Mt Earnest and Mt Lindesay from the West Peak.
The 3 Amigos: Rob, Jim & Caleb on the East Peak with the West Peak in the background (2007)
Mt Barney has enjoyed three distinct periods of bushwalking activity commencing in 1920 - 30's, then during the 1960's to mid 70's and more recently from the 1990's. There is no doubting that Barney is Queensland's premier bushwalking destination and with more than 30 possible routes to its peaks it is a big mountain by Australian standards.
Barney boasts two summit peaks, the West (1359m or 4458ft) and East (1354m or 4442ft) the latter being the easier and therefore the most popular to summit. In saying this there is no 'easy' way up a 1300 metre mountain so it presents as a big day out regardless of your experience and capability. An early start is required if you plan to negotiate this mountain as a day walk. Most summit parties leave between 7am - 8am, however earlier starts provide more time for rest stops, a longer lunch break and exploring.
As Mt Barney National Park is a wilderness region all the basic safety procedures and equipment must be considered. A map and compass, wet weather gear and a minimum of 4 litres of water per person is mandatory, along with all the other standard gear (see Provisions section below). The peaks of Mt Barney rise 1.1 km from its base and 'white outs' commonly reduce visibility to 20 metres causing disorientation even to hikers familiar with the mountain. Temperature fluctuations are also common due to wind or rain and must be considered in your standard equipment. Just because it looks fine in the car park in the morning don't assume it will remain like that during the day.
The track notes herein describe the most well used trails which are located on the south-east side of the mountain (South Ridge and South-East Ridge). For the most part these are steep walks rather than scrambles, however some scrambling will be involved on each track. A good quality short rope of at least 10 metres should also form part of your basic provisions. As a test of your capability to summit Mt Barney it is recommended that you attempt the Cotswold Track on Mt Maroon. For information on this walk click on 'Mt Maroon South East Queensland.'
Barney is a wonderful hiking destination and making the correct preparations will help to ensure a memorable day out on this spectacular mountain. Camping is legal in the saddle area between the summits. Internet bookings for camp sites (Rum Jungle, Old Hut site) can be made at www.qld.gov.au/camping or telephone 13 13 04 for bookings and enquiries. The Rangers at Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service at Boonah can be contacted on (07) 5463 5041, (07) 5544 3233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is advisable to contact the ranges to check for local warnings such as bushfires or local back burning. Check local weather forecasts and conditions at www.weatherzone.com.au/ or http://mirror.bom.gov.au/weather/radar/.
From Brisbane take the Mt Lindesay Highway through Beaudesert (69 kms from Brisbane CBD) following the signs to Rathdowney (111km from Brisbane CBD). Travel through Rathdowney and turn off into Boonah Rathdowney Road (right turn approximately 1 km past the town). Travel for 7km and take a left turn into Upper Logan Road and stay on it winding past Bigriggen Road (privately owned camping ground), Flanagans Reserve (public camping ground) and Seidenspinner Road (4.7 km from Boonah Rathdowney Road). On a clear day Mt Barney will now be well in site. Keep on Upper Logan Road (becomes dirt after Seidenspinner Road) past Mt Barney Lodge (camping and cottage accommodation) and into the Yellow Pinch car park.
The last toilets you will see for the day are located near the car park. The access track to the South Ridge (Peasant's Ridge) and South East Ridge is located on the other side of the information booth at the end of the car park.
Mt Barney is a wilderness destination and must be shown a great deal of respect. Navigational skills, quality equipment and good fitness levels are considered stock standard for this experience. Topographic maps for the area should be easily attained from a variety of camping stores in Brisbane metropolitan and suburban areas. Sunmap publish a 1:25000 topographic map (number 944131) which has the South Ridge marked. World Wide Maps will post this out for about $13.00 total ($10.00 map, $3.00 postage): http://www.worldwidemaps.com.au/. With the aid of this map, the track notes below, other information and common sense, you should be able to keep on course and enjoy a small slice of what Barney has to offer.
