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Springbrook National Park Walks and Gold Coast waterfalls

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Some 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 (Australia) where you will find some of the best hiking tracks and hiking trails in Springbrook National Park.  As well as being a beautiful national park, it’s also one of the best places to find waterfalls on the Gold Coast, especially during the seasonal rain periods. come for a day trip from Brisbane, stay the night in a campground, or follow one of the longer hiking trails through to the Lamington National Park.

Where is Springbrook National Park?

Springbrook National Park is 100 km from Brisbane and 36 km from Nerang on the Gold Coast.  Springbrook National Park is just one of four national parks located within the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest. It is one of the largest, taking up around 25% of the forest area that starts in the Gold Coast hinterland and ends down near the New South Wales border. They are within a three-hour drive of Brisbane, making them all easily accessible.

How to get to Springbrook National Park from Brisbane

Driving a car is the easiest way to get to Springbrook National Park. We drove from Brisbane, and even though it is only 100 km, the narrow, winding roads mean that you can’t drive at top speed. It took us about 1.5 hours to get there.

best-hiking-tracks-in-springbrook-national-park

As shown on the map below, there are several slightly differently routes you can taken when driving from Brisbane to Springbrook National Park.

Driving routes from Brisbane to Springbrook National Park

The most direct route is to follow the Pacific Motorway (M1) from Brisbane to Springbrook. This is approximately 105 km and takes around 90 minutes.

For a more scenic route, take the Pacific Motorway (M1) out of Brisbane until exit 38 ( Jacobs Well/Yatala). From here follow Stanmore Rd, Beaudesert-Beenleigh Rd, Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd and Gold Coast Springbrook/Pine Creek Rd. This trip is a around 127 km and will also take around 90 minutes. The drive through the Numimbah Valley is also worthy of this route.

driving-routes-to-springbrook-national-park
Driving map from Brisbanee to Springbrook National Park

Springbrook National Park walks

Purling Brook Falls Circuit

The Purling Brook Falls circuit is four kilometres (return) down to the falls. For a slightly longer walk head onto the Warringa Waterhole, adding another two kilometres (return) to the walk. 

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 areas where roots and trees are across the tracks, and being a tropical rainforest there was a reasonable amount of water and mud. This can make it slippery at worst or just a little difficult to walk on at its best. Other than that, it’s a great track to walk.

Walking the Purling Brook Falls Circuit
Many small creeks like this along the Purling Brook Falls track

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.

obstacles on the best hiking tracks in springbrook national park
This tree has fallen down the mountain and been cut away to continue access along the track

Tip: 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.

best hiking tracks in springbrook national park

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.

Walking the track at Purling Brook Falls
Horsetail falls at Purling Brooks Falls Springbrook National Park

Warringa Waterhole

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%.

One thing to remember is that this is mountain water and it is freezing.  As a freshwater swimming hole, swimmers should also be mindful of one of Australia’s less than friendly creatures, the leech. When leaving fresh water always check your body for the little worms that may have attached themselves to your body.

best hiking tracks in springbrook national park

Twin Falls Circuit

This is a straight-forward walk covering four kilometres. Starting high up on the top offering views of the Springbrook plateau and the rainforest that covers the floor below, this walk will take two to four hours depending on your level of fitness. The start and end of this trail require either extra puff to get up the incline, or a steady gait to go slowly down.

the canopy of the Springbrook National Park
Canopies such as this offered us protection from the rain

Tip: If you prefer to walk upstairs rather than down them, we suggest starting your walk on the Twin Falls Circuit on an anti-clockwise direction. This way you will walk down a slope. If the thought of sliding down a slope doesn’t appeal, walk in a clockwise direction to face the incline first and then walk down the stairs at the end.

Like much of this beautiful rainforest area, the walking trails are surrounded by wonderful scenery. In all, there are four waterfalls along the Twin Falls Circuit tracks; Tamarramai Falls, Tallanbana Falls, Blackfellow Falls and of course the Twin Falls.

