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8 local spots to escape into nature

Burleigh Hill (Image: © 2019 Kirra Smith Photography)

Life hey, sometimes it’s rainbows and lollipops and sometimes it’s reality TV binging and becoming way too acquainted with Ben & Jerry (tell ‘em we say hi).

In our (extremely well researched) opinion, escaping your day-to-day life every once in awhile is key for a reality check and attitude reset. Particularly if you’re able to get outside and treat your senses to some sweet natural goodness.

As you may have guessed, we’ve found a few spots (yes we know there are more) you can do exactly that and BONUS, they’re right on your doorstep. Happy escapism friends.

Burleigh Hill
No not on a Sunday arvo with an esky full of beers and your way-too-dressed-up-for-grass-sitting squad. We’re talking a walk around the headland and up to the top of the actual hill itself (who knew right). From there you can bask in the beauty of the epic views and think about exactly how lucky you are to live on the Gold Coast. Beers are acceptable afterwards if you must.
Where: Burleigh Hill (you probs won’t miss it)

Picnic Rock
Ahh, sweet rocky serenity. Seriously though, this place is the goods if you’re keen for some alone time in a world heritage listed rainforest with incredible views (yes, hi). Wear your walking shoes because it’s a 3.5km walk through the rainforest to get there but once you do, perch yourself up on the rock with a ham and salad sandwich and marvel at the magic of mama nature.
Where: Drive to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (Canungra) then take the Border Track until you see the Picnic Rock turn off

Gold Coast Botanic Gardens (image supplied)

Gold Coast Botanic Gardens
It’s not a place we locals often visit but it should be if you’re in need of a quick nature hit without having to travel too far. There’s 31 hectares of uninterrupted greenness to wander about in plus there’s a sensory garden so you can get up close and personal with the plants. Oh, and there’s a butterfly garden AND a rose garden and if you don’t leave feeling all chilled out and in love with life we will eat our hats.
Where: 230 Ashmore Road, Benowa

Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area
So it seems there are some absolutely stunning wetlands to the north of our delightful city and we’re sorry we haven’t brought this to your attention sooner. There are over 1,200 hectares (that’s big for those playing at home) of wetlands, eucalypt forest, salt marshs and mangrove habitats and you can just go on in there and wander around. Get up close and personal with native wildlife, go for a trail run or simply just sit back and watch the birds. Mind blown.
Where: Shelter Road, Coombabah

The Wishing Tree Track
Not sure about you, but the name of this track takes us back to our whimsical childhoods and that’s pure escapism if ever we saw it. Anywho, the adventure to the wishing tree itself is all downhill (lovely, until you gotta go back up again) and there’s all kinds of native delights to discover. Once you’ve found the tree you can keep going into Glow Worm Gully (stop it) or just chill there and make some wishes. Bye.
Where: At the Green Mountains below O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Canungra

Currumbin Rock Pools (Image by Oksana Simakina)

Currumbin Rock Pools
A well known spot amongst Gold Coast locals is Currumbin Rock Pools, about ten minutes west of the Gold Coast Hwy on Currumbin Creek Rd. It’s the perfect place for a family picnic, a relax in the tiny rapids or a dip in the waterhole. Watch out for kids big and small jumping from the rocks above and be sure to take your camera to secure some sweet snaps.
Where: Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin Valley

Warringa Pool
Oh hey no biggie but we found heaven and it comes in the shape of a pool of water at Springbrook. It’s a peaceful little swimming hole sheltered deep in a rainforest gully with views up and down the valley and honestly, when can we move in. You’ll also find a couple of other rock pools to try out should you get sick of Warringa (you won’t) and how good is fresh water.
Where: From the Settlement day-use area in Springbrook National Park, take the path to the Purling Brook Falls lookout

Hinze Dam
Yes we understand that a dam is a manmade structure but it can still be found in the midst of nature up Springbrook way so here it is on the list. Hinze Dam is a big old thing so you can cruise around and find a spot to chill that tickles your fancy. We particularly like the dark, dense trees that grow directly out of the water – perfect for pics – and if you get right down near the water you can (and should) go on a mini frog hunt. Tried and tested good times. You can also grab a cuppa and a tasty treat from View Cafe while you’re there.
Where: Advancetown Road, Advancetown

Words by Kirra Smith

Hinze Dam (Image via View Cafe)

5 secret Gold Coast swimming spots

Cougal Cascades (image supplied)
Cougal Cascades (image supplied)

While everybody knows Gold Coast beaches are some of the most beautiful on Earth, finding a car park on the weekend is a nightmare equivalent to your fave cafe running out of Almond Croissants.

It’s quite the conundrum because sometimes you’re just hanging to be immersed in water. SURPRISE, we’ve got a solution. Here are five (soon to be not-so) secret local swimming spots that’ll solve all of your hankering for breaking out those ‘kini’s.

