The Seven Sisters Trail – Yungaburra, FNQ

Stage One of the Seven Sisters Trail is a 16.4km “gravel” route that crosses Peterson Creek and circumnavigates the iconic volcanic cinder cones near Yungaburra on quiet country roads and trails. While the Trail is primarily designed as a safe recreational route for cyclists, the scenery and terrain will also attract walkers to many sections of the route.

Stage One is now open and signposted with the Seven Sisters Trail signs. The section through Peterson Creek from Mulgrave Road to Denny Road South is only open in dry conditions, and includes a wet feet crossing of Peterson Creek. An alternative (dry feet) route is available via the Peterson Creek Swingbridge (Penda St) and a 1km stint on the Gillies Range Road. Work is underway to upgrade the existing path through Peterson Creek and secure a bridge crossing between Mulgrave Rd and Denny Road South. Signs have been erected at Mulgrave Road and Davis Road showing the (temporary) alternate route using the swingbridge, Williams Lane and the Gillies Range Road.

Take time along the trail to enjoy the beautiful scenery and farmland views across the Tablelands to Tinaroo Dam and Atherton. Stop in for a break at the amazing Curtain Fig Tree, before returning to enjoy a coffee and a wander in Yungaburra township.

Development History

The Seven Sisters Trail was proposed by a local cycling group, the SAOs (Sixty and Over’s) in 2018. The SAOs had made numerous representations to The Tablelands Regional Council and other government bodies for cycling infrastructure over several years, and their original concept for the Seven Sisters Trail included a network of cycling trails using quiet roads, dirt roads and trails to form 72km of safe cycling routes. SAOs made numerous representations to TRC for the progression of the trail over several years, and received initial approval for the Project Concept in 2019.

TRC required that the project be progressed by SAOs through the OnQ Project Management Framework, which is a multi-stage process requiring numerous investigations, submissions any works being undertaken. The Seven Sisters Project has since been project managed and developed by volunteers from TORA (Tablelands Outdoor Recreation Assn Inc). TORA has worked through the further administrative stages required by TRC including the completion of an Options Analysis (2020), which was approved by TRC Councillors in November 2020 (five in favour, two against).

The Options Analysis recommended a two staged approach to the Seven Sisters Trail, beginning with a 16.4km loop around Yungaburra. Over the following two years, TORA volunteers worked with TRC officers to secure an Operational Works Permits (2020-2023) for the construction of Stage One of the trail through the Peterson Creek section. A signage plan for the loop was developed, which included obtaining a Road Corridor Permit from Transport and Main Roads (2022) to erect signage on State Controlled Roads. Signage installation was completed by TRC in February 2023.

TORA have secured funding through a federal grant from the Stronger Communities Programme (2021 – $7,200) and the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (2021 – $8,000). The majority of this money has been spent on purchasing signage and employing TRC to install the signage. In addition, a (temporary) corflute sign has been installed at the Yungaburra Visitor Information Centre and a concrete curb crossing has been built on Mulgrave Road.

The remaining funds will be spent on trail construction in the Peterson Creek area. Volunteers from TORA, SAOs and Yungaburra Landcare have been active in building, maintaining and re-vegetating sections of the Trail through the Peterson Creek area for several years. However, it is only since TORA has been successful in securing an Operational Works Permit from TRC in February 2023 that formal trail construction is permissible. Unfortunately, the 2023 wet season is delaying further construction work on the trail.

The Seven Sisters Trail Reference Group was formed in early 2023 with representatives from Yungaburra Landcare, Yungaburra Men’s Shed, TORA, SAOs, the Yungaburra Association (Inc), Rail Trails Australia and the Yungaburra community. This group has been active in giving input into the further development of the trail and representing it to their local community. This is truly a community inspired, developed and maintained trail for everyone to enjoy.

Future Plans

Cyclists and outdoor lovers have long dreamed of a safe cycling and walking route between Atherton and Yungaburra, with a dedicated pedestrian/cycling bridge across the Barron River that intersects the northern and southern Tablelands. This bridge would connect the existing network of trails currently used by cyclists to create a larger-scale and interconnected cycling system to showcase the attractions of the Tablelands.  This system would highlight the many “gravel” riding opportunities available on routes that follow unsealed paths, roads and trails away from heavy traffic.  It would also add to the network for road cyclists who prefer to ride in quiet scenic areas close to nature.  With its wealth of gravel roads, beautiful scenery and quiet places, the Tablelands Region is well-positioned to take advantage of all forms of recreational cycling.

Stage Two of the Seven Sisters Trail is a 12.3km link from the Yungaburra Loop to Atherton including a bridge crossing of the Barron River at Tognola Road.  There are also plans to include a 1.7km side path through rainforest to view the Barron River at Picnic Crossing, a 1.4km side trip on a gravel road to Hastie Swamp Bird Hide and sign-posted links with Malanda, Peeramon and Lake Eacham on quiet bitumen back roads.

When completed, the 28.7 km Seven Sisters Trail will connect with the Rail Trail from Atherton to Walkamin (20.5 km), the Kairi Tolga “Farm Roads” Loop (28 km) and the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park (55km).  The total length of the Tablelands gravel trail network will then be over 130km.  A network of this scope will be a major cyclotourism and walking attraction for the region and a valuable recreational resource for local residents. However, further development of this trail is currently required to follow the existing OnQ Project Management Framework, including further representations to the Tablelands Regional Council for approvals. It’s a great dream for the future. Let’s keep chipping away at it.

"No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle" Winston Churchill