Is this south east Queensland’s best off-road journey?

Cutting through ancient Gondwana Rainforest in the Great Dividing Range’s imposing folds, Condamine River Road crosses its namesake 14 times, making it an unforgettable day-trip for adventure-seekers and nature-lovers.

The drive

The drive through Condamine Gorge is scenically stunning, but its level of difficulty as a 4WD challenge is moderated by the amount of water in the river. After heavy rains, the river crossings swell, the current increases and the track can worsen somewhat, which can prohibit travel at times. Given good water levels in the Condamine, the drive can be a rewarding off-road experience interspersed with deep rainforest and arresting mountain vistas.

Main Range comprises several specific localities – the common ones are Cunninghams Gap, Spicers Gap and the areas around the Condamine River, Carneys Creek, The Head and Queen Mary Falls.

Although there are several areas where you can ‘off road’ as such, the main focus is the spectacular region comprising the Condamine River. Take the trip from Brisbane to Boonah, and make your way to Carneys Creek Road until you reach The Head Road on your second crossing of Teviot Brook. The bitumen road meanders through the foothills of the ranges until you finally start your steep climb towards the lookout of Teviot Falls.

Be careful as you travel through this scenic area, as the road is narrow and the drop off steep. Crest the climb and the valley of the Condamine River is laid out before you. Be wary of lazy cows that may cross your path as you meander down the lush green valley, passing farmhouses and rusty cars.

The road morphs into dirt and continues down to a turnoff to The Head. From here, continue down the valley where the fun of 14 river crossings awaits.

The Condamine Gorge can flood at times so check local knowledge and information before venturing into this area. It can also become very muddy, so caution is required during your exploration. Normal four-wheel driving etiquette is required through this section where oncoming cars may cause hazards during river crossings, underwater obstacles (notably large rocks) can cause havoc to your vehicle, and splashed water can enter your water intake.

The left-hand fork of the Killarney end of the Condamine River Road — Brosnans Road — is open to local traffic only, meaning travellers are advised to take the right fork and head into Killarney after completing the track through the gorge.

Your adventure through the valley and river crossings eventually takes you to the small forestry milling town of Killarney from where you can explore other beautiful areas in the Main Range National Park.

There are numerous ways to make the return trip to Brisbane, including the Cunningham Highway where you can stop to explore other parts of the park. There’s even some more dirt road driving at Spicers Gap. Other areas worth visiting include the Steamers and Emu Creek Valley which will require high clearance vehicles, and the beautiful mountains including Mt Barney, Mt Maroon, Mt May and the numerous dirt roads that connect these amazing areas.

Things to do

Away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and beaches lies some remarkable and seemingly untouched wilderness, just crying out to be explored. Amazingly, so few people know of the beauty and fun that can be found in the Main Range National Park.

One of our lesser known parks, but known well within hiking and bushwalking circles, Main Range National Park stretches from Wilsons Peak in northern NSW up to Cunninghams Gap in south east Queensland.

Near the Condamine River, keep a watch out to your left and you may spot the old rabbit fence that was designed as a barrier between Queensland and NSW. If you are a keen hiker, don your hiking boots and scoot up the rabbit fence to the amazing views at the top of Wilsons Peak.

After completing this trip most people take the turn towards Queen Mary Falls where some beautiful walks can be enjoyed.

Content courtesy of Hema Maps. Hema Maps has been crafting folded maps, guides and digital navigation products for exploring Australia off the beaten track for over 30 years. Visit the Hema Maps website to find out where your next adventure could take you.