The Gold Coast coastline is much adored. The city’s popular spots are by the beach: after all, surfing, sunbathing, events and parties, restaurants and cafes with ocean views are among our favourite pastimes. In the almost perfect weather of the sunshine state, who wouldn’t enjoy basking in the sun and being entertained by the ocean’s concert?
But wait! GC is not just synonymous with beaches. Its hinterlands are as enticing as the glistening surf. Less than an hour’s drive from the glitter and glamour of the beachside is a huge National Park that has ancients in its midst.
Springbrook National Park is one of Earth’s great gifts. With rich biodiversity and a unique collection of flora and fauna in Australia, the park boasts pristine forests that refresh and invigorate visitors.
The drive to Springbrook is a breeze, literally. Out of Nerang, the Nerang-Beaudesert Road changes into Nerang-Murwillumbah Road, the gateway to the park. The winding road is smooth and the scenery a treat for tired eyes. It brings you to a turn-off to Pine Creek Road leading to cliffs and falls or continue along Nerang-Murwillumbah Road to Natural Arch or Natural Bridge.
Another way is the Gold Coast-Springbrook Road from Mudgeeraba. It’s shorter, snaking up to the Park passing lookouts and falls.)
On our own daytrips, we stop to take a dip in the waterhole at the Forest Park Picnic Area, beside the Nerang River. It’s peaceful with shallow pools for swimming and sections of dry riverbed, particularly during the dry season. River sands feel good on the skin — a natural body scrub!
From the swimming hole, head to Natural Arch. This scenic reserve is home to a natural water feature so amazing it makes you feel insignificant. The natural rock bridge was originally the lip of a waterfall. The basalt rock at the base was eroded by swirling waters into a cave that undercut the sheer wall. Rocks in the stream above swirled around to drill a pothole, which gradually deepened and broke through to the cave beneath. The creek fell into the cave and enlarged it to form the famous arch.
The easy trek to the bridge is an experience in itself. Towering trees — like the 3000-year old Antarctic beech — and the symphony of bird and animal sounds stimulate the senses. As you walk down the path the roaring of the waterfall signals the spectacular sight ahead. The spray of spring water soothes your skin, while you encounter the glow worms, tiny creatures that emit light at night, not worms but the larvae of a type of fly. Glow worm tours are available at night.
The Pine Creek Road and the Gold Coast Springbrook Road wind up through valleys to towering lookouts. Several lookouts showcase the cliffs of the Springbrook Plateau. The best time to go is after rain, to see waterfalls appear on the mountain sides. The Best Of All Lookout is so named simply because it has the best view of the Mt Warning Caldera – the largest in the world – formed by lava and shaped by erosion.
If you have more time to really connect with nature, there are campsites in the park. Campers can spotlight nocturnal animals, such as brushtail and ringtail possums, sugar gliders, spotted tailed quoll, and koalas. For birdwatchers, the park has more than one hundred different species. Reptiles like lace monitors, skinks and carpet pythons are park residents plus frogs, crayfish, eels and platypus.
Reconnecting in GC’s backyard
Sometimes our busy lives, even in the midst of our laid back surfing culture – drain our energy and disconnect us from ourselves and our surroundings. To reconnect, we need to go back to a past that still stands in our midst – our forests. A breath of fresh forest air, mist from the waterfalls, and the music of rustling leaves and birds are simple experiences that re-energise our senses and our soul.
Tourism is about exploring and appreciating the culture, nature and landscape of a destination, Springbrook National Park is a vast reminder of the scenic and tourism wealth of the Gold Coast.