Queensland National Parks in the Gold Coast hinterland offer bushwalks where you can refresh in cool mountain air, immerse your senses in lush green forests and feast your eyes on breathtaking scenery. It’s a great way to fill in a spare morning or afternoon—two hours is all you need.
We’ve chosen five bushwalks that will get your heart pumping and senses tingling, leaving you feeling invigorated and energised—the perfect antidote to too much lolling-on-the-beach time!
Curtis Falls and Lower Creek circuit
(2.5km, 1hr return)
Curtis Falls | © Tourism and Events Queensland
Drive about an hour inland from the Gold Coast and you’ll discover a ‘land island’ or plateau of ancient lava, known as Tamborine Mountain. Head to the Joalah section of Tamborine National Park to immerse yourself in this luxuriant landscape. Lace up your walking shoes and set out on the Curtis Falls track, wandering through wet eucalypt forest beneath towering flooded gums. Then feel the chill as you trek into lush rainforest, beneath huge crow’s nest and staghorn ferns high in the canopy.
From the viewing platform, capture an Insta-perfect photo of Curtis Falls cascading into a clear rockpool, before exploring further on the Lower Creek circuit. Rock-hop across creek crossings and gaze at basalt boulders and columns, reminders of Tamborine Mountain’s volcanic past. And, feeling rejuvenated after your walk, you’ll be up for yet more exploring! Tamborine is famed for its arts and crafts, galleries, wineries and restaurants…
Palm Grove circuit
(2.7km, 1hr return)
Palm Grove circuit | © Lightcapturer
With so much on offer in Tamborine National Park, one walk is just not enough! In the Palm Grove section—named for its distinctive piccabeen palms—you’ll find the shady Palm Gove circuit, where you can delve into lush and diverse rainforest. Gaze up at emergent strangler figs, admire distinctively-buttressed yellow carabeens and spot colourful fungi on the forest floor. Pause in peaceful groves of piccabeen palms and look for their ‘snorkels’—exposed aerial roots that allow them to breathe in these waterlogged soils!
Feeling up to a longer walk? Add on Jenyns circuit that leads out into drier eucalyptus forest and discover a grove of ancient cycads. This extends your hike to 4.8km, 1.5hrs return, leaving you ample time for exploring more of Tamborine Mountain’s inducements of the ‘foodie’ kind!
(5km, 1.5hr return)
Tullawallal circuit | Lightcapturer © Queensland Government
A little over an hour from the Gold Coast, Lamington National Park lies on the southern edge of the Scenic Rim, a chain of mountains that stretches south across the state border. Lamington’s cool temperate rainforest is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Navigate to the Binna Burra section of the park—your first port of call is the visitor centre where you can obtain a Lamington National Park Discovery Guide.
Now you’re ready to start exploring! Follow the Border track for 1.9km then branch onto the Tullawallal circuit and step into a cool world of filtered green light. You’ll feel as though you’ve travelled back in time as you discover the remnants of ancient Gondwanan forests that once covered the continent—the pocket of Antarctic beech on the summit is the northern-most location of these trees in Australia, and one of the most accessible! Settle in with a picnic in one of the Binna Burra day-use areas to complete a perfect day in the hills.
Python Rock track
(4.9km, 1.5hr return)
Python Rock track | Anna Osetroff © Queensland Government
Explore another side of Lamington National Park when you head to Green Mountains (also known as O’Reilly’s) on the western side of the Lamington Plateau. Be prepared for a drive of around 1.5hrs from the Gold Coast with 36km of narrow winding road before you reach your destination. Call into the national park information centre to grab a Discovery Guide then head a short way downhill to the start of the Python Rock track.
Step into a green, green wonderland of World Heritage rainforest that gives way to open eucalypt forest. The views from Python Rock lookout will take your breath way—Morans Falls, Castle Crag and the Lost World stretch out before you. Marvel at the result of millions of years of erosion that created the valley and intricate escarpments and try your hand at capturing a photo that does it justice. Come prepared for a post-walk nosh-up as the Green Mountains picnic area boasts electric barbecues and tables where you can easily while away the rest of the day…
Twin Falls circuit
(4km, 2hrs return)
Twin Falls circuit | © Tim Jordan Photography
In Springbrook National Park, not even an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast, you can stand atop the remnant of an ancient shield volcano on the Springbrook Plateau, and enjoy views that stretch on forever. Visit Gauriemabah (place of stories) on Old School Road, and collect a Springbrook National Park Discovery Guide, then set off for the Tallanbana trailhead or Canyon lookout, where you’ll find the start of the Twin Falls circuit. Grab your hiking boots (and a warm jacket) then trek into another realm—lush cool rainforest and breathtaking waterfalls cascading into crystal-clear rock pools.
Pass through huge rock clefts, palms and tree ferns in this World Heritage-listed forest. Look for the smooth, pink bark of the brush box—similar trees in this World Heritage area are 1500 years old! Make sure you check out the Canyon lookout before you leave for unbeatable views of Twin and Rainbow falls, the sheer walls of The Canyon and the ocean beyond—all the result of millions of years of erosion and weathering! Before you go, make sure you download your MyRanger app so you can enjoy a virtual ranger guided tour! Get up close and personal with some of the park’s unique animals through the Augmented Reality experiences. It’s like having a personal ranger in the palm of your hand…
Twin Falls circuit | © Tourism and Events Queensland
Good. Check out these links for more information:
Always check Park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions before you go.
And of course if you’re really motivated, you’ll be keen to check out the 54km Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk , your once-in-a-lifetime experience to walk along the rim of an ancient volcano!
Now, grab a good pair of walking shoes, a rain jacket and a water bottle and find your refreshment in the ‘green behind the gold’. What’s keeping you?