Review: Scenic Rim walking tours explore Queensland’s majestic Southeast in style
We Aussies have camping and hiking in our DNA, but let's face it, as you get older you need a bit more comfort than a rolled up pair of jeans for a pillow. This amazing four-day walking holiday in Queensland's magnificent Southeast combines everything we love about the great outdoors — with a generous dash of luxury. Review: Adam Ford
These fully accommodated Scenic Rim walking tours will introduce you to Southeast Queensland’s high country: a stunning collection of mountains, ridges, escarpments, forests and ancient volcanic plateaus in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. Enjoy two nights of ‘glamping’ at Spicers Canopy and one night of superb luxury at Spicers Peak Lodge. Meals and drinks are included, along with hiking gear such as daypacks, hydration equipment and water bottles. Duration: 4 days
We’re sitting around a large communal oak dining table in the common area at Spicers Canopy — a chic permanent tented retreat on Spicers Peak Station near Maryvale on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range.
The roast beef is delicious; the baked potatoes extraordinarily fluffy; the creamy cauliflower-bake and pumpkin pie a treat. The accompanying local shiraz is a very decent drop. Could life get any better?
Then it starts to rain. No, not just rain — it buckets down. An incredible electrical storm proceeds to light up the entire valley. It’s truly awe-inspiring — and it seems somehow fitting. After all, Spicers is a company that certainly knows how to wow its guests — on every level.
We’re guests on the four-day Scenic Rim Trail in Southeast Queensland with Spicers Retreats. The Scenic Rim is a semi-circle of mountains — roughly 1.5 hours’ drive southwest of Brisbane — that stretches from Toowoomba to Tamborine. These fully accommodated and all-inclusive Scenic Rim walking tours with Spicers explore parts of this stunning region.
Spicers Canopy is the perfect place to spend the first two nights on this trip. Sleeping in a tent — permanent or otherwise — lends itself to a feeling of adventure. And that’s despite the fact that these particular tents come with queen size beds, feather down pillows, gorgeous white linen and a separate day bed to relax on between walks.
To get the ball rolling, we hike 13 kilometres through the Main Range National Park to the peak of Mount Mitchell, which is bathed in low-hanging cloud. While the tracks are well maintained it’s not a walk to be sniffed at — especially coming down from the peak which can be steep and treacherously slippery.
The hike takes in some magnificent temperate rainforest and our indefatigable guide Reece displays an incredible knowledge of local flora — pointing out a veritable smorgasbord of bush tucker. Today we don’t need it: our hosts have provided backpacks packed with tasty treats including a turkey wrap for lunch and oodles of trail-mix with dark chocolate. However, it’s nice to know that if we did, Reece would be our man.
Looking to take on the Scenic Rim Trail in Southeast Queensland? In this segment from the Tour the World travel TV series, we join Spicers Retreats on their fully guided Scenic Rim Trail walking tour.
After a great sleep and hearty cooked breakfast, day two is a more leisurely amble along a small river valley that runs through the Spicers Peak Station property. The water is low and the valley unbelievably picturesque. The only sounds are the babbling stream and bird-song.
The water looks cool, crisp and clean. Butterflies abound, but other than that the local wildlife plays coy. There are one or two challenging moments and a rock face to scale with the help of a rope and a conveniently placed log, but our guide James is on hand to assist as needed.
Day three is clearly the main game on these Scenic Rim walking tours. It involves a 15-kilometre hike from Spicers Canopy to Spicers Peak Lodge, via a climb to the top of Spicers Peak — around 1,200 metres above sea level.
Spicers Peak Lodge is Australia’s highest non-Alpine lodge. Our final night will be spent here. It’s an uber-exclusive and fittingly secluded luxury retreat that many well-heeled guests prefer to arrive at by helicopter than by road.
The walk begins with a seductively easy stroll along the riverbed, but it’s not long before we start to climb — and climb — and climb some more. At the top of the peak we’re rewarded with extraordinary views across the range and access to a patch of Gondwana rainforest. It’s like walking onto the set of Jurassic Park. Ancient hoop pines drip with old man’s beard, and towering tree ferns shade a lush carpet of ground cover and delicate fungi.
While is it possible in theory to do this walk yourself, the truth is very few people would be able to navigate their way up here without a guide. There’s no real path — just a very faint track marked by cairns here and there.
We arrive at Spicers Peak Lodge at around 4pm — tired and muddy but with a massive sense of achievement. It’s probably taken a bit longer than usual due to our filming requirements but nobody really seems to mind. And the glass of champagne we’re greeted with on arrival goes down a treat — as does the superb five-course tasting menu with matching wines that evening.
All in all, these Scenic Rim walking tours are a uniquely Aussie touring experience with a luxury twist. I’m humbled (yet again) to have had the opportunity to see parts of our amazing country that few people get to experience.
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. Adam has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. He worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. Adam loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.