Bring two minute noodles and your very best sense of adventure.
Bring two minute noodles and your very best sense of adventure.
As the year draws to a close, any break from the daily routine is a welcome one. In today’s economic landscape, opting for budget-friendly getaways is the trend, and camping emerges as the perfect choice, my friends.
Luckily for us, there are numerous beautiful spots nearby to satisfy your wanderlust, and the best part is, all you need is a tent, some two-minute noodles, and a keen sense of adventure.
Nestled in the breathtaking Scenic Rim, Bigriggen Park is incredibly family-friendly, and your furry companions are welcome to join, providing them a reprieve from their routine of napping and eating. Just an hour and a half from the Gold Coast, it’s just far enough to feel like you’ve escaped the city. Spanning 55 hectares, the park offers abundant spaces for hiking, exploration, and simply basking in the serenity. If you fancy fishing and watersports, the nearby Maroon Dam lake is a short drive away.
Get there: Head out toward Beaudesert and follow the signs toward Rathdowney and onto Bigriggen from there.
Another immerse-yourself-in-nature gem, The Settlement is the only place you can camp in the Springbrook National Park. There’s no electricity or WiFi so you will certainly be escaping all the creature comforts you know and love (RIP Insta stories). Never fear though, you can amuse yourself by trekking to Purling Brook Falls and sizzling some snags at the BBQ area. Take a book or get involved in a good old-fashioned conversation.
Get there: Head towards Mudgeeraba and follow the signs to Springbrook then follow the signs to Carricks Rd.
Found in the Lamington National Park, it’s only an hour but it feels like a lifetime away. There are full shower and toilet facilities, coin-operated washing machines and dryers, barbeque stoves and hotplates, plus milk and ice available at the on-site Lamington Teahouse. It’s an eco-friendly spot and you can spend as much time as you please exploring the surrounding national park. There are stunning views of the hinterland and the Tweed region beyond and you can choose from two and four-man tent sites, unpowered and powered drive-on sites, two, four and six-bed permanent Safari Tents and brand new Tiny Wild Houses. So all the things.
Get there: Find it on Binna Burra Rd, out toward Beechmont.
Mount Barney Lodge Campground
Here you’ll get full creek frontage, a swimming hole, open campfires (love) and a kid’s holiday adventure program. How good. Mount Barney Lodge Campground is a grassy and shaded spot complete with stunning views of Mt Barney, which is just across the road should you wish to embark on a climbing adventure. You can drive directly onto shady, unpowered and grassed campsites with designated fire circles. Camper trailers, motorhomes, RV’s and caravans are welcome. There is also a non-vehicle area that is suitable for tents and families with children.
Get there: Pop Upper Logan Rd into your GPS and head toward the big old mountain.
Adventure is the name of the game at Thunderbird Park with plenty of activities for the kids both big and small. Play laser skirmish in the jungle, tackle the high ropes course at TreeTop Challenge, boost the adrenaline with a thrilling ride on the Canyon Flyer, enjoy a horse trail ride or play a round on the championship mini golf course. See, adventure. It’s not a quiet camping adventure but it’s definitely a fun one. If you want a bit more glamp in your camp the Woodlands Tents are calling your name.
Get there: Head on out to Mount Tamborine and you’ll find Thunderbird Park on the corner of Cedar Creek Falls and Tamborine Mountain Roads
South Stradbroke Island
The wild southern sibling of far-more-populated North Stradbroke Island (name creativity is off the charts), South Straddy is always a good time. Getting there is an adventure in itself and the campground is surrounded by scrub so you’ll need to be self sufficient (you can’t drive on the island either). There are bathrooms and the like at Tipplers Kiosk so don’t despair but it’s definitely a down and dirty nature-lovers paradise.
Get there: By private boat or water taxi or hire a seaplane if you’re not short of a dollar.
