When you think of Gold Coast in Australia, what’s the first thing that comes into your head? I’m probably not wrong in thinking ‘beaches’…it’s in the name after all! It shouts out white sandy coastline! Away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, Gold Coast’s Hinterland is home to several national parks, including: Tamborine National Park, Springbrook National Park (the ‘I’m a Celebrity Jungle’ for my UK readers!) and Lamington National Park. This post will focus on Tamborine National Park and things to do on Mt Tamborine in a morning or afternoon, just a 50 minute drive from Surfers Paradise!
Things to do at Mt Tamborine: Easy Mt Tamborine walks
We only had a morning to spare on our east coast road trip but we managed to squeeze in 2 Mt Tamborine walks which are just around the corner from each other. One walk has an entrance fee and the other is free!
Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
We’ll start with the paid walk first! What makes the Mount Tamborine Skywalk special, is that it gives you a completely different perspective of the rainforest. A series of steel bridges and walkways put you 30 metres above the rainforest floor, up in the top layers of the canopy.
The walk is just under a mile long and follows a circular route through the rainforest, part of it on the steel bridges and part on the ground. It is important to note that the route isn’t completely on the bridges! It takes around 45 minutes to complete, including photo stops and reading the information boards. What’s amazing is that not one single tree was cut down during the installation of the Skywalk bridges! After all the aim is to preserve the rainforest, not to destroy it!
The furthest point of the walk overlooks the Cedar Creek rock pools before looping back on the forest floor trail. One of my favourite parts of the Mount Tamborine Skywalk, is the 40 metre long cantilever bridge which is a platformed viewpoint high up in the canopy. There are warning signs to walk and not run/jump on the bridge as it does sway very very slightly and due to the height it could freak out other visitors! We only saw one other family while on the circuit so it was a fairly peaceful walk for us. We arrived close to opening time at 9.30am.
I was a little surprised by the lack of animals that we saw. We could hear the odd bird up above and actually only saw a turkey! (And then I nearly ran over a 2nd turkey while reversing in the car park…thank goodness for reversing cameras, its little turkey head popped up on the screen in the car!). Make sure you look at the information boards in the welcome centre. They tell you the types of animals that call this part of the rainforest home. A lot of the species are nocturnal, which explains why we didn’t see much. It’s crazy to think what’s hiding in the undergrowth that we can’t see!
Standard admission fee is $19.50 for adults and $9.50 for children between 6 – 16 years. You can find out more information on the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk website.
Curtis Falls Track
The 2nd Mt Tamborine walk is the Curtis Falls Track which is completely FREE and just a 7 minute drive away from the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk! This walk can actually be combined with the ‘Lower Creek Circuit’ to make it a little longer, but more on that section later!
Curtis Falls is an easy to reach Mount Tamborine waterfall. I parked at Dapsang Drive where the car park is a little bigger compared to the one on Eagle Heights Road (where the ice cream shop is). From Dapsang Drive, the walk to Curtis Falls is a 1.1km round trip, that’s less than a mile! The track takes around 30 minutes to complete.
There is a large viewing deck where you can enjoy the falls. However it is restricted access from the other side of the wooden fence, so you are unable to get closer to Curtis Falls or swim in the rock pool area. This is for good reason. There is a glow worm colony that lives on the rock face so the restriction is there to protect the glow worms. So if you are looking for more things to do at Mt Tamborine, you can actually book night time glow worm viewing tours. There are several locations within the national park that the glow worms are present (Springbrook National Park has them too!).
In comparison to some, Curtis Falls is quite a small waterfall, but if you reach it as just the right time (around 11am for me), the sun hits it just right and creates rainbows where the water hits the rocks at the bottom!
Even in winter, this track was kinda busy. We passed a large school group AND a large coach trip that were just leaving as we reached the falls, so at least we had it for a little while alone! Some parts of the track are quite narrow as it gets closer to the Cedar Creek.
Lower Creek Circuit
As mentioned above, we extended our walk by doing the Lower Creek Circuit too. This circuit branches off from the Curtis Falls Track and is 2.5km return which takes around another hour to complete. As it is a branch off the other track, it does mean you technically have to do both, making it a total of 3.6km/2.2miles (1hr30). The Lower Creek Circuit is listed as a Grade 4 track, which the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service classifies as: “Bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may be long, rough and very steep. Directional signage may be limited.”
I’m not exactly a hardcore hiker…I guess I’d be considered more of a wanderer and I didn’t find it too difficult. The trail mainly criss crosses backwards and forwards across the Cedar Creek either using small bridges or stepping stones. There was one area where you are warned that the next section of the trail does include a river crossing that isn’t exactly a river crossing, meaning that you do have to pick your way across some large boulders. On a dry day this was fine and all part of the fun but I’d imagine this could get slippery during wet weather.
Most people seemed to only do the Curtis Falls section of the trail, making this one a little quieter. We saw a few couples and then some solo hikers (yes, they were female solo hikers so good for them!) but that was all.
Again, we didn’t really see any wildlife, just some fish in the creek and amazingly no biting bugs (believe me, if there were any there, they would have found me! Disclosure: we visited in June…bugs may be present at other times in the year!). The walks were definitely more ‘flora’ based, with interesting plants and trees with crazy trunks or hanging vines.
The Curtis Falls Track together with the Lower Creek Circuit make up the Joalah Section of the Tamborine National Park. And the Mt Tamborine walks certainly aren’t limited to the 2 walks I have listed here. There are 5 other ‘sections’ of the national park with rainforest trails.
Tips for Visiting
Compared to the coastal areas of the Gold Coast, the hinterland temperatures are a little lower and receive more rain. So make sure you are prepared and layer up, especially if starting early in the morning when temperatures are generally a little chillier (you can find my Australia Packing List: Winter Edition here).
If you have a whole day to explore Tamborine Mountain, there are plenty of other things to see and do, from zip lines and high ropes courses to the Gallery Walk shopping street where you can shop in buildings that look like giant cuckoo clocks and castles! The Visit Tamborine Mountain website has plenty of ideas! There are a couple of roadside viewing areas that are worth a stop at which give you an idea of just how high up a mountain you really are! I’m sure your car brakes will be feeling it too, there are several long steep gradients on the way back down that may test your driving skills and car control!
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