Skip links and keyboard navigation

About Sundown

Getting there and getting around

Sundown has three access points, all reached via good gravel roads. Photo: Queensland Government.

Sundown has three access points, all reached via good gravel roads. Photo: Queensland Government.

Sundown is 250 km (3–4 hrs drive) south-west of Brisbane via Stanthorpe and 70 km north-west of Tenterfield.

The Broadwater camping area at the southern end of the park can be reached by conventional vehicle from Stanthorpe along 76 km of bitumen road via Texas Road (62 km) and the Glenlyon Dam Road (14 km), followed by 4 km of good gravel road (Permanents Road).

From Tenterfield, travel north 5 km along the New England Highway then west along the Bruxner Highway 52 km to Mingoola. Turn right and travel 12 km to the park turnoff.

A small general store at Glenlyon Dam has the only food and fuel supplies after leaving the New England Highway.

From Ballandean, travel the 16 km of gravel via Curr Road and Sundown Road to the park’s eastern boundary (and 4WD entrance). A rough 4WD track leads 20 km to camp sites along the Severn River. The drive takes about 2 hrs. Towing trailers or campers is not recommended due to the rough, steep and narrow road.

To reach Nundubbermere Falls travel 8 km along the Texas Road from Stanthorpe, then 20 km along Nundubbermere Road and then a further 4 km along Falls Road to the park entrance.

See the Department of Transport and Main Roads website for information about local road conditions and river heights. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Park features

Rugged ridges and steep-sided gorges are a feature of the Sundown area. Photo: Robert Ashdown.

Rugged ridges and steep-sided gorges are a feature of the Sundown area. Photo: Robert Ashdown.

Sundown National Park, is a rugged wilderness area with spectacular steep-sided gorges, sharp ridges and peaks of over 1,000 m that rise above the Severn River. The vegetation is mainly woodland consisting of box, ironbark and cypress trees, river red gums and river oaks along the river, stringybark and yellow box trees dominate forest in some high eastern areas and pockets of dry vine scrub are found in sheltered gorges. More than 150 species of birds have been recorded in the park, making it the perfect location for birdwatching enthusiasts.

The Sundown area has a history of early selection and subdivision in the late 1800s, followed by extensive clearing for grazing and fine wool production. Tin, copper and arsenic were also mined in the area from the 1870s. Pastoral relics and old surface diggings remain.

Sundown is a great place to get away from it all. Visitors must be self-sufficient as few facilities are provided.

Camping and accommodation

The Broadwater on the Severn River has a campground nearby. Photo: Brett Roberts, Queensland Government

The Broadwater on the Severn River has a campground nearby. Photo: Brett Roberts, Queensland Government

Camping

Camping and walking are best between May and September when you can expect cold nights, frosty mornings and warm, clear days. Summer can be hot and humid.
A range of camping experiences are available. Camping areas at The Broadwater and Nundubbermere Falls can be accessed by conventional vehicles, while a rough 4WD track leads to camping areas at Red Rock Gorge, Reedy Waterhole and Burrows Waterhole. All camping areas, except Red Rock Gorge, are on the Severn River.

Bush camping is permitted in all areas of the park. For safety reasons, walkers should provide the rangers with their route details. Bushwalkers can park vehicles just inside the park’s north-eastern entrance; at The Broadwater camping area (between sites 12 and 13); and at Nundubbermere Falls.

Camping permits are required for both car-based camping and bush camping and fees apply. Advance bookings (e-permits) are required for all areas for long weekends and Queensland public holidays.

Other accommodation

A range of holiday accommodation is available in and around Stanthorpe, Texas and Tenterfield. For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Nundubbermere Falls after good rain. Photo: Queensland Government.

Nundubbermere Falls after good rain. Photo: Queensland Government.

Walking

Sundown offers a variety of walks ranging from formed and maintained tracks which need basic fitness and footwear, to more remote walks which require a high level of fitness, sound navigation skills and self reliance. The walks listed here are just a few of what you are able to experience while at Sundown. The best time for walking is during the cooler months from April to September when you can expect cold nights, frosty mornings and warm, clear days. Summers can be hot and humid with temperatures occasionally reaching 40°C.