The Sharp Park Bush Camping is strategically nestled on the scenic banks of the Coomera River. It’s a big old grassy area with plenty of blessed shade (how’s the heatwave) and enough river for swimming, fishing, canoeing and whatever else floats your boat. Oh AND, you can bring your doggo (or cat if you must) and open fires are permitted because these good people understand the magical allure of toasting marshmallows under the starlit sky. If you’ve got a family, this spot might be your best bet.
Get there: Drive to Nerang and follow the signs to Canungra then turn off onto Beechmont Rd toward Witheren.
Okay so this place definitely doesn’t qualify as camping but diversity is key right. Nightfall Wilderness Camp is a five star glamping (best word) experience found in the Lamington National Park and it is F A N C Y. There’s bathtubs, food cooked over coals, comfy beds and the prettiest of furnishings. Also, the crew at Nightfall are dedicated to ecotourism so they protect the local wildlife and watch the creeks water quality. It’s an absolutely beautiful place and you should definitely spend some hard earned pennies here.
Get there: Head out toward Canungra then Beaudesert and follow the signs to Lamington National Park.
Nestled in the lap of nature within the lush World Heritage Lamington National Park at O’Reilly’s, this camping haven is the ultimate getaway. Your camping facilities include an open space communal camp kitchen with stunning views overlooking the McPherson Range, a fire-pit and gathering area and an amenities building – with pathways and ramping to enable accessibility for all guests. There are 24 campsites featuring Altitude and Basecamp sites, but 17 powered safari tents are also available if that’s more your jam.
Get there: Head out toward Canungra, once you reach The Canungra Hotel, turn onto Kidston Street off the main road in Canungra (Nerang-Beaudesert Road) as it turns into Lamington National Park Road. If you pass O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards you’re heading the right way (may as well pick up a bottle too!).
Words by Belinda Symons.
Amid the whirlwind of life’s demands, we’re often struck by the sudden temptation to throw our most treasured possessions at a suitcase and start a new life somewhere exotic – though, thankfully the answer to what ails us need not be so extreme.
Escape the everyday hustle and bustle and schedule a #staycay stat – because the stunning surrounds of Cedar Creek Lodges await with the antidote our tired souls seek. A hinterland haven of R&R that’s been hiding in plain sight of our weary eyes all along.
Because let’s face it *gestures vaguely* with absolutely everything we need at our fingertips, Gold Coasters need not stray farther than our own backyards – and when it’s rest and recuperation we seek, we’d be hard-pressed to top the enchanting surrounds of Cedar Creek Lodges.
Offering up a slice of idyllic hinterland serenity, Cedar Creek Lodges has long been adored among locals and holidaymakers for some 25 years now – so it’s safe to say the crew has the art of rejuvenating, reinvigorating and reconnecting down to a fine art.
Set amongst 114 picturesque hectares of Scenic Rim subtropical rainforest and open woodlands, Cedar Creek Lodges captures that elusive feeling of being ‘a world away’ packed with mod-cons and perfectly poised for adventure or romance aplenty.
The sprawling rainforest property, which is also shared with Thunderbird Park, offers plenty of space to cater to caravans and campers for those those who prefer to BYO digs. While for families, the adjacent Park’s range of adventure activities (also available for day visitors) will be especially appealing – including fossicking for ancient thundereggs and crystal panning, the Tree Top Challenge & Canyon Flyer Zipline, Laser Skirmish in a rainforest battlefield and Championship Mini Golf.
Though you can just as easily succumb to those calls to slow down, curl up beside your one and only and churn through a good book (or three).
If the latter sounds like your idea of heaven, might we suggest the Luxury Glamping tents, all perfectly poised to unplug and unwind with your beloved with your own private spa bath and fire, right on Cedar Creek. Which poises the conundrum: as blue skies beckon will it be a bush walk or a refreshing dip in the Falls to start your day? Trick question, the correct answer is of course c: both.