Cougal Cascades
This one is so secret even we (knowers of all) hadn’t heard of it until now. Found underneath the towering peaks of Mount Cougal, the cascades are serenity in a swimming spot. Think creeks that flow into rock pools and cool, freshwater that’ll soothe even the saltiest of souls.
Where: The end of Currumbin Valley Road

Twin Falls, Springbrook (Image from Destination Gold Coast)
Twin Falls, Springbrook (Image from Destination Gold Coast)

Twin Falls
Two good things are always better than one good thing (profound yes). Which is great because TWIN Falls guys. A short little (4km) circuit will take you through the national park, behind the waterfalls and through some rock caves before you’ll feel the need to strip off for a dip. It’s a feast for both the eyes and your heat-affected, cool water-craving skin.
Where: At the Natural Bridge via the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road car park

Araluen Swimming Hole
The biggest secret since Cougal Cascades, Araluen is a Tallebudgera locals’ favourite and one they probably wish we didn’t mention. But, since sharing is caring, here it is on the list. It’s a fresh water hole and it’s pretty much the epitome of Gold Coast fun. Take a picnic and your best fun-loving attitude.
Where: Close to the corner of Araluen Road and Tallebudgera Creek Road

Froggy's Beach (photo courtesy of Karen Nowlan)
Froggy's Beach (photo courtesy of Karen Nowlan)

Froggy’s Beach
While Froggy’s is perhaps a little less secret than some spots, it’s no less golden. Between Snapper Rocks and Point Danger, it’s the perfect place for a spot of sunbaking if being seen by hordes of people ain’t your thing. Froggy’s is protected from the elements so perfect for a day of fun in the sun.
Where: Coolangatta

Elabana Falls on Box Forest Circuit
Lamington National Park is the local legend that keeps on giving. It’s a bit of a trek to get there but on the brightside, you’ll have earned your swim and there are plenty of Insta-worthy spots to stop for a snap. The water is clear and the vibes are chill, pack your walking shoes!
Where: Start at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat

Words by Carly Snodgrass.

Elabana Falls in Lamington National Park (Image: Destination Gold Coast)
Elabana Falls in Lamington National Park (Image: Destination Gold Coast)

9 local Insta-worthy spots

Image by Art-work Agency

If your Insta game’s not strong, are you even a Gold Coaster? With a herd of Insta-worthy spots across our stunning city, there’s no excuse for not rocking an enviable Instagram account and we’ve got a bit more time on our hands these days so why not right?

To make life easier and ensure you’re the envy of all your mates, here are nine local Insta-worthy spots.

Surfers Paradise Sign
It’s on every Gold Coast tourists’ bucket list and makes the perfect background for a ‘look where I am’ pic. The Surfers Paradise sign is located right where bustling Cavill Ave meets the beach. Try to make it for sunrise (whether you get up, or stay up, we won’t judge!).
Where: The top of Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise

Natural Bridge
Springbrook National Park offers you a couple of great Insta pic locations, the most beautiful and unique being the Natural Bridge rock arch.  When you get the right angle and the light hits the water running through the cave, it’s a guaranteed winner! So make sure your battery is fully charged and get ready for a rainforest adventure (watch out for the cave dwelling bats!).
Where: Springbrook National Park, Numinbah Road (follow it for 28km)

The Borrowed Nursery
Never before has a plant nursery gained such a cult-like following so quickly (or perhaps ever). The Borrowed Nursery in Mermaid Beach draws plant lovers and photographers in droves due to its Instagram famous pastel purple wall and bespoke greenery. The stunning space also hosts workshops but if that’s not your jam at least pop in for some healthy retail therapy and an Insta-snap.
Where: 42-44 Cronulla Ave, Mermaid Beach

Miami Hill
It’s a fitness junkie’s kryptonite but the top of the hill also gives you great views of Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta. You may snap some great pics during the day, but we urge you to make the effort and go during sunrise or sunset – it’s mind blowing and no filter necessary.
Where: The southern end of Miami

Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park (image supplied)
Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park (image supplied)

Burleigh Hill
It’s safe to say that we’ve all snapped shots on Burleigh Hill at some point. A sweet location with balmy breezes and picture-perfect views of Surfers Paradise’ skyline. If you’re lucky enough, you might even spy a whale breaching!
Where: Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads

Tallebudgera Creek
If taken from the right angle, a picture at Talle Creek can easily be mistaken for a beach in Thailand or the Caribbean (but it’s on the Coast and that’s even better). The calm waters and palm trees are nothing short of #paradise!
Where: Awoonga Avenue, Burleigh Heads (northside) and Murlong Crescent, Palm Beach (southside)

