Ships Stern circuit is a whole day, vegetation diverse bushwalk. It is located in the Binna Burra Section of Lamington National Park. Several lookouts and waterfalls along the track make this a very rewarding hike. South East Queensland’s weather makes it accessible at any time of the year.
Location: End of Binna Burra Rd, Binna Burra, Qld 4211
Walking Distance: 21km Return
Elevation: Approximately 700m
Time: 6-8 hours
Costs/Permit: No cost, no permit required
Opening Times: Only closed occasionally for maintenance
Facilities: Information station, toilets, café, camping, BBQ, picnic grounds, lots of parking, accommodation
What to take: Insect repellent, camera, picnic, water, sunscreen, jacket
Queensland Parks and Wildlife recommends completing Ships Stern Circuit clockwise. To do this, first follow the Lower Bellbird circuit. Lower Bellbird circuit can be started from the Saddle trailhead. Contrary to recommendation, I completed the track anti clockwise – mainly because I couldn’t find the Saddle trailhead but I could find the Binna Burra trailhead. I don’t think my experience lacked because of it. The Binna Burra trailhead is easy to find, it’s at the very end of the road where the turning circle is. The Saddle trailhead is about 200m lower down the hill. It is on the eastern side of the open field, that is below the accommodation building.
Follow the Tullawallal circuit (red line on the map) for about 2km. Then Ships Stern circuit branches off. Nagarigoon Falls is the first feature of note to be passed. This is one of the loveliest sections of the whole walk. The track takes you parallel to the creek for about 300m. Shortly after Nagarigoon Falls is a separate branch to Guraigumai Rock and Upper Ballunjui Falls. On the day I completed the circuit this branch wasn’t accessible (July 2021).
A year and a half after devastating bushfires, the damage could still be seen. Fortunately, signs of recovery were everywhere. Only a small portion of the track was in bushfire affected areas.
Ships Stern circuit takes you directly past many lookouts, or has small deviations to them. Burrawang, Gorooburra and Milleribah lookouts all give stunning views of the Numinba Valley. Kooloobano and Moonjooroora lookouts provide views of Kurraragin Valley, including Egg Rock. Kooloobano lookout is a great spot for a picnic lunch. It’s around the half way point, and it has some large boulders that work well as seating.
With steep and narrow access, Charraboomba Rock is the most strenuous part of the circuit. However, it is worth the climb for the views at the top.
Ships Stern circuit showcases a beautiful diversity of vegetation along the track. The banksias were on full display the day I visited. This is an ideal track to complete in order to experience many varieties of native Australian flora.
Another particularly lovely section of the walk was the branch to Ballunjui Falls. Walking parallel to Nixon Creek for much of the 600m deviation, every turn in the track provides picturesque scenes.
Ballunjui Falls have an upper and lower section. Both can be seen from the base, however both couldn’t fit into the one photograph. Very impressive!
Ships Stern circuit delivers a lot. The 21km experience allows for plenty of time to disconnect; hours will go by without hearing anything man made. 21 kilometres gives opportunity for a full day’s adventure that is achievable for beginner bushwalkers with a moderate level of fitness.