Alternatively, the brand new accommodation offering “The Vistas” offers the best of both worlds, cosy and chic modern mid-cen inspired suites surrounded by the sprawling treetop expanse beyond your private balcony. Which you’ll definitely be spending plenty of time perched upon, thanks to the inclusion of an inbuilt Teppanyaki cooking facility and plenty of downtime to work on those flips… itadakimasu, indeed.
Suddenly, it’s not hard to see why this choose-your-own-adventure style mountainside escape remains a perennial favourite among visitors of all ages, whether it be weary travellers, couples wanting to cosy up, or families seeking a fun-filled escape to wear out the little tykes (srsly tho, where do they get all that energy).
Where: Cnr Cedar Creek Falls & Tamborine Mountain Rds, Tamborine Mountain
Words by Kellie Leader.
STORY SPONSORED BY CEDAR CREEK LODGES
When it comes to impressing visiting family and friends, is there any better way than going on an adventure and chasing a waterfall — or two? Because beyond epic beaches, and one of the world’s most renowned surfing reserves, we also have world heritage listed rainforests and breathtaking surrounds literally right on our doorstep. And the best part about these fantastic places and mind-blowing natural spectacles is they are entirely free!
So we highly recommend you clear your schedule, pack your swimmers and embark on a fun-filled sojourn into the green behind the gold in search of large pieces of falling water. Set your phone to silent and let the serenity feed your soul.
Here are a few of our favourites, all within an hour or so from the Gold Coast.
38.7km from Surfers Paradise
Just a 50-minute drive from Surfers Paradise and nestled amongst the Denham Scenic Reserve are the Beechmont rock pools — or Lip Falls as the locals call them. Once you park your car (on Doncaster Road), it’ll only take half an hour to make your way down to the falls. Be aware; these walking paths are steep and narrow and right next to deep gorges.
Where: 45-57 Doncaster Dr, Beechmont
Cedar Creek Falls
44km from Surfers Paradise
Cedar Creek Falls are one of the better-known waterfalls on Mt Tamborine and a popular destination for locals and tourists alike (be warned – it can get quite busy). Your best bet is to explore the area via the Cedar Creek Circuit (3.2km), which will take you along all the cascades and rock pools.
Where: Cedar Creek Falls Rd, Tamborine Mountain – To get there, take Tamborine Mountain Road until you get to Cedar Creek Falls Road, just past the information map stopping bay on the left. From there, it’s only a short drive down a narrow road and across a small creek before coming to the Cedar Creek Falls section and the car park at its entrance.
39.2km from Surfers Paradise
It’s a short, beautiful walk through the rain-drenched Eucalyptus forest to the magical Curtis Falls. You’ll wander past towering trees and through a canopy of ferns, down to this miniature and photogenic waterfall. There are lots of cute creatures to spot along the way too, keep an eye for resident platypuses and wallabies. The walk should only talk half an hour or less to get down to the falls, but you will likely want to stay awhile and soak up the peacefulness. It’s just a 1.1km round trip, so you can knock it over in the early morning then stop for a spot of morning tea at the Curtis Falls Cafe.
Where: 16 Eagle Heights Rd, North Tamborine – Get there via Eagle Heights Road and park right at the entrance to the walk.
Lamington National Park
67.4 km from Surfers Paradise
Elabana Falls are certainly a hidden gem located amongst Lamington National Park close to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (a great spot to grab a bite to eat after your waterfall adventure). Park your car at O’Reilly’s and make your way through the rainforest, past Picnic Rock and further downhill for another 400 metres until you reach the cascading falls. Make sure you refresh yourself with a snack or sit down before embarking on your way back up; it gets pretty steep!
Where: Lamington National Park Rd, Canungra
Springbrook National Park
47 km from Surfers Paradise
As you probably know, Natural Bridge is a heavenly cave-like rock formation at Springbrook National Park that is home to glow worms and a colony of tiny bent-wing bats – it’s also one of the most photographed spots on the Gold Coast. Start the short one-kilometre rainforest walk clockwise to the Natural Bridge rock arch to get down to the action.
