For most of us, the great outdoors on the Gold Coast means a grand total of two things: beaches and rock pools. Unless Dad bought you a jet ski or you know someone who knows someone with a 65-foot Maritimo, in which case it will expand to include getting boozed on the Broadwater.
For a small collective of overzealous individuals—many of which have a member’s card at Kathmandu and can spark fire care of two small twigs—it means trekking mountains and mammoth walks. Mapping new trails on a Monday and reaching summits on a Sunday, that’s their vibe.
Just in case being like these super-humans is on your New Year’s resolution list (which it probably should be) we present to you the best of the Gold Coast’s many hikes and walking tracks. Dust off that hangover, put down those truffle fries, and get yourself looking very high fashion with one of those water-sipping camel backpacks*.
Tamborine Mountain Skywalk
You know a walk is legit when it has its very own website. This “eco-adventure” may only be 1.5 kilometres long, but with 300 metres of it made up of steel bridges, some standing as high as 40 metres above ground, it still earns the title of adventurous weekend activity. We love a good tea and scone stroll through the village of Mount Tamborine, but this ramps the area up to a whole new level.
Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park
If you could swim under the Natural Bridge, there would be a very busy hashtag on Instagram ‘bout it. Thankfully, you can’t. So the walk to the bridge isn’t a bikini catwalk of 14-year-olds (who look like 19-year-olds) with iPhones on selfie sticks. The novice geographer will find this waterfall spilling through a whole in the earth situation utterly astonishing. And if you can hold off your return walk until evening, the astonishment will continue with an all-natural glowworm encounter. *SHRIEK!!!*
Elevated a casual 1,159 metres above sea level and stretching 8.8 kilometers in a roundtrip, this is no casual day out. Though we are happy to announce the panoramic view from the peak makes it completely worthwhile. You may think you’ve seen enough beauty just from the Lyrebird Lookout, but the satisfaction of reaching the summit is worth the extra nudge.
We may have heated fluoride disputes and sporadic usage restrictions about as burdensome as “please don’t hose your driveway”, but our bathing isn’t restricted to twice weekly in a communal pond, and we don’t get violently ill from sculling our tap water. So realistically speaking, we are insanely lucky. If you’ve forgotten that fact, a trip to the astounding Hinze Dam should sharpen your appreciation right up. Complete with picnic areas, three kilometres of walking tracks and plenty of fishing/sporting/family-time Sunday vibes, it’s the perfect no sweat weekend activity.
Burleigh Heads National Park
While Sydney-siders are busy working on “relocation and removal” plans for Australian Bushturkeys, us Gold Coasters are busy enjoying their company like the goodhearted, animal-loving Cane Toads that we are. And nowhere does this union flourish more than Burleigh Heads National Park. Two scenic walks coast their way through this turkey-clad park; one that wraps 1.2 kilometres around the park, skirting the ocean without much of an incline, and another which ventures up the forest’s higher parts offering a harder 2.3-kilometre circuit. Both are beautiful iconic Gold Coast walks that site our prettiest oceans. Did we mention the turkeys?
Lamington National Park
Nine suspension bridges and two ladder-accessible observation decks make up what we deem the best walk in the Lamington National Park. And there are many —160-kilometres worth to be precise. Almost an hour and a half from central Gold Coast, this UNESCO World Heritage site will feel a lifetime away from your everyday life. Make a whole weekend of it.
*Kidding. Please don’t get a water-sipping camel backpack. Just wear a complete Lorna Jane ensemble and carry a reusable Miranda Kerr SIGG Water Bottle like a normal person. Thanks.
Did we miss your favourites among our pick of the Gold Coast’s best hikes and walks? Tell us!
Photo Credit: Natasha Oakley