Sunday, November 29, 2009

Spicers Peak, Clumber, South East Queensland

From the carpark follow the signs and clear walking track 150m to Governors Chair Lookout

A plaque indicates other minor peaks in the Frassifern Valley

Mt Granville and Moon with 'The Governors Chair' rock formation prominent in the foreground

The two peaks of Mt Barney from Governors Chair (approximately 25km to the south east)

Spicers Peak is clearly visible to the South from the carpark and Governors Chair

Jim beginning to gain some elevation about half way up the North East Ridge

Grasstrees on the upper section of the North East Ridge

Direct access to the summit via the top of the North East Ridge is very steep and easiest access is gained by skirting west (right) at the base of the summit ridge to ascend through the forest

Section of the forest track which provides access to the summit

Upper section of the Eastern Face of Spicers Peak

Summit cairn at 1222 metres

Looking east to Frassifern Valley from a small clearing beside the summit cairn

Summit views are hindered by thick vegetation

A glimpse of the Barney peaks from the summit through thick vegetation.


Spicers Peak is the most northerly of a series of steep peaks and ridges in the Main Range National Park and is now a World Heritage listed area. In the early 1820s it was becoming increasingly necessary to find a route between the colony of Moreton Bay and the rich farming lands of the Darling Downs. In 1828 Allan Cunningham was credited as the first European to find a route through the pass of Cunningham's Gap, however surveying teams deemed conditions to be too steep for a road.

In 1847 an alternative route was identified by stockman Henry Alphen to the south of Cunninghams Gap. It is thought Aboriginees were using this section of the range as a trade route between the east and west. Alan Cunningham had noted this 'gap' some 20 years earlier but had not deemed it unsuitable for transport. Cunningham named Spicer's Gap after Peter Spicer, Superintendent of convicts a Moreton Bay as he had originally identified Spicers Peak while searching for escaped convicts.

In the mid 1860's, Spicer's Gap became the first safe and trafficable route between the coast and the Darling Downs. In 1927 improvements in engineering allowed a more direct route to be constructed through the originally proposed route of Cunningham's Gap. This road was sealed in 1940 and is now known as the Cunninghay Highway which runs from Ipswich to Goondiwindi via Warwick.

The summit walk starts from the Govervors Chair Carpark at the end of Spicers Gap Road. Spicers Peak is visible to the south from the carpark and nearby Governors Chair Lookout. Check local weather forecasts and conditions before setting out at or The approach footpad is comprised of compacted earth however the ridgeline contains a lot of loose dirt and leaf litter, which would turn Spicers Peak into a frustrating scramble during wet weather.

The hiker's track (See Track Notes below) is not exposed however care is required in some sections especially during descent. The summit area contains thick vegetation which greatly hinders views to the Frassifern Valley and south west to Mt Barney. Some guidebooks recommend allowing 6 hours + to complete the 6km return walk however this can be halved if you walk up and down with just a couple of drink breaks.


From Brisbane proceed west along Ipswich Road taking the turnoff south toward Warwick on the Cunningham Highway. Approximately 5 km past Aratula (located 60km south of Ipswich) turn into Lake Moogerah Road on the left. Proceed for 5.8 km and turn right into Spicers Gap Road. After 3km the road becomes gravel and recommended for dry use only. Continue winding slowly (average 30km/h) for the next 6km past Spicers Gap campground (4km) and the last toilet facility to the Governors Chair Carpark (end of road).

In the carpark take the western track marked 'Governors Chair Lookout.' On a clear day Spicers Peak should be visible from the carpark and lookout. As for all hikes in the bush adequate preparation and equipment should be attended to. If in any doubt about proper etiquette check notes under 'Bushwalking Ethics.'


As indicated under 'Description' the summit track is clearly marked from the carpark. Follow the track to Governors Chair Lookout (150 metres) for great views of the Frassifern Valley below. The old Governor actually had the right idea by soaking in the views from here and not going any further. The next 3km don't really offer any better vantage points to the east than what is on offer from the lookout. Nevertheless the summit walk is of some interest for the views to the north, a nice little section of ridgeline below the summit and the possibility of some moody photos on an overcast day. The weather patterns in the Scenic Rim will usually always be different from Brisbane and it is often work the drive even to escape the coastal humidity for a few hours.

From the Governors Chair walk south toward the visible Peak to fenceline running north - south. The approach track follows close the fenceline with the occasional deviation around fallen trees or through low scrub. Seasonal low grass (up to 50cm) covers much of the footpad from Governors Chair to a clearing offering pleasant views of the valley. If you loose the track anywhere along this section keep veering back toward the fence on your left hand side (east).

From the clearing the fence ends and the footpad becomes more clearly definable. It is really just a matter of following it to the summit. As the north east ridgeline gains altitude the track becomes subject to erosion with plentiful loose dirt and small rocks scattered over its surface. The original track was apparently precariously close to the eastern face however a well worn track skirts a safe distance (for the most part) from any sheer drops. Numbers of deviations become evident when ever the track flattens out however 'all roads lead to roam' providing they are not far from the ridgeline and of the north east course.

A couple of minor cliffs great you along the ridgeline which may be negotiated by short sections of scrambling or free climbing, depending upon individual skills. A rope should not be necessary unless rock climbing is intended, however it is always wise to carry a short length for assistance during inclement weather or for inexperienced scramblers.

Approximately 50 metres from the base of the summit cliffs a track veers off to the right (west) to assist walkers through a short forest section to the thickly vegetated summit. Walking up to the base of the cliffs reveals another track which also continues west to join with the lower track before the forest section. The obvious track leads 80 metres up through the forest to a three way junction. Take the left hand (northern) track 40 metres to the small, dense summit area marked by a significant and overgrown rock cairn.

Some track notes suggest a circuit route via the North West Ridge however the thickness of the bush, difficulty of track recognition and distance from the carpark would discourage all but the most intrepid from such a venture. Other track notes are available at:

We descended with care via the same approach route in just over 3 hours. Arrival at Aratula for coffee and cake revealed a number of passengers in the form of bush ticks which had decided to migrate from rural to urban life via us. Few lived to tell the tale to their grandkids.


To Wear:

* Hat

* Sunnies (optional)

* Good quality walking or running shoes in good condition.

Hiking Pack:* 30 – 45 litres is an ideal sized day-pack.

Do not plan to carry anything in your hands.

To Carry in Hiking Pack:

* 2L Water (minimum or more if you drink a lot).

* Food (for a snack on the summit):

- Muesli bars

- Fruit (fresh or dried)

- Chocolate

* Basic First Aid Kit including:

- Sunscreen

- Insect repellent

- Tweezers (ticks can be thick in this area, especially in summer)

- Bandaids

- Pressure bandage

- Paracetamol

- Personal medications

* Mobile Phone (fully charged)

* Camera & Batteries

Optional Equipment:
* 20 - 30 metres of rope is recommended in case of rain or anxiety

* Change of shirt / clothes for the return car ride (to leave in the car)

* Wet weather gear:

- Spray jacket

- Gloves

* Head light and Batteries


According to the EPA website the forests of the Great Dividing Range were logged extensively from the mid 1800's to the early 1900s. Cunningham's Gap was reserved as a national park in 1909 and walking tracks were built from the late 1930s to the late 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s, a number of other national parks were reserved along the Main Range. In August 1980, the parks were amalgamated to form Main Range National Park. More information can be found at:


The original Spicers Gap Road was used by the general public up until the 1990's and joins the Cunningham Highway just east of Tregony. It still appears on Google Maps but good luck getting through there in your Barina.