Until the South Ridge (Peasant's Ridge) was discovered in the 1960's the South East Ridge was the most popular route to the East Peak. A common circuit walk is to ascend on the South East Ridge to the East Peak then drop off the East Peak heading due west into the saddle area (Old Hut Site & Rum Jungle) and descend on the South Ridge to complete 16.5 kilometres return walk from the car park. The advantage of this route is that it incorporates the East Peak and so you get to bag a summit. If you ascend on the South Ridge you come out in the saddle area (Rum Jungle / the Old Hut Site) and still have a minimum two hour return from either East or West Peak.
That said, safety is the first priority and it is often best to become familiar with one route up and down before branching out onto new tracks especially on a mountain of this size. For this reason using the South Ridge up and down is recommended for first time hikes on Mt Barney.
Commence at Yellow Pinch car park and take the 4WD access track, walking past the large locked steel access gate and numerous warning signs located 20 metres from the car park. Continue up this road for 1 km until the top of a hill and obvious fence and steel pedestrian gate. Pass through the gate and nearby sign indicating 'South Ridge 3km' following the track down the hill looking to the right when the flat ground is attained for photo opportunities of Barney's East Peak.
Continue along this flat section for another 1 km and through a wide swinging farm gate (be sure to lock it properly) which leads into a small creek (Upper Logan River) with a low concrete bridge. Depending on recent rainfall it is possible to walk across on the right hand side of the bridge to prevent wetting your feet. If the creek is flowing take the obvious track to the right, walk across a large log and rock hop across the creek. Continue along the access track passing Campsites 9 and 10. At approximately 1 km from the creek (3 km from the car park) begin looking on the right for a large tree with the initials 'SE' carved about 1.5 metres up the trunk. There is also a prominent log laying at the base of this tree. This is the start of the South East Ridge.
Continue along the main track for a further 300 metres until the clearly signed start of the South Ridge. Here the 4WD access trail branches to the left and runs around the western base of the mountain. As a guide a reasonable pace for this first 4 km section is 60 - 70 minutes. If you have taken 2 hours to reach thios point and don't plan to camp the night, it would be worth reassessing the capability of your group to summit this mountain. Barney is a big hill and if you plan to walk off it in the daylight you have to keep moving and limit rest stops. (NOTE: While walking off the mountain recently at 1:30pm we came across a large family group with small children near Camp Site 10 . They asked how much more 'climbing' was involved to reach the summit. Jim informed them that they were still on the approach track and had not started climbing anything yet. Groups such as this should stick to short walking tracks in lesser National Parks. Mt Barney requires preparation and endurance).
The South Ridge is clearly defined for the next 3.5 km to the saddle area of Rum Jungle. About half way between the start of the South ridge and the saddle area is a large slab with a prominent crack running through it. Wedge your feet in this crack for safety especially on the descent. Just above this slab the track winds near an exposed rock section with 20 - 30 metre drop offs. Caution is required here especially on the descent as leaf litter or moisture in this area can make the slabs slippery. Continue scrambling up a short 10m chimney to a rocky rest point with a pleasant view. From this point it becomes evident that you are actually on a ridge.
Continue past two flat camping areas to the right of the main trail before another scramble gives way to flat ground at the top of the ridge. Continue winding along the relatively flat trail until a 150 metre descent into Rum Jungle. The West Peak will become clearly evident during this descent section on a clear day. Rum Jungle is an expansive cleared camping area that is under the canopy and therefore home to all sorts of invasive bugs and insects including leeches. On the western flank of Rum Jungle is a rock wall that provides access to The West Peak. The West Peak requires some scrambling and should only be considered if you have plenty of time (minumum 2 hours) and good orientation skills as it is easy to become disorientated in this section of the mountain even with good visibility. Hikers that get into trouble on the West Peak commonly descend too far to the north-west into the upper reaches of Barney Gorge which is very steep, thick and best avoided.
From Rum Jungle pick up the trail to the north (right) following this down for 80 metres crossing a small stream and then onto the small dirt clearing of the Old Hut Site. Three huts were built on this site during the 1960's - late 70's however nothing visible remains today of them today. It is important to find the Old Hut Site as from here you pick up the trails which wind up toward the East Peak. This site provides a good place for lunch due to the nearby stream and lovely views down the northern valley. If camping this site only supports 2 small tents.
