Condamine River Road and the The Falls Drive is one of SEQ’s most scenic day trips, though a 4WD is necessary if the river crossings are running high through Cambanoora Gorge. We had a break to celebrate Suzzanne’s birthday and headed down for a day chasing waterfalls, starting at Boonah, turning onto Carney Creek Road then taking the beautiful drive up the escarpment and along Spring Creek Road.
The drive through Condamine River Gorge differs with the seasons, as can the water height at the 14 river crossings that the road makes. Recent rainfall had the area looking wonderful, as green as an Irish meadow, yet strangely the fords across the river were mostly dry so not much of it had run off into the gullies and creeks feeding the Condamine River.
From the gorge road we headed to Killarney where we made a coffee and used the rest area facilities, before taking The Falls Drive to our first destination – Browns Falls.
The walk into Browns Falls meanders along a branch of Spring Creek making it necessary to rock hop your way across the stream in places. At each turn there is a beautiful view along the creek and into the surrounding rainforest.
Along the way there are many beautiful little cascades and water holes, building our expectation for what the waterfalls themselves must be like. And the rainforest did a great job of hiding the prize because it wasn’t to the very end that we saw just how grand the waterfall itself was. At a distance it didn’t look very big but once underneath the cliff face you get a real appreciation for its size.
We stayed a while, breathing in the cool air while listening to the gurgling and tinkling of the water falling on the boulders at base of the falls. A colourful dragon also thought it was a nice place to hang out…
We slipped and tripped our way back along the creek bed to the car and headed to the next waterfall further upstream – Daggs Fall. The view to Daggs Fall is best taken from the viewing platform just off the road however the platform was damaged from bushfires and couldn’t be accessed. We couldn’t find a walking trail to the falls and decided to keep heading along the road to the main attraction, Queen Mary Falls.
Before heading off on the walk to view Queen Mary Falls we put our lunch in the Road Chef oven, a slow cooked beef brisket to be enjoyed when we got back to the car. Loaded up with water bottles and cameras we headed to the top viewing platform, then continued along the track to base of the falls. While they weren’t running strongly there was a nice plume of water arching down to the boulders at bottom of the falls where it created a mist in which rainbows flickered.
The falls would be an impressive sight when flowing at full volume, though I doubt we’d be at the bottom if they were. The climb back out of the gorge involved several hundred steps and much groaning and heavy breathing, we had more than earnt our lunch of hot beef brisket sliders.
Once lunch was finished we continued along Spring Creek Road to Carrs Lookout which provides a beautiful vista across headwaters of the Condamine River beside which we had driven earlier in the day. Its incredible to think that rainfall in this valley ends up in the Murray Darling river system that winds its way through NSW and SA before emptying into the Southern Ocean many thousands of kilometres away.
I had one more surprise destination for Suzzanne before our drive was finished.
The original crossing of the Main Range by pioneers heading into what is now Queensland (but then part of NSW) involved passing through a saddle between mountains that was called Spicer’s Gap. The road was no doubt steep and hazardous and the poor horses and bullocks must have had quite a time hauling their loads along it. Today the New England Highway takes a different route through Cunningham’s Gap.
A dirt track allows you to access the old Spicer’s Gap trail and several historic sites along it, including some pioneer graves. There is also a National Parks campground on the track from which there are walking trails through this part of the Main Range National Park. At very top of the Spicer’s Gap track is a lookout that I wanted to share with Suzzanne called Governors Chair, so named because apparently his excellency was quite fond of taking a rest there while his carriage horses were spelled after hauling him up the steep incline.
The view is certainly impressive, across Lake Moogerah towards Brisbane to the north east, and the Scenic Rim to the east, and it is a fitting way to end our day exploring this part of the border ranges.
The trip we took involves around 330km of driving and takes about 6 hours, plus time spent on each hike and while sight seeing, the route link is here should you wish to follow it yourself. While it can be undertaken as a day trip there are plenty of accommodation options to break up the drive including the caravan park at Queen Mary Falls and motels at Killarney or Warwick.