Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
  • Last updated:
  • 28 Oct 2019

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is a living museum of plant and animal life. This 55-hectare subtropical rainforest is a remnant of the rainforests that once covered the Blackall Range and delights visitors with its tranquility and beauty.

Now there is even more to enjoy with the completion of the world-class Rainforest Discovery Centre in February 2017. 

Take a tour of the centre and find out why you should come for a visit or watch the story behind the Rainforest Discovery Centre


Visitors can enjoy a choice of relaxing walks through the rainforest track loops (1.3km – 1.7km) (well defined dirt track) and a range of interactive and multi-sensory experiences in the Rainforest Discovery Centre.

Open daily 9.00am–4.30pm

Open Anzac Day 12.00pm–4.30pm

Closed Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.


Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve offers a range of conservation education events and activities throughout the year. These include monthly 'Cairncross Conversations' with visiting experts, workshops and environmental art exhibitions. Check out the What's On calendar for details and to book for these events (search under the environment category).

MCSR BioBlitz shortlisted as a finalist in the 2019 Banksia Awards

In March 2019, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve hosted Australia’s first vertical BioBlitz, providing unprecedented access to the stratified rainforest. This unique research event aimed at studying and celebrating all life found from understory to emergent canopy in five living skyscrapers of the forest.  

The 2019 Banksia Sustainability Awards are the most prestigious sustainability awards in Australia and the longest-running sustainability awards in the world! They seek out and recognise innovation and leadership through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These aim to unite the world businesses, governments and citizens to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and protect the planet. The winners will be announced on 3 December 2019.


The Rainforest Discovery Centre has been designed with accessibility in mind and is suitable for all abilities. Walk trails are well defined dirt tracks or boardwalks through the forest, some of these offer an accessible experience for visitors with prams and wheelchairs.


A gold coin donation is appreciated. Donations help us preserve this special place for generations to come through research, conservation activities, reducing human impacts on the forest and community education.

Rainforest Discovery Centre

The $4.7 million world-class Rainforest Discovery Centre was opened 27 February 2017 by the Governor of Queensland, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC. 

Visitors can enjoy a range of activities at the reserve:

  • An elevated viewing deck - take in the breath-taking views of the heritage listed Glasshouse Mountains
  • Elevated Glider Gallery Boardwalk (150m) - this all ability walk snakes through the mid-storey of the rainforest, showing the reserve from a new perspective
  • A large open space park with barbecue’s and toilets is the perfect place for a picnic
  • The innovative and interactive playground (located in the open space area) is suitable for primary school age and younger. It features swings, spring toy and spinning cup, tree house, worm slide, vine net and tree climb pole with suspension bridge and boulder scramble
  • A brand new café with spectacular mountain views is due to open late July 2017. The café will be open for coffee and lunch and features indoor and outdoor seating and a fireplace
  • An outdoor learning facility including tiered seating for wildlife, reptile and critter presentations
  • The Cairncross theatrette - an extension of the Rainforest Discovery Centre for practical workshops and audiovisual displays.

Education Centre

A brand new interpretive centre offering a multi-sensory, interactive and imaginative experience for all ages. Discover the reserve’s plants and animals on your own or talk to one of the centres friendly and knowledgeable volunteers.

The centre features:

  • A dusk to dawn room - turn on your night eyes and discover the sights and sounds of the rainforest after dark.
  • Augmented reality - watch the walls of the centre come to life as you view them through augmented reality iPads.
  • Interactive touch screens and iPad apps - visitors can find out more about a range of flora and fauna on our interactive touchscreens. They can also mix their own rainforest sound track drawing upon a cacophony of birds, frogs and other sounds. This can be shared via social media links.
  • High quality microscopes - view the exceptional specimens found within the reserve.
  • Museum drawers - holding impressive collections of the Cairncross creepy crawlies.
  • Living exhibits and interactive interpretive displays.
  • Kids’ junior ranger eco-hunt challenge - kids can participate in the junior ranger challenge by find answers to the questions in the Eco-hunt challenge booklet. They can demonstrate their eco-ranger skills by following the clues to find the answers and looking for specific items on the walk, which can be captured on mobile devices.
  • Photo of the week - visitors are encouraged to share their memories of their experience through emailing photos or using the hashtag #mcsrpicoftheweek. The best photos will be showcased in the ‘what’s on’ monitor at the information desk.


New volunteers are welcome and an expanded range of volunteer activities will be available including research programs, specimen collections, leading guided walks and setting up displays. Please visit the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve website for more information.

Schools and organised groups

Schools and organised groups should pre-book their visit to avoid clashing with other groups. Visit the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve website for more information. No dogs are allowed in the reserve (except for disability companions).

Community involvement

The reserve is a centre for conservation, learning and partnerships. Council works closely with the community to:

  • conserve and connect the area's habitats and landscapes
  • undertake research
  • provide advice on reserve management
  • help visitors learn about the reserve and enjoy their visit.

Further information

For more information, visit the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve website.

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