From the Old Hut Site allow 2 hours return (minimum) to complete a summit of the East Peak. If you plan to set off past 12.30pm do so in the knowledge that you won't arrive back until 2:30pm at best leaving 3-4 hours to walk 7.5 km off the mountain in the daylight (depending upon the season, visibility, weather). This is why an early start is recommended.
Care needs to be taken in trail selection from the Old Hut Site to the East Peak as there are multiple options which can confuse the descent. Consider marking your trail with coloured ribbon or tape, which is of course is removed during the descent. This may sound fairly pathetic to the intrepid adventurer however I am aware of guides who have been disorientated on the East Peak for two hours. This is a big, wide mountain and plenty of people have been rescued or spent a cold and uncomfortable night on its upper slopes. Aim to avoid this at all costs, even though it may mean sacrificing the summit if you judge it is becoming unattainable. It will be there another day and if it's not neither will you so you won't have to worry about it. It is advisable to wear gaiters (or long socks or trousers) on both East and West Peaks as low scrub often obscures visibility of brush, branches and stumps which cause cuts and scratches. Depending upon quality, gaiters can also provide another level of protection from insect or snake bite.
When walking off the East Peak toward the Old Hut Site be sure to remove any markers you may have placed and follow your ascent route as closely as possible. If in any doubt of your ascent route it is advisable to use a compass to bear sou-sou-west on the return. This should prevent a descent too far to the right into Barney Gorge placing you downstream of the Old Hut Site which is highly undesirable. Any deviation should be made on tracks to the left during the descent which will at least put you upstream of the Old Hut Site which leads back to Rum Jungle.
From Rum Jungle begin to look for the orange metallic triangles placed by rangers to indicate the descent on the South Ridge. A number of these indicators will be encountered during the next 1.5 km of the descent. After carefully negotiating the chimney and rock slabs in the middle section of the South Ridge continue walking out on the approach. Mountain biking the 4 km approach to the start of the South Ridge is an option to consider in dry weather. In wet weather the track turns into heavy clay and becomes slippery especially on the 1st km from the car park to the steel pedestrian gate.
SOUTH EAST RIDGE:
The approach to the South East Ridge is the same as the South Ridge as outlined in the first two paragraphs under 'South Ridge' above. A large tree on the right of the track engraved with ‘SE’ with a log at its base laying parallel to the main track indicate the start of the ridge. The track winds uphill and then through a flatter section of eucalyptus forest before a 400 m uphill and the last of the level ground. At the top of this section look for the first in a total of four resting points which offer excellent views. The first rest point provides good views of Mt Ernest in the foreground and the wedding cake shaped Mt Lindesay which in on the NSW border beyond. Try to limit rest stops to 4 stops of 5- 10 minutes maximum on the South East Ridge as this should allow for a long lunch break of 45 minutes at the summit of the East Peak.
From this point continue ascending on the clearly defined trail to the right of the ridgeline. Where there are any deviations in the trail keep to the high ground. All trails are part of the South East Ridge but some deviate into thick vegetation which is best avoided. Scramblers should be looking to the ridgeline on the left of the track to make the most of any visible slabs. It is possible to walk and scramble up the ridgeline for much of this section maximising the views and thrills however due care must be taken. If scrambling off the main track minimise your impact and remain vigilant as the drops are considerable.
Rest Stop 2 offers picturesque views of Earnest, Lindsay and a deep gully with sheer cliffs either side. After a break follow the track up a short 3-4 metre scramble which provides access across a spectacular razorback and into a fern grove. Keep plugging away uphill for 20 - 30 minutes until reaching a small cleared patch of ground at the top of this section. This is our unofficial Rest Stop 3. You will recognise it as the track descends briefly immediately after this point. From 'Rest Stop 3' look for views of the imposing West Peak.
From this point the track drops steeply for 3-4 metres and then across a scrubby gully before veering right to a 3 metre rocky slab. Look for a crack at the right of this slab to scramble up or alternately boost someone up beside the rock wall on the left to place a sling or rope around an obvious tree at the top of this section (a 10 metre rope is sufficient). This slab can become slippery when wet and a short rope is recommended. Continue following the steep track for a few minutes until it tapers to some flatter ground and an excellent lookout immediately to the left.
