A Toohey Forest Walk With City Views

Looking for a new walk to experience, I came across the Toohey Forest Walk to Mt Gravatt Outlook, which ticked several boxes for us. Firstly, it’s relatively close to home, dog friendly, a loop trail (always more fun) and a decent length at 9km without being too taxing. Additionally, the path heads through bushland, a university, and ends at Mt Gravatt Outlook, which offers fine views over the city. For us, it was the perfect way to spend Labour Day public holiday.

The start of our journey

How to Get There

From Brisbane CBD, it’s an easy 15-minute drive south along the M3 until you get to Holland Park West. From here, turn right into Marshall Road and follow this to the end. Turn right at Toohey Road and follow this for a couple of minutes until you see a sign for Toohey Forest on your left. There are also a few buses that will get you there in around 40 minutes.

Setting off on the Toohey Forest Walk

I arrived at the Toohey Forest walk entrance with my partner and cocker spaniel at 1:20pm (according to Google Photos) to an overcast, mild autumn day. There are a few walks in Toohey Forest, we soon discovered, so I spent several minutes checking out the map as I had a particular one in mind. I was keen to take the gang to the other side of Toohey Forest, through Griffith University’s Mt Gravatt Campus to Mt Gravatt Outlook. The plan was to return a slightly different way, which you can see in the map below.

Our journey there is marked in red and our return is marked blue

We walked slowly through the forest along the Toohey Ridge track, passing other families and dogs with the same idea. A few runners and bike riders passed us on the main path, which is paved for much of the way. While this may initially sound off-putting, Toohey Forest makes for a great place to ride your bike or scooter, as the trail is smooth and well-forested on either side.

Much of the path is well-paved

There were some nice rest spots on the walk, such as a large boulder that looked into the forest, a boardwalk that meanders around the trees, and there are benches on the side of the wide paths that looked like fire trails. The Toohey Forest trails aren’t narrow, unless you cut through the middle of the forest (which we did on our return journey).

Me chillin’ with Cookie

The forest was dry, but pleasant, particularly as it was so close to the city, which made it feel like an inner-city sanctuary. After about 30 minutes we came to the M3 underpass, which is a pedestrian tunnel that connects Toohey Forest with Griffith University’s Mt Gravatt Campus.

Approaching the tunnel under the M3
Heading through the underpass

The Uni

After passing through the tunnel, the trail winds through urban forest for a few minutes before you arrive at the university. It was fun crossing through the university on a Monday public holiday, as the place was deserted and looked a little post-apocalyptic. The university is pretty small and it only took us about 5 minutes to pass through before we were once again in the forest heading towards Mt Gravatt Outlook.

Griffith University – Mt Gravatt Campus

To the Outlook

This section of Toohey Forest, just beyond the university, is the only steep part of the walk. The trail is wide, although it can get slippery with loose rocks and the steeper inclines heading to the outlook. Just take your time and you won’t have any problems. On this section, the forest was a little further away from the road, and once again it was a welcome sight to see so many trees in close proximity to the city.

Heading uphill to the outlook

There were a couple of curious sights we passed on the way to the outlook: a tree troff – which provides water to the resident Mt Gravatt Koalas. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any on this day. A little further along the trail we came across a ‘secret Brisbane tree door’, which apparently functions as a mail service for children, where they can deposit their letters to fairies and collect their responses.

The koala tree troff

Cookie, my cocker spaniel, wasn’t very interested but it put me in a reverie for a moment before we continued up the stairway to the outlook.

Nikki and Cookie at the fairy door. There were no letters for collection today.

Mt Gravatt Outlook

If you haven’t been to Mt Gravatt Outlook, make a point of visiting. I’ve been here several times before, and while it’s nothing spectacular, it offers splendid views over the city, pleasant grassy areas for picnics and a café with nice views. There’s also a playground beside the café which the little ones will love. Unfortunately for us, the café was closed but we brought some trail food, which we enjoyed on the grass while looking over the city.

