Daves Creek Circuit – A Magical Binna Burra Hike

If I were to recommend one walk in South East Queensland, it’d be Daves Creek Circuit. Why? It has the most varied topography of any walk I’ve done in the region and it’s not too long, nor too taxing. Additionally, you return (mostly) via a different path. It’s also an incredibly fun Binna Burra hike that will immerse you solidly into the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park.

To enjoy the walk and the region without rushing about, I booked a private bunk room at Binna Burra Lodge, which is the launch point for Daves Creek Circuit. I came with my son, his friend, and his friend’s dad, Marty. Unfortunately, traffic wasn’t on our side, as the usual one-and-a-half-hour trip from Brisbane turned into three, and it wasn’t until 12pm that we set off along the Border Track towards Daves Creek Circuit.

Chiminya Creek, along Daves Creek Circuit

How to Get to Daves Creek Circuit

Head to Binna Burra Lodge, as the walk departs from there. From Brisbane, this is typically an hour-and-a-half’s drive (depending on traffic) and the walk starts from the Binna Burra Trailhead at the far end of Binna Burra Lodge car park. The trailhead is about a 2-minute walk from Binna Burra Lodge.

The Start of Our Hike

Setting off so late in the day on one of Lamington National Park’s most beautiful and accessible walks on a Saturday, I was expecting it to be busy, which it was at the trailhead. However, thankfully people started to disappear as we gradually immersed ourselves into the forest world. This first section is along the Border Track, which you follow for about 3 kilometres before entering Daves Creek Circuit proper.

The start of Daves Creek Circuit was pretty busy

The Trees

The Border Track section has some wonderful trees – towering strangler figs and brush box trees that look like they’d swollen, popped and then melted, in a beautiful, artistic way. There were some real towering beauties in this section and we crossed trickling streams – first at Rifle Bird Creek and then at Chiminya Creek – while passing dangling rows of red berries that looked vivid in the forest sunlight.

A strangler fig
The bulging beauties along Daves Creek Circuit

We soon veered off the Border Track and reached the junction of Daves Creek and Ships Stern Circuit. A little way along Daves Creek Circuit we came to another towering beauty that had been felled for one reason or another. It was hollowed out in the middle, perhaps due to disease, and the roots looked menacing and artistic. We had fun here doing some photo ops and exploring the hollow centre before continuing onwards.

Exploring the felled tree
Marty, investigating the centre

The Clifftops

Not far past the large, felled tree, the bushland became more open, drier, and soon we reached the edge of the cliff that looked over the Numinbah Valley. I was looking forward to this bit and as it was a clear, sunny day, the views were exceptional. I wasn’t sure if we’d just get fleeting views of the surrounding mountains and valley, but fortunately Daves Creek Circuit hugged the clifftops for a while and the views became better and more frequent.

Changing scenery
What a view, what a day

As it had been raining recently there were some swampy sections along this part, and we had to hop onto rocks in between canyons of tall grass. It was nothing too difficult though and added to the novelty of our little adventure along Daves Creek Circuit. This Binna Burra hike was turning into a cracker! Winding along the clifftops, the trail soon opened out onto a lookout, where we could see Molongolee Cave (see below).

Lots of stopping and soaking it up
Our first view of Molongolee Cave

Molongolee Cave

Molongolee Cave adds to the enormous variety of landscapes in Daves Creek Circuit and pretty soon we found ourselves having lunch in the shade of the cave. The cave provided some cool respite from the heat of early March, and we sat and talked, taking our time before continuing along our journey.

First views of the cave

Just before we’d entered the cave we ran into some hikers who said we were a little less than halfway through Daves Creek Circuit. A tip: make sure you continue past the cave to the dead end before returning, as there’s a great lunch spot here too that we missed out on (which is shaded).

Having lunch

The Wooded Forest

Continuing along our journey, the trail soon became enclosed by stark trees. It was clear we’d entered a wooded forest and at this point my son Olin remarked how varied and amazing the walk was. I was happy to hear he was enjoying himself, and he elaborated to say he felt that so far we’d done three walks in one – two types of forest and the clifftops. This, I thought, was very true.

Entering the ‘third walk’ within our walk, the wooded forest

Further along on our Binna Burra hike we came to a small creek, and if it wasn’t for Olin’s friend Ruben, we wouldn’t have seen the Lamington Crayfish, which is a fairly common sight in Lamington National Park. Ruben called it a lobster and it certainly looked a bit like one, albeit blue. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any decent photos of the crayfish, but you may catch a glimpse in my video at the end (though you’ll have to look pretty hard).

Following this, the trail briefly traversed the cliff face again, before diving back into greener, wooded forest. Just after this, we reached Numinbah Lookout.

Numinbah Lookout – A Binna Burra Hike With Epic Views

This is a beautiful lookout – with some shade – that provides expansive views across Numinbah Valley. Numinbah is an area I’ve explored previously on my other blog and it contains some excellent little secrets such as Bushrangers Cave, which you can read about here. We sat here for a while, taking our time, enjoying this splendid little part of the world. It was here Olin thought he saw a snake but it was a land mullet, which are also fairly common in the region.

