Lamington National Park

Lamington National Park, Peter Lik / Courtesy of Tourism Queensland
Barbecue Disabled Drinking water Shower Toilets Wildlife Aboriginal site Accommodation Camping area Information Picnic area Ranger Walking

Introduction

The World Heritage–listed Lamington National Park, cresting the McPherson Range, is renowned for its natural beauty, panoramic views, lush rainforests, ancient trees, picturesque waterfalls, prolific birdlife and over 150 kilometres of well-maintained walking trails. It is also famous for two exceptional guesthouses, where hospitality is combined with informative activities aimed to give all who stay there an appreciation of the precious environment.

About two hours’ drive south of Brisbane, Lamington is one of the best-known and most visited national parks in Queensland. Declared in 1915, it was named in honour of the then Queensland governor, Lord Lamington. The park is made up of two sections: Green Mountains, also known as O’Reilly after the well-known guesthouse; and Binna Burra, where guests can stay at Binna Burra Mountain Lodge.

Fact file

Access

From Brisbane via the Pacific Highway to Nerang then via Canungra to O’Reilly’s or via Beechmont to Binna Burra; narrow, winding mountain roads unsuitable for caravans

Best season

All seasons

Location

110 km south of Brisbane; 85 km south-west of Southport

Park information

NPRSR 13 7468

Permits

Camping permit required and fees apply for NPRSR campsites; bookings essential

Size

20 590 ha

Visitor information

Canungra (07) 5543 5156

Featured Activities in the National Park

  • Get a bird’s eye view of the rainforest on the Tree Top Walkway

    Walk through spectacular rainforest and marvel at the beautiful waterfalls

    Take your binoculars to watch the park’s brilliantly coloured birds

See Also

A look at the past

Lamington National Park owes its existence to the foresight, dedication and perseverance of two men, Robert Collins and Romeo Lahey. Collins loved the McPherson Range and from 1878 he campaigned tirelessly to have it protected. After entering state parliament, Collins saw an Act passed in 1906 for ‘the preservation of State Forests and National Parks’ but he unfortunately did not live to see the McPherson Range become a national park; he died in 1913. By this time Romeo Lahey, another local identity – who curiously belonged to a famous timber-milling family in the area – had taken up the cause. In 1915, after decades of lobbying, Lamington National Park was declared.

In 1911 Green Mountains was first settled by eight O’Reilly boys from two related families. They had travelled from the Blue Mountains in New South Wales and selected 100-acre dairying blocks on the McPherson Range. Later that year, the surrounding land was withdrawn from selection and set aside for inclusion in the proposed Lamington National Park. This stopped any further development of the area, and left the O’Reilly selections isolated and with little or no prospect of an access road. This prompted the construction of the Stockyard Creek Track, which led down the mountain into the Kerry Valley. For many years, packhorses were used to transport cream down to the valley and bring back supplies.

This historic track proved popular with visitors who were enchanted by the rugged beauty of the mountains. As early as 1915, the O’Reillys welcomed their first guests, boarding them in the family’s slab hut on the banks of Morans Creek and in other huts. Interest in the area grew to such an extent that the O’Reillys decided to abandon dairy farming; instead they built a guesthouse on top of the mountain, which opened in 1926 to cater for the ever-increasing numbers of visitors making the strenuous ascent into the hinterland. The first guests rode up the mountain on horseback, a two-day trip from Brisbane.

The road that now links O’Reilly’s with the town of Canungra was constructed by Romeo Lahey’s family company, Lahey’s Limited, in the mid-1930s. The company sawmill, located at Canungra, logged the forest of hoop pine that grew on the mountain. The road terminated about 6 kilometres from the guesthouse and visitors had to travel the rest of the way on horseback. The road was completed in 1947. Bernard O’Reilly’s discovery of the wreck and survivors of the crashed Stinson aircraft in 1937 (see feature) received considerable publicity, becoming an integral part of local history, and further encouraging visitors to explore the wonders of Green Mountains.

