Last updated 11 December 2018
One of the best hiking tracks in Springbrook National Park
If you are an avid bushwalker, you will be spoilt for choice in South East Queensland. With many national parks within a three hour drive of Brisbane, they are easily accessible.
Springbrook National Park is 100km from Brisbane and 36km from Nerang on the Gold Coast. We drove from Brisbane, and even though it is only 100km, the narrow, winding roads mean that you can’t drive at top speed. It took us about 1.5 hours.
It’s not a difficult drive though, and you can take in the beautiful views as you climb the mountain to the plateau.
Once at the top, there are four areas, all with their own activities to undertake.
The Purling Brook Falls Circuit
We walked the Purling Brook Falls circuit, specifically because I wanted to see the waterfall and go swimming in the waterhole.
The track is 4km (return) down to the falls, and another 2km (return) to the Warringa waterhole. The track is classified as a level 3 meaning that a moderate level of fitness is required and the track may contain obstacles. There are certainly areas where roots and trees are across the tracks, and being a tropical rainforest there was a reasonable amount of water and mud. Other than that, it’s a great track to walk.
The great thing about getting to the falls is that it’s all downhill. But as always, what goes down must come up, so there is an incline to conquer on the way back. Whilst I obviously knew we were walking uphill, I never felt it was too onerous.
Note: If you don’t have a reasonable level of fitness, the humidity and wet tracks could make it difficult to climb. If you aren’t steady on your feet, the tree roots and various other obstacles might impact you also.
It is recommended that you walk the track in a clockwise direction for two reasons. Firstly, you get the best view of the waterfall as you approach it from directly in front. Secondly, there are about 450 steps that you walk down when going in this direction. Walking back up 450 steps after you’ve completed your walk may not be something you want to do. Of course, it would be a great fitness challenge for those wanting a little more exercise.
We weren’t in any great hurry, so even though we walked at quite a pace, we still took the time to take in the beauty of this forest.
Purling Brook Falls
We started feeling the cooling mist of the waterfall before we could even see it. But we could hear the roar, and knew we were close. Purling Brook Falls is a horsetail waterfall, so named because of the sheer drop of vertical water, making it look like a long horse tail. At 109m, it is one of Queensland’s tallest waterfalls.
The water pools into the brown waters below. The colour of it puts you off swimming, which is ok, since this is a restricted area and swimming is not allowed.
Swimmers beware !
The circuit continues from here down to the Warringa Waterhole. As I arrived, I had worked up quite a sweat. It was cloudy overhead and the humidity was close to 100%.
I couldn’t wait to get into the water! Here’s where the first shock occurred. Despite the heat I felt, this is mountain water and it was freezing. We estimated it at around 17-18 degrees celsius. I’m hard to please. I hate feeling hot but jumping into freezing cold water isn’t one of my favourite things to do. Still, we had to do it. I wasn’t coming all this way not to.
Shock number two was just about to happen. As I was acclimatising myself by splashing the cold water on my arms and body, my husband squirmed a little too quickly for my liking. He was out in the middle, and fully submerged. Next thing, he’s telling me to get out and he’s making his way to the edge. We had encountered one of Australia’s well known critters. Blood sucking leeches!
One had latched onto him and had drawn blood and several more were trying to do the same. I had a few attached to me as well. I’ve grown up around a whole lot of insects, bugs and other scary things, but I just don’t handle slimy worms all that well. Especially those that bite and burrow into your skin.
Swimming was over, before it really began.
A tropical rain storm
To complete the quintessential rainforest walk in Queensland, the skies opened and poured down on us for most of the trip back to the top. Several times along the way we stopped underneath the canopy to just marvel at the protection it provided. Pouring outside and not one drop fell on us underneath the trees of the forest.
Essential items to take with you
This is a national park located 900m above sea level. Temperatures and weather can be interchangeable and it’s best to be prepared. One of my biggest bug bears is people setting out into these environments without the right equipment and clothing and either inadvertently or deliberately not adhering to safety signs. All too often we see examples of our emergency personnel having to risk their own safety when they try to rescue people who have done the wrong thing. Take care on the tracks, obey all signs, and don’t go into restricted areas.
At a minimum you should take:
- Sufficient water and food.
- This is Australia and even though you might think you have sun protection in the forest, trust me, you won’t. Always wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Take insect repellent.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Leave your thongs (flip flops) for the beach, and your heels for another venue. This is the environment for good hiking boots or at least good sports shoes.
- Take a rain jacket and something to keep you warm, especially at night when the temperature can drop significantly.
- This is a national park and all rubbish should be taken out of the park with you.
- It’s so beautiful in here so don’t forget your camera or phone. The phone would be a safety requirement as well.
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The above essential items are all part of your safety kit, but there are a few extra tips. Many of the swimming holes look tempting to those with an adventurous spirit. The edges of sheer cliffs look perfect for that photo for Instagram. The animal on the track looks cute enough to cuddle. The berries on the trees look just like the ones you’ve seen in the supermarket.
The idea is that you leave the national park in the same condition you came in. Without a stomach ache or poisoning and without bites and scratches from that crazy animal that didn’t turn out to be as cuddly as it looked. Areas are restricted, or have safety signs erected for no other reason than to keep you safe and alive. One slip on the edge of the cliff could have disastrous consequences. The pool that looks deep enough to dive into might be deceiving. Too many people end up with permanent spinal injuries as a result of such actions.
Stay on the tracks, read the signs, pay attention to them, and look after those who are with you by leading by example. That way, you’ll get to keep exploring other great tracks like this one too.
The Purling Brook Falls Circuit is one of the best hiking tracks in Springbrook National Park. Entry to all national parks in this area are free. Fees apply for various activities and camping.