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The Gold Coast Hinterland - best things to do and see

A waterfall

Craig Tansley | January 20, 2022

The Gold Coast is famous for its 52 kilometres of beaches, but that’s just the start of what’s on offer. Drive a few kilometres west (that’s literally all it takes) and you’ll be in the middle of sub-tropical, ancient rainforest, ideal for hiking or mountain biking or just spending time at a sun-drenched café or farmers market.

Make sure you check out the following areas within the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Springbrook National Park

Springbrook is a nature lover’s paradise, but perhaps its best attribute is it suits those who prefer a quick stroll from the car as much as any uber-fit adventurist looking for a day-long tough bush hike.

It’s just a short drive from the town of Mudgeeraba (30 minutes). Springbrook National Park is one of four World Heritage-listed national parks in the hinterland, all part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, the oldest tract of rainforest left on Earth. You’ll see species of flora and fauna here that are tens of millions of years old. And some of it is so accessible that you’ll barely need to leave your car.

Easy to access look-outs

You should see the views from up here: every look-out is perched along the Springbrook Plateau, looking back to the coast. If you’d prefer to take a scenic drive with easy strolls from your car, check out these look-outs:

A mountain range.
views from The Best of All Lookout

Best of All Lookout

As the name suggests, look-outs don’t get better than this anywhere in Australia. Take a short 600 metre return stroll through ancient Antarctic beech forest to an opening where you’ll look right across northern New South Wales, with stunning views over Mt Warning (Wollumbin).

Canyon Lookout

This one is just 40 metres return! Simply open the doors and get out of your car for awe-inspiring views over the sheer walls of the plateau you’re driving along down over Twin and Rainbow Falls all the way to the Pacific Ocean beyond. You can wear thongs on this hike!

Goomoolahra Falls Lookout

You don’t have to walk further than 200 metres to see this stunning view. You’ll have views from the top of the 60-metre-high Goomoolanhra Falls. On a clear day, you’ll see north-east all the way to Brisbane’s Moreton Bay.

Dancing Waters Café

Combine your strolling and driving with lunch or afternoon tea at a café that epitomises Springbrook’s sleepy forest vibe. Sit outside on the sunny deck and eat from a menu which makes the most of the region’s great local produce. You can’t go past the hummus toasties, though the cakes made from organic kamut or spelt flour and the hot fluffy scones are legendary.

Hikes you’ll have to leave the car behind for

Relax, the hikes in Springbrook aren’t overly arduous. Try these three out, you won’t be disappointed.

Purling Brook Falls Circuit

This is Springbrook’s signature hike… for a reason. Sure, there’s 265 steps, but it’s only four kilometres (return) and the trade-off is you’ll get to see one of Queensland’s tallest (and most impressive) waterfalls, Purling Brook Falls (109 metres high). Walk in a clockwise direction for the best views as you descend into the gorge. For bonus points, walk an extra kilometre for a dip at Warringa Pools.

Twin Falls Circuit

This one’s just four kilometres (return) too. Easy. The stunning views of the Springbrook plateau are well worth the toil, and you’ll walk through thick rainforest on the valley floor. There’s more bang for your buck here, with four waterfalls to see along the way, and rock pools to cool off in.

Warrie Circuit

Want a challenge? This is Springbrook National Park’s longest hike (at 17km). Regarded as one of south-east Queensland’s best day walks, you’ll be walking through sub-tropical rainforest in a waterfall-rich valley. What’s more, because most visitors stick to the shorter walks, you’ll have it all to yourself.

Cougal Cascades in Currumbin Valley.

There’s plenty of wildlife to see in our hinterland.

Purling Brook Falls is a short 4km circuit.

But you barely even need to leave the coast behind: check these areas out

Springbrook might be a half hour drive away, but other hinterland gems start just a few kilometres away from the Pacific Motorway. Get yourself to these (mostly) hidden gems.

Nerang’s hikes and mountain bike trails

Nerang National Park starts one kilometre from Nerang. Overlooked by many for the better known national parks beyond (like Springbrook and Lamington National Parks), the park contains areas of international conservation significance, where you’ll find threatened fauna species like koalas, greater gliders, Richmond birdwing butterflies, powerful owls and tusked frogs. There’s trails all through the park here for hikers, with the longest a 20 kilometre return hike through dry rainforest and open eucalypt forest.

There’s also 1700 hectares of mountain bike terrain – part of the 2018 Commonwealth Games course. There’s over 20 kilometres of tracks to choose between for everyone from beginners to experts. There’s plenty of challenging single track trails through rock glades, drop-offs and creek beds to test every rider.

Mudgeeraba’s hidden hikes and mountain bike trails

Upper Mudgeeraba Conservation Area

It might be only five kilometres from Mudgeeraba (which is only just off the Pacific Motorway), but the Upper Mudgeeraba Conservation Area is the hidden gem you have to see. This tiny wildlife refuge area (it’s only 247 hectares) is like a bonsai version of what you’ll see much further away, deep in World Heritage-listed national parks. There’s many rare and threatened plants and animals here within eucalypt forest (perfect habitat for vulnerable glossy black cockatoos and koalas) and patches of endangered Blackbutt open forest. There’s some great steep terrain trails through open forests along the ridgelines that will take hikers deep into rainforest.

Boomerang Farm Bike Park

It’s another 10 minutes drive to one of Queensland’s best gravity mountain bike parks from the Upper Mudgeeraba Conservation Area.  The park has 14 trails for every kind of rider. There’s everything here from easy green runs to intermediate and advanced runs with a cool café/ bar at the bottom.

Currumbin Valley

Take a drive to one of the Gold Coast’s most untouched and picturesque places – just a few kilometres from Currumbin’s famous beaches. Just look for the kangaroos in green paddocks and the escarpments above the road. Here honesty fruit stalls and farmers selling moo poo for $5 dominate the roadway. Check out these great attractions:

The Border Track

This hike starts barely five minutes’ drive from the beach at Currumbin and starts within a residential housing area, then gets wild in minutes. Drive to Currumbin Waters, and park on a residential street at Border Drive North. Soon you’ll be hiking fire trails and single trail dirt tracks on a buffer zone between Queensland and New South Wales. Paved streets soon give way to rainforest, with views over the beaches. You’ll have trail runners and mountain bikers for company.

Currumbin Valley Cafes / Organic Farms

Harking back to the days of old, check out two of Currumbin Valley’s best weekend hang-outs, gathering places for the local community and visitors in the know.

Currumbin Valley Harvest

Drive almost to the end of Currumbin Valley and you’ll find Currumbin Valley Harvest, the passion project of a long-term local couple. Here you’ll find produce sourced from local farmers of the area – and you can pick your own from gardens on-site. Open on weekends only, come sit beside a running creek and drink organic teas and coffees, or take away artesian water sourced on-site.

Freemans Organic Farm

Perched on Tomewin Road on the south edge of Currumbin Valley (beside the NSW border), this is Australia’s best positioned fruit and vegetable market. Home to the same family of farmers for over 100 years, there’s a café open on weekends and you can buy produce grown organically on-site (children can also pick their own strawberries in season). Built on the top of the Currumbin Ridge, you’ll look out across the entire hinterland. There’s live music and yoga too.

A child picking strawberries
Picking strawberries (Photo credit: Freeman’s Organic Farm)

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