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. Fancy a bite to eat? Natural Arch Cafe and restaurant is just a short drive up the road for that post-hike feast!
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Hiking. It’s an acquired taste but if walking long distances for the sheer joy of it floats your boat, where better to indulge than the picturesque Gold Coast. Particularly at the height of summer.
There are many places to trek around outside the comfort of your Netflix binge zone and here are five of them (from a literal walk in the park to the mother of all hiking adventures, in that order). Don’t forget water bottles and snacks.
Apple Tree Park Tracks
Sounds delightful doesn’t it. The park itself is actually a possible starting point for entry onto The Great Walk but allows your tired bones a bit of respite if 54km of walking is slightly out of your comfort zone (yes, hi). You can pretty much walk as far as you like, for as long as you like and then turn around and walk back for a picnic in the park. Take healthy foods so your walk doesn’t feel like it’s in vain.
Start: On Springbrook Rd next to the Springbrook Mountain Chalets
No doubt you’ve (at least) seen snaps of the stunning little spot that is Natural Bridge. A literal rock bridge in the middle of the rainforest complete with a sparkly waterfall and so much beautiful greenery and fresh air and relaxing wilderness noises. It’s a stunner and a fairly cruisy downhill walk to get there (bit slippery on the bridge so watch your step) and through the trees. Obvs it’s uphill on the way back but you won’t even notice you’ll be so chilled out. Make sure you’ve got a camera to capture the magic.
Start: Follow the signs towards Springbrook and then you will see signs for Natural Bridge on Natural Bridge Rd
South Stradbroke Island
Saying you’ve circumnavigated something is, quite frankly, a dream that’s always been somewhat unattainable. Until now. It’s possible to walk the entire way around South Straddy and, while it might take you awhile (it’s 21km long and 2.5km wide) it’s well worth it for the breathtaking views. Walking from the western side to the east will only take you around an hour so that’s quite relaxing. All the way around will take you at least a day so ensure you pack provisions. Once you’re done you should definitely stop in at McLarens Landing (the pub) because a hard earned thirst needs a big cold beer.
Start: Take the ferry from Hope Island and start your walk from wherever your little heart desires
Toolona Creek Circuit
Keen for a day of walking? Neither, but there are some folks who might be. To those people we say, get on board the Toolona Creek Circuit. The first part will take you to Picnic Rock and along the Toolona Creek to the falls. From there you can detour to the lookout for a rest and gaze lovingly out at the Tweed Valley, Mt Warning, Byron Bay and Straddy (hi hiking friends). Sounds chill enough except the entire track will probably take you around seven hours too. Prepare before you go and if it gets too much, turn yourself around and head home. Good luck.
Start: Head to Canungra and follow the signs to Lamington Plateau, Green Mountain Car Park aka O’Reillys.
The Great Walk
Go hard or go home right. This one’s a doozy and you might want to carve out a good chunk of time for the 54km trek. It’s best to start at Lamington National Park and finish at Springbrook and they say to allow three days to complete the walk (sheer joy remember). You’ll skirt around the rim of the Tweed Volcano and pass through the ancient lands of the Yugambeh people. Maybe put in a bit of practice with the walks below before you set out on this little adventure, it ain’t for the faint hearted. Take plenty water, camping gear and ensure you’re equipped for all weather possibilities.
Start: From the Pacific Motorway, take the Nerang exit (exit 69 from the north, exit 71 from the south) and follow the signs to Lamington National Park.
Words by Kirra Smith