Caution: some of the walks suggested are not along constructed tracks. The routes may be rough and traprock is extremely slippery when wet. Please use care. Current weather, water and river height information should be obtained before undertaking any walks.

Each track has been numbered and classified so you can select a walk to match your walking experience and fitness.

Key to track standards

The classification system is based on Australian Standards. Please note that while each track is classified according to its most difficult section, other sections may be easier.

Class 3 walking trackClass 3 track
  • Gently sloping, well-defined track with slight inclines or few steps. Track may be uneven and partially overgrown.
  • Caution needed on loose gravel or muddy surfaces and at exposed natural lookouts.
  • Reasonable level of fitness and ankle-supporting footwear required.
Class 4 walking trackClass 4 track
  • Distinct track may be narrow, up and down or overgrown and usually with steep exposed inclines or many steps.
  • Caution needed on loose gravel surfaces, muddy areas and at exposed natural lookouts.
  • No formed creek crossings, no fences on cliff edges or lookouts, high level of caution required.
  • Moderate level of fitness and ankle-supporting footwear required.
Class 5 walking trackClass 5 track
  • Trails not constructed or maintained. No signs or markers provided, except where necessary to minimise environmental damage. Trails may range from clearly visible footpads to indistinct, overgrown routes depending on levels of usage.
  • Muddy sections, steep grades and numerous hazards such as fallen trees and rockfalls are highly likely to be encountered.
  • No bridges, no fences on cliff edges or lookouts, high level of caution required.
  • High level of fitness, ankle-supporting footwear, highly developed navigational skills, extensive off-track walking experience, relevant topographic maps and compass essential.

Walking tracks at a glance

Matching experience and expectations—to make your planning easier, simply match your expectations and experience with the most suitable track or trail.

Walks from the southern entrance

These walks start from The Broadwater camping area at the park’s southern entrance.

Track name Distance Duration Classification
1. Permanent Waterhole 2 km return 1 hr Class 3 walking trackClass 3
2. Ooline Creek 4 km return 3—4 hrs Class 5 walking trackClass 5
3. Western Circuit 4.5 km return 1.5 hrs Class 3 walking trackClass 3
4. Blue Gorge—Ooline Creek circuit 30 km return 2—3 days Class 5 walking trackClass 5
5. Severn River 12 km return 1 day Class 5 walking trackClass 5
6. McAllisters Creek 10 km return 4—6 hrs Class 5 walking trackClass 5
7. Mount Donaldson circuit 24 km return 2—3 days Class 5 walking trackClass 5
Walks in the north-eastern section

Bushwalkers can leave conventional vehicles 300 m inside the park entrance.

Track name Distance Duration Classification
Red Rock Gorge lookout track 500 m return 15 mins Class 3 walking trackClass 3
8. Red Rock Gorge 14 km return 5 hrs Class 4 walking trackClass 4
9. Mount Lofty circuit 32 km return 2—3 days Class 5 walking trackClass 5
10. Burrows Waterhole to Rats Castle 6 km return 3 hrs Class 5 walking trackClass 5

Walking tracks in Sundown

Walks from the southern entrance

These walks start from The Broadwater camping area at the park's southern entrance.

1.Class 3 walking trackPermanent Waterhole (Class 3)

Distance: 2 km return

Time: Allow 1 hour

Details: Follow the walking track from the information hut to Permanent Waterhole. This waterhole is permanent even in the driest times and is approximately 5 m deep, making it perfect for swimming. From the rock cliffs near the mouth of Ooline Creek, tiny azure kingfishers may be seen; and at dawn or dusk, platypus often surface as they feed.

2. Class 5 walking trackOoline Creek (Class 5)

Distance: 4 km return

Time: Allow 3—4 hours

Details: Follow the track to Permanent Waterhole and then turn left at the bottom of the rock steps leading down into Ooline Creek. This creek is named after a vulnerable tree species which grows in the gorge and around Permanent Waterhole. Ooline is a medium to large tree with bright green leaves and rough tile-patterned bark. It has rainforest origins, dating back to the Pleistocene Era (1.6 million to 10,000 years ago) when most of Australia was much wetter than it is today. Small areas of dry rainforest also occur in the gorge. You can walk up the creek for approximately 1.5 km to the rock pool. Caution: There are leeches in this pool. To continue further up the creek, you need to climb around the right side of the rock pool. Use care if the rocks are wet as they can be very slippery. Further up, the gorge again narrows and it is possible to scramble around the left hand side. Soon after this the gorge ends.

