Natural Bridge's Cave Creek restricted access area
Since March 2008, the creek and creek bank at Natural Bridge section of Springbrook National Park has been a restricted access area. We appreciate your co-operation in protecting this special area and being responsible for your safety.
Why close access to the creek and creek bank?
Natural Bridge section is an extremely popular tourist destination. Commercial and independent visitation totals about 260,000 people per year.
- Natural Bridge has a history of serious injury and death associated with the cave and creek. This includes reports of three serious injuries from slipping on rocks since 1998 and the drowning and near drowning of two visitors in 2004.
- Prohibiting access to Cave Creek and the creek bank will reduce the threat of injury or death due to:
- slips and falls
- drowning/near drowning
- hypothermia or shock from unexpected water temperature.
- Cave Creek lies beneath a section of potentially unstable rock face, which is predicted to send rocks into the creek if it falls. This rock face is monitored by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) staff and when required, geotechnical engineers.
- Prohibiting access to the creek will substantially reduce the threat to visitor safety.
- Entering the creek bank vegetation and swimming in the creek harms the glow-worm and microbat population as these activities affect their food. Glow-worms and microbats rely on insects for food. Insect larvae and eggs live in the silt of the creek bank and when trampled by people walking along the creek bank, are washed away during a wet season.
- Pollution from visitors using insect repellent, sunscreen and leaving rubbish in the creek harms the insect food source of the glow-worms and microbats. Cave Creek is home to several frog species including the rare Australian marsupial frog, which may also be affected by visitor pollution.
- Pollution from visitors is also detrimental to the water catchment.
Aesthetics and overcrowding
- During summer months when access was allowed, the creek bank at the entrance to the cave often became overcrowded with visitors picnicking and swimming. Overcrowding reduces the natural aesthetics of Natural Bridge.
Map of restricted access area
Restricted access fencing has been installed between the upper and lower bridges of Cave Creek. Swimming in the creek and access to the creek bank is prohibited—penalties apply!
Alternative swimming locations
There are two alternatives for swimming near Natural Bridge:
- Bochow Park—a City of Gold Coast Council park, 4km north towards Nerang.
The site offers easy access to Nerang River, electric barbecues, open space and picnic tables.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers patrol Natural Bridge and do compliance and permit checks on commercial tours. Persons found within the restricted access area will be fined under the Nature Conservation (Protected Areas Management) Regulation 2006.
Natural Bridge values
Natural Bridge section of Springbrook National Park forms part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.
Natural Bridge cave is geologically significant due to the erosion process involved in its formation. It contains one of Australia’s largest glow-worm colonies, attracting more than 200 visitors a night.
Natural Bridge section has pristine subtropical rainforest, containing epiphytes, palms, tree ferns and a canopy of black bean, brushbox, giant stinging trees, strangler figs and lilly pillies. It is home to an array of rare and threatened fauna and flora, including smooth davidsonia, small-leaved hazelwood, the cascade treefrog, tusked frog, sooty owl and koala.
- Read more about the nature, culture and history of this area.
History of Cave Creek access
Before 2000, access to Natural Bridge cave and Cave Creek was unrestricted. Many people swam in the cave and jumped through the hole.
During 2000, the upper section of Cave Creek was declared a restricted access area under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. This prohibited access to the cave roof and stopped the practice of jumping through the roof.
The park now predominantly attracts families, bushwalkers and sightseers interested in the park’s geological and natural features. To further protect the park’s natural values and for public safety, all access to Cave Creek is prohibited.
Restricted access fencing has been installed between the upper and lower bridges.