Stinson Crash Site from Christmas Creek

Lamington National Park
Many walks are currently closed due to COVID-19. Please,
  • check the walk's official website to confirm if the track is open
  • turn back if it looks like the track is too busy when you get there

This walk takes you to the Stinson memorial crash site and the close-by Stinson remote bush camping site (no bush camping is allowed anywhere along the track, only with a permit in designated area). There is not much of the Stinson wreck left so I'd recommend doing this one sooner rather than later before it all goes under, there has been some serious treefall and landslide in the area in late 2020 and early 2021 due to heavy rains. The memorial area contains some plaques dedicated to those who lost their lives in the crash.

Aside from the wreck it is a lovely hike with diverse forest, land features and some easy unexposed rock scrambling/climbing although this could probably be avoided. There's even a bit of vine swinging to be done on the way back down if you're game.

It is a hard walk in rough terrain. The initial climb is very steep and fitness is key to completing the track in a decent time. It diverges off Westray's Grave track, just before reaching the grave, seeing the grave on the same walk is recommended (https://www.aussiebushwalking.com/qld/se-qld/lamington-np/westray-s-grave-from-christmas-creek).

Waterfalls
Lookouts
Swimming
Heritage Sites
Scrambling or Climbing
Navigation Required
Camping Permitted
Rainforest
970m
Maximum Elevation
700m
Total Climb

Getting there

Follow Christmas Creek Road (south of Beaudesert, 1hr from Brisbane) almost all the way to the end. The end of the road becomes narrow and unsealed so drive carefully, it is accessible for a 2WD (in the dry at least). After the first concrete causeway/bridge there is a signed car park (with a limit of 10 vehicles). There is some Telstra mobile reception at the car park.

Maps

QTopo online

QTopo PDF (1:25000) ~15MB

OpenStreetMap

Route/Trail notes

Very long and gruelling climb after Westray's Grave. Assume it will take all day so start early, if you are slow you may want to consider camping overnight (see permits/costs). If you are physically and mentally fit then 6 hours return from car park is a safe estimate.

The initial couple hundred metres of elevation are the steepest, expect to be almost climbing on all fours the whole way, walking poles would do well here. Plenty of roots/trees to grab on the way up, it is NOT recommended to do this in the wet.

The track then continues to climb quite steeply for another hundred or so metres (not on-all-fours steep) until reaching some passable rocky outcrops. This will then bring you up to the base of a plateau. There is some hiking tape here, but the general route is to head down the South side (right) of the plateau, then follow the track, walking around the base until the path heads the opposite direction and up through a break in the rock wall. At the top of this path is some climbing rope attached to a tree to assist you in climbing up some steep rock scramble.

After this, it is a straightforward, fairly steep walk along the path on the ridge until the campsite, at which point the short track to the wreck is on the North (left) side of the campsite.

The track to the wreck is steep downhill and fairly obvious. At one point there is some rope string between trees to guide you laterally along the slope, where soon after you arrive at the crash site.

After retracing steps to the campsite, there are a few options for return:

  • Retrace route back down to Westray's Grave and back to Christmas Creek.
  • Continue along the Stinson track towards point lookout, and take the much longer and less obvious Stretcher Track back to Gap Creek Road which then links up with Christmas Creek Rd a few kilometres before the carpark at Stinson Memorial Park.
  • Continue onto point lookout and take the unmarked trail from that campsite which joins the Border Track at Green Mountains.

Permits/Costs

Stinson Remote Bush Camp (book online) $6.75/pp/night (May 2021)

Other References

https://www.christmascreek.net.au/bush-walking

https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/lamington/camping/stinson-remote

Comments

Start early and carry a lot of water, a decent GPS device (walking off track is VERY easy) and consider overnight camping. If you want to do the return hike in one day, be on the trail at 6am to avoid walking out in darkness.

Awesome trail but no water once you leave Xmas creek. We overnighted at Stinson remote bush camp (lovely and relatively flat). Water carriage essential - plan on minimum of 2 litres per person each way plus extra.

Gardening gloves (cheapies from Bunnings) great for bashing through grabby vines and scrambling up muddy slopes holding onto roots. Highly recommend. Gaiters also a must for this one (mud, leeches and ticks). Take tick remover as party of 4 endured 3 ticks on walk up alone.

Next time I go I intend to replace rope at cliff section. Still in ok condition but god knows how old it is now?

Russell on 2 Oct, 2021

Managed to get this one done after finishing Larapinta. Started from the bottom of the climb at around 12:30pm and got back to the car park at about 4:00pm.