Where: Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd, Springbrook – It’s super easy to find; just follow Nerang-Murwillumbah Road until you get to the car park signage at Bakers Road.
40.6km from Surfers Paradise
Start your 4km journey through the sub-tropical rainforest from the Tallabana picnic area or Canyon lookout in an anticlockwise direction. You’ll reach a small bridge, flowing water and immense rock formations after a couple of minutes (perfect for an Insta snap). Keep hiking down the track until you come across two rushing waterfalls. At the base of Twin Falls — after a worthy hike — you’ll find a large rock pool perfect for a rewarding swim!
Where: Canyon Pde, Springbrook
Purling Brook Falls
NOTE: The Purling Brook Falls circuit is currently closed as a result of flood damage due to a severe rainfall event on Thursday 22 September 2022.
37km from Surfers Paradise
The Purling Brook Falls are immense, towering at over 100 meters in height and are naturally best visited after rainfall. Start your 2 hour hike clockwise along a scenic and elevated path into a subtropical gorge to view the amazing falls from below. Venture further down the track until you reach waterholes that are great for swimming. When you have had enough, prepare for a steady climb up through the rainforest, which will bring you back to the picnic area.
Where: 63 Gwongorella Parade, Springbrook
113km from Surfers Paradise
Yes, we know the following two locations aren’t on the Gold Coast, they aren’t even in Queensland, but it will take you a short drive along what is probably the most breathtaking scenic drive, until you reach Nightcap National Park in Northern NSW. Make sure you come prepared because getting to Minyon Falls can be quite the journey (well worth it, though). We recommend you start with Minyon Falls Lookout, providing you with outstanding views before adventuring further downstream towards the base of the falls.
Where: Nightcap National Park, Newton Dr, Nightcap
108 km from Surfers Paradise
Killen Falls are undoubtedly one of the most epic waterfalls to dive into with its large swimming hole and rock pools. The rock has been eroded significantly behind the waterfall, forming an impressive cave. Ever wanted to take a waterfall shower? Well, at Killen Falls, that’s not a problem as you can swim across the pool and climb up the rocks just to sit right underneath the falling water.
Where: Killen Falls Dr, Tintenbar – Killen Falls are super easy to find, just minutes off the Pacific Highway near Byron Bay.
But it’s important to remember, whilst it’s tempting (and refreshing) to go for a swim in the rock pools and lagoons, it’s prohibited in some, so please adhere to any safety signs and be 100% sure it’s safe to swim before diving in. Also, be sure to pack closed-in shoes, plenty of water, mozzie repellent and sunscreen (the sun will still get you between the canopy).
Last but not least, take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints behind!
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
Sundays are reserved for one of three purposes; chilling with the fam and getting prepped for the week ahead, sneaking in a little Sunday sesh to delay Monday as long as humanly possible, and our fave, a spot of road trippin! We’re lucky on the GC as we’re inundated with scenic drive options, and only need to travel an hour or two to find lots of beautiful, unique sights and activities.
We’ve broken it down to five destinations and provided a small snapshot of what you can find at each. Toot toot!
A trip up the mountain isn’t complete without a stroll along Gallery Walk. It’s a melting pot of eclectic finds, with over 70 shops in the one block. You’ll find everything from fashion, jewellery, arts and crafts, cellar door outlets, chocolate, fudge, food outlets, cafes…and even a cuckoo clock shop. If you’re looking for something unique or need to buy that friend who has everything a gift, chances are you’ll find something here.
Where: Long Road, Tamborine Mountain
Enjoy a beautiful walk through the rain-drenched Eucalyptus forest to the magical Curtis Falls. Wander past towering trees and through a canopy of ferns, down to this miniature and photogenic waterfall. The 1.1km walk should only talk half an hour or less to get down to the falls, but you will likely want to stay awhile and soak up the peacefulness. Top it off with a spot of morning tea at the Curtis Falls Cafe. Lovely!
