See & do
Waterfalls, hikes and nature galore – 11 must-see Gold Coast hinterland gems
Dominica Czaczka | May 5, 2022
The Gold Coast is home to an impressive natural landscape, from stretches of golden beaches to lush valleys, rugged mountains and cascading waterfalls.
Hit the road and explore the green behind the gold with our guide to the best of the Gold Coast hinterland.
SPRINGBROOK NATIONAL PARK
While the cascading Purling Brook Falls are hugely popular with hinterland day-trippers, the lesser known Warringa Pools extension tends to run under most people’s radar. Discover a secluded natural swimming hole sheltered deep in this rainforest gully by following the Purling Brook Falls circuit downhill. At the base of the falls take the split towards Warringa Pool track for a further 1km and soon you’ll be greeted by shimmering cool waters.
If you are looking for something short and sweet, the Goomoolahra Falls lookout track is just that! This track is wheelchair friendly and is approximately a 10-minute walk. Goomoolahra Falls has picnic facilities if you fancy a feast with a breathtaking view.
If you prefer your hikes with a healthy dose of waterfalls, lace up your walking shoes and take on the 17km Warrie Circuit track through Springbrook National Park. One of the longer trails in the Springbrook vicinity, the Warrie Circuit incorporates the 4km Twin Falls loop, guaranteeing plenty of magical waterfalls to discover along the way. Allow five hours to complete the circuit – bring snacks and water!
Start at Tallanbanna Picnic Area and make your way past Blackfellow Falls before you take a sharp right and continue onto the Warrie Circuit trail. Wander past the watery curtains of Poondahra and Poonyahra Falls as you make your descent to the base of the canyon. At the halfway point you’ll find yourself at the ‘Meeting of the Waters’, where all the nearby creeks meet, before beginning the trek uphill through to Goomoolahra Falls. Towards the end of your trek you’ll find yourself lapping up scenic views of the adjacent ridge lines (if you look closely you’ll be able to spot the city skyline in the distance!) before skirting behind the stunning Rainbow Falls. True to its namesake, you can catch a glimpse of a rainbow when the sunlight hits the falls.
Although most Gold Coasters have ticked the Natural Bridge off their bucket list, heading there at nightfall to see the glow-worms is another experience entirely. Make your way to the Natural Bridge cave at sundown and prepare to be blown away by the sight that awaits you. The natural cavern is a sanctuary for glow-worms, with tiny critters putting on a twinkling light show in the warmer months between December and March.
If you haven’t yet explored the Advancetown Lake that is home to the Hinze Dam, then we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. So much more than a functional water supply, the Hinze Dam features sprawling parklands, walking and bike tracks, mountain hiking trails and glistening vistas of the dam flanked by the distant Lamington Plateau. Pack a picnic or stop for lunch at the View Café – just be sure to make a day of it.
Star gazing at Rosins Lookout
With sweeping views of the mountain ranges and valleys, this pretty countryside spot is a lookout with a little more than you bargained for. Popular with paragliders and picnickers during the day, Rosins Lookout doubles as an ideal location to star gaze thanks to the vantage point’s minimal light pollution. Dress warmly, pack a rug and see if you can spot Orion’s constellation.
First light at Freeman’s Lookout
Seize the morning and take a short 1.5km return walk through Lower Beechmont Conservation Area to Freemans Lookout at dawn. Catch glimpses of the Gold Coast skyline as the golden hour descends upon the city.
Clagiraba Creek Trail
A tranquil subtropical rainforest alongside a beautiful creek, this trail is 5.3km return, look out for native birds and amphibians. Clagiraba Creek Trail is suitable for all ages. Kids will especially like this track as there is plenty of creek crossings and rocks to climb.
Take a scenic drive into the Currumbin Valley to discover the wonder of the Cougal Cascades. A short but beautiful walk through the lush rainforest reveals a stunning waterfall and large swimming rock pool. If you’re keen on some heart-pumping mountain hiking you may prefer to try the nearby Mount Cougal. It’s not for the faint hearted but certainly one to tick off your bucket list.
Freemans Organic Farm
As you journey into the Currumbin Valley be sure to make a pitstop at Freemans Organic Farm for a coffee and wholesome snack. The family farm has been operational since 1915 and boasts an impressive fruit plantation and spectacular panoramic right down the Valley.
If you’re feeling like an adventurous day out, Gorge Falls will have you on your toes. Beginning at the very end of Tallebudgera Creek Road, enjoy a 5.6km return walk (via the Cream Track). Prepare to get wet and dirty as there are creek crossings and plenty of rocks to hop over. Once you near the end you will find yourself at a stunning waterfall leading into a natural rock pool.
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