Elephant Rock
There is not just one but two huge rocks at Currumbin Beach and they’re the perfect natural objects for your next Instagram pic! Who doesn’t love a great scenic shot of the deep blue sea? Hot tip: Visit during Swell Sculpture Festival held in September and take pictures of the abstract outdoor sculpture gallery against the ocean.
Where: Currumbin Beach, Currumbin

Waterfalls
With so many waterfalls and rock pools to choose from, it’s not easy to decide which ones to visit. You should probably just go see them all but we’ve created a list of our faves right here.
Where: Various locations

Mexicali
No doubt you’ve noticed the prettiest wall on the Coast beneath Nobby’s fave Mexicali. It’s pink and blue and perfectly Insta-worthy and if you haven’t got a snap in front of it, you better hot foot it down there right now.
Where: Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach 

Don’t forget to tag us in your pics using #insidegoldcoast

Words by Kirra Smith

Mexicali

10 of the best Gold Coast picnic spots

The times they are a-changing Gold Coasters (again, yes). We are now allowed to venture out of our homes with those we have been spending ALL OF THE TIME with for a picnic. How nice. While we’re still practicing all of the social distancing precautions, it’s good to be able to sit down somewhere that isn’t the backyard for a spot of cheese and biccies.

To celebrate that, here’s a list of 10 pretty spots to throw down a blanket on the Gold Coast.

Hinze Dam, Advancetown
This underrated hinterland destination will be your new favourite picnic spot. There are several parks that surround Hinze Dam, so take in the stunning scenery, sip on a cold glass of bubbly and generally enjoy the company of family and friends. There’s a BBQ area, kids playground and even a small cafe in case you need fresh supplies. Make sure if you’re taking the pooch to one of the designated areas, they’re kept on a leash to preserve the wildlife.

Cedar Creek Falls, Mt Tamborine
Mt Tamborine is picnic paradise and has more picnic areas than a year has days, Cedar Creek Falls being by far one of the best. Driving up the winding roads and taking in the scenic beauty is almost enough entertainment, but that’s not all. Cedar Creek Falls are located just metres from three waterfalls and countless walking tracks, making it the perfect place to spend your next Sunday.

Macintosh Island, Surfers Paradise
This little oasis nestled in Surfers Paradise (most commonly used for getting around the GC600 every year) is great for picnic dates of all sorts. The tranquil setting with cascading water running through the park is home to many birds, so don’t forget your stale bread. There’s also that super fun bridge previously built for the Indy in 2007.

Burleigh Hill

Gold Coast Regional Botanical Gardens, Benowa
Hard to believe that this beautiful little piece of paradise is just a mere 10 minute drive from Surfers Paradise. Take the whole family or soak up some solo serenity, it’s the perfect setting for both and anything in between. There’s even a butterfly garden for your gazing pleasure.

Cascade Gardens, Broadbeach
Cascade Gardens can be found between Surfers and Broadbeach and there are plenty of barbecue and undercover picnic shelters. This peaceful riverside sanctuary is the perfect date spot and with a huge area to run around, it’s also popular for families wanting to keep the kids entertained for hours (hopefully not on a date).

Ed Hardy Park, Miami
Next to North Burleigh Surf Club the park offers great people watching and a few BBQ areas perfect for that Sunday arvo picnic with the gang. Walk up Miami Hill and take in the views or have a sneaky swim in the ocean. There’s a takeaway bottle shop across the road if you need to stock up on sips.

Burleigh Hill, Burleigh
In unsurprising news, Burleigh Hill is probably the most popular picnic spot on the Coast. You can’t beat the Insta-worthy views overlooking the Surfers Paradise skyline. If you want to get a good spot on a Sunday get there early `cause the whole Gold Coast likes to unite here to see and be seen – at a safe distance obviously.

Tallebudgera Creek

Tallebudgera Creek, Tallebudgera
The battle between which side to choose continues. But no matter which is your go-to, Talle Creek won’t disappoint as favourite picnic spot. The calm creek waters are perfect for a little splash before devouring your mobile buffet. Beware the hungry bush turkeys!

Long Tan Park, Currumbin Valley
Not many people know about this pretty but somewhat hidden picnic spot in Currumbin Valley. It’s the perfect spot to get away, relax by the creek and pop in for a dip. There are no toilets or BBQ stations and uninhibited nature is purely the theme here, so go prepared. Drive along Currumbin Creek Road and take a right turn at Bains Road, the park is situated just over the bridge.

Kirra Lookout, Coolangatta
Kirra Lookout is the Burleigh Hill of Coolangatta, just not as busy and with more parking opportunities (we like the sound of that). You can either drive or walk up, but be warned, it’s quite steep, you’ll burn off your picnic before you make it to the top. Enjoy the view whilst nibbling on some crackers and sipping on an icy cold one, it’s pretty special!

Words by Kirra Smith

Kirra Lookout
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