Chasing Waterfalls in the Gold Coast Hinterland

Purling Brook Falls from lookout, Springbrook National Park

The Gold Coast Hinterland provides perhaps the ultimate in hiking experiences close to Brisbane, with dozens of walking trails passing through ancient, Jurassic-era Gondwana rainforest to encounter the pinnacle of picturesque outlooks—a cascading waterfall. While swimming is not always possible beneath these falls, the experience of being in such close proximity to them (and even passing behind them in some cases!) is a wonderful experience! 

These are our top picks for chasing waterfalls in the Gold Coast Hinterland for your next outdoor adventure.

Waterfalls in Springbrook National Park

If there’s one destination on the Gold Coast that provides that real ‘WOW’ factor for hiking and chasing waterfalls, it has to be Springbrook National Park. Part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, the national park features magnificent trees dating back over 180 million years and multiple waterways flowing across cascades and waterfalls into the rockpools below.

It is worth stopping at the National Parks Information Centre on School Road before you set out. The centre features wildlife and historical displays and there is a boardwalk, a lookout 100m from the carpark and public toilets.

You can find out more about Springbrook National Park here.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park, Gold Coast Hinterland

Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park

Within the western section of Springbrook National Park, Natural Bridge is easily accessible for families. Travelling clockwise along the 1km Natural Bridge Circuit, the trail follows a downward incline through towering rainforest to the rock arch and waterfall known as Natural Bridge. The cave behind the waterfall is truly magical, featuring glow worms and microbats (best viewed at night!). The area is also home to many animals, including rare and threatened species such as sooty owls and tusked and cascade frogs. On summer evenings, you may also spot fireflies and luminescent fungi.

Natural Bridge, at a glance:

Family Friendly?Yes
Length of walk1km circuit (approximately a 45 minute round trip, plus time spent stopping to enjoy the sights along the way)
Level of difficultyEasy – Sealed track. Some sections of stairs. Suitable for all fitness levels.
Carpark?Yes
FacilitiesToilets and picnic areas at start of trail.
Accessibility restrictionsAccess to Cave Creek is restricted to protect the sensitive ecosystem of this area and to ensure visitor safety.
Swimming opportunitiesSwimming is prohibited.
LocationCircuit starts from carpark located at Nerang Murwillumbah Road and Bakers Road, Springbrook, QLD, 4213

Read our full Natural Bridge review here.

Twin Falls & Blackfellow Falls

Twin Falls hike in the Springbrook National Park, Australia

Twin Falls Circuit is a 4km walking trail across part of the Springbrook Plateau and down onto the rainforest floor in the canyon below. There are two waterfalls to see and walk behind on this circuit—Twin Falls and Blackfellow Falls. Spectacular views can be found at every turn along this trail that crosses streams, passes under amazing rock clefts and begins and ends with an incredible outlook across the canyon from the cliffs above. This is a fairly strenuous walk to do with kids, due to the descent and ascent at the start and end of the trail, but it is well worth it for the amazing natural scenery you will see along the way.

Twin Falls & Blackfellow Falls, at a glance:

Family Friendly?Yes, however caution is required due to sheer cliffs.
Length of walk4km circuit (approximately a 2-3-hour round trip, plus time spent stopping to enjoy the sights or a swim along the way)
Level of difficultyLevel of difficulty – Moderate – Track includes rough surfaces. Some sections of stairs and steep ascents/descents (walking the trail anti-clockwise is slightly easier). Some bushwalking experience recommended.
Carpark?Yes, at Tallanbana Picnic Area or Canyon Lookout carpark.
FacilitiesToilets and picnic area at Tallanbana Picnic Area.
Accessibility restrictionsNarrow, uneven paths.
Swimming opportunitiesSwimming permitted in the rock pools below Twin Falls.
LocationCircuit starts from Canyon Lookout at Canyon Parade near Ee Jung Road, Springbrook, or can also be started at Tallanbana Picnic Area at 2731 Gold Coast-Springbrook Road, Springbrook, QLD, 4213

Read our full Twin Falls review here.

Purling Brook Falls

Purling Brook Falls in Springbrook National Park, Gold Coast Hinterland

Purling Brook Falls in Springbrook National Park

One of the most spectacular waterfalls in Springbrook National Park, and one also located in the Springbrook Plateau section, Purling Brook Falls is truly impressive. The Purling Brook Falls Circuit is a stunning walk through Gondwana and Eucalypt forests teeming with wildlife. Two lookouts that give a great view of the falls are located near to the beginning of the trail—100m in one direction and 350m in the other. The 4km circuit is truly worth the walk, as it leads down into the gorge, providing a fantastic view of the Purling Brook Falls from below.

