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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 breathtaking waterfalls around the Gold Coast

Lookout, Curtis Falls (image supplied)
Lookout, Curtis Falls (image supplied)

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.

Beechmont
Lip Falls
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

Elabana Falls (image supplied)
Elabana Falls (image supplied)

Mt Tamborine
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.

Curtis Falls
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.

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

Lamington National Park
Elabana Falls
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
Natural Bridge
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.

Looking up to the top of Purlingbrook Falls (image supplied)
Looking up to the top of Purlingbrook Falls (image supplied)

Twin Falls
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

Minyon Falls lookout in Nightcap National Park. (Photo credit: Jimmy Malecki)
Minyon Falls lookout in Nightcap National Park. (Photo credit: Jimmy Malecki)

Northern NSW
Minyon Falls
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 

Killen Falls
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.

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

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.

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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