Mount Bartle Frere - Eastern Approach

Wooroonooran National Park
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Mount Bartle Frere is Queensland's highest mountain. The eastern approach is a serious undertaking - after the Hannel Spur route up Mount Kosciuszko (1,800m elevation gain), it has the second most elevation gain of any summit in Australia (1,500m). Objective hazards include the boulder field below the summit which, due to the fact that orographic lifting means that the summit spends the majority of time in the cloud, is usually wet and slippery.

Picnic Facilities
Scrambling or Climbing
No Dogs Permitted
Camping Permitted
Maximum Elevation
Total Climb

Getting there:

Head north up the Bruce Highway from Townsville to cairns and 15 minutes after passing Innisfail you come to Miriwinni, turn off near hear and follow the signs to the Josephine Falls National Park.


No good ones found - the National Park leaflet (Josephine Falls Section) and the Bartle Frere summit section leaflet. You can download a map from QTopo website (Queensland Government website for topographic maps - -  which does show the trail on it, or you can order a topographic map from for approx. $10 (order map for Bartle Frere section) but this does not show the trail on it. 

Route/Trail notes

The walk should only be attempted in the "dry" cooler months of August to October. It is the wet tropics so expect to get wet. The summit is usually only visible for 5 - 10% of the year with the rest of the time being shrouded in cloud.

Start the walk as early as you can, you don't want to be returning in the dark. It is possible to camp on the mountain, but you'll have to carry all your gear. the lighter your pack the easier it will be.

There are two main sections to the track, in the rainforest and above the rain forest in the boulder field. The rainforest section is wet muddy and steep and probably accounts for about 2/3 of the track and you get no views through the thick trees.

The boulder field is very open and exposed, but provides excellent views over the coast (depending on the cloud cover). There is a marked track through the field and ladders and chains in places to assist. There is also a helicopter pad due to the high number of rescues over the years. At the summit there is a 10 minute climb through some thicker trees obscuring the view where the sign is indicating the summit.

There are several other routes including one to Broken Nose.


Free! - but you'll pay for a few days after with sore legs. make sure you let someone know where you are going and register in the book at the start of the track and also when you return.

If you wish to camp, a camping permit is required for a small fee of $5.25 per night. You can order by phone or online at Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing (DNPSR). 

Other References


That was wonderful, had clear skies at top, what a view, very tough climb this one. Met some fast packers along the way, lightweight definitely the way to go. If you camp at helipad still try to be minimal weight, it makes a difference.

drewmac on 23 Aug, 2014

Can recommend this one. A decent slog to the top, but the bouders up to the summit are well worth it! A lot of fun. Small leeches so carry some salt.

John on 6 Oct, 2013

Great hike! Lots of rainforest for the most. Section of ferns at the heli pad and lots of boulder climbing to the summit.

Peter on 24 Aug, 2013

did this in 5hrs 39minutes from josephine falls car park to the summit and back to the carpark (where i collapsed, exhausted!!!), including 10minutes for a photo, drink & snack at the summit.. beautiful clear day before i left and when i returned but as other comments mentioned it is very cold at the top (which is nice because the leeches die off, after being present and annoying for almost the entire hike) once you get to the open area & closer to the boulders.. ive done a few around australia and i think this is one of the more challenging of the higher summits..kosciuszko is literally a walk in the park compared to Bartle Frere! if your lucky you will get some fresh water in the creek at the fork but nothing after that so take plenty.. always looking for other hiking partners in the area or happy to give advice on hikes ive done so get me on fb... search my name Lincoln murdoch... cheers and happy hiking!

lincoln_murdoch on 27 Nov, 2010

Very hard going the area has had a lot of rain recently and washed the track out in places. Gradient would average 4:1 and in a lot of places near vertical with us having to drag our self up with exposed tree roots. The leaches were of proportions I have not seen before in my life and were a constant irritation, this walk is not for the faint hearted. We took the eastern approach and reached the summit in 6 and back down in 4. could be done faster if I was not coming of a week of flu sickness leading up to the walk.

Ryan Machin on 6 Nov, 2010

A very hard steep walk or climb. Pity there are aids to climbing now. Spectacular views at top. Well worth it second highest ascent in Australia. Mind you the leeches are vicious!

Laurence Hallam on 22 Sep, 2009

Sean O'Connor.

Dean on Apr, 2004

I think this is when I did it. Check the track condition prior to going as there has been heaps of rain in recent years!

Steven Pynor on 15 Sep, 2003

A wet cold climb in cloud. 24c in the forest but dropped to-2c on the boulder field. Very slippery on way down. Especially around the part where you down climb the roots of the tree. No views but very proud that I climbed it!

Laurence Hallam on 24 Jun, 2003

Beautiful, A tad dangerous after all of the rain...... Josephine Falls was amazing and absolutely gushing.

Lynney on 6 Mar

There is a helipad up here?!?!? 😁 sorry for the spoiler...
Lots of false summits, and a great sense of achievement. Good memories 🙂

Cath on Sometime...


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