Purling Brook Falls, at a glance:

Family Friendly?Yes, however caution is required due to sheer cliffs and a suspension bridge.
Length of walk4km circuit (approximately a 2-hour round trip, plus time spent stopping to enjoy the sights along the way)
Level of difficultyModerate – Some sections of stairs and steep ascents/descents (walking the track clockwise is slightly easier). Suitable for bushwalkers with some experience.
Carpark?Yes
FacilitiesToilets and picnic areas at start of trail.
Accessibility restrictionsRestricted access at top and base of the falls.
Swimming opportunitiesSwimming is not permitted.
LocationCircuit starts from carpark at end of Forestry Road, Springbrook, QLD, 4213

Waterfalls in Tamborine National Park

Containing Queensland’s first section of declared national park (the Witches Falls section) and around an hours’ drive from Brisbane, Tamborine National Park is perfect for a day trip chasing waterfalls. With its high elevation, parts of Tamborine National Park offer incredible views out to the Pacific Ocean in the east and, to the west, the Scenic Rim. Perhaps the most accessible of the Gold Coast Hinterland national parks, Tamborine features four main waterfalls and several rock pools that are always popular in the warmer weather (especially after some good rainfall).

The Tamborine Mountain Visitor Information Centre has plenty of materials to help you plan your visit. The centre has information on the entire Scenic Rim region, including maps and planned itineraries to offer inspiration.

You can find out more about Mount Tamborine here.

Cedar Creek Falls

cedar creek falls at mount tamborine

Comprised of multiple waterfalls, cascades and rockpools, Cedar Creek Falls is always a popular destination and perfect for a swim. Cedar Creek Rock Pools are a 1.4km return walk on the trail, with lookouts and viewing platforms along the way. Great views of the falls can be seen from the first lookout, only 250m along the flat, sealed track (suitable for prams and wheelchairs). Much of the creek is shaded by towering eucalypts and tropical tree ferns and palms, making it a popular spot in the summer months.

Cedar Creek Falls, at a glance:

Family Friendly?Yes
Length of walk1.4km return (approximately a 1-hour round trip, plus time spent stopping to enjoy the sights and a swim)
Level of difficultyEasy – Partially sealed track. Some sections of stairs. Suitable for all fitness levels.
Carpark?Yes, but it is small, so aim to get there early!
FacilitiesToilets and picnic areas at start of trail.
Accessibility restrictionsSome scrambling over slippery rocks required to get down into the rockpools.
Swimming opportunitiesSwimming permitted in the rock pools.
LocationAccess to the trail is from the end of Cedar Creek Falls Road (off Tamborine Mountain Road), Tamborine Mountain, QLD, 4272.

Read our full Cedar Creek Falls review here.

Curtis Falls

curtis falls outlook

Image thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland

A must-see after heavy rainfall, Curtis Falls flows all year round. This stunning waterfall can be seen from the viewing platform at the end of the Curtis Falls Trail, which provides views of the basalt rockfalls and rock pool below. The 1.5km return trail runs through lush, tropical eucalypt forest and can be extended to include the 2.4km Joalah Lower Creek Circuit, which includes some gorgeous rock pools that are perfect for a cooling dip. Home to a protected colony of glow-worms, as well as a wonderful platypus population, turtles, eels and fish also populate the rock pools of this area.

Curtis Falls, at a glance:

Family Friendly?Yes
Length of walk1.5km return (less than 1-hour round trip, plus time spent stopping to enjoy the sights along the way). Add 2.4km if also including the Joalah Lower Creek Circuit.
Level of difficultyModerate – Some sections of stairs and inclines/declines. Some bushwalking experience recommended.
Carpark?Yes, at Dapsang Drive car park.
FacilitiesToilets and picnic areas.
Accessibility restrictionsA restricted access area below Curtis Falls protects a fragile glow-worm colony and a platypus population.
Swimming opportunitiesSwimming is prohibited at the falls, however it is allowed at the rockpools further along the Joalah Lower Creek Circuit.
LocationWalk from Dapsang Drive car park, 14-18 Dapsang Drive, Eagle Heights, QLD, 4271.

Waterfalls in Lamington National Park

Declared a national park in 1915, Lamington National Park in the McPherson Ranges contains a fragile geology with many rare and threatened species, along with several sites of significant indigenous cultural value. Locations throughout the park offer views of the Gold Coast, south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales. Whilst a lot of the walking trails in Lamington National Park are on the longer side, there are still several walks suitable for families, with plenty of forests, waterfalls and creeks to admire along the way.

There are two information centres in Lamington National Park (the Green Mountains and Binna Burra park offices), which are both open limited hours on weekdays and only open subject to availability of volunteers on weekends. Please check prior to your arrival if these centres are going to be open for your visit.

You can find out more about Lamington National Park here.

