roo encounters to cap off a sweet day on the trails.

All settled in for the evening at Tenterfield’s cheap and cheerful “Jumbuck Motor Inn”, we took the advice of the super nice and helpful hotel host, Beverley, and made our way a couple of blocks up the main drag to the pint-sized, aptly named “Tenterfield Gourmet Pizza” shop. Sitting down in the humming little pizzeria (it’s clearly a popular Saturday night choice), we sampled the 100% hand cut and prepared pizza and pleasingly gave it two thumbs up.

Topping off and complimenting the good feed was a surprisingly impressive fireworks display conducted in the nearby Tenterfield showgrounds as part of a Lions Club “festival of fire”. They let the rockets fly a good half hour earlier than advertised, so sadly I didn’t get any camera equipment set up to capture any of the show.

Boonoo Boonoo Falls Info

  • 308km (3hrs 55mins) from Brisbane, QLD [map/directions]
  • 23km (47mins) from Bald Rock National Park, NSW [map/directions]
  • From Bald Rock National Park, take Bald Rock Road back out to Mount Lindesay Road. Turn right and travel 5.5km keeping an eye out for Boonoo Boonoo Falls Road on your left. Take this gravel road until you arrive at the picnic area.
  • The falls are an easy 300m walk from the picnic area.
  • Vehicle entry fees are $7 per vehicle per day, payable in cash at allocated pay stations.
  • For more information, visit the NSW National Parks website.

Girraween National Park

With a good night’s sleep registered, Kirsten and I packed up and headed north again, crossing back into Queensland and into the “Girraween” section of the National Park that covers the “Granite Belt” region.

On the to-do list for the day? The giant granite outcrop known as “The Pyramid”, a huge balancing set of boulders known as “Granite Arch”, and the point at which Bald Rock Creek meets Ramsay Creek at a popular swimming hole area, known as “The Junction”.

While nowhere near on the same size scale as “Bald Rock”, “The Pyramid” is still a rather formidable looking chunk of granite that rises steeply above the landscape. The 3.6km trail to the summit is pretty steep in sections, to the point where Kirsten found herself assisting a pretty freaked out kid on the way up. But the stunning views from the top make all the hard work in getting there, worth while.

An example of the fantastic views from the top of 'The Pyramid'.

Doing a great job there Kirst!

Clear views of the equally impressive, neighbouring 'Second Pyramid'.

Views from the top of 'The Pyramid'.

A quick timed 'selfie' under the 'Granite Arch'.

Girraween National Park Info

  • 246km (2hrs 54mins) from Brisbane, QLD [map/directions]
  • 45km (38mins) from Tenterfield, NSW [map/directions]
  • To reach the park, turn off the New England Highway 26km south of Stanthorpe or 30km north of Tenterfield. The winding bitumen road continues a further 9km east through the Wyberba Valley to the park information centre.
  • “The Pyramid” is 3.6km (allow 2 hours) from the car park and includes some pretty steep sections.
  • “Granite Arch” is on an easy 1.6km circuit (allow 30 mins) from the car park.
  • “The Junction” is an easy 5.2km (allow 2 hours) from the car park and provides some pretty awesome swimming opportunities.
  • For more information, visit the QLD Govt Dept of National Parks website.

Autumn colours in Stanthorpe

On the journey back home, we had a little time to stop off in Stanthorpe in the heart of Queensland’s primary wine country, to take in some of the last remaining autumn colours.

We snapped a few pics and visited the town’s information centre to ask a few questions for our next journey into the “Granite Belt” (sooner rather than later, hopefully), grabbed another coffee and pointed the ol’ Tiguan north east, bound for Brisbane.

Autumn colours in Stanthorpe.

Autumn colours in Stanthorpe.

While it was a bit of a whirlwind holiday, we really enjoyed the trip down into the “Granite Belt” and experiencing all the stunning, outdoor goodness that can be found down that way. Despite the grey skies, we had near-perfect trail conditions and managed to avoid any potentially large long weekend crowds. Magic!

2 Comments

  1. Masher says:

    Beautifully photographed and presented.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *