Gold Coast Great Walk – O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra

O'Reilly's Campground at sunset

O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra walk is the first part of the three-day Gold Coast Great Walk. This walk is officially called a border track on all hiking maps as it separates Queensland and New South Wales.

The track has many side smaller tracks where you can deviate and do additional lookouts or waterfalls if time permits.

Considering the long distance of 21 km between O’Reilly’s and Binna Burra, it is important to be well prepared with your hiking equipment as there are no official camping spots (except Mt Bithongabel) or water sources on the way.

We decided to bring full hiking equipment including a tent, sleeping gear and cooking equipment. The plan was to go from O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra on day one (21 km), Binna Burra to Walker’s camp on the second day (25 km), and finish in Settlement Camping Area in Springbrook National Park (9 km).

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Before the walk, in O’Reilly’s, we organised transport to be picked up at the Settlement Camping Area in Springbrook National Park.

It happened our plan did not go exactly the way we thought.

Read on to find out everything about the walk to Binna Burra and how to best be prepared for it.

Gold Coast Great walk – Preparation

Our decision to start overnight hiking was caused by the fact that during our camping trips we missed so many opportunities to visit beautiful remote places that were only accessible during overnight hiking.

Hiking and overnight hiking are two different things. To do an overnight hike you need to bring with you your sleeping gear, food and other important equipment that needs to be carried with you all the way up and back.

Preparing dry food

Considering the weight again, things like cans and bottles are out of the question. Hiking food is usually in a dry form that is wetted with boiling water when you are ready to eat.

Each hiking shop offers many options for hiking food. However, dinner meals are pretty costly as they can vary between $10 and $15. When you multiply that by three people and the number of nights you hike, it comes up to a big lump sum.

Considering the above Kasha bought a small dryer and she dried all food we needed for the hike including meat, pasta, vegetables and fruits. This way we prepared our own food that was vacuumed and sealed into small portions.

Buying light hiking equipment

As weight matters because you need to carry everything, your choices are limited. We soon learned that hiking equipment is not camping equipment and it cost more, especially if you want to buy light gear.

lighter hiking geat = more cost

We are light built humans so we did not want to exceed 15 kg to make the walk enjoyable. As a result, our backpacks weighed:

Marius – 14 kg – tent for three, sleeping pad, pillow, liner and bag, cooking equipment, dry food, 3 litres of water, walking poles and clothes

Kasha – 12 kg – sleeping pad, pillow, liner and bag, dry food, 1 litre of water, walking poles, two cameras and clothes

Nell – 8 kg – sleeping pad, pillow, liner and bag, dry food, 1 litre of water, walking poles, and clothes

Gold Coast Great Walk - O'Reilly's to Binna Burra - Starting Point
Gold Coast Great Walk – O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra – Starting Point

Doing some training before the Gold Coast Great Walk

We have never done a 21 km walk in one day, so doing some training walks was an important part of our preparations.

We live in Brisbane, so we have many national and conservation parks to test our hiking skills. Some of the training walks were in Mount Coot-tha, Bunyaville Conservations Park, Enogerra Reservoir, Samford Conservation Park, and D’Angular National Park.

None of the walks has been longer than 15 km.

We were well prepared with hiking equipment, food and some training beforehand.

O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra – Walk highlights

O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is located 925 meters above sea level. The temperatures up there are normally 8 degrees celsius lower than in the surrounding valleys.

The whole walk goes through a deep subtropical rainforest. On the way, you may experience muddy and slippery sections, fallen logs, water on the path and wildlife.

We started our walk at 8 am.

O’Reilly’s to Mt Bithongabel

This section is between O’Reilly’s and Mount Bithongabel which is the beginning of the scenic rim and the start of the amazing lookouts of New South Wales.

Before you get to Mt Bithongabel you pass two other track entrances: Toolona Creek Circuit (left) and Albert River Circuit (right).

There are no creek crossings in this section and the landscape is dense vegetation. There are no lookouts or waterfalls – just a rainforest path.

