Mount Bartle Frere is the highest peak in the state of Queensland, located in the center of Wooroonooran National Park in the coastal Bellenden-Ker Range. On a clear day this peak provides views of the Great Barrier Reef.
Trails and Trailheads
Trail with markers
Trails are the only reasonable way to climb the peak in the dense rainforest. There are two trails to the summit, or rather one trail that crosses the Bellenden-Ker Range and passes over the summit. The summit is about 8 km (5 miles) from either trailhead.
Eastern end of trail – Josephine Falls
Josephine Falls is 75 km south of Cairns. Turn off the Bruce Highway (A1) 2 km south of Miriwinni near Babinda and drive 8 km to Josephine Falls. Access is by paved road and there is plenty of parking, restrooms, and drinking water. This is by far the easier trail to get to, but it involves a steeper climb and is more often closed due to trail damage by heavy summer rains.
Western end of trail – on the Atherton Tableland
The Atherton Tableland is 78 km south-south-west of Cairns. From Malanda follow the Malanda to Yungaburra road for 5.5 km and then turn onto the Topaz Road. Travel 2 km past Butchers Creek School then turn left onto a sign-posted gravel road to Lamins Hill Lookout. This road can be slippery when wet. Follow the signs to the end of Gourka Gourka Road (7 km), the boundary of the national park. Access beyond this point is by 4WD only. The road may be boggy when wet. Junction Camp, 2 km along the track, marks the start of the walking trail.
Leach on log
The trails are well marked with orange paint and markers which are especially easy to see while hiking down. These are to help guide hikers in the event of heavy fog. The trail varies from mostly flat to very steep, and in places there are large stream crossings and fields of enormous boulders. Because this is a rainforest, hikers should also be prepard for heavy rain.
(resembling inch-worms) are a major problem in the wetter parts of the dense forest. They are very aggressive and will hunt for uncovered skin. They are numerous and have ways of getting on hikers, and their small size makes them hard to spot.
A round-trip to the summit of Mount Bartle Frere can be accomplished in one day from either trailhead by experienced, dedicated hikers getting an early start. See more details on the eastern route in this trip report
Red Tape and Camping
Free optional hiking permits are available in boxes at the Josephine Falls trailhead. Backcountry camping requires a permit and a fee of $4.85 per person per night or $19.40 per family per night.
Stream crossing View from near summit
There are a few established campsites along the trails. Big Rock Camp is 4 km from the Josephine Falls Trailhead at the junction of two creeks. The Eastern Summit Camp is next to a helipad and small evaculation hut 1 km east of the summit. On the western trail there is camp just west of the summit, but some people camp at the summit itself. The only other camp is at the head of the western trail. It would be difficult to find a suitable campsite elsewhere along the trails.
The trails are sometimes closed when flooding has damaged them. This is currently the case (February 2009).
External LinksTrail Map
Josephine Falls 1
Josephine Falls 2
Bartle Frere trail
Eastern Trail Trail Description
Western Trail Trip Report