Even though I have lived in Bundaberg for almost my entire life I had only become aware of Mount Walsh a couple of years ago. It is a large national park just outside of Biggenden in the North Burnett region. Biggenden’s average elevation is 110 metres above sea level while the highest summit of Mount Walsh is 710 metres above sea level so the mountain rises approximately 600 metres above the surrounding countryside. For regional Queensland it is quite an impressive peak! Even though I have been there a couple of times before I decided to visit again as I wanted to take some drone footage from the summit.
The walk to the summit of Mount Walsh starts from the day use area at the northern end of the park. From Bundaberg it is an hour and 20 minutes drive. I wanted to arrive just before sunrise (6 am) so I left home at 4:20 am, an early start but when there’s mountains involved I don’t mind.
Bundaerg to Mount Walsh National Park
As you get closer to the day use area you have to drive on a small section of dirt road but it is entirely suitable for any normal vehicle. On this last section of road there is a small hill and it is a good spot to stop for uninterrupted views of the entire mountain. I stopped here for some photos and also ventured into the paddock across the road for views of Mount Woowoonga and the Clifton Ranges. The first thing I noticed as I got out of the car was a thin a layer of fog rolling over the hillsides.
I lingered in this area for a while and wandered across the road multiple times to watch the landscape slowly change as the light peaked across the horizon. It was amazing to see how quickly the colours changed from shades of blue and grey to pastels of soft pink and orange. Within minutes the sun rose over the Clifton Ranges and it was absolutely beautiful. Even though it can be tiring waking up early there is something magical about watching the start of a brand new day. Maybe it’s the intensity of the colours across the landscape or the promise that a new day brings. Whatever it is, it’s something I find myself wanting to see more of as I get older.
Not long after I left the small hill I noticed this interesting shaped tree on the side of the road. There was a clear juxtaposition between the green of the grass and tree leaves compared to the orange glow of the granite rock formations on Mount Walsh. From here I could also appreciate the steep ridge lines on the eastern slopes of the mountain.
Upon reaching the day use shelter I was keen to start the walk as soon as possible. Even in autumn temperatures can still reach the mid to low 30’s so it’s best to start walking early in the day. The day use area of Mount Walsh is well serviced with facilities and includes sheltered picnic tables, wood fired barbecues, a toilet block and a water tank.
It’s a steep track the entire way with roughly 480 metres of elevation gain in 1.5 km of walking. While it can get tiring fairly quickly one advantage is that panoramic views over the surrounding countryside can be enjoyed fairly early on in the walk. It’s also important to note that the walk is a Class 4 – 5 standard which means that there is a distinct track but it is very steep in sections with irregular surfaces and loose stones. It can be particularity slippery and unsafe in the wet so it’s best to avoid starting the walk if rain is a possibility. There is also no access to water on the walk and it is very exposed to the weather. Sun safe clothing and 2 litres of water is really essential on a walk like this.
After 500 metres there is a warning sign regarding the rest of the walk. When I first came to this area I was tempted to turn around at this point but in reality, if the weather is dry then the vast majority of walkers can continue past this point. As long as you take your time and watch your footing you will be fine.
As you continue up the mountain the views just keep getting better and better, particularly of Woowoonga National Park and Wongi National Park. While I am not aware of any walking tracks in Wongi National Park there is a track to the summit of Mount Woowoonga. It’s definitely on my to do list of walks in the Wide Bay area.
The low cloud rolling though the valleys’s really intensified the light of the sun. Combined with the layering effect of the mountains on the horizon it made for an absolutely beautiful morning.
There is a point in the walk where a clearing of sorts is reached. To the north-west there are views of Mount Walsh National Park itself, particularly of a rock formation known as, “The Pinnacles” or the “Four Sisters”. To the east the views are almost unobstructed and seemingly roll into the horizon. From here a small patch of bush is entered and then some scrambling on very slippery rock is required to reach the top of Mount Walsh. If the weather has started to turn or you are not a confident scrambler than it might be a good idea to turn around at this point. However, if the weather is looking good I really think most people could find their way to the top.
I really enjoy the scrambling section of this walk. In my opinion the first section of the scramble is the worst. The rock is very smooth and slippery with very few cracks or handles to hold on to. While it is not completely vertical it’s like climbing a steep slide/ramp. In saying this, it is only about 10 – 20 metres long and there are a few places to stop and admire the view as you progress up the mountain.
The next section isn’t so bad as it is more like climbing a steep set of stairs. In some parts you may have to pull yourself up a metre or so but there are plenty of cracks in the rock you can use as leverage. As per the previous section there are a number of spots to stop and enjoy the view, I even found some wildflowers in the bush here.
Before long the climbing abruptly comes to a halt and the scrambling section gives way to a very large plateau at the top of Mount Walsh. The official track ends at the northern tip of the plateau and from here the views are magnificent!
At the south-eastern section of the plateau there is a steep valley with exposed granite cliffs. There are a few areas here with some small trees and shade, a good place to have a celebratory snack after the big climb.
While spending some time at the top of Mount Walsh I decided to experiment with some Google photo spheres. I was really impressed with the 360° perspective offered by the photo sphere and will definitely be taking more of them on future walks. Here is one from the south-eastern section of the plateau overlooking the steep valley.
I then proceeded to explore the north-western side of the plateau where sheer cliffs give way to rocky outcrops and there are more extensive views of the surrounding area and of the rest of Mount Walsh national park. After taking a bunch of photos and drone shots from this section it was time to head back down the mountain.
In many ways the climb back down is more enjoyable than the climb up. For starters it’s much easier to see the best path from an upwards perspective looking down and when it comes to the really steep rock face you can always slide down on your bottom. Just be careful not to end up with a hole in your pants like I did on my first trip down 🙂 After a very enjoyable autumn’s morning at Mount Walsh I have resolved that the next time I visit the park it will have to be an overnight trip with a sleep at the top of the mountain. For a day walk though I cannot recommend Mount Walsh more highly enough!