White Rock — Spring Mountain Conservation Estate, Ipswich
With its stunning scenery, amazing diversity of plant and animal species, and rich history and culture, White Rock — Spring Mountain Conservation Estate is the perfect spot for a family bush walk and picnic.
The estate features unique and spectacular rocky outcrops, ridges and escarpments, valleys and beautiful forest inhabited by an array of awesome wildlife. There are many trails to choose from, ranging from 200m to 19km return, stunning lookouts, and a picnic area with toilets. Plus at just 20 minutes’ drive from Ipswich CBD and 35 from Brisbane CBD, the estate is easy to get to yet a world apart from the hustle and bustle of the city.
About White Rock, Spring Mountain
Spread over 2,500 hectares of regionally significant bushland, White Rock — Spring Mountain Conservation Estate is an area of remarkable natural beauty. There are riparian forests and open eucalypt forests, as well as the headwaters of seven major waterways. This area contains some of the region’s most important natural and conservational bushland. Not to mention the culturally significant local landmarks of White Rock and Spring Mountain towering out of the forest.
In the conservation estate, you can enjoy a number of recreational activities, including hiking, bird watching, mountain biking, nature study and horse riding (with your own horse— horse float parking is available). There are boardwalks, caves, lookouts and more, all along well-maintained paths with clearly marked trails and plenty of benches for resting little legs along the way.
There are toilets and picnic shelters by the parking areas, as well as open grassy areas where you can set up a picnic rug.
At the picnic parking area there is also a great information point. Here you can find boards with maps and details of all the trails. There is also lots of information on the estate, including the flora and fauna. Kids will love checking out the simple displays of natural objects and animal footprints on the display. This is great to do before you set off as they can look out for these things along the walk.
History and Culture of the Estate
The Yagara People, made up of the Jagera, Yuggera and Ugarapul Clans, are the Traditional Owners of Ipswich. They hold this whole site as sacred. Sacred sites are important to the Traditional Owners and they are part of their history, and traditionally provide the link between individuals and country, as well as allowing elders to pass down cultural knowledge. White Rock itself is also a sacred site. Visitors should resist from climbing it out of respect for the cultural beliefs of the Traditional Owners.
Flora and Fauna of White Rock, Spring Mountain
The conservation estate features unique ecosystems that are home to over 600 plant species and 150 animal species. Some of these are threatened, including Ipswich’s most threatened species, the powerful owl, peregrine falcon, and the floral emblem of Ipswich, the plunkett mallee.
There are forests of endangered blue gum, spotted gum and swamp box and paperbarks. There are also beautiful wild flowers at various times of year.
As you walk, you will see and hear lots of forest birds flitting about between the trees. Look for scratchings and droppings at the base of large gum trees to help you spot koalas, and keep an eye out for lace monitors crossing the path. Kangaroos and wallabies can also be spotted in the bush, or in the grassy areas around the picnic area at sunset.
Walking Trails at White Rock, Spring Mountain
There are many trails to explore at White Rock, Spring Mountain, so you can be sure there is something for all fitness levels, age groups and time constraints. Most of the walks are fairly easy and flat, with dirt tracks and some sections of boardwalk. However, there are also some steep inclines and some rough terrain and loose surfaces. Make sure you read about each specific track before heading out to make sure it is suitable for you.
The walking trails vary in length and difficulty, from an easy 200m walk to a challenging 19km trail, with everything in between. You can do just one of these trails, or mix and match various ones to get the best walk to suit your family.
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.
- Bluff Lookout Circuit, 200m one way (5 mins)
- Little White Rock Lookout Circuit, 200m one way (10 mins)
- Six Mile Creek Boardwalk, 300m one way (10 mins)
- Little White Rock Track, 600m one way (15 mins)
- Six Mile Creek Track*, 1.4km return (20 mins)
- White Rock Multi-User Trail*, 6.5km return (1 hour)
- Yaddamun Trail*, 19km return (4 hours)
* Please note that the Six Mile Creek Track, White Rock Multi-User Trail and the Yaddamun Trail are all multi-user trails, so walkers may also share the tracks with mountain bikers and horse riders.
For full details of all of the walking trails in the estate, check out the trails guide here.
Our Family’s Route
We headed out of the parking area on the Six Mile Creek Track. We came off that track onto the Six Mile Creek Boardwalk, which was fun for the kids to walk along.
From there, we did the short detour of the Bluff Lookout Circuit. This was a rougher path heading uphill in the forest to a great rocky outcrop on top of which was a lovely lookout through the forest. The climb wasn’t too steep but there were rocky steps up to the lookout and then back down, so it is good to help little ones and hold their hands to support them.
Back on the boardwalk, we followed a short way to the end of that track, at a crossroads with the Six Mile Creek Track. From here, we headed onto the Little White Rock Track and did the short loop to Little White Rock Lookout. Again, this was an uphill track with some rocky steps and loose surfaces, so little ones will need hands held to prevent slipping, especially on the way back down. At the top, you actually climb up the surface of Little White Rock, which is great fun for kids. A nice easy taster of rock climbing! Little ones from around 4 can manage getting up but may need a little help coming down.
From the top, we had lovely views over the forest canopy, then we headed followed the loop back down and headed back to the picnic area.
We set up a picnic in a lovely open grassy area near the car park. We were very lucky with the timing as it was late afternoon, and a family of kangaroos came out of the bush to enjoy their dinner all around us!
Getting to White Rock — Spring Mountain Conservation Estate
White Rock – Spring Mountain Conservation Estate can be accessed from the Paperbark Flats Picnic Area, which is located on School Road in Redbank Plains.
From Ipswich, head down the Cunningham Highway, come off onto Redbank Plains Road, then head south on School Road. From Brisbane, head towards Ipswich on the Centenary Highway, come off onto Augusta Parkway and then head south on School Road. At the bottom of School Road, before you go under the Centenary Highway, there is new development and the street name has been changed to White Rock Road, with a signpost to White Rock. Head under the motorway and you will see the Paperback Flats Picnic Area clearly signposted.
As you turn in, there is a horse float parking area on your left and the picnic area parking area up ahead. The toilets and an information area are located in the picnic parking area. There are picnic shelters near both parking areas.
Check out the map here to find directions.
What to know before you go
Before you head off to White Rock, here are a few reminders 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’.
- Stay on the tracks and don’t let kids wander off as there are some high rocky outcrops and ridges with steep escarpments.
- 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.
For other great bush walks with kids you might like the 10 Best Brisbane Walks for Families.