3. Class 3 walking trackWestern Circuit (Class 3)

Distance: 4.5 km return

Time: Allow 1.5 hours

Details: The Western Circuit takes you away from the river to the more open high ground. Follow the Permanent Waterhole track to 20 m and then turn off to the left. The track leads around the hill above the camping area before crossing a small creek and climbing up to the western boundary of the park. Look for woodland birds such as spiny-cheeked, yellow-faced and fuscous honeyeaters, and golden whistlers which favour this area. Extensive views to the south and west, and up into the main valley of the park, can be experienced from the high open ground. The track then takes walkers down to the open flats, where turquoise parrots and diamond firetails may be seen, and back to the camping area.

Longer and more difficult walks

Only fit and experienced walkers who are well prepared whould attempt these walks into remote and rugged terrain.

4. Class 5 walking trackBlue Gorge—Ooline Creek circuit (Class 5)

Distance: 30 km return

Time: Allow 2–3 days

Details: Follow Ooline Creek to the north-west boundary of the park and then walk north-west along the firebreak to Blue Gorge Creek. Proceed along the creek to the top of the gorge. From here you can either follow the gorge or go along either side spur to the river before returning to the camping area. The section along the western firebreak passes through woodland communities such as narrow-leaved red ironbark, Caley's ironbark and grey and yellow box woodlands.

5. Class 5 walking trackSevern River (Class 5)

Distance: 12 km return

Time: Allow 1 day

Details: The Severn River runs through the park as a series of long waterholes separated by short stretches or rapids. Beyone Permanent Waterhole the hills rise steeply from the river on both sides. A long day walk upstream enables visitors to see Mount Donaldson Creek gorge and the cliffs above the river.

6. Class 5 walking trackMcAllisters Creek (Class 5)

Distance: 10 km return

Time: Allow 4–6 hours

Details: Depending on the river height a day walk along McAllisters Creek is recommended. Cross the river at the lower end of Broadwater Waterhole or at the rapids upstream, and follow the walking track east into the mouth of McAllisters Creek, opposite the information hut. McAllisters Creek narrows down into a gorge with cascades and two main waterfalls, Split Rock Falls and Double Falls. The section between the two waterfalls is picturesque with steep cliffs and dry rainforest vegetation. Care must be taken with climbing around Split Rock Falls.

7. Class 5 walking trackMount Donaldson circuit (Class 5)

Distance: 24 km return

Time: Allow 2–3 days

Details: This walk takes you up McAllisters Creek past Double Falls onto the southern slopes of Mount Donaldson and finally the summit. Experience the magnificent views across the park and down into the gorge of Stony Creek. Continue westward along the spur to the river before following it back to the camping area.

Walks in the north-eastern section

Bushwalkers can leave conventional vehicles 300 m inside the park entrance.

Short walks

Class 3 walking trackRed Rock Gorge lookout track (Class 3)

Distance: 500 m return

Time: Allow 15 minutes

Details: From Red Rock Gorge, a graded track leads to a lookout providing spectacular views of Red Rock Gorge. Peregrine falcons inhabit this area. There is a show of granite belt wildflowers, including sago flower, in the spring.

Longer and more difficult walks

Only fit and experienced walkers who are well prepared should attempt these walks into remote and rugged terrain.

8. Class 4 walking trackRed Rock Gorge (Class 4)

Distance: 14 km return

Time: Allow 5 hours

Details: Park your car at the north-eastern entrance and walk along the old 4WD track across Back Creek until it meets the main vehicle track. Continue along the main vehicle track to the top of the gorge. Follow the graded track to the lookout.

9. Class 5 walking trackMount Lofty circuit (Class 5)

Distance: 32 km return

Time: Allow 2–3 days

Details: To reach the summit of Mount Lofty follow the old 4WD track across Back Creek then up the firebreak. Continue north to the Severn River and follow it back downstream to Red Rock Creek. Follow the creek to Red Rock Falls and then walk back along the vehicle track to the park entrance. This walk takes you through a variety of habitats, such as grey box forest on the flats, stringybark and yellow box on the hills and riverine vegetation including red gums, tea tree and bottle bush (Melaluca viminalis).

