Sundown National Park

Brett Roberts © Queensland Government

Sundown National Park

Discover refreshing waterholes, rugged traprock country and an extraordinary exhibition of birdlife at this remote park south-west of Stanthorpe.

Park alerts
The scenic Permanent Waterhole is a cool retreat from the surrounding dry mountain ranges.
The scenic Permanent Waterhole is a cool retreat from the surrounding dry mountain ranges. © Ben Blanche
View map
Park Sundown
Traditional Owner Traditional Owners
Park Ranger Park Ranger

Journey along back roads to the spectacular wilderness of Sundown National Park on the Queensland–New South Wales border. With its dramatic landscape of sheer-sided gorges, tree-lined ridges and peaks rising over 1000m above the Severn River, discover for yourself the park’s wild isolation.

Camp on a river flat and throw in a line to see if you can catch a yellow-belly or eel-tailed catfish. Wander to Permanent Waterhole for a refreshing dip, or climb the Western circuit and gaze out across the horizon.

Witness rust-red granite cliffs at Red Rock Gorge lookout track, with peregrine falcons flying overhead. Walk among box, ironbark and cypress trees in beautiful eucalypt woodland, and picturesque river red gums and river oaks growing along the water.

Challenge yourself with a half-day adventure, following the creek from Burrows Waterhole to Rats Castle or into Ooline Creek. Keep watch for brush-tailed rock-wallabies hiding among rocks near Nundubbermere Falls. Investigate centuries-old pastoral relics and abandoned mines where tin, copper and arsenic were unearthed from the 1870s.

Bring your binoculars—more than 150 bird species are found in the park, including red-capped robins, spiny-cheeked and striped honeyeaters, red-winged and turquoise parrots and azure kingfishers.

Keep discovering

Top things to see and do

Camp on the banks of the Severn River at The Broadwater camping area.

Sundown's camping areas

See Sundown's camping areas.

Follow the kangaroos on the Western circuit.

Sundown's journeys

See Sundown's walks.

A trip to Sundown National Park isn't complete without a visit to The Broadwater.

Sundown's attractions

See Sundown's waterhole.

Getting there and getting around

Sundown National Park is 250km (3–4hrs drive) south-west of Brisbane via Stanthorpe, and 70km north-west of Tenterfield. It has three entry points—each leading to a different section of the park.

  • Vehicles must remain on designated 4WD tracks. Authorised vehicles only are permitted on fire trails.
  • Motor vehicles are not permitted beyond the Severn River southwest of Rat's Castle.
  • The Sundown Mines and treatment plant area are contaminated. Public access is restricted to the 4WD track.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

The Broadwater camping area

  • This camping area is located at the southern end of the park and can be reached by conventional vehicle.
  • From Stanthorpe, travel along 76km of bitumen road via Texas Road (62km) and Glenlyon Dam Road (14km), followed by 4km of good gravel road (Permanents Road).
  • Alternatively, from Tenterfield in New South Wales, travel north 5km along the New England Highway then west along the Bruxner Highway 52km to Mingoola. Turn right and travel 12km to the park turn-off.

North-eastern section

  • This remote section of the park is 16km from Ballandean, via unsealed Curr Road and Sundown Road. From the park boundary (and 4WD entrance) a rough track leads 20km to camp sites along the Severn River. The drive takes about 2hrs.
  • Towing trailers or campers is not recommended due to the rough, steep and narrow road.
  • Take note that there is no road or track through the park between Burrows Waterhole and The Broadwater.

Nundubbermere Falls

  • Travel 8km along Texas Road from Stanthorpe, then 20km along Nundubbermere Road and a further 4km along Falls Road to the park entrance.

Road conditions

  • All access roads are unsealed.
  • There is conventional vehicle access to The Broadwater camping area and Nundubbermere Falls section, and for a short distance in from the north-eastern section entrance.
  • A rough 4WD track leads from the park's eastern boundary to sites along the Severn River.
  • See traffic and travel information for road and travel conditions.
  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available at Stanthorpe and Tenterfield. Limited fuel and supplies are available at Ballandean, Wallangarra and a small general store at Glenlyon Dam Tourist Park.

  • For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Camping

Choose from a variety of camping experiences, ranging from sites with facilities such as showers (cold) and toilets, to bush camping with no camp sites or facilities.

  • Some are accessible by conventional vehicle, 4WD or on foot. The camping areas are basic so you need to be self sufficient and prepared to rough it.
  • Camping permits are required and fees apply. Display the tag with your booking number at your camp site.
  • Read about camping with care in Sundown National Park.

See camping areas

Other accommodation

Walking

Walking is the best way to see and appreciate the park's rugged mountainous landscape. You can select from easy strolls along formed walking tracks or overnight hikes on unmarked trails.