Morans Falls

Morans Falls in Lamington National Park

Morans Falls in Lamington National Park. (IMAGE CREDIT: Destination Gold Coast)

Winding through World Heritage Gondwana rainforest, the Morans Falls track features multiple lookouts offering amazing vantage points to admire this spectacular location. View the waterfall and Morans Creek Gorge from Morans Falls Lookout, then head down the trail a little further to Morans Clearing Lookout for panoramic vistas out to Main Range. The falls themselves can be quite dramatic after heavy rain, or not much more than a trickle in the drier months, so this is worth keeping in mind when planning to visit.

Morans Falls, at a glance:

Family Friendly?Yes
Length of walk4.4km (approximately a 90-min return trip, plus time spent stopping to enjoy the sights along the way)
Level of difficultyEasy – Some stairs. Suitable for all fitness levels.
Carpark?Yes, about 1km on the left before you reach the O’Reilly carpark.
FacilitiesClosest toilets and picnic area at Green Mountains/O’Reilly.
Accessibility restrictionsSome stairs.
Swimming opportunitiesSwimming is discouraged throughout Lamington National Park.
LocationTrail starts at the Python Rock and Morans Falls trailhead on Lamington National Park Road, Canungra, Scenic Rim Area, QLD, 4275.

Gold Coast Waterfalls for families with older kids

Elabana Falls, Lamington National Park

Elabana Falls in Lamington National Park. (IMAGE CREDIT: Destination Gold Coast)

If you’re looking for a more challenging and longer hike, there are some other waterfalls in the Gold Coast Hinterland that definitely rate a mention and are more suited to families with older children and teens –

Coomera & Yarrabilgong Falls (Lamington National Park)

  • 8km Coomera Circuit (allow about 7 hours walking time)
  • Moderate fitness level with previous bushwalking experience strongly recommended.
  • Swimming discouraged

Elabana & Box Log Falls (Lamington National Park)

  • 9km Box Forest Circuit (allow about 4 hours walking time)
  • Moderate fitness level with previous bushwalking experience strongly recommended.
  • Swimming discouraged

Mirror Falls (Lamington National Park)

  • 21.8km Albert River Circuit (allow 7 hours walking time)
  • Moderate fitness level with previous bushwalking experience strongly recommended.
  • Swimming discouraged

Other waterfalls to visit in the Gold Coast Hinterland

Tanninaba Falls, Springbrook National Park

Tanninaba Falls in Springbrook National Park

  • Cougal Cascades – Springbrook National Park 
  • Gooroolba Falls – Springbrook National Park 
  • Goomoolahra Falls – Springbrook National Park 
  • Kadjagooma Falls – Springbrook National Park 
  • Poondahra Falls – Springbrook National Park
  • Poonyahra Falls – Springbrook National Park
  • Rainbow Falls – Springbrook National Park
  • Tanninaba Falls – Springbrook National Park 
  • Cameron Falls – Tamborine National Park 
  • Witches Falls – Tamborine National Park

Before you set off

Rainforest trees in Purling Brook Falls Circuit, Springbrook National Park

Rainforest trees on the Purling Brook Falls Circuit in Springbrook National Park

As always, we’d recommend that you check Park Alerts before you visit any of these locations to determine any access restrictions. It’s also a great idea to check if the water catchment area has received recent rainfall so that the water is flowing freely (we don’t want you to be disappointed to hike and only find a dry waterfall!). The display stands at the entrance to each of the walking tracks feature lots of information, including a map of the area and details of flora and fauna you may encounter along the way. We also found the MyRanger app (for iOS and Android and best installed before you go and when you have guaranteed phone access) to be really helpful when visiting Springbrook National Park.

Hats, sunscreen and insect repellent are a must, along with good walking shoes. Wearing long pants, long sleeved shirts and socks sprayed with insect repellent will help protect from any leeches (this RACQ guide has some great information about preventing leeches and how to remove them). Be sure to bring plenty of drinking water and snacks just in case. Assume that mobile phone coverage will be limited on your walk. Downloading or bringing printed maps with you on your walk will help you stay on the correct path (TIP: snap a photo on your phone of the information map at the start of your trail).

If you’re thinking of heading to the Gold Coast Hinterland for a weekend of exploring the waterfalls, why not check out our guide to How To Spend A Family Weekend In Mount Tamborine.

For exclusive deals and trip ideas for your next adventure on the Gold Coast, please head to ​www.destinationgoldcoast.com.

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4 responses to “Chasing Waterfalls in the Gold Coast Hinterland”

  1. John Sharp says:

    Very informative and helpful.

  2. Anthony says:

    Thanks for providing so many good ideas! i’m looking to take our team of bricklayers out to the gold coast to go hunting waterfalls for a day trip so this has really helped. Thanks again!

    • Brooke Powell says:

      Hi Anthony, thanks so much for the comments! We hope you have a great time with your team – it really is a beautiful part of Australia to explore.

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