Saturday 29 June 2013

The Steamers - Main Range National Park, QLD

It is often difficult being a visitor to new places - you touch the landscape so briefly, you walk the route, see the spectacular views, and are left to only imagine the endless opportunities for exploration. Traveling can sometimes feel more like ticking off the destination rather than immersing oneself in a new environment. However, sitting on the stern of The Steamers in Main Range National Park, Queensland, staring down the length of its spectacular pinnacles and cliffs, I felt that no matter how brief our visit might be it was better than not being there at all.

Access to The Steamers range is via rugged dirt roads that travel up the valleys either side of this remarkable ridge of rocky outcrops. You can either drive up the Emu Creek valley on the southern side or the Steamer Creek valley on the northern side. Either way, there are many creek crossings and when we visited in May this year these crossings had been severely damaged by the storms and floodwaters of January. They proved too difficult for our small all-wheel drive RAV and so we chose to drive up the southern access road, Emu Creek, as we felt it took us closer to The Steamers before becoming impassable. Although, it still meant an extra 2 km or more of additional walking along the dirt track that could once have been driven.

Track notes from John & Lyn Daly's book Take a Walk in SE Queensland (p. 268) helped us get our bearings but we were now walking their route in reverse. Time also alters the best track notes and the "old overgrown road" that we were to follow, as it ran parallel to Emu Creek, was so overgrown in a mess of lantana, wild raspberry and stinging nettle, that we were forced to scramble our way up the creek bed. Fortunately, heading up towards The Steamers, we entered natural, open rainforest with vivid orange fungi scattered along rotting logs. Huge brush box and figs dominated the forest, underlain with patches of thick vine and lawyer cane. Giant Stinging Trees were also prolific and although I managed to avoid all those at ground level there was no escaping a stealth attack from above as a large stinging tree leaf drifted down from the canopy and landed on my bare arm leaving a faint tingle as a reminder.

There was no distinct footpad through the forest so we navigated our own route as the slope became increasingly steep until a final scramble brought us onto the small saddle between The Stern and The Mast. From here the route followed a distinct path that lead around the northern base of The Steamers, up the back of The Stern and finally out to its western end where an open and airy rocky gap had to be scrambled across before reaching the famed Steamers viewing point with its spectacular vista to The Mast, The Funnel and The Prow.

There is plenty of information around the internet on The Steamers. I particularly love this thread on the Bushwalk Forum website as it gives some entertaining and historical photos: .

If geology is your thing, there's also some pretty thorough geological information about Main Range National Park at this site:

After enjoying lunch on The Stern, we reluctantly headed off as low cloud drifted in, threatening to envelop us in a whiteout. We retraced our steps to the base of the pinnacles and then back down the steep slope as rain began to fall in fat drops that broke through the thick rainforest canopy. Back at Emu Creek the rain made for slippery and slow going until we finally hit the road and motored back to the car. It was all too short a visit to such a dramatic and inspiring part of a wild land. From the track notes in Take A Walk it is obvious that there is great scope for including The Steamers in longer, multi-day walks and from our own visit we could see exciting opportunities for some off track adventuring. But after such a great day on The Steamers we had learnt that even a day walk to this most spectacular lookout point really was better than no visit at all.


  1. Nice! Makes me feel a little homesick

    1. Plenty to be homesick for, it's a beautiful part of the country!

  2. Great post Christina. Excellent photos as well.

    1. Thanks Cameron! We're encroaching on your part of the country now ! Wish we could get up there more often, Main Range National Park has some stunning scenery.