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Bushwalking in Brisbane
Photograph: Tim NodensMount Gravatt Summit Track

Brisbane’s best walking tracks

Take a day hike without leaving the city at these urban nature reserves

Written by
Tim Nodens
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Need to reconnect with nature but don’t want to drive for hours? Discover these great easy bushwalks all within Brisbane. You’ll still need passable walking shoes, a hat and a water bottle, but you’ll be on the trail within minutes of stepping out your front door. As with any hike, check the weather conditions, glance at a map, walk with a friend and avoid the hotter part of the day. Don’t forget to stop, look around and listen. Soak up that bushy ambience! These local walks will rejuvenate your soul without losing your mobile signal, because that Map app will be useful when the trail gets confusing.

Find a secret swimming hole, an exciting day trip or something fantastic to do in Brisbane

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Camp Hill

Time: 30 mins-1 hr
Accessibility: Pram & wheelchair friendly in parts, kid friendly, on-leash dog friendly

Whites Hill Reserve offers easy scrubby bush walks with city glimpses and a good chance of seeing a koala. There's a variety of interlinking signposted trails through this eucalypt forest so, as with many of these walks, you can mix and match your walk according to your whims and fitness. The Whites Hill Circuit starts on the Tallowwood track, beginning amidst the Boundary Road playing fields, then onto the Whites Hill Circuit. This pram and wheelchair-friendly track leads up to the historically interesting summit (in the Edwardian era there used to be a party house with telescopes and entertainment up here). Sankey’s Mountain Summit track is a 2km/50min jaunt from the playing fields up along the Tallowwood and Acacia tracks. You can walk east and south around the playing fields on the Bloodwood Track to make a nice loop.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Mount Coot-tha

Time: 60-90 mins return
Accessibility: Kid friendly

It sounds intimidating, but this 2km graded track up a charming eucalypt valley is doable even for low-to-moderate levels of fitness. Leave your wheels in the rearmost car park at JC Slaughter Falls and follow the Summit Track signs. The trail starts in manicured picnic areas, and goes over several rocky creek beds with intriguing hints of what-may-lie-up-that-away. Beyond a lagoon you follow the track up into the less tamed forest of Mount Coot-tha proper. The path has steep stairways in parts but several water bubblers too, and benches allow the less fit a chance to recuperate. Have a well-earned ice cream or beverage at the summit kiosk and drink in the most panoramic view of Brisbane. Loiter at the summit, or take one of the many other walks on Brissy’s big hill.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Mount Gravatt

Time: 60-90 mins 
Accessibility: Kid friendly (if they don't mind going uphill)

Walk from the base of Mount Gravatt to the summit on this 2km round trip. Starting at Gertrude Petty Place, walk across Mount Gravatt Outlook Drive and follow the Summit Track signs. There are ferns, creepers and even strangler figs in the sheltered gullies and magnificent larger eucalypts on the heights. Keep your eyes peeled for echidnas and koalas too. The walk isn’t tricky despite the fact you are going uphill, just take your time on the stairs and enjoy an awesome view of the city from the top. There’s a nice cafe up there too if you need an extra reward. You could take the slightly trickier Federation track down to your car for some variety – just pay attention to track junctions and make sure it isn't closed for repairs. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Wynnum

Time: 30-60 mins
Accessibility: Wheelchair & kid friendly

This marvellous elevated wooden boardwalk threads its way through a tidal mangrove ecosystem on the edge of Moreton Bay. It's only an 800m stroll with informative plaques and several viewing platforms with chairs for sitting and watching nature go by. Visiting at low or high tide presents different experiences. Low tide allows viewing of the mangrove roots and the fascinating bottom-dwelling life, while high tide is a less aromatic, more peaceful, walking-on-water vibe. (Check tidal times here.) The boardwalk eventually juts out beyond the mangroves offering views of the bay islands, watercraft and apparently even sea creatures, but we’ve never been that lucky. At the end of the boardwalk you can follow the gravel loop track back to the carpark, or better yet just return the way you came on the platform back through the mangroves.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Morningside - Seven Hills

Time: 25-40 mins
Accessibility: Kid friendly, on-leash dog friendly

Despite the Seven Hills Bushland Reserve being in the middle of southern Brisbane suburbia, we’ve seen a koala up a gum tree, an incredible black cockatoo on a tree stump and a fluorescent green tree snake here. There are many entry points to this city-bush spot; you can park on Richmond Road or one of several cul-de-sacs that end at the 50-hectare reserve. A single loop takes 25 minutes and to complete both loops can take 40 minutes. The track is dry and rocky with ups and downs. The path is wide and fairly shady so even on a scorching Brisbane day, it can be quite pleasant, especially in the gully parts. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Salisbury - Nathan

