4 of the best Gold Coast Hinterland hiking trails
Only people prepared for a verbal stoush would dispute that Queensland beaches are Australia’s most beautiful.
But tear yourself away from the toe-tickling sands and turquoise waters and you’ll find countless other natural treasures, many linked by great hiking trails
The Gold Coast Hinterland and neighbouring Scenic Rim, inland from the happening heart of Queensland beach culture, are hubs for unforgettable walks to tumbling waterfalls, prehistoric trees and grandstand lookouts over mountains, patchwork plains and coast.
BEST SHORT WALK – MT CORDEAUX
Time required: 2-3 hours
Fitness level: Moderate
Where to stay: Warwick has varied accommodation; closer to the park you’ll find bed and breakfast and resort accommodation.
How to get there: This walk starts/ends in the gravel carpark beside Cunningham Highway at Cunningham’s Gap, 50km northeast of Warwick (and two hours south-west of Brisbane).
Dinosaur country? It certainly feels like it as you climb steadily through luxuriantly mossy trees dangling thick vines and out into grass trees bristling on the Main Range’s upper slopes.
Expect close encounters with rainforest plants and wildlife – listen for lyrebirds as you approach Mt Cordeaux (1135m) – and cliff-edge lookouts over mountains and plains fashioned by violent volcanic upheaval.
As far as reward for effort goes, this is a top walk.
BEST DAY WALK – TOOLONA CREEK CIRCUIT
Time required: 6-7 hours
Fitness level: Moderate to Hard
Where to stay: Lamington National Park – Green Mountains camping area or neighbouring O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
How to get there: This walk starts opposite O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, 114km from Brisbane (the last 36km are narrow and windy so allow two hours all up).
Arguably the prettiest of many memorable walks in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park, this 18.5km loop takes you up Toolona Creek, which it crosses often, and past waterfalls on its way to the mountain ridge forming the Queensland-New South Wales border.
Offering occasional views of Mount Warning thrust up from the northern NSW Tweed Valley, this high ground is the realm of Antarctic beech trees, arboreal beauties dripping with moss, some of which are thought to be more than a thousand years old.
Toolona Creek can rise suddenly after rain but don’t be put off by a forecast of drizzle. Although it affects the views from the top, damp weather shows the forest at its lushest.
BEST ADVENTURE WALK – STINSON RETRACE
Time required: 12 hours
Fitness level: Hard
Where to stay: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
How to get there: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is two hours’ drive south of Brisbane, with the final 36km being a climb on a narrow and winding road.
The disappearance of Stinson Model A aircraft, City of Brisbane, on 19th February 1937 on its regular run from Brisbane to Sydney, and the finding of two survivors ten days later by mountain dairyman Bernard O’Reilly, is one of the most dramatic chapters in Australia’s rich aviation history.
The guided, 35km Stinson Walk, which is part of twice-yearly O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat packages, follows in Bernard’s footsteps through the rugged McPherson Range to the crash site – souvenir hunters have left little of the plane – and down the creek he followed to get help.
A tough walk on a little-used track through tangled, subtropical rainforest offering few views, this is an epic adventure.
BEST OVERNIGHT WALK – GOLD COAST HINTERLAND GREAT WALK
Time required: 3 days
Fitness level: Moderate – Hard
Where to stay: National Park hikers’ camps and private camping at Binna Burra Lodge. Spoil yourself by staying at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat before starting and spending night one of the walk at Binna Burra Lodge.
How to get there: This walk starts in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park, two hours’ drive south of Brisbane.
One of the ten Great Walks of Queensland, this 54km trail combines and links several day hikes in Lamington and Springwood national parks.
Your reward for carrying all your own food and camping equipment and making numerous steep climbs and descents is a very personal experience of the remarkable volcanic geology and rich diversity of flora and fauna in the Gold Coast Hinterland and Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. You’ll also begin to appreciate the strong connections the local Yugambah aboriginal people have for this country.
The trail passes through Woonoongoora, known by the Yugambah as Queen of the Mountains, whose story describes the formation of the rivers and valleys.