Binna Burra Mountain Lodge, closer to the coast and set on the drier, northern side of the mountain, was established by Arthur Groom and Romeo Lahey at Mount Roberts in 1933. These men were pioneering conservationists and their vision was to create a place where people could stay and experience the rainforest. The original mountain cabins, built from hand-cut tallowwood slabs, are still in use although these days they are fitted with modern amenities.

Aboriginal culture

Prior to European settlement, the Lamington region had been inhabited by the Yugambeh kinship group for thousands of years. Within this group, the tribes that lived closest to Lamington National Park were the Birinburra, Kombumerri, Wangerriburra and Migunberri people.

Following the arrival of Europeans in 1788, sealers and whalers destroyed vital food sources and spread smallpox and other diseases, well in advance of settlement. Logging activity damaged sacred areas and the clearing and settlement of the coastal plains prevented the traditional movements of the Aboriginal people. Evidence of their occupation has been found in various parts of the park, including the Kweebani (cooking) Cave near Binna Burra.

Natural features

The national park stretches along the New South Wales–Queensland border, protecting the Lamington Plateau and its forested valleys in the McPherson Range, which rises to more than 1100 metres. The park lies on the southern side of the Scenic Rim, a crescent-like chain of mountains stretching from the Gold Coast hinterland to Mount Mistake. An incredible diversity of flora and fauna thrives on the rich basaltic soils, the result of the marked variation in rainfall and temperature due to the altitude and subsequent rain shadow cast by the high plateau.

Native plants

Lamington protects one of the most diverse areas of vegetation in Australia, with rainforest, open forest and heathlands. Covering two-thirds of the park are several types of rainforest including the warm subtropical rainforest (in altitudes up to 800 metres) common in coastal areas of Queensland, and remnants of the cooler subtropical rainforest (above 800 metres) that blanketed Australia when it was still part of Gondwana some 50 million years ago.

The warm subtropical rainforest has a wide range of species, with hoop pines dominating the drier slopes. Vines, strangler figs, buttressed trees and epiphytes are common. Ancient Antarctic beech dominate the cool subtropical rainforest, with an understorey of ferns, mosses and tree ferns.

The rainforest is a refuge for 58 vulnerable, rare or threatened plant species. Heaths grow around the cliff tops. In the poor soils, open woodlands have Sydney blue gum and New England blackbutt, and ironbark in lower areas. There are pockets of open forest containing massive, old brush box trees.

Originally the Green Mountains area was covered in cool subtropical rainforest with roseleaf marara, pigeonberry ash, rosewood, red carrabeen and some brush box, hoop pine and eucalypt species. Many parts were clear-felled for pasture then later abandoned. New species colonised the cleared areas, along with the secondary rainforest communities that were gradually established. Of the latter, the most characteristic is blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon).

Wildlife

Lamington is regarded as one of the most important refuges for wildlife in south-east Queensland. The park’s birdlife is prolific, strikingly coloured and incredibly tame. At the two mountain lodges, visitors can take guided walks to observe birds such as the satin bowerbird building its nest. Other birds include Australian king-parrots, crimson rosellas, regent bowerbirds, honeyeaters, eastern yellow robins and tawny frogmouths.

While out walking watch for that ubiquitous ground-dweller, the brush-turkey, and another rainforest floor inhabitant, the logrunner – a gregarious quail-like bird that scratches vigorously amid the leaf and log debris. Other birds spending their life on the ground are yellow-throated and white-browed scrubwrens, the slow-moving noisy pitta and the Bassian thrush. Listen for the whip-cracking call of the eastern whipbird, and the brilliant mimicry of Albert’s lyrebird. The park also protects 22 rare and threatened animal species such as the Coxen’s double-eyed fig-parrot, the eastern bristlebird and the Richmond birdwing butterfly.

