Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate

Kids doing the Gamlen Circuit trail

With a range of different trails for all levels and abilities, beautiful wildlife and stunning forests and volcanic peaks, the Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate is definitely worth a visit. It is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, camping, bird watching, or even just a family picnic!

Picnic Area

About Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate

This area is just 20 minutes from the Ipswich CBD and 45 minutes from the Brisbane CBD, yet it feels a million miles away from the city. The estate covers 2,200 hectares of land, featuring forests, valleys and peaks such as Flinders Peak, Mt Blaine, Mt Catherine and Mt Goolman. It is home to wide range of native plants and animals and has a rich history and culture.

To explore the area, there are many trails available. The shortest trail is just 560m through bush tucker gardens. The longest is 19km, and there are more challenging trails that take you up the peaks for amazing views of the Scenic Rim and out to the bay.

History and Culture of the Estate

The Yagara People, made up of the Jagera, Yuggera and Ugarapul Clans, are the Traditional Owners of Ipswich. This estate is sacred to them. It is a place where they connect with country and pass down cultural knowledge. In the Ipswich area, some of the sacred sites include food resources, quarry sites, story place, past camp sites, ceremonial sites and bora rings.

Rock wallaby

Flora and Fauna of Flinders-Goolman

As part of the Flinders-Karawatha Corridor, this estate is an important area for flora and fauna. It contains unique ecosystems and is home to over 500 native plant species. There are also many species of native birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. If you are lucky, you make even get to see a peregrine falcon or wedge-tailed eagle soaring overhead, or even spot a brush-tailed rock wallaby. The brush-tailed rock wallaby is a threatened species, so please remember to report any sightings to Ipswich Council to help with their conservation efforts.

Map and trail information

Walking Trails at Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate

There is a wide range of trail options available for you to choose from, starting at either the Hardings Paddock Picnic Area of the Flinders Plum Picnic area. They range from 560m to 19km and some are suitable for hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders.

The following trails are available. The times indicated are approximate and for walking at a comfortable, reasonable pace. If walking with toddlers and young kids, please allow extra time accordingly. It is also recommended to check the steepness of the trails as some do venture up peaks and would be too challenging for younger hikers.

From Hardings Paddock

  • Chalk Circuit, 560m (5–10 mins)
  • To Rocky Knoll Lookout, 2.4km (1.5 hours)
  • Gamlen Circuit, 3km (1 hour)
  • To Goolman Lookout, 5.6km (2.5 hours)
  • To Goolman Lookout via Rocky Knoll, 7.4km (3 hours)
  • Horse Trail Circuit, 9km (3 hours by horse)
  • Flinders Goolman Trail, 19km (5–7 hours)

From Flinders Plum

  • Mt Blaine Hiking Track, 2.5km (1 hour)
  • Sandy Creek Track, 3.5km (1 hour)
  • Flinders Peak Hiking Track, 6km (6 hours)

For full details of all of the walking trails in the estate, check out the trails guide here.

Father and son bush walking

Our Family’s Route

We parked at the Hardings Paddock Picnic Area and set off on the 3km Gamlen Circuit trail. The first part of the trail was all uphill. Although not too steep, this could be challenging on little legs. Our 5 and 7 year olds managed fine and were able to walk the whole way. As you get higher, you’re rewarded with beautiful views out over the countryside to Ipswich and Brisbane.

About halfway through the walk, there is the option to walk up to Rocky Knoll. We did this extra little climb. We expected some spectacular rocks at the top, which wasn’t really the case, but the views were beautiful. From there, the second half of the walk was mainly downhill and passed a couple of ponds.

Kids taking photos of interesting plants

Along the way, we spotted great wildlife, like king parrots, little willy wagtails, and plenty of wallabies. The kids brought along cameras to capture pictures of the animals we saw, and other interesting things like termite mounds, cacti and burned out trees.

Our walk took around 1.5 hours in total, and we ended back at the beautiful grassy picnic area, where we found frogs around the ponds and had a picnic.

Camping at Hardings Paddock

This is a lovely spot to spend a night or two out in a beautiful natural setting. There are just eight camping sites so you really will be at one with nature.

The camping at Hardings Paddock is simple bush camping. There are toilets and a kitchen area, BBQs and picnic tables, as well as a communal campfire pit. There are no showers, but there are camp shower cubicles to use if you bring your own camp shower bag and water. You also need to bring your own drinking water and firewood. There is also a holding yard for horses.

You can find out more and book your camping spot here.

Getting to Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate

Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate can be accessed from Hardings Paddock Picnic Area or Flinders Plum Picnic Area. Both areas have parking, toilets, BBQs and picnic shelters.

Hardings Paddock is the closer of the two picnic areas to Brisbane and Ipswich. To get there, head down the Cunningham Highway and exit onto Ipswich Boonah Road. Follow this road to Carmichael’s Road, the follow to the end to reach the picnic area. It’s a gravel road towards the end, but manageable in a normal car.

For the Flinders Plum Picnic Area, also come off the Cunningham Highway onto Ipswich Boonah Road. Then come off onto Mount Flinders Road and follow to the end of the gravel road.

Check out the map under ‘Directions’ for Hardings Paddock here and Flinders Plum here.

Exploring Ipswich

What to Know Before You Go

Before you head off to Flinders-Goolman, get the Naeus Explore app for GPS guided maps and other useful information about the tracks. You can also follow these few tips to ensure you have the best experience:

  • Bring drinking water, food, hats and suncream.
  • Wear suitable walking shoes as there are some steep inclines and rough or loose surfaces on some of the tracks.
  • Take a mobile phone, and if you don’t have a copy of the trail guide, make sure you snap some pictures of the maps in the picnic area before you set off, to refer to along the way.
  • Please protect the natural environment and teach the kids to ‘take only photos, leave only footprints’.
  • Keep to the trails and don’t let kids wander off.
  • Some tracks are shared with other users such as mountain bikers and horse riders, so take care if you’re on one of those tracks.
  • There are no dogs or pets allowed in this conservation estate.
  • Park gates are locked between 6pm and 6am.
  • Before you head off, check Parks and Reserves here to make sure the different areas and trails are open.

For full details of the conservation estate, all the trails and handy maps, check out the trails guide here.

Another great bushwalking area nearby is White Rock-Spring Mountain Conservation Estate.

About the Author
Paula Johnson
For over fifteen years Paula has worked as an editor and writer of educational books and support materials, working in England, Hong Kong and Brisbane. Now with two Brisbane Kids of her own, she enjoys spending time with her children, discovering new places together, making things and getting grubby … and sharing it all with our readers! She loves the fun and creativity of writing for Brisbane Kids and how it allows her to combine her two greatest passions — writing and mummying!

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