Lovewell Cafe – check out that view!
Facilities alongside the cafe

The sky was moody this afternoon, and the purple hues of the clouds provided a nice contrast with the kelly-green grass and the greys of the city skyline. I enjoyed watching other picnickers, as it always makes me happy to see people outdoors enjoying the best of our fine city.

Car park at the top
Picnickers at Mt Gravatt Outlook

Our Return

After about 45 minutes exploring and relaxing at the outlook, we set off on our return journey. Once you pass back through the university and the tunnel underpass, Toohey Forest does offer some alternate routes, so you’re not returning the same way. As you can see from our map at the top, we walked home along the Mimosa Track, which is narrower and more forested than other trails in Toohey Forest. I recommend you return along this path for a bit of variety.

We didn’t see any mimosas along the trail, or any Tooheys, which was probably for the best as we were getting a little dehydrated by this stage. We crossed a little wooden bridge at one point on the trail. Once we joined the Nathan Ridge Track again, we plodded steadily onwards to our car, as our legs were getting a tad sore by this point.

Cookie on the Mimosa Track

A Little History

Mt Gravatt was named after Lt. George Gravatt, who was a commander of Brisbane’s Penal Colony in 1839. However, the land around the settlement known today as Toohey Forest was, from 1872 to 1945, owned by James Toohey – an Irishman who made his wealth in the California gold rush. The Brisbane City Council acquired the lands from the Toohey Family in 1945.

For thousands of years prior to this, the mountainous area of Toohey Forest was known to Aboriginal people as Kaggur-Mabul – the place of the echidna.  

Wildlife in Toohey Forest

Toohey Forest is home to echidnas, koalas, sugar gliders, blue-tongued lizards, possums, powerful owls, glossy black cockatoos, the eastern dwarf tree frog and the striped marsh frog. Birdlife here includes the spotted pardalote, the striated pardalote, pale-headed rosellas, and butterflies such as the common crow, orchard swallowtail, blue tiger and black jezebel. I spotted a pardalote or two, but other than that I had no luck seeing the other creatures that inhabit the forest.  

How Long Does the Walk Take?

We returned to our starting point just after 4:30, a little more than three hours after we set out. This was taking our time and stopping at the outlook – our destination for the day. For a better idea, check out our experience in the video below.

How Difficult is the walk?

The Toohey Forest walk to Mt Gravatt Outlook is 8.9 km in total. While most of it is flat and relatively easy, the section from the university to the outlook does get a little steep in places. However, this is not a long section, and if you have a reasonable level of fitness and take your time, you shouldn’t have any problem. However, as I mentioned earlier, this part of the walk is a little slippery in places.

What Do You Need to Bring?

Bring some water and enough trail food to last you a couple of hours. The good news is, there’s a filtered water station at the start of the walk, and if you time your walk right, The Lovewell Café at the outlook will be open. The café is open from 8am – 3pm daily (it was closed on the public holiday we were here). Apart from this, wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a hat.

Filtered water station and facilities at the start of the Toohey Forest walk


The section of Toohey Forest before the underpass is wheelchair-friendly, and much of the trail is paved. It’s mostly flat although there are some slightly uphill areas where assistance may be required.

Is the Walk Dog-Friendly?

In case you’ve just skipped to this part and missed me talking about my dog, yes, the walk is dog-friendly. However, dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.

Final Thoughts

While certainly not as lush as Brisbane’s other mountainous trails – found at Mt Coot-tha – Toohey Forest and Mt Gravatt is certainly worth a visit. The bushland in proximity to the city offers visitors bicycle and scooter trails, plentiful trees and potential wildlife encounters. Additionally, you’ll be rewarded with fine views and hospitality should you visit Mt Gravatt Outlook, which I think you should. Finally, it’s another dog walk in Brisbane!

Cookie loved this one.   

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