With views stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction, the summit of Mount Barney offers one of the best summit experiences in South East Queensland.
While the hike up is challenging, it is well worth the effort. Having hiked up half a dozen different routes multiple times, in rain, whiteouts and darkness, it’s a place I love for the many adventures I’ve had there. But it’s also not a place for beginners.
Here is all you need to know about your first trip to Mount Barney and how to make it safe and enjoyable!
YOUR FIRST TRIP UP MOUNT BARNEY- WHAT TO EXPECT
Mount Barney National Park offers some challenging terrain to hike and climb in. And none more so than the many routes up to the two main summits.
The predominant East summit sitting at 1354m is the most popular, with the most well worn trails, while the West summit is slightly higher at 1359m and has far less traffic.
12 of the Best Hikes Around South East Queensland!
5 Things You Need to Remember When You First Start Hiking
The most common route up Mount Barney is the Peasants ridge, or south ridge, and is the best option for your first attempt.
Starting from the carpark, you immediately get hit with a decent hill to hike before it levels off and you can catch your breath and take in the incredible views. After this, the elevation goes up again as you weave around the bluffs and rocky outcrops, and your first challenge is the rocky slabs which often see ropes attached for many people as extra help.
This is only one of 2 main vertical challenges however, the second being the chimney section. Make it past these and the rest of the challenge is just fitness and navigation.
If you find either of these a bit too much, its best to turn around. Going up or coming down when its wet also adds a great deal of difficulty. Remember, coming down is always harder.
Eventually you will hit the midpoint between the two main peaks at the campsite known as ‘Rum Jungle’. From there, the tracks become faint as many people take different paths. This can be quite hard for those not used to ‘off track’ navigation.
Your first trip should be to the summit of the East peak. The important thing to remember is to stay on top of the ridge. If you drop off too far to each side you can get yourself stuck. Sheer drops also await there.
Making the Eastern summit is fantastic and on a clear day you can see very far. Look East and you will even see Mount Warning in the distance, 60 kilometers away.
After all the walking up, the decent is just as tiresome as your legs get worked on the opposite side. Fitness is important, including strong muscles in the ankle as its always when coming down that most accidents happen.
All in all, your first trip will take between 7-10 hours return.
PREPARING FOR MT BARNEY
There are 3 main areas you should have dialled before undertaking a trip to Mount Barney.
You should be quite capable of doing a full days hike in steep terrain. The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy it. A good solid base would be hiking a few times a month, doing full days, plenty of uphill, at least 2-3 months prior to your attempt.
Ankle strength is very important. I don’t advocate any particular footwear as the most important thing is good, strong muscles, tendons and joints. You will get these by simply hiking regularly! If you are new to hiking, some high cut hiking boots, the type that go just above the ankle, can help and would be recommended.
► Navigation skills
Often forgotten and ignored are your navigation skills. Situational awareness is the most important part of navigation and is only gained by spending lots of time doing it. You should take a topographic map covering Mount Barney, a compass, and know how to use it.
On top of that, whiteouts are very common on the summit and you can easily get lost without situational awareness.
You can read more on this post about it:
Learn This to Master Navigation! Learn Situational Awareness!
► Scrambling skills
Scrambling is the use of hands and feet getting up steeper terrain but without the use of ropes and climbing gear. This makes it challenging as there is no ‘safety’ other than you. Trusting yourself and your abilities is crucial. You should be able to deal with sheer drops and the exposure that goes with them. While the moves on exposed scrambles on the South ridge route are not technically challenging, if you let yourself get stressed you may make a mistake.
I cover the topic of scrambling and how to improve it here:
How to Improve Your Scrambling Ability
A DAY HIKE VS A OVERNIGHT HIKE
For your first trip, a day hike is highly recommended. Doing an overnight trip is harder if you haven't done them before, and especially if you haven't done any scrambling with a heavy pack!
Once you have done the South ridge once, and you are fit and experienced enough, you can definitely take your camping gear and plan an overnight trip! Going up at around lunch time and then camping in rum jungle, you can get up early for a scramble to the summit for sunrise.
THE IMPORTANT STUFF & GEAR TO TAKE
For a day hike:
◘ First Aid Kit
◘ Water (4 Litres)
◘ Food and snacks
◘ Shell/rain jacket
◘ Warm midlayer
◘ Hiking Shoes (high cut if beginner)
◘ Trip intentions left with trusted contact (and a PLB is highly recommended)
You can find the full gear lists with downloadable PDF’s, HERE.
TIMES/LENGTH: 7-10 hours return, 16Km with 1150 meters elevation gain.
START LOCATION: Yellow Pinch Reserve located HERE.
SEASON: April to October is ideal. Summer months (November to March) is not recommended as the heat is very intense.
WEATHER: Whiteouts are common, avoid when raining or rain is forecast. Check the weather before you go!
◘ Wikiloc GPS link HERE.
◘ Water is usually found at Rum Jungle Campsite, however in hot years this can dry up. No other water sources are up there, carry all your water!
◘ Mt Barney Lodge runs guided tours if you are unsure of whether you can manage it. They have excellent guides and can tailor trips just for you! Check them out HERE!
Mount Barney is a real gem for exploration with many routes to try. Once you have done the South ridge, try the South East for extra challenge. It’s one of my favourite routes up there and gets you straight onto the East summit! Nothing beats those expansive views