In Travel tips on Monday 17th Feb, 2020

The natural beauty of the Gold Coast you wouldn’t expect to discover

Elabana Falls in Lamington National Park is just one of the many natural treasures tucked away in the Gold Coast hinterland, waiting to be discovered.

When planning the perfect holiday, you need a few key ingredients. Great weather, a relaxed vibe, friendly locals and a lively but not intrusive atmosphere. Throw in a few sandy beaches and you’ve got the kind of vacation that most Aussies dream of!

And while the Gold Coast is certainly known for its world-class beaches and idyllic weather, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find a whole variety of natural beauty that forms an adventure-seeker’s paradise.

Get sky high

Just a short drive from Surfers Paradise is Tamborine Mountain, a lush rainforested region that is home to a diverse range of activities and accommodation. While Tamborine’s nature walks, high street shopping and food and wine offerings need little introduction, that’s not the limit of what this charming area has to offer.

If you’re up for a little adventure at treetop-level, the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk is a captivating way to explore the pristine rock-pools of Cedar Creek. The 1.5-kilometre walk takes roughly 45 minutes at a leisurely pace and combines a terrain of forest floor trails, high-tech steel bridges at the highest points and – the real showstopper – a 40-metre cantilever bridge that towers around six storeys above the creek and greenery. Pack suitable walking shoes, as the trail can get a little uneven in places, but above all, keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of the majestic butterflies that inhabit the forests.

Go chasing waterfalls

Thanks to the enchanting hinterland that surrounds the Gold Coast, there are plenty of amazing waterfalls to explore. Drive out to Lamington National Park and get your day’s exercise in by walking 7km to Elabana Falls; pack swimming gear so you can cool down underneath the refreshing, cascading water. Best of all, this trek begins and ends at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, so you can treat yourself at its convenient café once you’ve finished your walk.

If the incomparable combination of clear creeks, unspoilt greenery and rushing waters is one of your favourite sights, but you’re travelling with a partner or friend who can’t get around as easily as they used to, Springbrook National Park is a must for your next Gold Coast trip.

The stunning Natural Bridge is just one of Springbrook National Park’s many incredible sights.

Many of its waterfalls – the Natural Bridge, Purling Brook Falls and Goomoolahra Falls to name a few – are located just a few minutes’ walk from paved car parks. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone who loves nature and sightseeing but who may not be able to walk too far or tackle steep trails.

Beaches for all tastes

When you think of the Gold Coast, you probably think of beaches first and foremost: fine, soft sand gently shifting under your feet as you walk, incredible surf to bathe in and the salty spray from beautiful blue waters lending a tang to the air.

You’d be like most people if you picture the skyscrapers on the sands of Surfers Paradise, complete with bustling streets, busy souvenir shops and convenient tourist facilities. However, there are many other beaches with different vibes slightly further south, so if the urban glam of Surfers doesn’t appeal to you, you’re still sure to find a beachside suburb that will.

For example, Burleigh Heads has a relaxed neighbourhood atmosphere with a vibrant beachfront scene and is great for people-watching.

Positioned just a few metres from the foreshore, Burleigh Pavilion is one of the best places to sip a cocktail and watch the surfers paddle out to catch a wave. Or grab a bite to eat at Rick Shores, whose Moreton Bay Bug rolls keep locals and tourists alike coming back for more. If you want to get on your feet, Burleigh Heads National Park is just a short walk from the beachfront.

 

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Rick Shores is closed for lunch today, the 19th for a private function.. see you from 5.30pm for dinner!

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Just around the corner from Burleigh lies family-friendly Tallebudgera Creek. Thanks to its shelter from the Burleigh Heads National Park headland, Tallebudgera is perfectly calm and is the ideal place to bring the grandkids for a swim, hire a paddleboard or stretch out with a good book.

If you want to brave the waves, Kirra Point is known as one of the world’s premier surf spots and attracts keen surfers from all over the world for its powerful swell. Even if you’re not keen on chasing a barrel, it makes for a fantastic spot to watch the pros battle it out.

Channel your inner athlete 

Stretching from Phillip Park near Sea World to the Seaway on The Spit (pictured below), the Federation Walk Coastal Reserve is the perfect spot for bushwalking, running and bike riding. The reserve is home to a variety of animal habitats and is particularly known for its birdlife.

 

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The Spit, showing off ✨ such an amazing shot ???? @jaahdon #ilovegoldcoast

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If you’re travelling with pets, dogs are welcome as long as they stay on the leash and you keep an eye out for signs indicating dog prohibited areas. Alternatively, you can drive straight to The Spit for some off-leash fun. Many local dog lovers also like to bring their pooches here so it’s a great place for your fur baby to make some friends.

Explore Springbrook National Park

Yes, we talked about this park earlier when we were looking at waterfalls, but Springbrook is so special that it merits a standalone mention. As part of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest, Springbrook National Park is home to some of the oldest species of flora and fauna in Australia – so old, in fact, that they date back over 100 million years.

The park is popular with hikers from all over the world. It has numerous walking tracks of varying degrees of difficulty that give you the chance to take in shockingly high rock formations, magical waterfalls and soul-calming vistas from lofty lookouts. (One of the latter is in fact named the Best of All Lookout!)

 

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It’s not called the #GoldCoast’s Best of All Lookout for nothing! ????: @danieljohnsonphotography #9News | 9News.com.au

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If you only do one thing here, make it a trip to the Natural Bridge (also known as the Natural Arch). Accessible via an easy walking trail suitable for all fitness levels, the Natural Bridge is easily one of the most unique waterfalls in Australia – formed at the edge of a waterfall in verdant Numinbah Valley, the creek’s waters flow dramatically down eroded rocks into a pool within the cave below. And while it certainly makes a great day trip, you can also come at night when the Natural Bridge comes alive with thousands of twinkling glow-worms.

Take a cruise downstream

For a jam-packed day of sightseeing, book a day out on the water with Mount Warning Tours. With most of the activities taking place in Tumbulgum, NSW (just 20 minutes from the Gold Coast airport in Coolangatta), this award-winning tour operator is a great choice if you want to explore the picturesque Tweed Valley while also treating your tastebuds.

There are various tours you can choose from: a rainforest seafood cruise which will take you into the heart of the hinterland, or for the foodies among us, the Tweed Valley Food and Farm tour gives you a peek inside some of the region’s best cafes, restaurants and farms. There’s even a Tweed Valley Craft Beer tour, if you’re a craft beer devotee! Sample fresh produce along the way and finish with a distillery tour for rum and gin tasting.

Discover a sunken shipwreck

If you’ve got your diving certification and fancy getting out and exploring the Gold Coast’s incredible marine life, the Scottish Prince Shipwreck makes for an epic adventure. The 64m iron barque ship, which is located 800m off the Southport Spit, sunk in 1887 on its journey from Glasgow to Brisbane carrying a cargo of whiskey, linen and mouse traps. These days, it’s covered in coral and is a haven for tropical fish and various marine species.

 

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If you’re not comfortable visiting the dive site unassisted, there are several tours you can join that will guide you to the wreckage. Gold Coast Dive Adventures offers small group offshore diving trips for certified divers and you’ll have the opportunity to explore many underwater hotspots, swimming amongst incredible marine life.

Come and Play on the Gold Coast

Come and play in our spectacular natural playground, where world-famous beaches with glistening waves are just the beginning. Lose yourself in the views of our lush hinterland and find a whole new way to escape.

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Did you already know of all these natural wonders already? What kind of natural attraction do you love best?

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