This point is about three quarters of the way up the ridge and from here on you begin to reap the rewards of the South East Ridge. A couple of 6 metre chimneys, wonderful views and a 300 metre drop off located unnervingly close to the track await. Making good time earlier in the day enables you to take time to savour the views and experience the elevation during this last section. After 20 - 30 minutes a false summit is attained offering excellent views of the East and West Peaks on a clear day. Pick out the trail through low scrub for a further 300 metres and when on the rocky summit look for the survey marker confirming your arrival at the East Peak.
The East Peak offers unhindered 360° views dwarfing everything but the West Peak. Look to the east for Mt Warning in NSW and north for a glimpse of Brisbane's CBD skyscrappers. Many of Barney's lower peaks are evident from this point including North Peak and Bippo to the south west. Lunch can be taken on the summit area or retrace your steps 30 metres to a clearing off from the left of the track which provides a semi-shaded area with spectacular views and a considerable drop off of 300 metres. After a good rest the South Ridge can be attained by dropping gradually off the East Peak toward the saddle area of the Old Hut Site and Rum Jungle. Details of this descent are described in the last two paragraphs of the track notes under 'The South Ridge'.
70% of accidents occur on the descent so be careful and take it slowly.
* Sunnies (optional)
* Good quality walking / running / hiking shoes in good condition.
45 - 60 litres is an ideal sized day-pack for Mt Barney. This may sound like overkill to some but I know a number of people who have spent a cold and uncomfortable night on Barney praying for dawn. (When camping include the basic listed below plus tent, ground sheet, sleeping mat and good sleeping bag). Do not plan to carry anything in your hands.
To Carry in Hiking Pack:
* 1:25:000 Topographic map & Compass
* 4L Water (minimum or more if you drink a lot). Consider packing some powdered electrolyte to stave off cramp.
* Food for snacks and lunch on the summit (consider packing more than you need for 1 day):
- Sizeable lunch of sandwiches / pasta / etc
- Muesli bars
- Fruit (fresh or dried)
- Salt (tasty with lunch and for leech removal)
* Basic First Aid Kit including:
- Insect repellent
- Pressure bandage
- Elastic ankle support
- Personal medications
- Basic first aid book
* Mobile Phone (fully charged) Generally good reception with Telstra 3G network.
* 10 metres (minimum) of good quality rope
* Wet weather gear:
- Spray jacket with hood
* Cold weather gear:
- Space blanket
- Long trousers
- Beanie (head warmer)
- Flint or Matches (waterproof) in case of emergency
* Head lamp and Batteries
* Shovel and toilet paper
* Camera & Batteries
* Change of shirt / clothes for the return car ride (to leave in the car)
E. W. S. Hardgrave was the first European to settle in the area in 1882. Captain Patrick Logan along with botanists Alan Cunningham and Charles Fraser made the first recorded summit ascent of the mountain by Europeans in 1828 after a failed attempt a year earlier. Logan was the strict Commander of the Brisbane settlement and was responsible for opening up much of the country around the greater Brisbane region. He was convinced Mt Barney was Mt Warning as recorded by Captain Cook during his Endeavour voyage in 1770. Fraser's journal graphically recalls the fearful day and describes with some detail how he made it off the mountain with blood freely flowing and his clothes shredded. Logan was the only one of the three to summit on the East Peak and seeing Mt Warning in the distance finally became convinved of his error. Being a stubborn man Logan's journal is decidedly understated in recalling the glory of the day's events, probably because he was still relectant to admit his mistake. Nevertheless he remains a great man in early Australian history and many geographic landmarks bear his name. Logan's Ridge on Mt Barney is regarded as a classic scramble to this day.
Cronan Creek which flows into the Logan River was known by local Aboriginals as Dugulunba (leave it alone) and with Mt Barney meaning 'go away' it is obvious they had some fear and trepidation about the area. Anyone who ventures onto Barneys upper slopes should also be endowed with appropriate respect for this magnificent mountain.