Sitting behind the glittering cities and the iconic soft sandy beaches of the Gold Coast lie pockets of pristine wilderness that harbour spectacular natural landscapes. One of the most beautiful is the glistening waterfalls. Whether you seek them out after a heavy downpour or embark on a day trip to these stunning serene waterscapes during the drier months, they are always a sight to behold. Be it the tumbling waters plunging off the cliffs or cascading down layers of rocks, the Gold Coast has numerous waterfalls to satisfy even the most intrepid waterfall explorer.
South of Brisbane, the background of the Gold Coast has two expanses of spectacular world heritage listed national parks that sit side-by-side: Springbrook National Park and Lamington National Park. These peaks are not only home to numerous endemic animals, but it’s also a heavily rainforested area that receives a lot of rain in the summer months and where there’s rain, there are waterfalls.
In addition to Springbrook and Lamington National Park, the Gold Coast is also home to the idyllic mountaintop town of Mt Tamborine, which also has its fair share of beautiful waterfalls.
Purlingbrook Falls, Twin Falls & Rainbow Falls
Springbrook National Park is absolute waterfall heaven in South East Queensland. And if you’re looking to knock off consecutive waterfalls one after another, you can’t go past the plateau section of the lush national park.
Along the two different tracks, you can hit up three beautiful waterfalls: Purlingbrook Falls, Twin Falls and Rainbow Falls.
Purlingbrook stands on its own and is a stunning horsetail waterfall that plunges 100m off a rugged cliff into the lush rainforest below.
Twin Falls and Rainbow Falls are on the their own track and are equally beautiful. Whereas Purlingbrook is viewable from a safe distance on a suspension bridge, the latter two are interactive. You’re able to walk behind these gushing waterfalls and get a refreshing blast of crisp, clean rainforest-filtered mist that the crashing waterfall stirs up. It’s an incredible way to enjoy the scenery and cool off under the summer sun.
In the vicinity, there’s also Goomoolahra Falls, a short, easily accessible waterfall at the edge of the park where you can view not only the top of the falls but the Tallebudgera Valley too.
For a much longer walk for the fit and experienced, tie up your boots and hit up the 17km Warrie Circuit, which leads to the little-seen base of Goomoolahra Falls, or trek through the 56km Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk to see all the waterfalls that even fewer people get to experience.
Natural Bridge Section
Next door in the aptly named Natural Bridge section of Springbrook along the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road lies an incredible waterfall of the same name.
The Natural Bridge is an impressive single-drop waterfall that gushes its way through the collapsed roof of a dark, shadowy cave. Not only does that make it an unusual sight to behold as you can walk inside the cave, but it’s also home to thousands of tiny glow worms.
Only visible at night, these bioluminescent creatures stick their glowy butts out to lure insects while draping sticky saliva to catch them. They are also incredibly sensitive to light, preventing them from catching things and eating their insides, which cause them to starve and die. (There’s a big sign outside telling you how you should proceed so you can appreciate them but not harm them. There’s been a noticeable drop in numbers every time I visit.)
Guide yourself inside with no lights on using the handrail and gaze up at a galaxy of glow worms while listening to the water thundering inside. The natural amphitheatre of the cave makes an unforgettable sensory experience.
Mount Cougal Section
On the complete other side of Springbrook National Park lies another beautiful waterfall. (I told you, Springbrook is waterfall heaven.) The Mount Cougal section of the park is accessible from the southern suburbs of the Gold Coast city and is home to the Cougal Cascades.
The short track not only takes you past a beautiful gushing, cascade waterfall with a platform overlooking the serene landscape, but also has a bit of history, with a historic old sawmill at the end of the walk.
With a little from column A and a little from column B, Cougal Cascades is a lovely easy-to-access waterfall that’s not too far away from the Gold Coast beaches.
Mt Tamborine is another place brimming to the T with beautiful waterfalls. Although the prettiest ones are smaller than those in Springbrook and Lamington National Park, the accessibility to and the convenience of the bustling mountaintop town makes the waterfalls at Mt Tamborine a beloved place to visit.
Cedar Creek Falls
Mt Tamborine, Gold Coast
Tucked into the rainforest along Geissmann Road is Mt Tamborines northernmost waterfall: Cedar Creek Falls. Situated alongside Thunderbird Park and the Jungle TreeTop Challenge adventure park, Cedar Creek Falls is a spectacular year-round waterfall that mmmbops its way down several tiers of the rocky landscape.
The easy access track has several views to observe the calming waters as they cascade over the rocks, but the best part about this short walk is that you can wild swim at the end of the track in a beautiful, picturesque pool right by one of the falls.
It’s a stunning walk that not only allows you to observe a peaceful, serene area but experience it too, making it one of the best attractions at Mt Tamborine.
Mt Tamborine, Gold Coast
As you make your way further up the mountain along the same road, another beautiful, scenic waterfall lies in wait. Situated unassumingly behind the shops on the corner of Geissmann Road and Eagle Heights Road lies the pretty Curtis Falls.
Accessible from around the corner on Dapsang Road, the Curtis Falls walking track may only be a short one, but as Tamborine’s most iconic attraction, its easy descent into the dark rainforest to the small, picturesque waterfall is soothing, serene and very much a worthwhile mini-adventure for everyone, especially those short on time or with small kids.
Mt Tamborine also has a couple of other waterfalls you can walk to as well. Within the Rocky Knoll section lies Cameron Falls, a pretty single-drop horsetail waterfall however, it is a bit obscured by a tree, and Witches Falls near Rotary Lookout is a lovely hike through thick rainforest, but the falls are generally very dry, so it’s best to visit these ones shortly after heavy rain.
And last on the list of beautiful national parks that house the Gold Coast’s stunning waterfalls is Lamington National Park. It’s a vast rainforest with spectacular geographical features such as lookouts, cliffs and, of course, waterfalls, of which Lamington has numerous. However, many of these are on very long full day or overnighter tracks, such as the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk. But there are also a handful of beautiful, scenic waterfalls on shorter walks perfect for the day-tripper.
Picnic Rock Falls, Elabana Falls & Box Log Falls
Green Mountains Section
If one waterfall is the order of the day, you’d best not head down Box Forest Circuit trail because you’re going to get overwhelmed by the awesome foursome. At 10kms, even one of the shorter trails in Lamington National Park is still pretty long. But if you’re content with a 3-hit waterfall combo, hiking out to Picnic Rock, Elabana Falls and Box Log Falls along the same track is a more achievable walk for the average peep.
By no means are these crappy waterfalls just because they aren’t as arduous to get to. Elabana Falls is a particularly picturesque set of waterfalls. And given that the park is a lush rainforest perched high up on a stunning mountain plateau that receives a lot of rain, the falls are pretty much guaranteed to be flowing nicely.
Whether you choose to do the whole circuit or knock out the three that are together, or even the closest one or two, a hike to any one of these beautiful falls is a day well spent.
From Springbrook National Parks dramatic horsetail waterfalls and magical bioluminescent cave waterfall to Mt Tamborine’s smaller, quaint waterfalls to Lamington’s dark rainforest fed waterfalls, the Gold Coast has a plethora of beautiful, scenic waterfalls all types of adventurers to enjoy.
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