The Hot Air Balloon Ride over the Gold Coast Hinterland was a preview of a very different side of Gold Coast. Thankfully, the Queensland Tourism Team decided not to leave this as a teaser. They treated us to a day trip through one part of this Gold Coast Hinterland. Soon after the Hot Air Balloon Ride, we set off for the Springbrook National Park.
My early morning ride in the Hot Air Balloon had already set the pace for the day. The green mountains and pretty streams that I had seen from above, definitely needed a closer look. In fact, with this tour, I realized that these were even more beautiful than what appeared from the height. They added a different aura to the whole Gold Coast experience for me. I would highly recommend that you add Springbrook National Park to one of the things that you need to do when in Gold Coast.
About Springbrook National Park
Most of you know how our Earth was one big happy continent called Gondwana until the forces of nature forced it to separate into different parts. Australia too was a part of this huge mass. The proof of this Gondwana environment are in fact, still found in the form of fossils – in the Springbrook National Park. This signs of this evolution of the Earth have now been preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can still see species of the same flora and fauna that existed thousands of years ago and this is what makes the Springbrook National Park so important.
Besides the important living history of this place, I found myself enthralled by the gorgeous landforms of the Springbrook National Park. It was like seeing my desktop images come to life. Caverns with waterfalls, Eucalyptus forests, large canyons and the bright colors of nature – there was so much to enjoy here. There are plenty of walking trails that allow you to see these. However, for our day trip – we embarked on just three of these. So, let’s jog along these memories of my walking trails of the Springbrook National Park.
Drive to our first stop
Even the weather Gods were on our side that day. A bright and sunny day, with clear skies that ran patterns to make the Gold Coast city even prettier. I am thankful to Hina for having let me sit by my favorite window seat. It was an absolute pleasure to capture all that I saw in my mind and camera.
The beautiful blue canals of Gold Coast slowly disappeared and out came, the green valleys of Numibah. Little fields with picket fences and pretty horses appeared at regular intervals. We even passed a few lone churches and primary schools. It was quite enriching to see the life outside Gold Coast city.
Even though I had been up since 3:30 am (remember the Hot Air Balloon ride), I barely slept. Even the few nods were reluctant as I did not want to miss anything that was being shown live on my huge Window Screen. Thankfully, before my Will lost the fight with my tired eyes, we stopped at the entrance of our first trail to the Natural Bridge.
A Trail to Natural Bridge
Our skipper said that this particular trail was just about “1 kilometer and very easy. Just a small incline with stairs but rest, not an issue.” While was making it easy for the others on the tour, what he did not realize was that my face was getting smaller and smaller. In my mind – “What? That’s it 🙁“. However, this trail made me realize that – it wasn’t about the distance, even that one kilometer could throw enough surprises to stun you.
A well-marked cobbled pathway led us through dense foliage where the silence was broken by the sounds of chirping birds and a free-flowing brook. I caught sights of pretty lorikeets but they were camera shy and managed to avoid the shutter quite deftly. At regular intervals, our skipper would stop to show some of the valued flora. Like these strangler trees, that grew on any unsuspecting tree and slowly took over its host. They apparently, sucked them out their lives and made the tree trunks quite hollow.
The path turned to a point where we saw the River Nerang fall over a stone arch into a cavern. This was the Natural Bridge. The scene was just so epic that there was a collective “Ooh” from the group as we all feasted our eyes on it.
The best part of this view was that you could enter the cavern from one side and witness the waterfall from within. The green emerald lake in the dark cave with a curtain of white looked like something out of a fairyland. In some ways, it got me back to my visit to Dawki river in India. Who knows, with the Gondwana continent, they were related.
The magical aspect of this cavern was that it was actually a Glow cave. The ethereal effect of the glow worms lit this cave at night – a scene that could only be witnessed if you embarked on a nocturnal adventure through Springbrook National Park. With that luminescent scene in my mind’s eye, I reluctantly followed the rest of the crowd out towards the rest of the trail that went around the Natural bridge, back to our bus.
Purlingbrook Falls & the Canyon Lookout
Our next stop came up even before I had gotten over the alluring Natural Bridge. However, this was not really a walk. The Purlingtonbrook falls could be seen just a few meters from the bus itself. The falls looked tiny but seemed to fall down quite a height. Unlike the gushing waterfalls of Meghalaya in India, these ones seemed tame but still beautiful. Our Skipper mentioned that one could hike down to the falls along a path but for that day, it was not to be done. He also, assured us that down below, lay the actual beauty of the Purlingtonbrook falls. His vivid description did make me want to go for the hike. Guess, that will be a good enough reason to get back to the waterfalls of Springbrook National Park.
The next viewing point too, was a short walk to an expansive landscape – a huge wide gorge with sandy summits from a lone stream fell to the depths of green woods – gurgling out from the Eucalyptus forest atop. The Canyon Lookout was definitely a sight to behold.
The Best of All Lookout
“We, Australians, love keeping simple names. Natural Bridge, Straggler trees and well – this is the Best of All Lookout” – said our Skipper as we walked along the path to see what made this the best lookout. If you still haven’t got that – well, the name of this viewpoint is “Best of All Lookout”. 🙂
Before we got to the vantage point, we stopped at an intersection of Beechwood trees. These definitely need a mention for they are around 2000 years old – Antartic Beechwood trees. If you are a “Lord of the Rings” fan, then this place will give you a feeling of Deja Vu – with its gnarled roots and dense green cover.
Past that, you reach this point where the rest of Gold Coast stands before you. You can see the coastline at the far end that looks even more enticing through the mist of the Gondwana region that you are standing at.
Springbrook National Park is a heady combination of nature and heritage – where the latter is of a different kind. I have always enjoyed the heritage through monuments and ruins but this was one of the few times, where I enjoyed it through the living remains of ancient earth. Now that you know of this rareity, I am pretty sure that you have marked the Springbrook National Park as the thing to do when in Gold Coast. And just for that – don’t forget to add this pin to your travel list.
- Gold Coast city has a good connectivity by air to the rest of the world. There are plenty of airlines like Scoot Airlines that fly you straight into the city,
- There is no public transport to the Springbrook National Park. You will need to rent a car and drive yourself or book yourself into one of the tours that take you to this park. The one that we used was Southern Cross 4WD Tours.
- It can get a little nippy when in the Gold Coast Hinterland. A warm jacket and closed shoes are recommended. Flat shoes would be the most comfortable.
- Please note that the Springbrook National Park is a protected area. Please do not harm the flora and fauna here.
- If you are keen on Bird-watching, make sure you carry your binoculars with you. Also, you might want to go for a personalized tour if that is the case, for this activity needs a lot more time than what you get on a guided tour.
- There are no restaurants along the way. There is only one cafe near the Best of Lookouts, where you can get some fresh bakes and coffee.
- Public restrooms are available at all these locations.
- The Gold Coast Hinterland has plenty of other trails and national parks. Lamington National Park and Mount Tambourine are two other destinations. Even within Springbrook National Park, you can try out the other trails like the Twin Falls trail.