If you feel like escaping the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast for day, I suggest renting a car and discovering South East Queensland for yourself. One thing the tourists always seem to miss are the real beauties the Gold Coast has to offer besides the sun, surf and sand.
One place I definitely recommend taking a day trip to is Natural Arch which is only 40 minutes drive from the Gold Coast. Also known as Natural Bridge, this place is a subtropical rainforest nestled within the scenic Numinbah Valley. As one of my all time favourite places to go, Natural Bridge has more then just greeny surroundings on offer. Get in and discover the ancient rock formations, rock waterfalls, the vast range of flora and fauna and the infamous glow worms which light up the caves in which they hide in.
If you do get a chance to get out here I suggest bringing something warm to throw on as it is usually refreshingly cooler then the coastal areas during the day.
If you do fall in love with this place as much as I do, consider coming at night. With the bright glow worms to light up the darkened sky this place is much alive at night as it is during the day.
If you have the chance to make a day of it, why not bring along a picnic or try the local Natural Arch Cafe.
Natural Arch Cafe details are as follows:
Natural Bridge QLD 4213
PH: +61 (07) 5533-6140
Natural Bridge is located on the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road, about four kilometres north of the border gate. From the Pacific Highway, you can turn off at Nerang (30 kilometres to the park) or at Mudgeeraba (42 kilometres to the park via Springbrook plateau). The scenic access roads are winding and should be travelled with care. Mini-bus tours run to the park from the Gold Coast and Murwillumbah.
Now we get down to the parts of the Gold Coast I find the most interesting, the ranges inland. Much of these are included in the extensive Springbrook National Park. You could spend weeks walking on the National Park trails and still not see all the sights. Here you will find waterfalls, cliffs, thick sub-tropical rainforest dripping with moisture, and ancient Antarctic Beech trees which are relics of Gondwanaland.
The most direct route from the Gold Coast is to head inland from the Pacific Motorway via Mudgeeraba (exit 79 from the north, exit 80 from the south), then follow the Gold Coast – Springbrook Road. The road gradually narrows and there are some quite blind corners, finally culminating in a section of one-way road, so take care. The drive from Mudgeeraba is not long, I’d say about 30-40 km. We had only a few hours to drive in, make a short visit, then drive out – and had no trouble fitting it into the time available. We even stopped for a very pleasant lunch at the former Post Office in the little settlement of Springbrook.
On our way up, we stopped to take in the views back to Surfers Paradise from the Wunburra Lookout. I had forgotten how good the purple ‘morning glory’ flowers can look, as they are too tropical for my part of Australia. For interest sake I’m including the second photo – I could never repeat it, but of all things I stopped a dragonfly dead centre in the frame!
For those interested in ‘collecting’ World Heritage Sites’, the rainforests in these National Parks are part of the World Heritage site ”Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves.
These 110 metre falls are one of the real highlights of this section of Springbrook National Park. A short and easy walking track from the carpark at the Gwongorella Picnic Area makes them accessible to just about anyone. Gwongorella also is easy to find: just following the road from the Coast will almost take you there, but fortunately the good people of National Parks have provided large maps to guide you in various places – Gowngorella is marked with the red box saying ‘you are here’ (which may be difficult to read on screen), however I have marked the route with red dots.
Holidaying on the "Coast" is full of fun, sand & surf and nightlife.
Perhaps one day, you may feel like a change of scenery, if so, a drive to the hinterland in a hire car, or with a tour company is an excellent days outing.
This is a drive I have often done. It begins at Nerang (exit 69) off the Pacific highway. The drive is past lush green countryside, Dairy Farms, fresh crystal clear creeks, and all with the cliffs, and maybe some waterfalls as the backdrop.
As you follow this road through the Numinbah valley, you will see a Prison farm where low risk prisoner's are kept. These are ones that may have refused to pay a fine, etc. etc.
Make sure you take time to call into Natural Arch and have a look before continuing about another 4kms to the New South Wales border.
Just over the border, be ready to pull off and stop at the valley lookout [pull-off]. Views are far reaching.
A good stop for lunch is the "green village" of Chillingham. Just a quiet country town, that gets busy on the weekends!
All the way the scenery is nice, if like us, coming after a good rain, then you will see waterfalls plummeting down the cliff faces, and more waterfalls and cascades in the creek, like we did, ones I had never seen before. Also, the grass was green, green!!
This drive is also a chance to buy fresh fruit and vegetables from the roadside stalls, and at the little town of Uki, they hold a Sunday market in the hall.
Not long after here, you are back at the gold coast, away from the peace & quiet of the Gold Coast hinterland!
Fill up with petrol before you leave, and either take something for a bbq or picnic or buy something from the village. There are lots of nice picnic places, and most have Toilets.
Plunging waterfalls, cool rainforests, rugged gorges beckon you to Springbrook National Park in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Springbrook lies on a chain of mountains stretching across the Queensland-New South Wales border. Many walking tracks ranging from easy to challenging take you to scenic lookouts, spectacular waterfalls and ancient rainforests.
At about 900m above sea level it can be cool here even during the summer. Rainfall averages 3000mm a year mostly between December and March. The drier months from May to October are probably the best time to visit.
Please feel free to drop by and check out my more comprehensive tips for the simply stunning Springbrook National Park.