Me, enjoying the view from Numinbah Lookout

Fern Forest

It was now well into the afternoon and just past the lookout the scenery changed once again. I’d read lots of positive reviews about Daves Creek Circuit and at this point, I understood why. Variety is an understatement – this walk is incredible! Now we were entering a ferny forest, which was very green and wooded. Soft plants bordered our trail as we continued. It was at this point that I was starting to feel a little tired.

Trekking through ‘fern forest’

This forest path continues for about 15 minutes or so before you come to a nice surprise along Daves Creek Circuit.

Surprise Rock

At Surprise Rock I reflected I was happy we’d encountered traffic coming down, as it forced us to start our walk late. Why? It was now about 4:30 in the afternoon and the sunlight was golden and splendid. The views from here are nothing short of marvellous and you can see all the way to the Gold Coast. We explored the rock for a good 30 minutes and I even climbed down the far side back onto the trail (which I don’t recommend).

Olin, halfway up Surprise Rock
Views of the Gold Coast from Surprise Rock

Amazingly, we saw a group of people walk right by the rock without stopping, so make sure you take the time to visit this little beauty! The top is fairly easy to traverse and it’s a great place to explore and soak up the views. Surprise Rock was certainly a highlight on Daves Creek Circuit and if you can time it with a late afternoon visit, like we did, you’ll be the better for it.

Ruben on Surprise Rock

The Final Stretch

From Surprise Rock, you’ve still got a decent stretch of this Binna Burra hike to go, as it’s 4.5 kilometres back to the lodge. As a little more than half of this is along the Border Track, the same way you come in, we walked this stretch a little faster. Additionally, it was getting late and the boys were getting hungry. However, we did manage to stop and enjoy a cascade trickling along an arm of Nixon Creek.

Crossing an arm of Nixon Creek on the way home

Additionally, we enjoyed the towering trees once again and had a rest on the bench at the junction of Ships Stern Circuit and Daves Creek Circuit before returning to Binna Burra Lodge.

Flora & Fauna Along Daves Creek Circuit

As I’ve mentioned, we saw a Lamington Crayfish and a land mullet on this trail. I did see quite a few people with walking poles and it wasn’t until later it dawned on me that it may be because of dingoes. There have been dingoes spotted in the area and they occasionally follow hikers.

Saying this, I’ve never heard of anyone being attacked and a guy who I chatted with along the trail, who regularly walks in the area, says he’s seen one or two in the Green Mountains section but never in the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park.  

Other wildlife you may encounter (although unlikely) is the endangered Fleay’s Barred Frog. As for the flora, there’s a great variety along Daves Creek Circuit – from the towering brush box trees to the wet sclerophyll forest. If you’re a tree lover you’ll love this walk!

How Difficult is Daves Creek Circuit?

As far as bushwalks/hikes go, Daves Creek Circuit is not difficult. This and the fact that it’s a varied and stunning walk, make it one of the most popular in the park. However, as it is 12 kilometres, you’ll need some snacks, plenty of water and some decent shoes. Leave early (earlier than 12pm), take your time and you shouldn’t have any problems if you have a reasonable level of fitness.

How Long Does Daves Creek Circuit Take?

Looking at the exact times of my shots in Google Photos, we set out at 12:03pm and finished the walk just after 6pm. However, you could easily walk 12 kilometres quicker than six hours, given the walk is not particularly hard. We just took our time and enjoyed all aspects of Daves Creek Circuit (which I suggest you do too). However, if you’re short on time I’d give yourself a good four hours to do this one.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Walk Daves Creek Circuit?

It’s probably best to do this walk outside of the humid, rainy season, but really Daves Creek Circuit is a wonderful walk to do year-round. Best keep an eye on the weather forecast though, as you don’t want a cloudy, rainy day covering the spectacular views!

Binna Burra Lodge

A bonus of this Binna Burra hike is that it starts and ends at Binna Burra Lodge. If, like we did, you feel that your weekend would best be spent taking your time and enjoying the region, you could stay the night at Binna Burra Lodge. It’s reasonably priced and has a great tea house, a bar, communal fire pits and other facilities for you to enjoy. We booked the private bunkhouse for $80 for the four of us. Bargain!

Having breakfast at Binna Burra Tea House, Binna Burra Lodge

Indigenous Custodians

Lamington National Park is a sacred area to the Yugambeh people, who call the mountains here ‘Woonoongoora’. To the Yugambeh, the region is a spiritual place and has been for thousands of years. Family groups within the Yugambeh people include the Gugingin, Migunberri, Birinburra, Mununjali, Bollongin, Minjunbal and Wangerriburra people.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I thought Daves Creek Circuit was amazing. Even the gaming teens thought it was an incredible walk and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely, even though it was a long day. As I’ve mentioned throughout this post, Daves Creek Circuit has incredible variety along its 12km course. It’s probably the most varied walk I can remember doing in South East Queensland, making it a lot of fun (particularly if you take your time).

If you’re at all on the fence about this one, make sure you do it.


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