YouTube video of this epic hike: https://youtu.be/tRpHqgUMQAM
This was another bucket list item ticked off. I wanted to see what all the hype was about concerning the Rat-a-tat sign, and campsite.... so off I went and trailran it.
I did the Albert River Circuit (ARC) in a clockwise direction taking the second ARC exit off Border Track which was only about 30m past the first ARC turnoff. I haven't taken this exit before so it was a first for me. Took me about 1hr to trailrun to Cominan Lookout which has a great vantage point.
However, about 400m further down I came to Echo Point Lookout which was spectacular. Great views to a whole host of mountains including Mt Warning and the peaks of Mt Cougal. Wind was blowing a gale today and it was amazing to see its effects as it blew around the whole valley.
I then went 200m further down ARC and came to Echo Point Campsite, and had a quick chat with three hikers who had camped the windy night and were enjoying their morning brew. From this campsite, I was not certain which route to take to begin my journey to Rat-a-tat sign and campsite. Because I didn't want to be intrusive to the campers and their site, I saw a trail heading off to the righthand side. So that's the one I took - which was the wrong one! If I looked more carefully, I would have seen the correct trail which led off to the lefthand side of the campsite (the one a camper was setup near but I didn't want to seem too nosey searching out the place).
So, in any instance I took the wrong trail which turned out to be an old hiking track that was way too overgrown and about 400m in it was abundantly clear that I was heading off course. So, checking my gps route, I corrected my line and bushbashed across until I hit what was the obvious footpad trail. You will see my bushbash correction on the GPX file.
This route is not maintained at all, quite rough and lots of trees fallen over the "track" which at various points can lead you off course. This happened to me at several points, however it becomes clear soon enough and easy enough to correct. Overall, the trail is ok and reminded me of the Mt Superbus trail to the Lincoln Bomber Wreck. Lots of tree hopping or climbing under involved as I traversed Mt Worendo and then Mt Wupawn. This segment will test your navigational ability so be sure to have a compass, and GPS device handy. I personally use MAPS.ME on my phone which worked ok and was able to keep me on course (I also carry a GARMIN GPS Emergency Sat Tracker, but usually find MAPS.ME works a treat almost everywhere I've hiked...just sayin').
After hiking for around 1.5hrs (due to going off track and correcting), I suddenly came to the "Rat-a-tat" sign. I have to admit that I was kind of underwhelmed as it was such a small metal sign. Not sure why, but I was always expecting (from pictures others have posted) that this sign was much larger. I then began thinking that perhaps there is another larger sign further down, lol.... this isn't the case. This was the sign and I had my moment with her. 💋
I then followed the direction of the arrow on the sign and only about say 50m downhill I came to the Rat-a-tat Campsite - which is where I'm assuming the old Rat-a-tat Hut hiker's 3-walled tin shelter used to stand. Obviously, it's gone sometime back in the late 90's or something from what I've read, but the campsite here is large and plenty of room for the kids, parents and grandparents to have a great time. Go for it!
There is a dryish creek just behind the campsite, however about 30m downstream, there is beautiful flowing water to get as much water as you need if you decide to camp out here. The site is actually a very nice and spacious area - I might come back with my boy just to do that.
I then returned all the way back to Echo Point Campsite which only took me 1hr - it certainly was much easier and faster backtracking and I could see where I actually took the wrong entry point. The correct entry from the campsite (the lefthand one, remember?) has a typical National Park warning sign about 50m in. There was no trailrunning for me here as its too difficult for that. If I had to do it again, I would factor 1hr each way (now that I know the trail) with solid hiking - no grandpa rests!
I then continued clockwise up ARC and came across a "plethora" of beautiful waterfalls. The ones with signs included: Gwahlahla Falls, Joolbahla Falls, Gurrgunngulli Falls, Mirror Falls, Echo Falls (from where you can see the top of Thunder Falls. This path also crosses over the cascading Lightning Creek which obviously goes down to Thunder & Lightning Falls (see my YouTube Video on that hike - that's my toughest and best hike yet to "The Hidden Gem of Lamington National Park"!)
Once past the many waterfalls, its up, up, up as you zig-zag up the trail. I came across numerous more waterfalls which cascade down Lightning Creek as you go up. Probably about 3 or 4 waterfalls on this creek as you go up ARC here. Legs were definitely feeling it as I finally made it back to Border Track, and then trail ran back to the carpark at O'Reilly's. The trek from Echo Point Campsite to the carpark took me a smidge over 2hrs to do - that's with the uphill involving walking/jogging, and then trailrunning as soon as it was downhill.
I did this in late May 2021, and took 2.5L of water, and consumed about 1.5L due to the cool weather.
Total moving time for me on this one was 6hrs 3mins and 27.5kms. I left the carpark at 6.30am and returned 1.50pm (obviously includes morning tea at Rat-a-tat Campsite and numerous videography along the way). I've rated this trail as 'difficult' not because the ARC is difficult (that's actually so easy to follow its not funny), but because of the trail from Echo Point campsite is actually tough and you will go off-track at numerous points. It's just the way it is, so make sure you are savvy with your nav skills.
I hope this helps anyone wondering about this route to the Rat-a-tat sign & Campsite. I only saw minimal/scant notes/photos and nil videos online about this hike, so I'll place mine upon YouTube/Jelbuilder for your planning if you decide to do it. Don't forget to hit LIKE on the video and SUBSCRIBE to my channel if you like the trails and different things I get up to. Also, feel free to message me for any info if needed but the video will speak a thousand words, so to speak. Enjoy!