How to do Lamington National Park on the Gold Coast
Before you ask, no, this national park is not dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. But trust us, Lamington National Park is just as delicious.
You’ll find this beauty just over 100 clicks south of Brisbane in the Gold Coast Hinterland. It makes up the Queensland contingent of the Gondwana Rainforest, alongside its sister, Springbrook National Park.
What’s so special about Lamington National Park?
Just like a fine wine, everything about this rainforest seems to get better with age – an analogy that’s given new meaning when you realise the geology dates back more than 225 million years.
If it’s been a while since your last geography lesson, we’ve got you covered with this guide about what makes Gondwana Rainforest so priceless.
But it’s not just really old trees that make this national park stand out from the lineup. It’s the fact they’re backed with spectacular views thanks to the region’s volcanic past.
As a visitor, you can expect densely forested mountains, raging waterfalls and walking tracks linking them all up.
If you’re keen on Australian geology, take note – two former volcanoes can be found in the Lamington region (don’t worry, their last eruption was about 20-23 million years ago), and you can skip over the border to Mount Warning if you want to find the ex-volcano’s core.
The trails of Lamington National Park
If you’re a new-to-hiking kinda traveller consider Lamington National Park your crèche. There are over 160km of tracks up here, ranging from class 1-5 depending on your appetite for adventure.
For something fully paved, but not so short you’ll wonder why you bothered putting your walking shoes on, try the Centenary Track, which takes 30 minutes to complete. It leaves from the Green Mountains carpark and connects with the Python Rock and Morans Falls tracks if you’re on a roll and want to go a little further.
Looking for a path to a photo opportunity? Take the 4.6km return walk from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat to Morans Falls, a waterfall with the kind of framing photographers hike in the wee hours of the morning to capture at its best. Think cascading waterfall at the front, mountain ranges out the back.
To dial up the action a smidge, we recommend the Box Forest Circuit, which starts from the O’Reilly’s carpark, returning 10.9km later. You’ll need four hours up your sleeve for this… or longer if you like to stop and smell the roses (or ferns in this instance).
For more experienced hikers, it’s all about the Border Track which connects the two sections of the park, Binna Burra and Green Mountains. It’s 21.4km one way, so you’ll want to have arranged someone to collect you at the other end, that’s for sure.
Hot tip for hikers: If you’re staying at O’Reilly’s you can order ahead a packed lunch to fuel your adventure.
The flora and fauna of Lamington National Park
If you want to impress your friends at the next round of trivia, just do a little reading about Lamington National Park. It’s full of surprises when it comes to flora and fauna.
Did you know Lamington holds Australia’s largest remaining forests of hoop pine? Head to the Araucaria Lookout to spot them in a cluster.
In terms of animals, it’s all about the birdlife up here, although you’re likely to hear the birds of this forest before you see them – animals up here have adapted to protect themselves.
If you’re lucky, you might see a bowerbird with their dark, satiny feathers. But you’re likely to hear the calls of the whipbird who squark to one another (the male makes the ‘whip’ to the female’s ‘crack’).
Arguably the most famous face in the park is the Albert’s Lyrebird, who you’ll find dwelling on the ground of these subtropical rainforests. Consider yourself very lucky if you catch a rare glimpse.
Best photo spots in Lamington National Park
No need to holster your point-and-shoot for a trip to Lamington National Park. This place is as photogenic as they come.
If you’re into waterfalls, you’re in luck – this place is flowing with 500 of them.
For the main event, Chalahn Falls, prep your hiking boots and mental stamina. It’s a 17.4km trek along the Toolona Creek Circuit. You won’t just get one waterfall but eight along the way, so leave ample time for photo opportunities.
Here are some photography tips we prepared earlier.
Psst – if you’re tackling this one, be prepared for muddy tracks (read: leeches).
Where to stay in Lamington National Park
Do you like camping? Good, because you’re spoilt for choice at the Green Mountains camping site.
Both make the perfect training ground for new-to-camping campers because there’s amenities and cafes nearby if the butane runs out. It’s also a short drive back to Brisbane if it turns out camping just isn’t for you.
If your idea of romance isn’t a two-man swag, there’s accommodation in both sections of the park.
It’s hard to look past O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat who have over 90 years of experience in dishing up romantic weekends. Maybe it’s because their rooms are surrounded by lush forest, or more likely because you can restore yourself post-hike with a pamper session at the Lost World Spa.
Note: Vistors are advised that the Green Mountains camping area is temporarily closed and will reopen in late 2019. The site will remain closed while works are being completed as part of the Green Mountains Ecotourism Revitalisation Project. Visitors are encouraged to seek alternative accommodation during this time.
Local tips and tricks
If you’re the kind of traveller who thinks the journey is all part of the adventure, you’re in for a treat. The roads up here are what Sunday driving dreams are made of – full of hairpin bends.
Be prepared to drop to single-lane traffic on your drive to the top, take your time and don’t rush. You’re on rainforest time now.
Note: Following significant damage from ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie, Duck Creek Road from Kerry remains closed until further notice, as advised by Scenic Rim Regional Council. The only access point to Green Mountains section (O’Reilly’s) of Lamington National Park is via Canungra along Lamington National Park road.
Discover more of Lamington National Park and surrounds with these guides:
- Like walking? Us too! That’s why we wrote this guide to Great Walks
- Learn how to do Lamington’s neighbour Springbrook National Park
P.S. In case you’re wondering, the park was named after a Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington.
*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.