Twin Falls goes one step better than an ordinary old waterfall, with rear access – there’s something super cool about being able to walk behind a waterfall – and rock pools to swim in to cool you off after a walk in the humid forest

Tip: Whilst access to the Twin Falls Circuit can be done via the Canyon Lookout, there are no facilities here and parking is limited. Our recommendation is to start your walk at the Tallanbana Picnic Area, where there are plenty of facilities and parking, both in a dedicated parking area and along Springbrook Rd.

Natural Bridge Trail

The Springbrook Natural Bridge is one of nature’s amazing features and shouldn’t be missed. Here, rocks have been carved out by the pressure of the waterfall, forming a natural arch.

The Natural Bridge trail is one of the easiest in Springbrook National Park, with an easy walk over one kilometre. It’s also one of the best locations to admire the ancient trees that are synonymous with the area and the broader Gondwana Rainforest. Natural Bridge is also the location of glowworms in the basalt cave. The best opportunity to see the glowworms is from December to March. Take a night tour to check out these fascinating creatures.

The Natural Bridge trail can be accessed via the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road car park.

Warrie Circuit

The Warrie Circuit is another walking trail in Springbrook National Park that can be accessed from the Tallanbana Picnic Area. This is another walking trail more suited to those with better than average fitness and more time to spend. The entire circuit will take approximately six hours, voering 16 kilometres. The best part is that you will come across seven waterfalls on your journey.

Gold Coast Great Walk

This one isn’t a walk in the park, pardon the pun. The Gold Coast Great Walk, covering 54 kilometres, is designed for serious hikers only. It’s a three-day journey that will take in some of the Gondwana Rainforest’s spectacular landscapes including volcanic rocks and trees that have been there for generations.

The best lookouts at Springbrook National Park

Whether you are a day-tripper or a serious hiker, you must take a camera or at least your smartphone with you to the Springbrook National Park. Whilst you will be spoilt for choice for photo opportunities at every step, the lookouts at Springbrook National Park offer some of the best photo spots.

Canyon Lookout

One of the easiest lookouts to access, straight off the road, on a good day you can see the entire Gold Coast coastline. Below you’ll see the rainforest and volcanic rock formations that this area is known for. Springbrook National Park is also known for its waterfalls and from here you’ll be able to see both the Twin Falls and Rainbow Falls.

You can also access the Tallanbana Falls Picnic area from here and the Twin Falls Circuit walking trail.

Note: Canyon Lookout is wheelchair friendly. Parking is limited here.

Best of All Lookout

This name is not an overstatement. Access is provided right on the edge of the cliff, with views away from the Gold Coast this time and towards northern New South Wales. The striking Mt Warning, part of an ancient volcanic caldera is part of this landscape.

The car park to the lookout is about 350 metres and an easy walk. The lookout platform itself is quite small so on a busy day you may need to just be patient to get your turn at the front.

Tip: Drive to the end of Repeater Station Road. Note there is limited parking here.

Best picnic areas at Springbrook National Park

Goomoolahra Picnic Area

Possibly the best picnic area in Springbrook, Goomoolahra Picnic Area is set beside a creek that is always running due to the high level of annual rainfall the area receives. The picnic facilities have been built alongside Mundora creek making it both physically beautiful and mentally refreshing. If you happen to visit on one of the rainy days, there are picnic tables under shelters.

Purlingbrook Falls and Twin Falls are the closest waterfalls to this picnic area. There is a lookout platform here also and the area is easily accessible via a walking path.

  • Toilets
  • Picnic tables and BBQ
  • Shelters
  • Wheelchair friendly
  • Pram friendly

Tip: the picnic area is right at the end of the road.

Tallanbana Picnic Area

Tallanbana Picnic Area is small but it provides excellent access to the Twin Falls Circuit.

