From perfectly crisp winter mornings atop a mountain to shaded summer days under an icy waterfall, the national parks on and around the Gold Coast are a year-round delight. The genuinely outdoorsy will find no shortage of steep peaks and pack-a-tent occasions, whilst an abundance of easily accessible vantage points and no huffing natural wonders will keep the rest of us entertained. Trade in a weekend of boozing and get acquainted with one of these Gold Coast national parks.
Springbrook National Park | The Most Instagrammable
If The Fudge Shop alone isn’t enough to lure you up the mountain, let us promise you a natural dream scene of deep valleys and Jurassic Park-style waterfalls. Formed by the eruption of a volcano some 23 million years ago (sorry, when?), this land now boasts glow-in-the-dark mushrooms and some of the country’s oldest trees. The perfect spot for a winter weekender, you can wake up amidst the clouds and drift off in a log-fire warmed cabin.
Tamborine National Park | The Nature Meets Winery Combo
Cuter than your average grandma, the town of Tamborine is a place to stock up on homemade soaps with actual lavender chunks, activated quartz crystals, and—not least of all—fresh-from-the-mountain vino. Back on the Gold Coast national park subject you will find glory in a dip at the Cedar Creek swimming holes and the Skywalk trail of steel footbridges 300-metres above the forest’s canopies. Tamborine National Park has numerous walking tracks carved into, ranging from 15-minute easy lookout trots to more intensive two-hour trails with steep inclines. This means you can do some natural sightseeing knowing precisely the amount of time you’ll be spending away from Beard and Brau Farmhouse Brewery’s selection of gourmet cheeses and craft beer.
Woolumbin National Park | The One You’ll Brag About
Woolumbin National Park is best known for majestic Mount Warning and its location amidst the eccentric burbs of Northern NSW. Part of the United Nations World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, the 1,159-metre Mount Warning offers a five-hour return walk with a breathtaking summit. Those not big on the whole climb-a-mountain-peak thing can take the easy Lyrebird Track from Mount Warning Road, where you’ll find a wooden footbridge crossing Breakfast Creek and trees with root systems that stand at human height. This densely tropical, uber mosey National Park is best enjoyed as a warm up to brunch at Mavis’s Kitchen.
Burleigh Head National Park | The Old Faithful
A stone’s throw from Rick Shores, Burleigh Head National Park is convenience to a T. Though a swim in Tallebudgera Creek or a picnic on Burleigh Hill could technically see you ticking your BHNP experience, it’s the walk to the top—past the bush turkeys to the beautiful vistas of Tumgun lookout—that’s considered a true conquer.
Lamington National Park | The Queen of Subtropical Rainforests
From being dwarfed by ancient trees to seeing rainbows appear in rushing cascades, Lamington National Park is the fairy tale rainforest experience. The Fern Gully setting includes Binna Burra, where you can nest in a wooden lodge after a long day ambling under trees and, on the opposite mountain ridge line, O’Riellys, where wooden foot bridges and trees with ladders can have you pretending you've made your way to Costa Rica.
Mount Barney National Park | The Pack-Your-Tent Occasion
When looking at Mount Barney National Park on Google Maps, you’ll probably need about six clicks on the zoom out icon before you start to recognize anything. Unless of course you have been to Bald Knob (come again?), in which case you’ll feel at home on about click two. A manageable two-hour drive from Nerang, this national park is for the serious appreciator of the great and rugged outdoors. The second highest peak in south east Queensland, the hike up Barney takes a minimum of seven hours, advisable only for those with serious navigation skills and an A+ level of fitness. Campers are warned to expect ‘rugged conditions with no facilities’. We wish you luck.
Conquered every Gold Coast national park? Then you deserve a drink.
Image credit: Brooke Darling for The Urban List