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A Brief Detour to Queen Mary Falls

You know when you drive past something all the time but never really get the chance to stop and explore? That is what Queen Mary Falls was to me. I have been driving past the turnoff to the falls for years as I travel between Brisbane and my country home town in New South Wales. This journey is on average 6 hours so there never really feels like enough time to make the detour.

But a couple of weeks ago, we decided to plan for this stop and I finally got to experience Queen Mary Falls for myself – and it is was every bit as impressive as I had hoped.

Queen Mary Falls is located about 45 kms outside of Warwick, just outside a little town called Killarney on the QLD/NSW border. There are about 5 waterfalls along the drive past Killarney but I unfortunately did not know this before arriving, so due to only having a short time to explore the area I only had time to see Dagg Falls from the lookout and of course the main attraction, Queen Mary Falls.

You really need a full day out here to fully explore the area rather than a couple of short hours but as that was not an option on this visit, I aimed to make the most of the time I did have.

As we turned down the road onto Falls Drive, on the left was Browns Falls which we wouldn’t have time to see. There is a big picnic area here which looks like the perfect location for a rest after the drive and some morning tea. A plan for another day maybe.

We drove on through the steep and windy road before coming to Dagg Falls Lookout. This waterfall is huge and it is just mesmerising to watch the water cascading down into the valley below. As we were quite far away from the falls at the lookout, I decided to switch out my camera lens and use my 50mm (which I have not used much for landscape shots) as it would get me closer to the Falls allowing them to fill my frame. I was pleasantly surprised with my results and this is one of my favourite shots from the day!

On arrival at the car park for Queen Mary Falls we quickly enjoyed our packed lunch of cold meat and bread rolls. There is something so simple and satisfying about enjoying a humble sandwich surrounded by dense forest in every direction. Maybe that’s just me!

Again due to the short time we had available we decided to just do the quicker of the two walks to view the falls. Of course if you have ever read any of my tales of walking tracks (examples here, here and here) you will already know that this plan should never have been made as once I’m there, I always want to go that little bit further!

I love just how peaceful it feels wandering through the dense forest not quite knowing what is waiting for you at the end of the path. After a little climb we found ourselves on the viewing platform overlooking the spectacular Queen Mary Falls, powerfully cascading into the creek below. The sun was not favourable to my photography but really I didn’t mind as I found myself getting mesmerised by the tumbling water as it flowed and crashed.

When I saw the path below, that was it. I knew we needed to do the longer Queen Mary Falls Circuit walk because there was no way we could come all this way without getting up close. So off we went at a particularly quick pace as we knew the longer we stayed, the more we risked having to make the drive home on an unknown road in the dark.

It probably only took us 10 minutes to get to the foot of the falls and as soon as we did I knew that if I hadn’t have done this I would have left disappointed.

After playing around taking a few photos and admiring the impressive size of the falls, letting the mist refresh us after being in the car for a few hours, it was time to head back to the car. Again moving quickly we pushed ourselves back up the other side of the circuit loop, back to the car park, thankful to arrive as I realised I had done ANOTHER bush walk without carrying water!

We had decided when making this plan that we didn’t want to back-track and head back into Warwick to go to Brisbane. There is an alternative route that takes you directly from the falls to Brisbane via Boonah along the scenic Falls Drive. This road is not for the faint hearted which is why we really didn’t want to be on it in the dark.

The scenery along this drive is incredible and we made sure to pull over at Carr’s Lookout to take in a side of the Queensland countryside I have not really been exposed to. I could have looked out at this view for hours but it was time to make our way through the Great Dividing Range.

As I said, this road is not for the faint hearted. It is mostly one lane, steep and windy with many blind turns and a pretty impressive cliff drop. As a passenger however I was treated to some amazing scenes as we drove over the mountains and down into the valleys, crossing over rocky creek beds. This drive takes you through the farmland directly between Moogerah and Maroon Dams which provide a rugged mountainous horizon.

On passing through Boonah the sun began to set and we were treated to a spectacular pink and orange sky.

Even though it was a long day, I was so happy to have finally got to make that detour and I settled into bed that night feeling content and amazed at just how much natural beauty is waiting for us if we just choose to take a different path.

Essential info:

The easiest way to get to Queen Mary Falls from Brisbane is to drive down the highway into Warwick which takes about 2 hours, then take the Warwick Killarney Road into Killarney before turning down Falls Drive which will take about another 30 minutes.

Return the same way or for the adventurous, continue down the incredibly scenic Spring Creek Road to Boonah before joining back onto the Highway near Ipswich as you head back into Brisbane. Depending on how many cows you encounter on the road along the way, the travel time will be roughly the same either way.

Once there, you will want to do the Queen Mary Falls Circuit – trust me. It is 2 km long with a few incline sections and steps but a very well maintained path. Allow 40 minutes to complete the walk depending on how long you expect to stay at the base of the falls.

There are heaps of facilities available including picnic areas and toilets as well as a caravan park & cafe if you choose to stay a little longer.

Remember to respect the environment around you and put any rubbish in the bins provided or take it with you – never leave it on the ground.

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