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The Steamers in Main Range National Park Queensland, my first overnight hike!

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The Steamers at Sunset in Main Range National Park
Playing around while we wait for the sun to set on the Steamers at Sunset in Main Range National Park

The first time I visited the Steamers I had no idea what to expect. I hadn’t been hiking long and was enjoying all the different scenery Queensland had to offer. So when a friend invited me to go with them, I said yes unquestioningly.

The magic of the Steamers is that until you reach your destination, you have no idea of the spectacular site that is awaiting you.

As you drive in to the valley the surrounding mountains shield the “ship”, cloaking it with their verdant greenery and leaving it for you to discover only after a few hours of hard work!

We arrived at the Emu Vale campground the night before and, making the most of the comfy rooftop tent, had a lazy morning reading and playing cribbage before packing our bags with overnight gear and setting off after lunch.

This was my first-time hiking on an overnight trip and I was worried the weight would be too much, but thanks to a lot of careful forethought my whole bag including water weighed in at under 10kg! Once on my back it was hardly noticeable.

I have an Osprey backpack that I can’t recommend more highly, it was definitely an investment piece but worth every $!

Sunset is always a magical time for me, so the chance to enjoy one of my favourite views as the twilight descends has always been appealing.

The Adventure

Hiking in along the river I couldn’t help but notice how much drier it was then the past times I had been there. Areas that I would have carefully negotiated my way across a year past were now clearly exposed, and what was whilom a fun rock hop, was now a dry hike among stones in many places.

Although I had been previously, both times we had taken a different trail up the valley walls to the ridgeline, so I decided to download a trail from wikiloc just to make sure we didn’t get too off track. However I’m thinking whoever uploaded the trail may have themselves just been lost!

There was no real clear path so eventually, knowing it was impossible to get truly lost (head up for the ridgeline on the way there, head down to river on the way down!) we began bush bashing through the evil lantana and sadistic stinging trees before breaking free onto the trail at the top of the ridgeline, the start of the Stern towering above us.

From here in the hike is well trailed and much more enjoyable if bush bashing isn’t your thing!

As you make your way along the base of the Stern’s cliffs, you come upon a huge cave worn away on the side. Where it appears, based on the fire circles, to be a popular unofficial camp site. We stopped for a little while to study the rocks geology, and speculate on how it was formed, before continuing up the steep slippery dirt trail to the top of the Stern.

Arriving at the lookout just as the sun was beginning its final descent over the horizon the full “ship” was revealed. As majestic and as breathtaking as I remembered.

The Steamers at Main Range National Park for Sunset
The Steamers at Main Range National Park for Sunset

As we sat perched upon the cliff top awaiting sunset, with no other humans obviously around us for miles, it felt as though I was in a nature lovers paradise. Green ants scurried across the rocks, oblivious to us, their abdomens shimmering green and gold like Tigers Eye as though made from living stone themselves.

There are only a few hikes I have done more than once, but the view from the top of the Stern is one I will never grow tired of. The cliff walls of Mt Superbus across the river stretch beckoningly upwards while the bird sounds are incredible. Cockatoos, Whip Birds, Bell Birds and the occasional slightly scary sound of the Cat bird, reverberate through the air of the valley.

Eventually the sun was well and truly set and it was time to establish our camp and test my new tent out. Luckily all the research had paid off and we were able to get the tent erected, pegged in and cozy for the night in around 15 minutes. Leaving enough time for another round of cribbage before we began dinner preparations, accompanied by one of the local marsupials on clean up duty!

A local marsupial coming over to investigate

I recently discovered dehydrated Quinoa so was able to create a mushroom and quinoa dish with baby spinach. Not exactly gourmet but lightweight, filling and most importantly it warmed me up! As this trip was pretty spur of the moment (we literally woke up the day before and decided to go 4wd then head out this way!) I didn’t have much time to plan meals but I’ve already started thinking about how I can make them better for next time. If you have any favourites let me know in the comments below!

As soon as the sun started to rise we awoke and hiked back to the lookout to watch the sunrise from there. With fog wrapping itself like a silver scarf along the base of the valley it was as beautiful to witness as sunset.

The Steamers at Main Range National Park for Sunrise
The Steamers at Main Range National Park for Sunrise

Once we had packed up and left the ridgeline the hike down to the creek proved just as challenging as the hike up...

Pathless, overgrown and strewn with loose rocks just waiting to slide out from underneath you, the bubbling of the creek once we neared it was a gratifying sonance.

The Steamers isn’t an overly long hike, under 6 hours return and the rewards are substantial. If you haven’t been before make sure to go with someone who has and be prepared for a bit of an off track adventure…at least for some of it!

And if you have been before it may be time for a revisit, especially for sunset!

Happy Adventuring,

💕 Lia xoxo

“Lost is a state of mind, I prefer to think of it as exploring” - Lia Skye

What to Expect

Rock hopping, bush bashing, cave exploring, epic views. Basically everything you could want in a hike!

How to get there

Google Emu Creek road, Old Mill Road, Emu Vale or click here for Google Maps


Water – At least 2 Litres depending on how much you drink and the time of year you choose to hike in and preferably a water purifying source.


Bars, fruit, dehydrated food, heaps of water. For a full list of my overnight essentials I'll update this post with a link soon!

Further Reading (for all the technical deets)

I couldn't really find any trail Í found fallproof so try Wikiloc, AllTrail or Aussie Bushwalking for more info. Or better yet join a hiking group and go with them!

The seemingly endless photo gallery...

Playing around while we wait for the sun to set at the Stern Steamers
Playing around while we wait for the sun to set at the Stern Steamers
Steamers Hike Main Range National Park
The nearly dry creek bed

Steamers Hike Main Range National Park
Path? What Path? Finding our own way to the ridge.

Steamers Hike Main Range National Park
Quick geology break in the cave beneath the Stern

Steamers Hike Main Range National Park
Getting snuggled in for the night!

Steamers Hike Main Range National Park

Steamers Hike Main Range National Park
Working our way down from the ridgeline...

Steamers Hike Main Range National Park
Joined by one of the local grass puppies to escort us out!


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