A 7-Day Adventurous Hike Along a Unique Australian Natural Wonder

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Lush mountains, shimmering lakes, endless vistas, and a wealth of activities: Queensland’s Scenic Rim is a gorgeous, magical destination that lies an easy 90-minute drive from Brisbane. Here you’ll find some 40 volcanic peaks formed around 24 million years ago; their nutrient-rich volcanic soil supports some of the world’s oldest rainforests. And it’s not just locals who recognize the beauty and importance of this area: Many of Queensland’s parks in the Scenic Rim area are part of a larger UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Along with these ancient groves, the Scenic Rim Trail is also a biodiversity hotspot for fauna. The park provides sanctuaries for wallabies, koalas, and other mammals, while birders will want to bring their binoculars to spot the many species that are endemic here.

This six-night itinerary is run by Spicers Retreats. Each night, you’ll sleep at a different Spicers property. You’ll make your way each day between the farmhouses and cabins on foot, following trails that pass through forests and along alpine ridges. And, since your luggage will be picked up each morning and transported to the next stop, you’ll only need to walk with a day pack.

It’s an Australian adventure that focuses on taking time to stop and smell the flowers, listen to bird song, enjoy the cool air underneath the dense canopies of trees, and dine on delicious meals featuring local produce. Waiting for you at the end of your hikes will be lunches amid centuries-old trees, and farmhouse dinners followed by nightcaps under star-filled skies.


Trip Highlight

Hidden Vale Wildlife Centre

At the Hidden Vale Wildlife Centre, you’ll learn about conservationists’ efforts to protect the habitats of spotted martens, bandicoots, koalas, and other species found in the Scenic Rim.

Trip Designer

United Airlines

With nonstop United Airlines flights from San Francisco or Los Angeles to Brisbane, there’s never been a better time to visit Queensland. After enjoying an in-flight meal, movie, and snooze, you can snorkel the world’s largest coral reef, lay on white-sand beaches, dine at award-winning restaurants, and wander through ancient rainforests. Come and let Queensland captivate you today.

DAY 1Arrive at Spicers Hidden Vale

After you land in Brisbane this morning, you’ll head to Lockyer Valley, a picturesque area of farms to the west of the city and enclosed by the hills of the Great Dividing Range on each side. With its fertile soil and mild climate, the valley has been nicknamed the “salad bowl” of Australia, with its produce found in the best kitchens of Brisbane and beyond.

Your destination today is the Spicers Hidden Vale, a country retreat on 12,000 acres of land just south of the town of Grandchester. After you arrive, you’ll learn about the history of this former cattle station, where many of the buildings are more than a century old. You’ll have the afternoon to relax and take advantage of some of the hotel’s amenities—perhaps a swim in the infinity pool or a game on the tennis court. You can also sign up for activities like a master mixology class or an Australian wine and cheese tasting, where you’ll have a chance to sample several flavors of one of Australia’s most famous exports.

Your home tonight will be a Queenslander-style cottage (some of which date from the 1800s), and you may want to turn in early. The next five days will be filled with days of hiking and learning firsthand about the flora and fauna of the Scenic Rim, and you’ll start your adventure rested and ready to go.
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DAY 2Spicers Hidden Vale

After breakfast and a morning at leisure at the property, you’ll meet up with any of your fellow hikers arriving today. Your group will then head out on a short walk to the Hidden Vale Wildlife Centre. Keep an eye out for some of the animals unique to this part of the world, like koalas and wallabies, as well as parrots and eagles.

At the end of your second day, a market garden tour provides an introduction to the produce and cooking techniques of the resort’s acclaimed Homage restaurant, with its kitchen helmed by chef Ash Martin. From unique cooking methods to the use of the bounty from the restaurant’s own kitchen garden and nearby farms, you’ll learn how Homage’s hyper-local approach has made the restaurant a favorite of critics and diners.

DAY 3Spicers Hidden Vale to Spicers Mount Mistake Farmhouse

After breakfast this morning, you’ll travel by 4WD to the Spicers Scenic Rim Trailhead. (Your luggage will be transferred directly to the Spicers Mount Mistake Farmhouse, where you’ll be sleeping tonight.)