Where: 16 Eagle Heights Road, North Tamborine – Get there via Eagle Heights Road and park right at the entrance to the walk.
This 18-acre working distillery is the darling of the Scenic Rim. A Prohibition-style space with an established vineyard, lush rolling meadows and of course, a generous gin and cocktail bar, there’s a lot to love. Settle in for a bev or a feed, or BYO picnic rug and chill amongst the vineyards. You can partake in complimentary lawn games if you so desire, and they’re pro pop here so Fido can come too!
Where: 89-123 Hartley Road, Tamborine Mountain
The Glow Worm Caves
Take a guided half-hour walk through lush rainforest to a purpose-built cave, filled with thousands of shimmery glow worms! Everyone can get up close and personal with a glow worm here without damaging delicate wild habitats #CueApplause. And the best part? It’s conveniently located in the Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard and Winery, you can enjoy a tipple pre or post tour…or pre and post tour!
Where: Cedar Creek Estate, 104-144 Hartley Road, North Tamborine
Mountview Alpaca Farm
Located in O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyard, you can meet alpacas and drink wine and srsly, life made. Choose between 15 and 60 minute alpaca experiences where you can walk and feed these cute creatures, or go all out with an alpaca picnic, alpaca devonshire tea, or a wine, cheese and alpaca package (#us). Set in a boutique vineyard and historic Queenslander homestead, it’s as picturesque as it is fun.
Where: 852 Lamington National Park Road, Canungra
Farm & Co.
No doubt Instagram has informed you there is a field of sunflowers just a short 25 minute drive away where you can frolic, take selfies, pick said sunflowers and generally pretend you don’t have a care in the world. There’s also a coffee shop where you can sink into an oversized lounge chair while gazing at the sunflowers and contemplating a new career in farming, live music of a weekend, a tasty array of brunch eats and fresh veggies you can take home too.
Where: 529 Cudgen Road, Cudgen
Take a 5-minute drive to Duranbah to the iconic Tropical Fruitworld where you can see, taste and learn about fruits from around the world grown in the family plantation. The award-winning farm tour is a must and speaking of musts, you do need to pre-book. Grab a bite to eat from Plantation Café, and shop for the delicious fresh home-grown produce and unique fruit products made on site from the Marketplace.
Where: 29 Duranbah Rd, Duranbah
Check out restful riverside town Chinderah, stopping in for a refreshment and snack at The Chindy. Also known as Chinderah Tavern, The Chindy boasts a big old deck overlooking the widest river in the world (not a fact) and supplies all the cold beer, wine and tasty eats you could wish for on a Sunday afternoon. There’s live music, sunsets if you time it right, and just general non-city good times. Right next door is Cubby Bakehouse you can get yourself some dessert for the drive home.
Where: 156 Chinderah Bay Drive, Chinderah
The Farm Byron Bay
A must visit for everyone (especially anyone with a little person in tow), The Farm is a destination in itself. See how the farm operates and say hi to the animals, and meet the infamous mascots Braveheart the Scottish Highland cow and Bobby the rooster. Collect macadamia nuts from the macadamia trees, have a meal at Three Blue Ducks restaurant, or grab a little something from The Bread Social to eat outside on a picnic rug. There’s a playground for the anklebiters and plenty of beautiful open space to explore.
Where: 11 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale
The Crystal Castle in Mullumbimby
Instagood alert! Sit in an ancient amethyst cave, pose with rare and amazing giant crystals, and wander five hectares of subtropical, crystal-filled Shambhala Gardens and rainforest. You can even touch the World Peace Stupa, a project blessed by the Dalai Lama and join in Crystal Sound Healings at 12pm and 3pm! Grab a bite with a stunning hinterland view at Lotus Café and let the kids run amok in the playground.