Map of walking tracks

Picnicking

Enjoy a picnic and unwind at Red Rock Gorge, Nundubbermere Falls, The Broadwater and areas along the river. There are no formal picnic or day-use areas.

Viewing wildlife

Sundown is an excellent place for birdwatching with over 150 species recorded in the park, including some seasonal visitors. You can see a variety of woodland birds in the eucalypt woodlands and ducks, herons, cormorants and tiny azure kingfishers along the river and in waterholes. Birdwatching is best early in the morning or late afternoon.

Watch eastern grey kangaroos browsing on gentle slopes and the grassy flats around The Broadwater late in the afternoon or early in the morning. Red-necked wallabies, swamp wallabies and wallaroos also live in the park. The once common brush-tailed rock-wallaby now survives only in the northern end of the park.

Bring your camera and binoculars for viewing wildlife. A torch, preferably with a red filter to protect animals' eyes, is useful for spotlighting at night.

Cultural and historic sites

Immerse yourself in the pastoral and mining heritage of the park.

  • Learn how the area was extensively cleared for grazing and fine wool production. Relics of these pastoral days can still be seen today.
  • See the remains of tin, copper and arsenic mining along the 4WD track. Since the 1870s, mining was sporadically active.
  • Make sure you stay well clear and do not enter old mine sites. The Sundown Mines and treatment plant area are contaminated. Public access is restricted to the 4WD track.
  • Read more about the area's culture and history.

Mountain biking and cycling

For keen mountain bikers with experience in remote terrain, you can ride the 4WD access road through the park. Watch out for vehicles also using this steep and narrow road.

Four-wheel driving and scenic driving

Take a drive along a narrow 4WD track and discover the park's remote natural beauty. This rough track leads from the park's north-eastern entrance to Red Rock Gorge, and to Reedy Waterhole and Burrows Waterhole on the Severn River.

Canoeing and kayaking

Canoe or kayak around the waterholes of the Severn River or on The Broadwater.

Swimming

Waterholes along the Severn River are suitable for swimming.

  • Never dive or jump into waterholes or creeks—water can be shallower than it looks or hide submerged objects.
  • Read about swimming with care in Sundown National Park.

Fishing

You can enjoy a spot of fishing in the park, but line fishing is only permitted in waterholes along the Severn River.

  • Fisheries regulations apply. You can obtain information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures from Fisheries Queensland.
  • Read about fishing with care in Sundown National Park.

When to visit

Opening hours

Sundown National Park is open 24 hours a day.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Climate and weather

Sundown National Park is cooler than other parts of the 'Sunshine State'. Summer can be humid with daytime temperatures occasionally reaching 40°C, but winter nights can be cold and even frosty. The cooler months, from April to September, are the best times to visit.

Permits and fees

Camping permits

Organised events

  • If you are planning a school excursion or organising a group event such as a wedding, fun run or adventure training, you may need an organised event permit. Maximum group sizes and other conditions apply depending on location and activity type.

Pets

Domestic animals are not allowed here.

Staying in touch

Mobile phone coverage

None. Check with your service provider for more information.

Tourism information

Brochure

Download this brochure and take it with you:

Information provided in this guide is correct at the time of printing. Check park alerts for the latest details.

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Be prepared

  • Parks are natural environments and conditions can be unpredictable. You are responsible for your own safety and for looking after the park.
  • Read stay safe and visit with care for important general information about safety, caring for parks and essentials to bring when you visit Queensland’s national parks.

  • Read safety during extreme weather for important information about what to do during floods, bushfires and cyclones.

Camping

  • Avoid creating new sites; always use existing camp sites.
  • Bury human waste and toilet paper well away from creeks (at least 100m) and at least 15cm deep.
  • Grass and kangaroo ticks are present in the warmer months. While annoying, they normally present no serious danger. Insect repellent may assist. Beware bites and stings.
  • Secure your food supplies and rubbish from goannas and currawongs.
  • Read camp with care for tips on camping safely and camping softly.

Drinking water

  • Drinking water is available from a tap near the park headquarters, near The Broadwater at the park's southern end. You will need to bring a container to carry it in. We recommend bringing your own drinking water.
  • Untreated water from creeks and waterholes is not suitable for drinking.
  • Avoid drinking water collected from creeks in the vicinity of the old mines.
  • Treat all water before use.

Open fires

  • Open fires are allowed only in the fireplaces provided in all camping areas except The Broadwater camping area. We recommend using gas or fuel stoves for cooking.
  • If you do wish to have an open fire or to use the barbecues provided, please bring your own clean, milled timber as you can't collect firewood from the park
  • Take care with fire, keep your fire small and make sure it is out before you leave it, especially during hot or windy conditions.
  • Read camp with care for tips on camping safely and camping softly.

Rubbish

  • There are no bins. Take your rubbish with you when you leave.
  • Secure supplies and rubbish from goannas and currawongs.