  • Toilets
  • Picnic tables
  • Parking
  • Cafe
  • Shelters

Purlingbrook Falls Picnic Area

Also known as Gwongorella, this pretty picnic spot set in amongst the trees is close by the Purlingbrook Falls. It’s a large area, with flat grassy spaces suitable for large groups and the spreading out of picnic blankets, chairs and tables. BBQs are available in the undercover huts.

The Purlingbrook Falls are accessible from the end of the carpark.

  • Toilets
  • Picnic tables
  • Some parking
  • Cafe nearby
  • Shelters

Essential items to take on the Springbrook hiking trails

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. The hiking trails can get quite slippery especially after rain so good non-slip soles are essential.
  • Take a rain jacket and something to keep you warm, especially at night when the temperature can drop significantly.
  • It’s so beautiful in here so don’t forget your camera or phone.  The phone would be a safety requirement as well.

Thinking of camping?  There are so many beautiful spots in Queensland and all over the world where you can camp easily in tents.  I’ve been camping in tents all my life and I just love it.  Check out this great review of the best four-person tents.

Tips for looking after our national parks

  • This is a national park and all rubbish should be taken out of the park with you.
  • Don’t disturb the vegetation unnecessarily. The rainforest is the home of many animals. Don’t pick up rocks or other vegetation and don’t walk on non-official tracks.
  • As a national park, dogs and other domestic animals are not allowed.

Safety in the Springbrook National Park

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.

Let others know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Don’t underestimate the time necessary to walk the tracks and don’t start any hikes late in the day where nightfall might occur whilst you are still walking.

I don’t go bushwalking without these basic items.  Click on the image to find out more.

Best time to go to Springbrook National Park

Queensland is blessed with beautiful weather all year round, making day trips, camping trips or longer walking hikes possible at any time of the year. As the Springbrook National Park sits high above sea level, low cloud and miust is common, especially in the early mornings.

The temperatures are always much cooler up on the moutain, making it the perfect place to be during a hot Queensland summer.

The waterfalls of Springbrook National Park are also one of the main features here, so seeing them at their best will often take place during the summer rainy season.

15 thoughts on “Springbrook National Park Walks and Gold Coast waterfalls”

  1. OK I’m squealing about those leeches just from reading, must have been a pretty big shock to experience! The Purling Brook Falls area looks so gorgeous, like a little hidden paradise of nature. Loved your photos and video.

  2. Oh wow! The Waterfall looks amazing and looks like a great hiking trail. Hope to be in that part of Australia soon so hope to do some hiking in that area. Great post (and put this on my pinterest so I can come back and hope to plan a trip here).

  3. We walked this track several years ago during the winter so didn’t manage to swim but it was really beautiful. The leeches and the humidity sound horrid but glad to hear you still enjoyed it!

  4. Great tips! And thanks for the clothing options as well. It certainly makes it much easier to prepare for a trip like this. Especially for someone clueless, like me!

  5. This looks stunning, even in the rain. The cold water and prospect of leeches would however not tempt me into that water. I would have no idea what to do to get them things off

  6. Springbrook National park looks absolutely stunning! And the 6km hike to the top of the track is totally worth it for the views – but I think I’ll give swimming a miss. I’m really not keen on the thought of leeches!

  7. Oh Wow springbrook looks soooo pretty. I wish there were more national parks closer to Delhi. Sigh! These waterfalls, rainforest and even the path looks identical to a remote village in Meghalaya (Adobe of clouds) in India. I can literally picture you being there and vica versa. Love being amidst nature 🙂 Thanks for the great monday morning inspiration.

  8. Such a lovely National park to visit. Thanks for sharing all these great tips especially about the cycle route around the waterfall, I wouldn’t like to climb all these stairs on the way back.

  9. What an adventure! Thank you for sharing that this is a level 3 track. I want to be sure I didn’t overreach myself on this trail. Great photos, those pictures of the falls are stunning! I am using your section on safety as my checklist for my next hike.

    Which months are best to try this trail?

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