You’ll spend the next five hours hiking through Spicers’ private nature reserve. Along the way, your guide will explain the geology and ecology of the Scenic Rim. A cluster of volcanic peaks that date from around 24 million years ago, the volcanic soil provides ideal conditions for the eucalyptus forests that flourish here, as well as other unusual plants like the xanthorrhoea grass trees, with their spiky blooms and charcoal black trunks. These slow-growing plants can live for centuries. The area is known not only for its flora but its fauna as well, including the endangered rock wallaby and a variety of bird species.

Continue through farmland to the Spicers Mount Mistake Farmhouse, a six-bedroom property (with a seventh in a standalone cottage) available only to groups doing the Scenic Rim walk. You’ll have the rest of the afternoon to enjoy this haven surrounded by natural beauty. There’s a nearby waterfall that you can visit on your own before everyone gathers again for a dinner at the farmhouse’s communal table.

DAY 4Mount Mistake Farmhouse to Spicers Amphitheatre Eco Cabins

On the third day of your walk, you’ll leave the Spicers private reserve and cross over into the Main Range National Park. As you walk through landscapes that have changed little over millions of years, you’ll also be in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, with many species that are unique to this part of Australia’s eastern coast.

At the end of your walk, you’ll arrive at the Spicers Amphitheatre Eco Cabins, a collection of sustainably built cabins surrounded by verdant forest. After getting settled in your own cabin and perhaps enjoying a hot shower, you’ll rejoin your group for a drink and dinner in the common pavilion.

DAY 5Spicers Amphitheatre Eco Cabins to Spicers Timber Getters Eco Cabins

During the eight hours you spend on the trail today, you’ll travel through a variety of ecosystems, with different ones shaped by factors from altitude to the history of logging in some parts of the park.

After breakfast, you’ll enjoy views of Mount Castle before you descend into the cooler lower elevations of the park, shaded by the dense canopy above. During parts of your walk today, you’ll pass survivors of stands of red cedar, white beech, and hoop pine, which were harvested during the years of logging here. As you travel further into the park, look up to see staghorn ferns in the tree branches. The plants are epiphytes, meaning they get their nutrients and moisture from the air instead of the soil. The unusual antler-like shape of their fronds is the source of their name.

Birders will also want to keep their eyes turned upwards. Among the many species that can be spotted here are Albert’s lyrebird, the endangered eastern bristlebird, and the vulnerable, black-breasted button-quail.

Lunch today will be in a spot known as “the cathedral,” a stunning grove of centuries-old Crow’s ash (also commonly known as Australian teak) trees. After lunch, continue through a eucalyptus forest and look for more avian species. Pale-headed rosellas make for colorful sights; if you’re lucky, you may also see a wedge-tailed eagle. And listen for the unforgettable call of the kookaburra. Soon you’ll reach the valley floor and the source of Dalrymple Creek. From there, it’s just a short ascent to the Spicers Timber Getters Eco Cabins.

DAY 6Spicers Timber Getters Eco Cabins to Spicers Hidden Peaks Cabins

After breakfast this morning, continue exploring the rainforest; as you head out on your trek, you’ll be surrounded by tree ferns and accompanied by the song of Albert’s lyrebirds. Most of today’s hike is along a ridgeline, offering views of the peaks and valleys of the Scenic Rim.

Stretching out below you, the Fassifern Valley is one of several agricultural regions in the area, known for the cultivation of onion, melons, pumpkins, and other crops. In the distance, you’ll be able to see Lake Moogerah, a reservoir created in 1903 to provide irrigation for farms.

After you descend the slope of Mt. Cordeaux, you’ll reach the final night’s accommodations: Spicers Hidden Peaks Cabins. There are only six cabins (each with its own en suite bathroom) and one communal cabin at this site on private farmland. With its stunning views of the Great Dividing Range, it’s an ideal place to end your adventure, enjoying a celebratory dinner with your fellow explorers.

DAY 7Depart

Your walk through the Scenic Rim has now come to an end, and you will be met this morning by a car and driver for your private transfer to Brisbane. After just this small taste of what Queensland offers, we expect you’ll want to return soon. Perhaps on your next visit you’ll include a few days at Spicers Canopy Luxury Tents, located on a 5,000-acre private nature reserve. Or, having experienced the natural beauty of the Scenic Rim, maybe you’ll next want to take a deep dive into the cosmopolitan and urban attractions of Brisbane, or head to the beaches of the Gold Coast—a favorite holiday destination for Australians.
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