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Mapleton Forest Drive SE Queensland

Forest lining Buckby road

Buckby Road

The drive through Mapleton Forest is a pleasant one day excursion through magnificent tall open Blackbutt forests with trees over 30 metres tall. These tall forests are occasionally replaced by shorter Scribbly Gum open forests (Eucalyptus signata) with trees up to 20 metres tall and a heath understorey in places. Rain forest elements with palms in gullies are an added attraction.

This drive can be accessed from Mapleton or Yandina. We prefer the Yandina access which allows a stop-over in the Blackall Ranges with their great natural, shopping, dining and accommodation attractions. With these temptations a day can easily turn into two or more.

In addition to the magnificent Blackbutt forests the attractions of the drive itself include –

  • Point Glorious Lookout with a 180 degree northern panorama with Mount Bottle and Glass in the centre foreground.
  • Abseiling points fixed to the cliffs at the left Point Glorious Lookout.
  • Picnic areas at Point Glorious, Cooloolabin Dam and the Mapleton Day Use Area.
  • A seasonal waterfall at Pools Dam.
  • Trail Bike and walking trails at the Mapleton Day Use Area.
  • A camping and Trail Bike area near Gheerulla just off the Eumundi-Kenilworth road.

Getting There

This drive ascends the northern end of the magnificent Blackall Range which provides access to Mapleton, Flaxton, Montville and Maleny.

The road traverses pale relatively infertile soil derived from rhyolitic lava flows expelled explosively from a series of vents making up the East Arm Volcanics. These soils support eucalypt forests with some palms and rainforest elements in gullies. Once on top of the range these flows are overlain by later eruptions of basalt from the separate Maleny Volcano. Basalt soils are fertile and support sub tropical rain forest.

Turn off the Bruce Highway to Yandina 7k north of Nambour then left at the first and second roundabouts into Fleming Street. Continue straight ahead through the traffic lights and then left at the Y junction with Cooloolabin Road. Set Trip Meter to 0.

Cooloolabin Road (sealed section)

The mileages provided here are approximate and should be used as a rough guide only.

Initially Cooloolabin road is 2 lane bitumen but narrows to single lane at 4.8k and begins a winding climb through wonderful Blackbutt forest to Cooloolabin where it changes to gravel surface (at 7.7k). About 100 metres on is a Y junction with Buckby Road on the right at Cooloolabin Dam.

Reset the trip meter to 0 and turn right to Point Glorious Lookout. From here on the road to Point Glorious is clearly sign posted.

Buckby Road (gravel)

  • 2.8k Blackall Road on left continue straight ahead.
  • 3.6k Point Glorious Belli junction turn right to Point Glorious (Point Glorious Road).
  • 5.2k T junction turn left.
  • 7.0k Arrive at Point Glorious Lookout.

Return to Cooloolabin Road and reset trip meter to 0.

Cooloolabin Road (gravel)

  • 1.6k on right entrance to Cooloolabin Dam Picnic area.
  • 1.7k T junction turn left on Mapleton Forest Drive (sign posted).

Mapleton Forest Drive (gravel)

  • 4.1k Bonyee Walk (palm grove with large Bunya Pines) (parking on right walk on left).
  • 4.8k Poole Dam with seasonal waterfall on right (signed Dangerous Waterfall).
  • 5.9k Moderately steep descent and ascent with shallow washouts noticed on the day.
  • 11.6k Mapleton Day use area (picnic facilities, walking trails and Trail bike areas).
  • 13.5k Return to civilisation and sealed roads.

Road Conditions

The road from Cooloolabin is loose surface single lane gravel. The road is occasionally steep and has many blind curves and crests. The surface is generally acceptable to all vehicles with standard family car clearance, but on our trip we found that there are two sections with moderately steep inclines with shallow washouts and pot holes. These are on the Point Glorious road and at 5.9k on the Mapleton Forest Drive, and require close attention to the road. 4x4s and soft off roaders will have little problem with these sections.

Drive to the conditions and your ability. Keep your speed down to 40 kph. Avoid sudden turns or hard braking and keep to the left on blind corners and crests. Don’t stop to take photos or sight see unless you can pull completely off the road and only do so well away from blind corners and crests.