Where: 81 Monet Drive, Montecollum
The heart of beautiful Brunswick Heads, swing in for a drink or a feed at this classic Aussie pub. Somewhat of an institution and a fave far and wide, relax under the beautiful Poinciana trees in the beer garden and soak up the ambience. Always busy on Sundays, if you can push the friendship and stay on till the early evening, you’ll generally be rewarded with live music and an even more awesome vibe. Pub grub at its best.
Where: Mullumbimbi Street, Brunswick Heads
A collective of creative local artisans and curators of fine goods who are passionate about what they do, this is our jam! Honouring the space and the essence of the Byron Bay Hinterland, Newrybar Merchants enables customers to experience rustic charm effortlessly blended with sophistication within a beautiful and unique retail space. Shop everything from faaarshion, to homewares, to wellness products and everything in between, it’s a must.
Where: 16 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar
The Ivory Waterside
Barely over the boarder but for the northern GC folk, it’s a Sunday drive to Tweed Heads so we’ll let this one fly. Recently undergoing a bit of a nip and tuck and overlooking the adjoining marina and picturesque Terra Creek, it’s the ultimate in casual waterside dining. The food is consistently delish and guys, you can even get your rad on with tons of vintage arcade games in Benny’s Arcade. Talk about a one-stop-good-times-shop! Add it to the list.
Where: 156 Wharf Street, Tweed Heads
Wollumbin National Park.
Unfortunately closed until the end of October due to flooding etc, this World Heritage-listed national treasure is well worth a look once it reopens. Previously known as Mt Warning National Park, lose yourself in some of the largest and oldest tracts of sub-tropical rainforest on Earth. Wollumbin, which rises from the park to a height of 1,157 metres above sea level, is a remnant central vent of an ancient volcano and yep, that’s a drawcard right there.
Where: About 12km south-west of Murwillumbah off Kyogle Road, Mount Warning
Tweed River House
This one is special! From the vantage point of the verdant riverbanks, settled at the tropical foothills of the Tweed Caldera in Murwillumbah, this century-old riverside plantation house has been lovingly restored to maintain its original character and charm. The elegant yet relaxed renovation creates a unique space that reflects the gentle pace of the Northern Rivers, oozing 1930s style with a French twist. They’ve even been nominated for a Chef Hat Award by the Australian Good Food Guide so if the aesthetics aren’t enough to get you there, the nosh will be!
Where: 131 River Street, South Murwillumbah
Baked at Ancora
Another one that’s close by when you’re a bit strapped for time is Baked at Ancora. Believers that sweet treats and waterside picnics go hand in hand, we concur and we can’t get enough of this Parisian style café bakery. From their signature croissants and traditional classics like pain-au-chocolat, to the more unique and inventive flavour combos, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in actual Paris. Well worth the waistline damage.
Where: 118 Wharf St, Tweed Heads
You just know this one will be cool by the name. A small independent boutique bottleshop and delicatessen run by a chef and a sommelier, this trendy yet totally unpretentious local fave is #goals. Grab a sub and stock up on a vast array of sensational deli goodies for your evening platter. Don’t even get us started on the booze, which you can take home (including phenom cocktail ingredients) or enjoy in-house. We recommend passing on DD duty and settling in for a few.
Where: 20 Bay Street, Tweed Heads
Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre
There’s always something new to discover at the Tweed Regional Gallery, housed in a large, modern, architecturally award-winning building with views to Wollumbin/Mount Warning. While you’re there, a meal at the new in-house eats haunt Apex is an absolute non-negotiable. With a stunning outlook and design to reflect the vista, indulge in a unique combo of rustic French patisserie goodies and modern cafe plates with a very ‘now’ pan-Asian twist. Add a cocktail and instant happy place.
Where: 2 Mistral Road, South Murwillumbah
Important side note incoming…. Check out What’s on in the Tweed for the region’s official event calendar here
Words by Bianca Trathen.