Although it's fairly well trodden and marked It's a tricky track with it's steepness and would be a formidable challenge in the wet. We were grabbing tree roots and on all fours for first couple hundred metres of elevation. It should be noted that there is a (easier) track just off to the left as you look up the hill which is not as steep as the immediately obvious slog of a climb at the start.

There seems to be multiple ways to ascend the plateau at the top, but we followed the limited pink & orange hiking tape around to the SE which eventually goes back to the NW through a break in the cliff and up to a rock face where someone has attached climbing rope to a tree for easy climbing up to the top of the plateau. From here it's a steady, but relatively steep walk along the top of the ridge to the camping area.

There's not a whole lot of the wreck left above ground, just some old rusty frame, but it's still a unique sight. The memorial is still fairly well kept. A lot of sporadic rain up the top in the mid afternoon.

Overall a challenging but worthy bushwalk. Come prepared. Plenty of lawyer vine on the track.

asherbasher on 21 May, 2021

Very slippery after a bit of rain the day before. View from Point Lookout is not the best, with only a small window through the trees. Probably not worth the climb compared to other trails

Alex on 16 Aug, 2020

I had visited the Stinson via the stretcher track previously so this time we decided to go the short but steep way up from Christmas Creek. It took us about 3 hours each way from Christmas Creek to Point Lookout. Worth continuing on to Point Lookout for the view of Mount Warning and the Lamington plateau. Amazing forest, pretty walking following the creek to Westray's grave and an initially very steep hike up to the Stinson campsite.

Heather T on 27 Jun, 2020

I attended the Stinson crash site after completing the Stretcher Track 23 & 24 March 2020. I have previously visited the crash site in September 2019. Unfortunately, upon arriving on the 24 March 2020 we found that a massive tree fall had caused a landside – the last remaining parts of the crash site are almost all buried. You can see two small parts of the wreckage under the tree fall (less than what remained previously). The memorial grave was completely gone including the separate plaque that was close by. The tree fall was recent and the foliage still abundant. It may be the case that in the future once the leaves die and wither the memorial or parts of it may be located.

Otters on 24 Mar, 2020

This was a hard one almost from start to finish. Good to have done it. It was a miracle that any survivors were found at all. Very steep in a lot of places. Not much left of the plane. Nice views out to Mt warning if you take a little detour after looking at the crash site.

ian parker on 17 Aug, 2019

Great walk however, very challenging. Be prepared for lots of steep uphill and just when you thought you were there, some more steeper uphill followed by a lot more steep uphill, so much uphill but well worth it to connect with part of Australian aviation history.
Good shoes are a must and self confidence required to keep on trail, spot markers and your ability to get down after being exhausted from getting up there.

Salem13 on 25 Jul, 2019

I did the Stinson from OReillys. 37km in 12 hours and I would definitely use a guide. If you’re coming from Christmas Creek end it’s an easy walk along the creek before you hit the hill and then it’s all up hill

Bronwyn Hamilton on 18 May, 2019

This has been the hardest hike I've done and the most exhilarating.
Loved every minute of it. So much history and so sad.
It has a great swimming hole near a waterfall. If you do hike this make sure you have plenty of water. Be careful to check for ticks as well.

HelenR on 22 Sep, 2018

Not the easiest walk to get to but definitely worth the effort. You must drive right to the end of Christmas Creek Road which seems to stretch on forever and gets quite narrow and unsealed for the last 1-2km. The car park at the end is quite small, only fits about 8-10 cars max (and that is playing some good tetris).

From the carpark there is a locked gate through private property to reach the start of the trail which is about 3-400 metres away. There is an obvious national park sign on the right at the end of the road and you end up at Christmas Creek. The actual trail is found directly opposite where you climb down to the creek bed. My first trip here our party started up the creek straight away towards the large fallen tree but the path can be found straight away if you hop across the creek at the first opportunity.

After you find the trail this is fairly straight forward to follow but be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the helpful hiking tape which has been left all the way to Westray's Grave site. This part of the walk is lovely as you follow the creek through the forest and takes about an hour so bear that in mind for the return journey. This is definitely an all day experience and this first section could get tricky if you lose the light.

The start of the trail up into the hills is about 4-500 metres before the grave site and is very obvious with a nice glove on a post pointing up a very steep, very rough trail. It is worth going to Westray's Grave and this spot is the beginning of the walk to Larapinta Falls which is an absolute must (I will write about that separately).

Once you have seen Westray's Grave, head back to the Glove. This is where the vertical assault begins and is very grueling, your legs will remind you that you are alive 8 - ]. After climbing for what seems like a long time the trail will level out and you will follow it around the base of cliffs in front of you. There is tape marked on this section too but not as obvious as the path to Westray's Grave so you need to keep your wits about you.

