Words & Photography: Jessica Palmer, travel 3Sixty° travelsmith
Maybe it was the waterfalls or the magnificent viewing areas. Maybe it was the hiking trails and the chance to see some of the oldest trees in Australia. Maybe it was the pretty glow-worms that lit up once the sun went down. Either way, I fell instantly in love with Springbrook National Park and can’t wait to visit again.
Twenty-three million years ago, the eruption of a volcano formed the beginnings of a forest wilderness. This wilderness is known today as Springbrook National Park, located in the Gold Coast hinterlands. Swapping the city for the cool mountain air is as easy as a 45-minute drive from the famous Gold Coast beaches on the East Coast of Australia. I explored this natural wander-land recently with my husband and two young children. You can, too!
Many of the natural attractions here are both family-friendly and free, with well signed walking paths. They are accessible by children (sometimes with a little help), and you don’t need to be super fit to explore Springbrook National Park. It is an ideal place to visit for those who love nature, walking and beautiful scenery.
The Natural Bridge Walk
This is an easy 1km walk through a lovely ancient rainforest. Even when it’s fairly hot, the shaded rainforest ensures the walk itself is a comfortable temperature. The walk takes about an hour with the main highlight being a natural bridge, waterfall and cave.
If you take a torch and visit at night, you will witness thousands of glow worms lining the cave. Technically, they are not actually worms, but the larval stage of a small fly. Either way, it’s a memorable sight to see with the best viewing times between December and March.
The walk is easily achievable by all ages. However, younger kids might need assistance with the stairs if they are not yet steady on their feet. My four-year-old managed it with minimal assistance and even my 18-month-old managed half the walk before asking to be carried.
There are toilets and shaded picnic tables here. Expect to share your picnic area with some hopeful scrub turkeys.
Twin Falls Circuit
This 4km trail is not to be missed! There are opportunities to cool down in rock pools, walk past rock clefts and stand behind waterfalls. If your kids are young, you will definitely need a baby or toddler carrier and a moderate level of fitness to carry them when they get tired.
If you follow the track anti-clockwise, signage guides will take you through five different forest types. You will walk amongst ancient palms and tree ferns, and take in the view from some fantastic look outs.
There is no rush, and if you don’t stop for a swim under the waterfalls, the walk should take around two hours.
Purling Brook Falls Circuit
This hike is 4km return and passes through open eucalypt forest before descending into the gorge to view the falls from underneath. Crossing a suspension bridge brings you back to the picnic area. Note that this walk can sometimes be closed after heavy rain.
At 17km return, you will need to allow around 6 hours for this walk. It follows the base of the cliffs until the waterfalls, and then descends into beautiful rainforest where you will cross several picturesque creeks. Due to the length of the walk, you will need to ensure you are well prepared with food, drink and a first aid kit.
LOOKOUTS AND SHORT WALKS
If you’re not feeling up to a hike, here are a few short walks to some great lookouts.
CANYON LOOKOUT This is a great view for minimal effort at only 30m return. The parking lot is right next to the lookout and you can also start the Twin Falls and Warrie Circuit walks from here.
GOOMOOLAHRA FALLS LOOKOUT This pretty 200m return track passes through the Goomoolahra picnic area to several lookouts.
BEST OF ALL LOOKOUT (yes, that really is its name) Parking spots are limited for this popular 600m return walk through 2,000-year-old Antarctic Beech trees. Get in early!
SPRINGBROOK NATIONAL PARK INFORMATION
Springbrook National Park is a popular day trip from the Gold Coast. However, if you have a couple of days spare, it is worth staying in the pretty Gold Coast hinterland area so you can see all that it has to offer. Accommodation options range from National Park campgrounds to luxury retreats. There are plenty of picnic areas, some with BBQ facilities and plenty of nature to immerse yourself in.
You can visit any time of year. During the hotter months of December to February; it is popular with locals escaping the heat of the coastal areas. During the colder months of June to August, daytime temperatures are perfect for trail walking.
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