After heavy, persistent rain it is advisable to contact the local Park Ranger for road conditions.

Out and About – Observations

Travelling north on the Bruce Highway has much to admire from Caboolture onwards in the form of exotic pine plantations and glimpses of the Glass House Mountains. As you approach Nambour the forests become tall dense eucalypt forest with occasional palm/rain forest elements in lowlands. Past Nambour the views are of the hinterlands overlooking green agricultural and pastoral lands.

Once Cooloolabin Road is reached the drive is mainly through tall open eucalypt forests dominated by magnificent Blackbutts (Eucalyptus pilularis). They are easily recognised by the straight trunks, which have a rough uniformly fibrous bark up to the lower branches and smooth white upper trunk and branches (half-bark).

The best places to observe specimens of this species are at the start of the Drive and at the end on the walks from the Mapleton Forest Day Use Area. There is a good viewing opportunity early to pull over at Nichols Road on the left of Cooloolabin road at 2.8k. It is possible to pull into Nichols Road. Get out for a minute and enjoy the trees.

Blackbutts can reach up to 70 metres tall and this species is the principle hardwood harvested in Queensland and New South Wales.

Cooloolabin Dam

View of water at Cooloolabin Dam from Buckby Road

Cooloolabin Dam from Buckby Road

A good view of Cooloolabin Dam is available at the turn off to Point Glorious Road (Buckby Road). There is ample space on the left to pull over and take photos or just pause for a while. This view is much better than at the Cooloolabin Day Use Area so if you want photos take them now.

Keep an eye out for flowering shrubs. When we did this Drive in August there were blue flowered Hoveas and yellow flowered Hairy Bush Peas (Pultinea villosa) in bloom and  in November there were small bushes of Blue Berry Ash (Elaeocarpus reticularis) with fringed white bell-shaped flowers.

Point Glorious

The last turn off on Buckby Road to Point Glorious Road (at 3.6k) comes up suddenly so keep a watch out for it. Point Glorious Road has a moderate descent and ascent and as you come to the bottom of the descent look to your right and notice the tops of palm trees indicating a moist gully with rain forest elements. There were shallow washouts and serious pot holes on this stretch.

After a right bend in the road the forest suddenly changes becoming more open and dominated by the smooth white barked Scribbly Gums with bracken ferns amongst the grass understorey. This forest continues to the Lookout, which has a toilet and a picnic table.

There are two viewing platforms at the Lookout. One faces north west towards Coorooy and the other north east towards Lake Weyba and Noosa. The close mountains in between are Mount Bottle and Glass with Mount Eerwah adjacent to them on the eastern side. The north west facing platform has abseiling anchor points over the cliff.


Things of note at Point Glorious –

  • The views obviously, and noticeably greener pastoral scenes in November than August. Point Glorious is about 360 metres high.
  • Yellow Hairy Bush Pea shrubs (Pultinea villosa) in flower (August).
  • Large smooth-barked Scribbly Gums predominating with some taller Blackbutts and Turpentines. November is the time of year that smooth and half-barked eucalypts shed their bark revealing a range of striking new bark ranging in colour from white through cream to rusty red. In Scribblies this is a clean cream colour and the common name is derived from the scribble-like markings on their bark. These marks are caused by Scribbly Gum Moth caterpillars which burrow between the old and new bark. New caterpillar feeding tunnels are revealed annually when the old bark is shed.
  • Grass trees and Bracken Ferns.
  • Many species of lichens on the rocks to the right of the car park as you face the Lookout. A bright yellow species predominates on some rocks. See how many types you can spot.
  • A trail aligned with the toilet leads off on the left as you face the Lookout to a right branch where tall Turpentine trees (Syncarpia glomulifera) appear. This track is slightly overgrown so keep your eye out for snakes. Turpentines are related to eucalypts and can be separated from Blackbutts using bark characteristics. In Blackbutts the uniformly fibrous bark is limited to the trunk with the upper branches (and trunk) smooth and white. In Turpentines the fibrous bark has a different texture, is longitudinally grooved and extends to the outer branches.

Tree Bark Gallery


Point Glorious Gallery

Retrace track back to Cooloolabin Road and reset trip meter to 0.