Small mammals include red-necked pademelons, common in the rainforest, whiptail and red-necked wallabies, often sighted in open forest areas, ringtail and brushtail possums, mountain brushtail possums known as bobucks, and sugar gliders. Long-nosed bandicoots are common as are numerous species of bat, including the white-striped freetail-bat and the little bentwing-bat. Reptiles include carpet pythons, red-bellied black snakes, southern angle-headed dragons and the land mullet, the largest known skink. A number of species classified as rare include several skinks such as the rainforest cool-skink and the elf skink.

Lamington is also a refuge for some endangered frog species: Fleay’s barred frog, the giant barred frog and the cascade treefrog. There are also rare species including the pouched frog, the green-thighed frog and the whirring treefrog.

Introduction

Both the Green Mountains and Binna Burra sections have visitor centres, a good first stop for any visit to the park. For lodge guests there are birdwatching tours daily and night-time tours by spotlight to see owls, glow-worms and other nocturnal creatures. Resident ornithologists will help you to find rufous scrub-birds and paradise riflebirds. The weather can change quickly so take warm clothing and raincoats.

Adventure sports

At Binna Burra you can abseil down rocky crags and sheer cliffs, try a ropes course or soar through the forest in a flying fox, reputedly one of the longest rides of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Bushwalking

Lamington is renowned for its bushwalks. There are numerous trails, ranging from short half-hour strolls to the 54-kilometre Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk for serious bushwalkers. Walking guides with detailed track information are available from the visitor centres. A trail for vision-impaired people is located on private land near Binna Burra Mountain Resort.

Shorter walks from Green Mountains include the Rainforest Return walk (1.4 km return, 30 minutes), which follows the Border Track for about 700 metres then returns past O’Reilly’s botanical garden; the Morans Falls track (4.6 km return, 1½ hours, easy), which leads through rainforest to the 80-metre falls and the site of the O’Reillys’ first hut, built on the mountain in 1912; and Python Rock walk (3.4 km return, 1 hour, easy) along a sealed track, suitable for wheelchairs, which passes booyong and fig trees, large blackbutt in the open forest, and has views from Python Rock of Morans Falls, Castle Crag and Lost World.

Main Border Track (21.4-km one way, full day) links Green Mountains and Binna Burra, with the option for diversions along the way, and forms the first section of the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk. At Binna Burra, short tracks include Rainforest Circuit (1.2 km return, 30 minutes), a small loop track offering a good introduction to the rainforest; Caves Circuit (5 km return, 1½ hours) through open forest and rainforest, with great views of the Coomera Valley, and visiting two cave systems; Bellbird Lookout track (2 km return, 1 hour), which has some tough and steep sections but rewards with spectacular views of Ships Stern, Turtle and Egg rocks, and Numinbah Valley; and Tullwallal Circuit (5 km return, 1½ hours) through cool tropical rainforest, with the highlight being a stand of Antarctic beech, the northernmost limit of this species in Australia.

Those looking for a true hiking challenge can tackle the three-day, 54-kilometre Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk, which leads from Green Mountains, through Binna Burra, and out of the park towards Springbrook National Park. There are dedicated camping areas along the way.

Picnicking

The main picnic area at Green Mountains is popular for day visits on weekends and during holidays so even though toilets, tables and coin-operated barbecues are provided, it is a good idea to bring your own fuel stove and seating. The Binna Burra section has two picnic areas, with wheelchair-accessible toilets and picnic tables.

Campsites

Binna Burra camping area

A south-east Queensland gem, this privately managed mountain-top site has long been a favourite with campers for its stunning panoramic views of the Numinbah Valley. Activities at Binna Burra include guided bushwalks,... Find out more


Bush camping areas (walk-in camping)

For experienced, self-sufficient campers with good navigational skills, there are 10 remote camping sites (Bithongabel, Darlington, Echo Point, Illinbah, Lost World Creek, Lost World Saddle, Point Lookout, Rat-a-tat,... Find out more


Green Mountains camping area

Close to O’Reillys Rainforest Resort, this hillside campground in forest surrounds has designated campsites on terraces on the slope and a separate area designated for those doing the Gold Coast Hinterland Great... Find out more


See Also

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