At Mount Bithongabel there is a one-tent bush camping area without any facilities.

Mount Bithongabel
Mount Bithongabel

Bithongabel Lookout

Once you pass Mt Bithongabel the area opens to the south and you can see the beautiful valleys of New South Wales. Bighongabel Lookout is the first one where you can stop for a break and see more than just the rainforest, but the area is a bit overgrown so don’t count on wide panoramic views here.

Bighongabel Lookout is located 100 meters off the main track on the little ridge ‘peninsula’. There is enough place to put two tents.

We stopped there for lunch. It was 11.30 pm already.

Our walking distance: 6 km.
Distance to Binna Burra: 15 km
Time: 11.30 pm

We left at 12.15 pm. Here I realized that we may not finish the walk before the darkness.

Toolona Lookout

This is the first lookout when you can take great photos and rest for a moment.

Our walking distance: 6.5 km.
Distance to Binna Burra: 14.5 km
Time: 12.30 pm

Toolona Lookout
Toolona Lookout

Wanungara Lookout

Our walking distance: 7 km.
Distance to Binna Burra: 14 km
Time: 1.30 pm

Wanungara Lookout
Wanungara Lookout

Nyamulli Lookout

Our walking distance: 8 km.
Distance to Binna Burra: 13 km
Time: 2.15 pm

Nyamulli Lookout
Nyamulli Lookout

Merino Lookout (Optional)

To get to Merino Lookout there is a 300 meters side track to the right.

Mount Merino Lookout
Mount Merino Lookout

Chakoonya Lookout

I think this is the best lookout on the Border Track. See Gold Coast skyscrapers in the distance.

Our walking distance: 11 km.
Distance to Binna Burra: 10 km
Time: 3 pm

Chakoonya Lookout
Chakoonya Lookout

Joalah Lookout

Our walking distance: 17 km.
Distance to Binna Burra: 4 km
Time: 4.30 pm

Joalah Lookout
Joalah Lookout

Binna Burra – end of the walk

Time: 5.45 pm
Total time walking: 9.45 hours

We were exhausted!
We could not remember being that tired in the past, but that was due to our lack of preparation. Looks like the smaller walks did not do the job. The reality was different.

Luckily at Binna Burra, there is a restaurant, so we immediately booked ourselves for a tasty dinner that concluded our walk.

We are fast walkers but it took us almost 10 hours to complete the walk (7 hours is the estimation from the brochure). It was due to our heavy backpacks and frequent stopping.

After the first 10 kilometres, we really started feeling the backpacks on our shoulders. It was not the weight but rather the uncomfortable tightness of our muscles. Many times we stopped to drop the backpacks on the ground and rest our backs and muscles.

Once we walked, we walked fast, but this frequent stopping caused our delays.

During the walk, we have seen many hikers but none of them had heavy backpacks. They all walked with small, daily backpacks.

Binna Burra is an amazing place located on the side of the hill. The views are spectacular and Mount Roberts is simply stunning. We are planning to go back directly to Binna Burra and do all the tracks.

Best time to do the walk

The walk can be done all year round.

Avoid rain months between January and March as the track will get very muddy and slow your progress significantly.

Also, the winter months can be really called due to high elevation so plan accordingly to your liking/.

Best way to do the O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra walk

Doing the O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra walk can be done much easier than we did considering that you are not doing the full Gold Coast Great walk where full hiking equipment is required.

The walk between O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra is not a loop. The road distance is 64 km and with the windy, mountainous drive it takes 1.5 hours by car.

We learned the best way to do this long walk is to use a daily backpack. Start from either O’Reilly’s or Binna Burra and walk your way up. This way you will not get so tired and you have more time to enjoy the lookouts or go for side tracks.

Organising the transport back is not a problem. Check the below links.

O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat – Call Reception to book a transfer

Binna Burra transport – Border Track Transfer or Shuttle Bus

Have you done O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra walk by yourself? What was your experience like? Please drop a comment below.

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