The flat section around the base of the cliffs continues for a short while before it starts to climb again and you resort to climbing up tree roots and rocks which is very entertaining. The trail ends up winding up the rocks and above where the first ascent ended. Some kind soul has tied a rope on a fairly steep stretch which is a big help. Once on top of the ridge, the track continues into denser forest and is fairly obvious but it still pays to keep an eye on the tape. The wait-a-while vine is particularly prevalent in this section we found. There are some crude signs at various intervals along this ridge section which keeps you going in the right direction.

After about 2km of this forest walk on the ridge you will come to a clearing with three obvious ways out. The path to the left leads to the actual crash site and is not marked in any obvious way. Thankfully when we arrived at this spot, there were some other hikers present who told us where to go, otherwise it would have been pot luck though we did have a topographical map.

Following the left trail for about 500 metres will take you to the memorial and what's left of the wreckage (which is not a lot). The path is quite eroded so a little care doesn't go astray. The clearing at the top is a good spot for a breather and the path straight ahead leads to a lookout over the border towards Mt Warning, however it is not well marked in places and be sure to follow the tape. It was very hazy the day we were there but on a clear day the view would be spectacular.

To the clearing, crash site and lookout took about 4ish hours including a few stops. The way back down a little less but it is a very tough slog overall and you definitely want to start early. I've attached a photo of the journey read out one of our party took to give you an idea. Considering how wild the area is, it makes the O'Reilly rescue story even more incredible to experience it first-hand. Suggest long pants and sleeves as you will get caught by the vegetation, a small pair of pruners may not be a bad idea either to clear off some of the grabbing vines. I've seen pythons on both trips to the area so keep your eyes peeled!

In summary: Extremely wild and off the grid so be prepared, phone reception is basically 0, beautiful trip along the creek and great scenery throughout, very long and challenging but absolutely worth it.

Matty Vee on Sep, 2018

Gruelling walk but well worth it. Long pants/sleeves is recommended, although will that increase your chances of getting caught on the abundant and aptly named wait-a-while vine perhaps. Do a check for ticks afterwards too, I had one on me.
The path scrambles and winds its way up, however is pretty well defined. A walk to point lookout while you're there is recommended, pretty amazing view. Get a map from QTopo, the path is marked on there. A must do walk I would say.

Muzbags on May, 2017

Go with a local guide, leave early and allow 8 hours due to the terrain.

Cassandra D'Arcy on Apr, 2017

We did this walk as a family. 2 adults and 2 kids, Miss E 6 and Master L 5. We set off from the end of Christmas Creek and walked the path to about 100 m away from Westray's Grave (following along beside the creek). This took us 3 hours to complete. Then we followed the track Up,Up and Up. Yes it is Up. A 600 m ascent and it is tough. You are basically grabbing on to tree roots and trunks to help pull you up sections. It is very loose underfoot. But if you take your time as we did it is quite fun especially for kids. It took us 5 hours to get to the cleared camping spot at the top (which is about 100 m from the crash site). So 8 hrs all up walking from the car to the camp. We stayed overnight. The next day we visited the crash site and then proceeded on down the same track we had come up. Going down seemed much easier than going up. It took us 4 hours to get down to Christmas Creek. We did a quick visit to Westray's grave before heading back to the car again walking along beside the creek for 3 hours. Took us 7 hours from start to finish on the downhill run. We did this walk to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the crash of the Stinson Plane and to remember those on board the plane, Bernard O'Reilly and the other hundreds of volunteers who played a part in the amazing rescue. If you are a slow walker or if you have children, doing it over 2 days is a great option. We walk very slow and usually double any recommended walking time because of little 5 & 6 y/old legs. This is rugged and rough country and strong bushwalking and navigational skills are a must.

Heather Wood on 17 Feb, 2017

A great walk overall. I'm glad I wore long hiking pants to protect me from the leeches and the scrapes from the bushes/branches as well as when I did my multiple times of slipping and sliding. Will definitely take gloves next time. Carrying insect repellent helped deter the leeches. A very steep section with lots of slipping and root grabbing both going up and down. Takes a lot of focus/concentration but be prepared for a few bruises - lol and be extremely muddy. I'm glad I did it although my body felt like it went through a battering machine.

Caroline on 28 Jan, 2017

Great walk, enjoy the walk but leeches everywhere.
well marked track. very steep climb to the plane crash.

Remy Run on 26 Jan, 2016

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