Condamine River Road, Qld
Condamine River Road: Essential information
- Grade: All wheel drive
- Distance: 128km from Boonah return
- Time: Allow a full day or stay overnight
- Best camping: Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park
- Pet friendly: Yes (except for Queen Mary Falls)
- Take care: Dry weather local road, not suitable after heavy rain.
Just 90 mins southwest of Brisbane, is one of the prettiest backroads you’ll ever meander down.
In the endless quest for ‘fresh-air days’ we all need our hidden places to which to escape, with many of mine tucked away among the sublime peaks and timeless rainforests of the Scenic Rim of the Main Range in Southeast Queensland.
Start the day early, with a bakery-fresh pie or pastry in Boonah before heading south along the Boonah Rathdowney Road, and towards Croftby via Carneys Creek Road or the more scenic option via Mount Alford.
From Croftby, follow the winding Head Road up past Teviot Falls outlook, and across the Great Dividing Range watershed with Mt Superbus on your right. It’s called The Head because, from here, the water flows more than 2,000km southwest to the mouth of the Murray River, near Adelaide, SA.
The road soon splits after 5km (veer right), and from here the fun begins as you follow the Condamine River Road down through the beautiful natural environment of Cambanoora Gorge. It’s a dry weather-only but well-maintained all-wheel drive gravel public road that snakes its way along the rainforest-lined Condamine River, crossing it 14 times.
The river crossings are not demanding as the riverbed consists mostly of smooth rocks, providing a firm base. The deepest water crossing (#13) has a concrete causeway making it safe and fun without the risk of vehicle damage. But be aware that the river water levels will quickly rise after a lot of rain and the road should be avoided if there’s a thunderstorm brewing. A speed of 30kmh is advised and phone coverage is limited.
From the turn-off it’s around 25km through to Killarney, so the drive itself only takes an hour. There are a few spots to sneak in a picnic but it’s all private land away from the road. There’s no camping or picnic areas along the gorge itself, but there are a few secluded cabins to rent at Adjinbilly Rainforest Retreat www.adjinbilly.com.au.
When I did the drive recently, I stopped to say G’day to a local bloke in his classic white 70 series LandCruiser trayback.
‘Been comin’ along this road since I was a young fella on horseback,” he said with a smile. “Don’t you go bringin’ more of them mad four-wheel-drivers down here.”
“Don’t worry,” I replied. “They’ll take it easy.” So please honour my word.
From Killarney, you can loop back to Boonah via Spring Creek Road, stopping off at the beautiful Queen Mary Falls. There’s a shaded picnic area here with a short walk down to the falls and family and pet-friendly camping available at the caravan park across the road. https://queenmaryfallscaravanpark.com.au/ .
A little further, is Carrs Lookout with epic views back over the river gorge below.
Once back at the Condamine River Road junction, just head back the way you came, along the Head Road to Boonah, and call in at the Dugandan Hotel, a quintessential country pub. The Dugie has an extensive range of meals from traditional pub fare to hearty country classics, to enjoy with afternoon views of the Scenic Rim from the deck and beer garden.
Alternatively, hang a right at the junction and disappear down White Swamp Road along some more scenic back roads and over the border into New South Wales. Just 8km down this road is another of my favourite hideouts; the gorgeous little campsite at Koreelah Creek. It’s a great place and a perfect overnight stop for tents, camper trailers and small caravans. https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/campgrounds/koreelah-creek-campground
So, make a day of it, camp overnight or spend a long weekend in a rainforest cabin, soaking in the scenery over a long weekend.
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