One of my all time favourite bushwalks. Beautiful rainforest, flowing creek, inspiring views and crisp mountain air, with a challenging rock scramble at the end – all on a well maintained path. The super elite may be able to complete the hike in 2 hours, but anyone with a moderate level of fitness will have success in around 5 hours. Take plenty of water, a thirst for adventure and get ready for a day you won’t soon forget!
Location: Near Murwillumbah, northern NSW. 2 hours drive south of Brisbane
Walking Distance: 8.8km Return
Time: 5 Hours
Costs/Permit: No cost, no permit required
Facilities: Pit toilets at the base, picnic tables at the base and summit
What to take: Sunscreen, insect repellent, hat, sturdy shoes, 2L water, snacks, gloves (optional – to hold the chain for the 400m rock climb), first aid kit containing a stretch bandage in case of snake bites.
Mt Warning Was Worth The Wait!
I was looking forward to climbing Mt Warning for years before I finally had the opportunity – and it didn’t disappoint. What a life giving experience! Everyone comes out a winner after 5 hours immersed in nature’s beauty. Mt Warning typifies the old adage that the best things in life are free.
Halfway into a sanity sapping Brisbane summer I was ready for a tree change. I organised for Hubby to entertain our 4 kids – enter multiplayer computer games – while a friend and I headed out early one Monday morning ready to climb Mt Warning. My smile started before we even arrived at the car park, and lasted all day. After making use of the pit toilets near the car park, the only toilets till we returned, we started the climb just before 8am. Our plan was to walk at a steady pace, stopping whenever there was a photo opportunity. We stopped a lot!
Mt Warning is stunningly beautiful and refreshingly cool. Despite it being a sultry 34 degrees in Brisbane, at no point did I feel hot from the weather. I got plenty hot from exertion – next time I will wear a moisture wicking shirt instead of the 100% cotton one that ended up 99% sweat soaked – but the air temperature remained fresh. A hot summers day is an ideal time to plan your hike here. Just make sure you take plenty of water; I went through 1.5L. There are lots of stairs. Lots and lots of stairs! Plenty of opportunity to get your heart rate up.
The summit is 4.4km and 760m of elevation from the carpark. We encountered other climbers about every 20 minutes. Hikers are such a positive and friendly bunch of people! There are helicopter emergency rescue points about every kilometer, which was reassuring.
We were fortunate enough to climb Mt Warning after a night of heavy rain. The track crisscrossed a flowing creek in a dozen places; the fresh rain helped create impromptu mini waterfalls. Muddy shoes were a small price to pay for the added adventure! The path was well marked, and contained lots of rock hopping opportunities.
We encountered 2 carpet pythons on the hike. One was sunning itself to the side of the path, the second one was trying to catch some rays in a tree branch that hung over the path – so a bit of limbo was required to get past without disturbing it. Another snake, could have been a baby eastern brown, was seen slithering away when our noise disturbed it. These 3 snakes were all within a few meters of each other. Carrying a snake bandage in your pack would be a good precaution. For the rest of the walk we didn’t encounter any other snakes and the sheer serenity of the place pushed any thoughts of danger to the back of my mind.
4km into the bushwalk, the really fun part of the hike begins. 400m of rock scrambling. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I claim the incline to be over 60 degrees in places. It was steep. And challenging. And exhilarating. And I felt like Wonder Woman when I reached the top. I was a wee bit concerned about how I was going to get back down, but that proved to be easier than going up once I worked out my system of going down backwards. A thick chain rope is connected to posts anchored into the rock face that you can use to help pull yourself up. A pair of gardening gloves helped with this part of the assent and descent.
The summit was a bit anticlimactic for us as it was completely clouded in. Fortunately we had intermittent amazing views on the walk up and back. There are plenty of benches at the summit, a perfect place to refuel before beginning the descent. A pesky bush turkey tried to join us in our summit picnic, but I wasn’t willing to share my home baked trail cookies!
The entire trip took us the full 5 hours, including all our photography stops and half an hour to refuel at the summit. My legs decided they would appreciate a break from stairs for the four days following the hike. Every sore muscle was well earned and came with lots of great memories.
Mt Warning is beyond beautiful. It is the encapsulation of what I love in a bushwalk experience – lush green, flowing creek, thick forest, canopy, lots of bird life and a well maintained path. Can’t wait to climb it again!
2 years on and I have been fortunate enough to climb Mt Warning again. I’m very happy to say that the weather conditions were favourable and I got my much sought after views from the top. Please remember to be suitably prepared for the climb – shirtless, shoeless and with no water does not make for happy memories. I’m pretty sure I saved a life when I gave a spare water bottle to that ambitious lad!