Cooloolabin Picnic area

The entrance to this stop is on the right at 1.6k and we noted limited facilities. It has a view of the Dam and we didn’t stop as better views occurred at the Buckby Road intersection.

At a T junction (1.7k) turn left onto Mapleton Forest Drive (clearly sign posted).

Mapleton Forestry Drive

This Drive has a number of stops at the Bonyee Walk, Pools Dam and the Mapleton Forest Day use area. One point of interest after the Pooles Dam stop is a moderately steep descent to a moister forest and a steep ascent to another dramatic forest change to Scribbly Gums with a heath understorey.

Bonyee Walk

At 4.1k the Bonyee Walk parking spot appears on the right flanked by two large Grey Gums (bark like rough sand paper or shark skin). The track is on the opposite side of the road. This walk of 400 metres return is an example of the palm forests with subtropical rain forest elements that occur in sheltered gullies.

The track descends gently to the palm forest which progresses to subtropical rain forest elements. Just after the palm forest is reached two very large Bunya Pines (Araucaria bidwillii) appear. Looking up to their massive crowns adds to the impact of their large trunks.

Things of note –

  • Special life forms – lichens, moss, large epiphytes (orchids and birds nest ferns) and semi epiphytes fringing tree trunks (ferns and Pothos).
  • Plank buttresses (not many and not large).
  • Woody vines.


The track then passes through the subtropical rain forest elements and reaches a sharp right turn at a large tree fern. A large white-trunked Flooded Gum is visible here in a clearing and is aptly named Eucalyptus grandis. The track continues on, gaining height gradually and the forest opens up again to eucalypts. Just after the large tree fern keep an eye out in the canopy for tangled woody vines and orchids on the smooth upper branches of a Brush Box tree (Lophostemon conferta).

Pooles Dam

Pooles Dam on the right at 4.8k is a bit “blink and you’ll miss it”. The Dam is named after the forest ranger who enlarged the waterhole to supply fire tankers. It has a short unformed track to a rocky slope and waterfall which on the day was dry, but would be attractive after rain. The signage warns that it is a dangerous waterfall (rocks slippery when wet).

Steep Descent

At 5.9k the road begins a moderately steep winding descent to a gully with moister forests and then begins a steep winding ascent to 400 metres. There is a dramatic change of forest towards the top of the slope. Scribbly gums with a heath understorey begin to dominate the forest accompanied by a few bloodwoods and Turpentines.

At the top of the slope the forest is almost exclusively composed of Scribbly Gums. In August this section of the road was lined with yellow-flowered Hairy Bush Pea (Pultinea villosa) and there were other wild flowers in the heath. In November the Scribbly Gums were shedding their bark and stepping out in their new creamy white finery. It was a wonderful sight both times.


The road continues and just after a break at an electricity power line clearing the forest reverts to Blackbutts.

Mapleton Day Use Area

The Mapleton Day Use Area is reached at 11.6k and is set amongst towering Blackbutts. It has tables, toilets and barbecue facilities. We stopped here for a late lunch.

This area has the 800 metre return Pilularis Forest Walk and 26k of off-road bike trails. The Pilularis Forest Walk has may excellent examples of tall, straight-trunked Blackbutts.

Sealed roads and civilisation was reached again at 13.5k at Mapleton.

Coffee and Accommodation

When travelling on the Blackall Range we always find time for coffee and scones with jam and cream at the Daily Grind, a small cafe on the Bli Bli Road just opposite the car park entrance to the Mapleton Hotel (26 37 26S 151 51 57E). The coffee is excellent and the scones light and fresh.

There is a variety of accommodation available in the Blackall Ranges from Holiday Parks to luxury, spoil-yourself venues. Our choice of spoil-yourself venues is Lillypillys Country Cottages and we can recommend it for food (Josef’s culinary skills are to die for), views (over Lake Baroon), luxury accommodation and hospitality (Josef and Adele are terrific hosts).  Many happy anniversaries have been celebrated at Lillypillys.

Recently Lillypillys has added a health Spa and Wellness Retreat to their services making for a more complete rest and recuperation break. Details of packages can also be found on their Facebook site.

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