The Scenic Rim Traverse Hall of Fame

Scenic Rim Lindesay Barney Maroon

The idea of the Scenic Rim was first conceived by Arthur Groom, founder of Binna Burra Lodge. He conceptualised a trail which would enchain the peaks and escarpments of the Main and Macpherson Ranges, along which comfortable mountain huts could be found at respectable intervals. The huts never eventuated, but nevertheless, the idea of the Scenic Rim took hold.

Much of the region is now gazetted in National Parks, and although some pockets have been tamed, the Scenic Rim remains a bastion of wilderness in an otherwise altered landscape. Sandwiched between urban sprawl and vast agricultural plains, it spans from the Mistake Mountains all the way to Springbrook Plateau. Although narrow, this arc of mountains can often feel truly remote.

As a matter of disambiguation, the Scenic Rim Trail and the Scenic Rim Traverse are two different beasts. The former is a glamping experience run by Spicers Retreat, so if you expect hot showers, gourmet meals and nightly foot rubs on the Scenic Rim Traverse, you’re in for a shock. The Scenic Rim Traverse plunges deep into the wildest corners of South East Queensland and remains a true testpiece for capable bushfolk.

It should also be noted that the term “Scenic Rim” is somewhat nebulous, and no defined start or finish points have been formally agreed on. Some expeditions have started as far north as Laidley, some began further west in the Mistake Mountains, and Cunningham’s Gap is also a common launch pad for logistical reasons. Finish points have been anywhere from Lamington Plateau to Point Danger on the Pacific coast. This means that the length of the traverse can vary anywhere from 150 to 250km, and detours or alterations can involve significant changes in vegetation type and vertical gain.

Since its inception, there have been relatively few successful traverses of the Scenic Rim. Even fewer of them have been unsupported. In the interest of posterity, this list will attempt to record all successful trips, as well as notable attempts. It is by no means definitive, as information regarding such trips can sometimes be lost, forgotten, or simply untold. If you have any additional information, please feel free to contact me at ryansiacci@hotmail.com to add it to the list.

Much of this information comes from Secrets of the Scenic Rim by Rob Rankin, an excellent resource for anyone who enjoys bushwalking in SEQ.

December 1948
Participants – Jim Cuthbertson, Jack Farr, Graham Tweedale, Ian Wylie, Bert Anderson
Route – Cunningham’s Gap to Binna Burra
Time – Unknown, but certainly more than 10 days
Style – Supported by food drops
Notes – The crew avoided the Wilson’s Peak/Mt Clunie segment, instead detouring straight to Mt Ballow. They did so in the hope of finding a farm to buy some new shoes, as theirs were already wearing out! They then descended Barney Creek and caught a bus to Christmas Creek, thus avoiding the Lever’s Plateau segment also.

December 1950
Participants – John Stephenson, Geoff Broadbent
Route – Mt Castle to Binna Burra
Time – Unknown
Style – Supported by food drops
Notes – The pair endured an epic summer storm in the Rum Jungle on Mt Barney, which reportedly saw more than 100mm of rainfall! They cut across country to O’Reilly’s rather than endure the misery of Southern Lamington.

December 1967
Participants – Gordon Holden, Trevor Howes, Frank Windeat
Route – Cunningham’s Gap to Binna Burra
Time – 12 days
Style – Unsupported
Notes – This traverse set an incredible standard for the era, with the participants carrying all supplies and covering the “standard” route in less than two weeks.

May 1975
Participants – Graham Hart, Shirley Hart, John Pryor
Route – Mt Castle to Point Danger
Time – 17 days
Style – Supported by food and water drops
Notes – Although I have not been able to find their names, this trip was completed with the two Hart daughters – an impressive family outing!

June 1976
Participants – Trevor Gynther, Paul Elliot, Tony Kelly
Route – Laidley to Point Danger
Time – 4 weeks
Style – Supported by food drops
Notes – This traverse was widely publicised and led in part to the formation of the Scenic Rim Association, which in turn drove further protection of wilderness areas.

August 1976
Participants – Bruce Stoff, John Vaughan (retired at Numinbah Gap), Ronnie Ching (retired at Spicers Gap)
Route – Cunningham’s Gap to Point Danger
Time – 10 days
Style – Supported by 4x food drops
Notes – As the other two dropped out, Stoff powered on to the coast. But he wasn’t finished there… he was determined to come back and do the traverse even better!

August 1978
Participants – Bruce Stoff, John Vaughan (retired at Spicers Gap)
Route – Mt Beau Brummel to Point Danger
Time – 10 days
Style – Unsupported
Notes – A landmark effort, Stoff’s largely solo trip retains the record as the fastest known unsupported traverse.

April 1980
Participants – Trevor Gynther
Route – Point Danger to Cunningham’s Gap
Time – 4 days
Style – Solo, but with a support crew for meals etc.
Notes – Speed was the name of the game, and Gynther achieved the fastest known supported traverse by running a lot, carrying very little, and sleeping even less.

September 1981 (Attempt)
Participants – Trevor Gynther
Route – Point Danger to near Gwyala Peak
Time – 43 hours
Style – Supported
Notes – Gynther had another punt at a speed run, but abandoned the attempt when he accidentally slept for 9 hours instead of his intended 3. Even so, he would still have been on track to shave time off his own record.

June 2016
Participants – Ryan Siacci, Andrew Stephan
Route – Goomburra to Green Mountains
Time – 7 days
Style – Unsupported
Notes – Having run out of food, Siacci finished his walk at Green Mountains on the Lamington Plateau. A glutton for punishment, Stephan continued for another 1.5 days, reaching the coast after purchasing much needed calories at Springbrook. You can read the trip report for this traverse here.

August 2019
Participants – Judy Moody-Stuart, Marika Andersson, Gerry Burton and Bob Stephens of the Redlands Bushwalkers Club.
Route – Glen Rock to Tugun
Time – 18 days
Style – Supported by several food and water drops
Notes – The team started with 7 members, but was reduced to 4 finishers due to work commitments. At 246km, this expedition may hold the record for the longest Scenic Rim Traverse route by distance, although a short segment was bypassed around Mt Mitchell due to park closures. The trip was finished in the nick of time – extremely dry and gusty conditions created significant bushfires the following week, notably in Lamington National Park.

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