Best free walks and waterfalls on the Gold Coast
Currumbin Rock Pools
The Currumbin Rock Pools is one of the Gold Coast’s best half-day trips. It’s only about 40 minutes from Surfers Paradise, and the drive into Currumbin Valley is full of lush gardens and farms. The rock pools are perfect for swimming and splashing in, with pools of all different depths and currents to suit the whole family. Try out the rope swing or sun yourself on the rocks between dips. The pools are fed by Currumbin Creek, which you can follow upstream to a waterfall.
As a bonus, Cougal Cascades are just 10 minutes’ drive up the road. It’s a beautiful rainforest walk with an old sawmill, several gorgeous waterfalls, and cascades that you can swim in.
Springbrook National Park
Drive about an hour southwest from Surfers Paradise to explore Springbrook National Park, an ancient area that’s part of the World Heritage Site, Gondwana Rainforest. It’s one of the world’s only places where species remain almost unchanged from their fossilised ancestors. Here are some of the best spots in Springbrook to check out:
- Natural Bridge – an awesome rock formation where a waterfall plunges through a basalt cave that lights up with glowworms at night, particularly from December to March.
- Purling Brook Falls – cross the suspension bridge over the rainforest canopy to access a 4km return walk with dramatic views of the waterfall.
- Twin Falls – another 4km return circuit, but this time you can plunge in the rock pools as you watch the two waterfalls.
Tamborine National Park
Explore Tamborine National Park to view pristine rainforest, waterfalls, basalt columns – and the chance to spot the rare Albert’s lyrebird, which can expertly mimic birdcalls and other sounds. Great sightseeing spots include:
- Curtis Falls – take an easy 1.5km trail through the forest to the natural spring-fed waterfall. Keep quiet and you might even spot a platypus in the early morning or late afternoon.
- Witches Falls – despite the name, Witches Falls is a relaxing spot to glimpse koalas, bats and pademelons along a 3.1km track.
- Cedar Creek Falls – at only 500 metres return, this wheelchair- and stroller-friendly track provides great views of the falls. There’s also a steep stair track to their base if you want more of a walk.
Burleigh Head National Park
Burleigh Head National Park might be small but packs a lot of punch for its size. Take the gentle ocean track (1.2km one way) walks you through rainforest and pandanus palm groves to Echo Beach and Tallebudgera Creek, where you can go for a swim before heading back. Alternatively, the 2.3km return rainforest circuit provides gorgeous coastline views and the chance to spot goanna, sea eagles, koalas and more. Between May and October, set up a picnic at Point Lookout to spot migrating whales.