10. Class 5 walking trackBurrows Waterhole to Rats Castle (Class 5)

Distance: 6 km return

Time: Allow 3 hours

Details: From the camping area at Burrows Waterhole, follow the old 14-wire laced fence parallel to the river until you reach Sundown Creek. Cross the creek and continue walking up the spur to Rats Castle. This vantage point provides wonderful views of the river valley. The walk takes visitors through typical silver-leaved ironbark and white cypress pine woodland.

Driving

Depending on how you drive, you can be a welcome visitor or someone who causes careless damage to roads and wildlife. Follow these tips for minimum impact driving.

  • Wash your vehicle thoroughly before and after trips to prevent the spread of weeds and pathogens.
  • Leave gates as you find them.
  • Due to steep, narrow and rough roads the towing of trailers and campervans is not recommended.
  • Stay on designated roads and tracks and please obey signs.
  • If an obstruction blocks your path, don’t drive into the roadside drain to pass it—shortcutting leads to erosion and you may get stuck.
  • Do not attempt to remove the obstruction; go back the way you came.
  • If, in an emergency, you choose to remove the obstruction, do so to a point where you can pass and immediately report this to the ranger.
  • Never push obstructions into drains.
  • If you get stuck, try not to use trees for winching. If you have no choice, use tree protectors.
  • Give way to animals—parks and forests are for their protection.

For information on how to be safe and minimise your impact when four-wheel-driving, please read the guidelines on Four-wheel-driving.

Viewing wildlife

Sundown offers excellent opportunities for birdwatching with over 150 species recorded in the park, including some seasonal visitors. Birdwatching is best early in the morning or late afternoon. See woodland birds among the eucalypts and ducks, herons, cormorants and tiny azure kingfishers along the river.

Watch eastern grey kangaroos browsing on gentle slopes and the grassy flats around The Broadwater late in the afternoon or early in the morning. Red-necked wallabies, swamp wallabies and wallaroos also live in the park. The once common brush-tailed rock-wallaby now survives only in the northern end of the park.

See the description of the park’s natural environment for more detail about Sundown’s diverse wildlife.

Fishing, swimming and canoeing

Line fishing is permitted in the Severn River and people can swim and canoe in the larger waterholes of the river.

Caution: do not jump or dive into waterholes. They can be shallow and have submerged obstructions.

Things to know before you go

On the Severn River. Photo: Robert Ashdown.

On the Severn River. Photo: Robert Ashdown.

Essentials to bring

  • Be self-sufficient—bring your own food, water and first-aid supplies.
  • Bring sunscreen, hat, insect repellent, suitable clothing, sturdy shoes, and raincoat.
  • Rubbish bins are not provided. Please bring rubbish bags, and take all recyclables and rubbish with you when you leave. Secure supplies and rubbish from goannas and currawongs.
  • Preferably use fuel or gas stoves. If you do wish to use the barbecues provided, please bring your own clean, milled timber. Never collect wood from the bush. Take care with fire, keep your fires below the grate and make sure your fire is out before you leave it, especially during hot or windy conditions.
  • Bring your camera and binoculars for viewing wildlife. A torch, preferably with a red filter to protect animals’ eyes, is useful for spotlighting at night.

Opening hours

Sundown National Park is open 24 hours a day.

Permits and fees

To camp in the national park a permit is required and fees apply. Camping fees must be paid before you camp overnight. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your campsite. Bookings (e-permits) are required for all long weekends and school holidays.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in Sundown National Park.

Climate and weather

Situated on the Queensland – New South Wales border, Sundown National Park has more in common with cooler southern climates than with the 'Sunshine State'. In summer, daytime temperatures in Sundown National Park can exceed 40°C. The cooler months of the year, from April to September, are the best times to visit.

For more information see the tourism information links. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available at Stanthorpe and Tenterfield. Limited fuel and supplies are available at Ballandean, Wallangarra and a small general store at Glenlyon Dam Tourist Park.

For more information see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

You can swim, fish and canoe at The Broadwater, but never dive or jump into the water. Photo: Queensland Government.

You can swim, fish and canoe at The Broadwater, but never dive or jump into the water. Photo: Queensland Government.

