How to do Springbrook National Park
Less than 100km from Brisbane, you’ll find a national park so old, its trees remember a time when Australia was connected to Antarctica.
With no shortage of spectacular waterfalls, lush rainforests and natural beauty, there are plenty of good reasons to discover Springbrook National Park. But we reckon the chance to stand at the top of one of Australia’s dormant volcanos is still one of the best.
Here’s how to discover it:
What’s so special about it?
Put simply, you’re walking in a natural history book which proves Gondwanaland existed. For a quick history lesson in Gondwana Rainforests, detour over here.
Springbrook National Park is just one of four national parks (Lamington, Mount Barney and Main Range are the others) that make up the Gondwana World Heritage-listed area – an area so special that it attracts more than two million visitors each year and wears the UNESCO title.
In Springbrook National Park you’ll find some of the most ancient vegetation in Australia whose roots date back over 100-million years ago – a vintage that makes dinosaurs walking on earth seem like modern history.
Whether you’ve got 300m in you or three days worth of hiking time up up your sleeve, there’s plenty of ways to get amongst Springbrook’s famous ferns and conifers.
For short-walk lovers:
To chase waterfalls, take the Twin Falls Circuit, which takes two hours at 4km return. At the end, dip in one of the rock pools and marvel at the two waterfalls.
For maximum Instagram kudos, choose Purling Brook Falls, which is accessed by a photogenic suspension bridge that hangs over the creek and rainforest canopy. The walk is 4km return and you’ll be rewarded with a view of the waterfall from the gorge below.
The most accessible and popular walk is Natural Bridge, which takes about an hour to complete and is suitable for little legs, tired feet and even people who forgot to pack sneakers. At the bottom of a paved path, you’ll find a waterfall that pours through a basalt cave, completely backlit by natural light.
For long walkers:
Serious hikers need only consider the Gold Coast Great Walk, which is a living hype reel of what this area is all about.
It takes three days, and you’ll cover 54km but you’ll be rewarded with days amongst this volcanic geology and ancient flora and fauna.
If you’re considering it, Queensland Parks and Wildlife recommend taking this walk from Lamington National Park, walking east to Springbrook National Park and it’s well worth reading our guide to Great Walks.
Looking for more hinterland hikes? Don’t forget to check out these favourite walks.
The flora and fauna
Described as the Noah’s Ark of rainforests, there are plenty of animals who find refuge in this forest that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. In fact, you’ll find more frog, snake, bird and marsupial species than anywhere else in Australia.
Perhaps its most famous face (or should that read feather?) is the rare Albert’s Lyrebird, a pheasant-sized songbird often spotted on the forest floor. There’s only an estimated 3500 left in existence – and your only chance of spotting one is here.
On the reptile front, there’s lace monitors, carpet pythons and most common, the Springbok’s land mullet. The fat black shiny lizard is also known as the world’s largest skink. Its short stumpy legs seem far too small for its wide tummy.
Representing all things cute and cuddly, you’re likely to see pademelons bouncing through the dense undergrowth like cross-country skiers. Good luck photographing them, they move fast!
For flora fans, this is a botanist’s paradise with over 1700 species of flowering plants and giant hoop pines, some of which are over 180 million years old.
The vegetation changes dramatically within the park area depending on the altitude. Generally speaking, the cooler the temperature, the older the trees.
A trip to the Best of All lookout will reveal some of the most ancient trees in this section of forest – and the short walk to get there is a bit like a best-in-Springbrook-show.
The best photo spots
It’s hard to take a bad photo in rainforest as green, lush and dense as what you’ll find in Springbrook National Park.
You’ll want to pack your wide-angle because these ancient trees are huge. Prepare for low-light conditions with canopies of spreading ferns towering above your head.
The colonies of glow worms make for a photographic challenge – but one we hope you accept. The best chance to see them is from December to March, and you can see them at Natural Bridge. You’ll see their bright blue and green light on the walls and ceiling of the cave.
For the best lookout and vantage point, you can’t go past the aptly-named Best of All lookout, which is perched on the edge of an escarpment looking out to Murwillumbah, Mt Warning (the core of the ancient Scenic Rim volcano) and Brunswick Heads in New South Wales.
For a wheelchair and pram-friendly lookout, Canyon Lookout captures views to the Gold Coast skyline – perfect for a quick taste of what this area is all about.
Local tips and tricks
Springbrook is magic all year round, but locals choose to go deep within its canopy during Australian summer. High altitude and serious canopy keep the temperatures cooler than any split system can lay claim to.
Hiking is hungry work, so pack a backpack with supplies and water for all hikes just in case. The Scenic Rim is packed with roadside stalls and vendors where you can stock up on supplies – try some of these producers on for size.
Always throw in your swimsuit and towel up here. Freshwater swimming holes come aplenty – especially if you’re exploring Twin Falls, Warringa Pools and the Warrie Circuit Walk in summer.
Want to do the hinterland like a local? Why not follow Shane O’Reiley’s tips?
Where to stay
After a day in the rainforest, dial up the R&R at one of these hinterland boutique accommodation spots.
Discover more of Springbrook and the Gold Coast hinterland with these guides:
- Feel ticking off a few more Gold Coast Hinterland trails? We’ve got you covered over here.
- Looking to make your Instagram feed lush? Try these Instaworthy spots.
- Spend less this holiday season with these ways to be thrifty in the hinterland.
- Want to dial up the romance? Well, you can call us cupid after reading this guide.
- Get to know what it means to be Gondwana with a background to this World Heritage-listed wonderland.