How to do Springbrook National Park

How to do Springbrook National Park

Less than 100km from Brisbane, you’ll find Springbrook National Park: land so old, its trees remember a time when Australia was connected to Antarctica.

This national park makes up a quarter of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest, which stretches inland from the Gold Coast down towards the New South Wales border.

With its kaleidoscope of awe-inspiring waterfalls, serene rainforests and ancient beauty, there are countless reasons to explore Springbrook National Park. Although, we reckon the chance to stand at the top of one of Australia’s dormant volcanoes is still one of the best.

Here’s how to discover it:

What’s so special about Springbrook National Park?

Springbrook National Park

Photo by @jennifervaniston via IG

Put simply, you’re walking amongst a pristine natural history book which proves Gondwanaland existed. (For a quick history lesson in Gondwana Rainforests, detour over here). It’s hard for the physical not to meet the spiritual as you witness the enormity of this land’s history.

Springbrook National Park is just one of four national parks (Lamington, Mount Barney and Main Range are the others) that make up the Gondwana World Heritage-listed area. This is country so special it attracts more than two million visitors each year, and wears the UNESCO title.

In Springbrook National Park you’ll find some of the most ancient vegetation in Australia, whose roots date back over 100 million years ago. That’s a vintage that makes dinosaurs walking on earth seem like modern history.

The trails of Springbrook National Park

Whether you’ve got 300m in you or three days’ worth of hiking time up up your sleeve, there’s plenty of ways to get amongst Springbrook’s famous ferns and conifers.

For short-walk lovers:

Twin Falls, Springbrook National Park

Twin Falls | Photo by @larissadening via IG

To chase waterfalls, take the Twin Falls Circuit, which takes two hours at 4km return. At the end, dip in one of the rock pools and admire the towering misty duo above.

For maximum Instagram kudos, choose Purling Brook Falls, accessed by a photogenic suspension bridge that hangs over the creek and rainforest canopy. The walk is also 4km return and you’ll be rewarded with a dramatic view of the waterfall from the gorge below.

The most accessible and popular trail is Natural Bridge, which takes about an hour to complete and is suitable for little legs, tired feet and even those who forgot to pack sneakers. At the bottom of a paved path, a glittering cascade pours through a basalt cave, completely backlit by natural light. It’s as gorgeous as it sounds.

For long walkers:

Springbrook National Park

Photo by @thehollingsinoz via IG

Serious hikers need only consider the Gold Coast Great Walk, which is a living hype reel of what this area is all about.

It takes three days, and you’ll cover 54km. Meanwhile, you’ll be rewarded with full immersion amongst surreal volcanic geology and ancient flora and fauna.

If you’re up for it, Queensland Parks and Wildlife recommends taking this walk from Lamington National Park, walking east to Springbrook National Park. Hint: it’s well worth reading our guide to Great Walks.

Looking for more hinterland hikes? Don’t forget to check out these favourite walks.

The flora and fauna of Springbrook National Park

Springbrook National Park

Crimson Rosella | Photo by @ameens via IG

Described as the Noah’s Ark of rainforests, there are plenty of animals who find refuge here that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. In short, you’ll find more frog, snake, bird and marsupial species than anywhere else in Australia.

Perhaps its most famous face (or should that read feather?) is the rare Albert’s Lyrebird, a pheasant-sized songbird often spotted on the forest floor. There’s only an estimated 3500 left in existence – and your only chance of glimpsing one is here.

On the reptile front, there’s lace monitors, carpet pythons and the Springbok’s land mullet. This fat, black, shiny lizard is also known as the world’s largest skink.  

Looking for something more cute and furry? You’re likely to see pademelons bouncing through the dense undergrowth like cross-country skiers. Good luck photographing them though, they move fast!

For flora fans, this is a botanist’s paradise with many of the World Heritage area’s 1700 species of flowering plants and ancient trees including hoop pines, living relics of the Jurassic Age about 180 million years ago, and Antarctic beech, relics of a cooler wetter age, some of which are 3000 years old!

The vegetation changes dramatically within the park area depending on the altitude. Generally speaking, the cooler the temperature, the older the trees.

A trip to the Best of All lookout will reveal some of the most ancient trees in this section of forest – and the short walk to get there is a bit like a best-in-Springbrook-show.

The best photo spots in Springbrook National Park

Best of All Lookout, Springbrook National Park

Best of All Lookout | Photo by @travellog_lv via IG

It’s hard to take a bad photo in rainforest as green, lush and dense as Springbrook National Park.

Pack your wide-angle lens, because these ancient trees are huge. Prepare for low-light conditions with canopies of spreading ferns towering above your head.

The colonies of glow worms make for a photographic challenge, but one we hope you accept. The best chance to see them is from December to March, most likely at Natural Bridge. Their bright blue and green light on the walls and ceiling of the cave shine with an otherworldly gleam.

For a sweeping vantage point, you can’t go past the aptly-named Best of All lookout, perched on the edge of an escarpment looking out to Murwillumbah, Mt Warning (the core of the ancient Scenic Rim volcano) and Brunswick Heads in New South Wales.

For a wheelchair and pram-friendly lookout, Canyon Lookout captures views to the Gold Coast skyline – perfect for a quick taste of what this area is all about.

Local tips and tricks for visiting Springbrook National Park

Purling Brook Falls

Purling Brook Falls | Photo by @helen__leo via IG

Springbrook is magic all year round, but the locals know to go deep within its canopy during Australian summer. High altitude and serious tree cover keep the temperatures cooler than any split system can lay claim to.

Hiking is hungry work, so fill a backpack with supplies and water for all trails, in case you’re tempted to venture a little further than planned. The Scenic Rim is packed with roadside stalls and vendors where you can stock up on local goodies – try some of these producers on for size.

Want to do the hinterland like a local? Why not follow Shane O’Reilley’s tips?

Where to stay in Springbook National Park

Springbrook National Park

Photo by @travel.with.tess via IG

After a day trekking in the rainforest, dial up the R&R at one of these hinterland boutique accommodation spots.

Discover more of Springbrook and the Gold Coast Hinterland with these guides:

*Please note the temporary closure of all Queensland campgrounds in national parks, state forests and state-managed recreation and protected areas, in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.