Time: 30 mins-3hrs
Accessibility: Wheelchair, kid & on-leash dog friendly

This open eucalypt forest is a remnant of what Brisbane used to look like. There are sandstone boulders, grass trees, forested ridges, scrubby gullies and several views across Brisbane contrasting the prehistoric and modern worlds. Kookaburras are easy to spot, the keen-eyed may see koalas and echidnas, and it’s only 10km from the CBD. A variety of trails from 250m to 3.5km weave through this huge forest, smack bang in the middle of the southside. Many of the tracks are sealed and make for decent wheelchair/ pram/ bike routes. Other unsealed trails explore the rougher sections of this beautiful forest in Nathan and Mount Gravatt. Try the Sandstone Circuit for an easy 30-minute walk with views to the west, or go for a 5km trip on the paved Toohey Ridge/Nathan Ridge track from Toohey Road to Nathan Campus and back.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • McDowall

Time: 30-60 mins
Accessibility: On-leash dog friendly

This open eucalypt forest in the midst of the northern suburbs has gravelly walking paths winding through stands of banksia and grass trees. Try the Giwadha track, a 2km circuit exploring the reserve. The trail passes over Little Cabbage Tree Creek then ascends Spider Hill. Don't worry, there are no more spiders here than anywhere else in Australia, and while the summit view isn't great, the track winds across little bridges and boardwalks amid beautiful slopes of Xanthorrhoea (grass trees). If you want to extend your walk you can connect with the Signata track (500m) and the Stringybark track (900m) and explore the ridgelines to the north of the reserve. Wildflowers bloom here in spring, and there are plenty of birdwatching opportunities, especially near the creek. Come closer to dawn and dusk and many other forms of wildlife, from turtles to swamp wallabies, goannas and sugar gliders can be spotted. The more adventurous can link up with the Raven Street Reserve (see below) via the Milne Hill Reserve.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Chermside West

Time: 30-60 mins
Accessibility: Wheelchair friendly & very kid friendly, on-leash dog friendly

Hidden in suburban Chermside, this charming forest has a mixture of bitumen and dirt tracks with some wooden boardwalks. Stroll along interlinking paths through groves of banksias, grass trees and acacias. There are several signposted trails up to 1.5km long taking you over hills, through forest or down to the creek.
Wallabies and their little cousins, pademelons, live on the reserve along with more than 100 bird species. Apart from the ubiquitous cheeky scrub turkeys and kookaburras, we spotted a delicate-looking wallaby (woohoo!), and walked beneath the chittering flying fox colony on the creek. The Downfall Creek Bushland Centre is here too (open Mon-Thu 9am-4pm).

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Boondall

Time: 10 mins-3.5 hrs
Accessibility: Wheelchair friendly & kid friendly

Brisbane’s largest wetlands boasts 1,150 hectares of tidal flats, mangroves, paperbark marshes, grasslands and open forest. Trails are a mix of boardwalks, bitumen and gravel and range from 100m to 13km. The Billai Dha-gun circuit is a level, 2km trail of compacted gravel or good old bitumen, suitable for prams and wheelchairs, meandering through forest and wetlands and passing a bird hide with views across to Shorncliffe. Alternately the 8.4km bikeway to Nudgee Road and back takes two to three hours to walk, and passes by the Anne Beasley Lookout. There's 190 species of bird living here and a large migratory shorebird population from Northern Asia roosts here from September to March. You can also follow the Nurri Millen Totem Trail, a contemporary Indigenous culture display placed near related sites or habitats. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Enoggera Reservoir

Time: 45 mins-1.5 hrs
Accessibility: Kid friendly

Bellbird Grove is part of the D'Aguilar National Park, 16 klicks west of the CBD. The Turrbal Circuit meanders 1.7km through a pretty eucalypt forest and along a quiet rocky creek. The circuit is named after the Turrbal tribe, the original custodians of this land, and this leisurely walk passes through dense vegetation and crosses Cedar Creek several times via little bridges and spillways. The track is mostly dirt and gravel but it’s shady and family friendly – we chuckled at several little kids getting wet exploring the rocky creek. You can easily extend your walk as the Golden Boulder trail connects with the Turrbal Circuit along the creek. History buffs will dig the 1.8km Golden Boulder track which passes the signposted remains of goldmines dating back to 1860 and a reconstructed miners' shanty hut. Bellbird Grove has good birdwatching opportunities as honeyeaters, whipbirds, cockatoos and even wedge-tailed eagles frequent the valley. 

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