Ships Stern Circuit

Lamington National Park
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Combines rainforest, palm groves and open eucalypt forest, wildflower vegetation and excellent lookouts over the Numinbah Valley. A short side trip takes in the Lower Ballanjui Falls. The Ship's Stern Walk is one of the most magnificent walks in the Park. It is particularly excellent in winter and spring, especially the latter when wildflowers are often abundant.

Bird Watching

Getting there

Most people do this walk in a clockwise direction starting from the lower carpark at Binna Burra and finishing at the main entrance.


Lamington National Park

Route/Trail notes

This is not a difficult walk but is quite long. The walk starts with a descent through rainforest into the valley before climbing up through open forest to the viewpoint at Ships Stern. The rest of the track is fairly level with only slight gradients. After the Kooloonbano Lookout the track splits with the left hand fork taking the cliff edge and the right hand fork has views looking back towards Binna Burra. The forks are about equal in length. 

Other References

Take a Walk in South-East Queensland, p195, ISBN 9780957793170


We'd only planned to walk to Lower Ballanjui Falls and back, but this is a favourite walk, and since the walk straight back would have been quite steep we decided to complete the Ship's Stern again. We did 27km yesterday, and now another 20 so we're a bit stiff, but this really is a great walk.

Ian and Sue on 18 Oct, 2020

Beautiful walk with great views from the ridge. Classic walk that has it all - waterfall, rainforest, climb to the escarpment with open eucalyptus forest. Well marked trail. Easy to find and navigate.

Caroline on 17 Oct, 2020

Did this walk clockwise..lovely views along the way.. Did it during the rains though so the views were only possible once the clouds cleared. Past a couple of beautiful waterfalls (Nagarigoon Falls) comes to mind. Heaps of leaches around as it was raining. All in all easy and lovely walk will do again on a clear day. all up around 4 hours an a brisk pace but stopping heaps for pics and to enjoy a bit of detour to the waterfalls.

Ashwin on 20 Apr, 2019

This walk was very relaxing, however due to recent weather there were a lot of obstructions along the track. Overgrown in areas, so be careful of ticks and a snake was seen. Would do it again!

Sharee on 14 Apr, 2019

Beautiful walk and hardly anyone on the track. Lovely green rain forest and path was pretty overgrown at some places. Well worth it and stunning views at different lookout points.

Ronald and Ramona Jonkergouw on 1 Apr, 2019

A fantastic walk to the Ships Stern today. The day began with perfect weather for walking, overcast, cool and a beautiful breeze until we reached Charraboomba rock where we detoured to check out the amazing views and have a snack with a brewed coffee. Just as we packed up to begin walking again it began to rain very lightly, not enough to get really wet, but just enough to keep us cool. After passing through a stretch of wet shrubs we were so wet, it was no longer worth stopping to put on the rain gear. From then on the rain increased steadily, ending any hope of catching the great views and soon becoming too wet to take out the phone to capture any more photos. The last 3 hours in drenching rain was fantastic, making up for the lack of views. We arrived back at the car in exactly 5 hours with everything completely drenched except for the rain jacket and pants which were perfectly dry inside the pack.

jgmansell on 27 Mar, 2019

A very nice walk with varied terrain and vegetation. There were lots of different funghi all round the track due to the recent rain, which of course also meant the creeks were flowing well.
Be aware of snakes, I saw a large one on the ships stern that I think may have been a Taipan.
I did this walk clockwise as recommended by the trail notes and I enjoyed doing the steep decent and accent at the beginning and finishing off with the long gentle gradients.

Allan on 17 Mar, 2019

Good walk, not too difficult, took us just over 5 hours. There were some great look outs and it rained intermittently so that kept it pretty cool throughout the day.

Bec on 30 Jan, 2019

Long walk but well worth the views. A few trees down and some overgrown areas but nothing too challenging. Worth doing the extra side trails to see the waterfalls. A few snakes out and about so be mindful

Diana on 28 Jan, 2019

Long and hot walk. Best to do this walk anticlock wise we got it wrong and did it clockwise. Awesome day though. Took us 8 hours (due to bad knees though). Will do again in cooler months. Watch out for snakes!

rebecca on 18 Jan, 2019

Did it with a friend. It wasn't too strenuous however since we hiked it in summer, it was very hot. The views were spectacular from the end of the ships stern out over the valley and turtle rock. I would do it again and would recommend it to anyone else.

0zzyDave1234 on 5 Jan, 2019

Lots of downed trees

HellsBells on 5 Dec, 2018

Backtracking a few times just added to our appreciation of the magnificent views.

MiuMiu on 18 Nov, 2018

Second time, and still highly recommended :-) Those views are amazing, diverse areas + plants + wildlife, and a decent workout. The circuit + Lower Ballanjui Falls side track took 7hr at a relaxed pace.

rob.bushman on 4 Nov, 2018

Did this clockwise, agree that counter clockwise would have been nicer. Skipped many of the side tracks because I started too late and was running out of light. It's been a very dry winter so no leeches and only got my boots wet twice. Beautiful hike, will definitely do it again

SageTreks on 19 Aug, 2018

This was such a beautiful walk though the track has some damage and we lost if for a minute in one part but quickly found it again after backtracking slightly. A bunch of trees are down but it added to the charm and the challenge of the track. We did it anticlockwise (starting from the top carpark) mainly because it was our second big walk and we wanted to go the distance. So glad we did because the last 4.8 km felt really long!!!! We have reasonable fitness and made it from start to finish including the 1.2 km trip to the lower falls (which should not be missed) in 5.5 hours which we were surprised about but impressed with our efforts. We didn’t stop all the much, just to take a few snaps and have a snack at the waterfall. I highly recommend this walk but would start out early to keep cool because even starting at 6.30am we were quite exposed in some parts so can imagine in summer this would be really tough. I also echo other comments that in the wet this track would be very challenging so be cautious. This was a really beautiful walk! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Belindak77 on 15 Jun, 2018

Brilliant views, great variety in terrain along the way to keep it interesting.

Just Jan on 9 Jun, 2018

Did this along with Dave’s Creek which according to GPS totalled about 26km bower not sure on accuracy. Make sure you take the eastern ridge lookout option as signed.

omb055 on 30 Mar, 2018

This one is long but definitely worth it. The views of Binna Burra and Numinbah Valley were truly spectacular. Some wildlife to see as well.

I went around anti-clockwise, based off the elevation profile this seems to be better. Roughly 50% long gradual descend, 30% flat and 20% moderate ascend. If you do this clockwise you're going to have 50% long gradual ascend at the end :-/

I did all the side tracks which makes the total distance 26km. Ballanjui Cascades is worth a look but if you are time restricted I would skip Booboora Falls and Guraigumai Rock. If you are feeling energetic check out Charraboomba Rock, don't feel guilty if you skip this one though, once you reach Ships Stern you'll get plenty of amazing views. I'd definitely recommend Lower Ballanjui Falls. Probably the largest waterfall I've seen, the sheer scale is remarkable.

rob.bushman on 25 Mar, 2017

Second time around for this track. Always a good one, with stunning views and ever changing landscapes. Last time through we were hit by a rainstorm on the last leg. It was great to watch it roll into the valley, but we missed a number of great views. This time perfect weather all the way and a well earned rest at the end.

Bushy Bloke on 23 Sep, 2016


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