Walking

  • Choose walks that suit the capabilities of your entire group. Always walk at the pace of the slowest walker and stay together.
  • Make sure you stay on the designated tracks; they lead you to some outstanding features without damaging the park.
  • Walking routes may be rough and traprock is extremely slippery when wet.
  • If you are walking off-track in remote areas you must have a high level of fitness, sound navigation skills and be self reliant.
  • Off-track walkers must have a suitable topographic map, compass, warm clothes, adequate food and water, first-aid kit and emergency positioning beacon.
  • Read walk with care for tips on walking safely and walking lightly.

Driving

  • River levels can rise rapidly after heavy rain and leave you stranded. There is no mobile phone reception and no help close at hand. Check weather reports, water and river height information before heading to the park.
  • Road conditions can deteriorate quickly to become slippery, boggy or even too dusty. Take vehicle spares in case of flat tyres or breakdowns.
  • Stay well away from old mines sites. The Sundown Mines and treatment plant area are contaminated. Do not enter fenced-off areas and obey all signs. Public access is restricted to the 4WD track.
  • Be aware that there is no road or track through the park between Burrows Waterhole and The Broadwater.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

Mountain bike riding

Fishing

  • Fisheries regulations apply. You can obtain information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures from Fisheries Queensland.
  • Read boat and fish with care for tips on boating and fishing safety and caring for parks.

Around water

  • Check weather reports, water and river height information before heading to the park. River levels can rise rapidly after heavy rain and leave you stranded. There is no mobile phone reception and no help close at hand.
  • Never jump or dive into the creek or waterhole as it can be shallow and have submerged hazards.
  • Read water safety for important information about staying safe in and near water and caring for parks.

Natural environment

The landscape

High traprock country along the Queensland–New South Wales border has been carved by the Severn River and numerous creeks into sharp ridges and spectacular steep-sided gorges. Traprock is a hard, dense rock formed from ancient marine sediments modified by heat and pressure. Intense minor faulting, folding and weathering have resulted in the layered rocks forming the steep ridges and gorges along the river.

Jibbinbar Mountain in the park's north-west and the deeply-eroded Red Rock Gorge are intrusions of granite into the trap rock. Two granite dykes run roughly parallel through the area. The most noticeable forms Rats Castle, a local landmark, and can be traced through the park and under the road near the southern entrance.

The remote character of Sundown National Park and Sundown Regional Park (15,275ha in total) is maintained by keeping development to a minimum.

Plants

A gradual change in vegetation from north to south reflects the differing climate, elevation and soil types of Sundown National Park. Eucalypt forests of yellow box, brown box, stringybark and Tenterfield woollybutt grow on the higher northern slopes. While in the south, there are woodlands of Caley's and silver-leaved ironbark, tumble-down red gum, white box and cypress pine. Wilga, native willow and ooline (a vulnerable species) also grow at the southern end of the park but are usually associated with drier inland areas.

Throughout the park, kurrajongs, red ash and larger wattles grow over an understorey of hop bush, dead finish and peach bush. Steep-sided gorges shelter vine scrubs in which figs, stinging trees, pittosporums and numerous vines are common. Donkey, waxlip, greenhood, spotted hyacinth and other ground orchids flower in spring. Cymbidium orchids are widespread and king orchids can be found on rock faces in the gorges. River red gum, river oak, tea tree and bottle brush grow along the river.

Animals

More than 150 species of birds can be found in Sundown—some throughout the park and others only in specific habitats. Spotted bowerbirds, red-capped robins, spiny-cheeked and striped honeyeaters, and red-winged parrots inhabit the drier southern areas. Black ducks, wood ducks, herons, cormorants and tiny azure kingfishers live along the river. Superb lyrebirds inhabit suitable areas in the centre and north of the park.

Wallaroos are common in the steep rocky country while eastern grey kangaroos can be seen in less sloping habitats. Other macropods include red-necked and swamp wallabies. Once common, brush-tailed rock-wallabies survive in small colonies in the northern end of the park, including near Nundubbermere Falls. Marsupial mice, gliders and possums can also be seen.

  • Request a species list to see what plants and animals have been recorded here.

Culture and history

The Sundown area was once part of Mingoola, Nundubbermere and Ballandean stations. These holdings were subdivided into smaller leasehold blocks in the late 1800s. Although much of the Sundown area was cleared for grazing and fine wool production, these ventures proved uneconomical.

Mining of mineral deposits—principally tin, copper and arsenic—occurred sporadically at Sundown from the 1870s. While rich pockets of ore were found and more than 70 men employed for a short time, deposits were mainly low grade and the mines were never successful. Old surface diggings are scattered throughout the Red Rock area and remains of mining activity can be seen from the 4WD track.

Last updated: 08 September 2017
  • Share: