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7 short family walks on the Gold Coast kids will love!

Emily Toxward | February 3, 2021

Taking young children on short walks and adventures in and around the Gold Coast is a sure-fire way to help them develop a lifelong love of nature and wildlife.

The secret to success is to be prepared and ensure walks are family-friendly and offer toddlers plenty of sights and sounds.

Here are 7 short family walks you need to check out!

Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area-Melaleuca Boardwalk to Koala Trail, via Rain Tree Glen – Coombabah

A great place for families to start is this flat and easy nature walk through paperbark wetlands to the kangaroo paddock. You’ll see eastern grey kangaroos and red face wallabies. Once you get to the Koala trail, look up to try and spot one snoozing amongst the Eucalypts. Use your phone to download or take a photo of the map before heading off as it’s a big park.

Locals tip: Keep in mind there are no toilets here, and insect repellent is a must because of nearby wetlands and mangroves.


Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area, Coombabah.


Glossy Black walk to Rainforest Trail, Gold Coast Hinterland Regional Park – Mudgeeraba

A popular Gold Coast nature trail, this park has lots of shaded short walks and has toilets, picnic areas, a barbecue spot and a covered playground. Glossy Black is a short loop that takes you through different forest types and kids will love trying to spot the iridescent green endangered Richmond Birdwing Butterfly.

Dogs are allowed: Your four-legged friends are welcome on-leash but there’s also a fenced exercise area.

Hinterland Regional Park Mudgeeraba. Image credit: @busywithbub
Richmond birdwing butterfly. Image credit: @hinterlandrainforestretreat
Hinterland Regional Park Mudgeeraba. Image credit: @markmishtravels

Federation Walk Coastal Reserve, Seaworld Drive – Main Beach

Idyllically located near the coastline, this 70-hectare parkland has a 3km trail from Phillip Park car park to The Spit; toilets are at both ends. Small children won’t last the full track, but there are short walks through a variety of coastal vegetation such as woodland, open forest and grassland. It’s a haven for rainbow bee-eaters, honey-eaters, quails, wrens as well as birds of prey.

Be careful: Lots of runners speed along the 3km trail so keep to the left and don’t forget hats, water and sunscreen!

Federation Walk Coastal Reserve. Image credit: @gcnate
Federation Walk Coastal Reserve. Image credit @destinationgoldcoast
Federation Walk Coastal Reserve. Image credit: @travellog_tv

Phil Hill Environmental Park (sign-posted Jabiru Island Park), Oxley Drive – Hope Island

A hidden gem in the northern Gold Coast, this 330-metre boardwalk takes you above the water and through mangroves to the Coomera River. Toddlers will love watching the seagulls, collecting sticks and probably get wet. So pack a picnic rug, snacks, swimmers and a change of clothes because you’re bound to stay longer than planned. You can find more Gold Coast nature trails here.

Amenities: Toilets are located at the car park to clean sandy feet before heading home.


Phil Hill Environmental Park, Hope Island.


Tugun Hill Conservation Area, Murray Street – Tugun

With a return circuit of about 900 metres, this is short family walk forms part of the Currumbin to Cobaki wetlands habitat corridor. Its diverse range of flora and fauna makes it an area of significance for nature conservation. The main trail is pram friendly but there’s stairs in some parts.

Hint: If you’ve got kids who love planes, why not stop off at the nearby Coolangatta Airport and watch them fly overhead! You can park at the Tugun Skateboard Park.

Tugun Hill Conservation Area, Tugun.

Tugun Hill Conservation Area, Tugun.
Tugun Hill Conservation Area, Tugun.

Schuster Park, Heather Street, Northern Peninsula Section – Tallebudgera

Head to the northern peninsula end of the walking track and boardwalk and you’ll traverse through Melaleuca woodland, she-oak open forest, salt marsh and mangrove communities. Shorebirds, songbirds and other birds frequent these areas. Nearby activities include shoreline fishing, horse riding and an off-leash dog area.

Remember: Due to the wetlands nearby, it’s wise to apply mosquito spray liberally before leaving the car park.


Schuster Park, Tallebudgera.


Elanora Wetlands Reserve – Elanora

This 20-hectare area is managed primarily for conservation and is a place for your family to escape the chaos and get back to nature. Look out for sugar gliders, common tree snakes, and a butterfly-friendly garden in the wetlands area. Before you leave home why not draw up a scavenger hunt list and together tick off items you find.

Connect with nature: The city’s Naturally GC Program also has free and low-cost environmental workshops and adventures for kids of all ages.

Elanora Wetlands Reserve. Image credit: @green_gc
Elanora Wetlands Reserve. Image credit: @wild_nature_gc
Elanora Wetlands Reserve. Image credit: @zoehawhite

Bushwalking tips for families with toddlers

  • Check your prams brakes and ensure tyres are in good shape and not flat before leaving home.
  • With young families the key to short walk success is not to expect too much of them; slow and steady wins the race.
  • Always pack sunscreen and hats and bring extra food, water and clothes in case your trip takes longer than predicted or the weather changes.
  • Give your toddler time to explore and go off the track (if safe) and remember comfy walking shoes are a must.
  • Always pack a band-aid to fix scraped knees or stubbed toes – you don’t want a tumble to put an end to your walk.
  • Teach little ones to look after nature by discouraging them from pulling leaves off trees or snapping branches.
  • You’ll never regret having a blanket or towel in your bag when bushwalking with young ones.