To enjoy a safe visit to this area, please be well prepared and use sound judgment.

  • Take plenty of drinking water with you—water from creeks and waterholes is not suitable for drinking unless purified. Avoid drinking water from creeks in the vicinity of the old mines.
  • Do not jump or dive into any creek or waterhole—they can be shallow and have submerged hazards.
  • Secure your food supplies and rubbish from goannas and currawongs.

Walk safely

McAllisters Creek is a secluded spot. Photo: Robert Ashdown.

McAllisters Creek is a secluded spot. Photo: Robert Ashdown.

Water plummets over Red Rock Falls after good rains. Photo: Queensland Government.

Water plummets over Red Rock Falls after good rains. Photo: Queensland Government.

No matter what type of walk you intend to do, you should always plan ahead. Judge your ability and conditions carefully before setting out, even on short walks. Do not expect to be warned of every possible danger. Learn as much as you can about the terrain and local conditions and make sure that you carry appropriate clothing and reliable gear. Choose walks that suit the capabilities of your entire group. Stay together and keep to the walking tracks.

Most importantly, you should always advise friends and family of your itinerary. Leave a copy of your bushwalking plans with a reliable person before setting out on walks; they have the sole responsibility for contacting police if you are overdue.

If planning a remote walk, advise a ranger of your itinerary before setting out. Camping permits are required for all overnight walks. Book online or by phone. See bush camping for more information.

Whether on a day walk or longer trek, you should plan to finish walking well before dark. If walking in thick forest, it will get dark much earlier, so carry a torch, even if you are on a day walk.

Walkers should ideally carry the following on all remote walks:

  • suitable topographic map
  • compass
  • warm clothing
  • appropriate footwear and headgear
  • adequate water (treat any water collected from creeks before drinking it)
  • extra food and water
  • torch or headlamp
  • waterproof matches
  • first-aid kit
  • whistle
  • raincoat and waterproof pants
  • pocket knife.

When walking, stay together as a group and walk at the pace of the slowest person. Fatigue on long walks raises the risk of accidents and an injury in remote country can become life-threatening.

Walk with one or more friends. At least one member of each party should be an experienced bushwalker and competent at map reading.

Carry a first-aid kit, adequate food and suitable clothing. If walking in a remote area ensure you have a suitable topographic map and compass or GPS.

If you or members of your group become lost or injured, it is critical to keep warm and dry, and drink plenty of water. Try to find a place that is visible from both the air and ground and if possible put on bright clothing. Using a whistle will attract the attention of searching ground crews, and it should be used often.

By planning ahead, you will not only have a memorable trip, but also a safe one.
For more information about staying safe while visiting national parks, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

In an emergency

In case of an accident or other emergency:

  • call Triple Zero (000) or
  • from GSM mobile phones if you cannot reach Triple Zero (000), try 112
  • if speech or hearing impaired call 106 using a text phone
  • advise the location and nature of the emergency
  • stay on the phone until you are told to hang up.

The nearest hospital is located at Stanthorpe. Mobile phone coverage is not reliable in Sundown National Park.

Looking after the park

View from Mount Donaldson. Photo: Peter Haselgrove, Queensland Government

View from Mount Donaldson. Photo: Peter Haselgrove, Queensland Government

  • Stay on designated roads and tracks and obey all warning signs.
  • Preferably use fuel or gas stoves. If you do wish to use the barbecues provided, please bring your own clean, milled timber. Never collect wood from the bush. Take care with fire, keep your fires below the grate and make sure your fire is out before you leave it, especially during hot or windy conditions.
  • Remove all rubbish.
  • Secure supplies and rubbish from goannas and currawongs.
  • Protect streams from pollution. Wash yourself and your cooking utensils at least 50 m away from water bodies.
  • See Caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) manages Sundown National Park, to conserve natural and cultural resources, to present these resources and their values, and to ensure that use of these resources is nature-based and ecologically sustainable.

Tourism information links

Contact the information centre below for more information about activities, tours and accommodation in this region.

Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre
www.southerndownsholidays.info/destinations/
28 Leslie Parade, Stanthorpe Qld 4380
ph 1800 762 665
fax (07) 4681 1200
email

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
22 September 2016