We’ve spent some time this summer revisiting the Lamington National Park walks and wanted to share some of our favourites. There’s something here to suit almost everyone from serious hikers to families catering to little legs. The great thing about the climate here in south-east Queensland is that hiking is something you can do all year round.
There are four National Parks on Australia’s Gold Coast. Only one is within walking distance of the famous golden sands and that’s the Burleigh National Park. The others are in the hinterlands, a combination of subtropical and temperate rainforests that have walking trails, swimming holes, picnic areas and other day visitor facilities. These three parks are a 1-2 hour drive from either the Gold Coast or Brisbane.
Click the below to watch a short hightlights video of Lamington National Park
Lamington National Park Walks – Green Mountain Section
We have completed all of the walks covered here from the O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat either on overnight stays or as day visitors over the years. It’s not an exhaustive list and there are still another half a dozen on my wish list that I will add here as I check them off. I worked out recently we’ve been coming up here for almost 20 years. On that first visit friends drove us up from the coast for a BBQ breakfast in the rainforest. It was our first weekend in Queensland long before we moved to Australia. I’m sure that trip had a lot to do with us falling in love with this beautiful country and eventually moving here.
1. Booyong and Treetop Walk
An easy one to get started. This track is mostly boardwalk and is accessible for those in wheelchairs and families with pushchairs. At under a 1km round trip it can take a surprising amount of time to make your way along here with all there is to see.
We almost always see the rainforest red-necked pademelon (small macropods – like a tiny kangaroo) along here and the birds are surprisingly disinterested in the presence of people. I put this down to the elevated walking platform that doesn’t disturb their habitat as much. Even those that are usually quite elusive like the whipbird, logrunner and catbirds are regularly seen quite close to the path here. We also saw several land mullet, Australias largest skink, through this part. If for any reason you aren’t able to complete a longer walk there is no reason to miss out on the beauty of the region.
This is also home to what I believe is the worlds first treetop walk and unlike any others we have done it’s is completely free. There are 9 suspension bridges that make up the treetop section that enable you to walk in the mid canopy 16 metres above the ground. Part way along if you are able to climb a ladder there’s a tower up to a viewing platform in a huge fig tree that goes up to the upper canopy 30 metres above ground level. It’s was build in 1987 but is well maintained. While it is free for all to experience there’s a cost to keep it operational and a donation box is placed at the end. If you’re able to spare a few gold coins it’s always appreciated.
Other treetop walks in the area include the sky walk near Tamborine National Park
2. Border Track
The border track runs for 22km between the O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat and the Binna Burra Lodge on the other side of the national park. Allow around 7 hours to walk it and unless you are feeling incredible energetic you will need to arrange return transport or do it on a day that the shuttle runs between the two resorts.
It includes spectacular views, diverse wildlife and dramatic waterfalls. You’ll walk through tropical rainforest and temperate forest higher up with some great examples of the ancient Antarctic Beech. I originally thought it was called the border track as the start of it marked the boundary of O’Reillys land but having now looked at it on a full map it’s most likely because a good portion of the walk, from about a third of the way along, follows the Queensland and New South Wales border.
You don’t need to do the full Border track for it to be worth including. There are many beautiful shorter tracks that branch off of it and even the first 500 metres of so with the the history boards and looping back to the botanic gardens and tree top walk can make a good option with plenty of birds and wildlife seen in this short stretch.
3. Picnic Rock and Elabana Falls
This walk has recently taken the lead on our BEST EVER LIST for walks in the Gold Coast National Parks and believe me it has some very tough competition! You begin at the border track opposite the O’Reillys Reception and split off to the left continuing to follow the well-marked track through to Picnic Rock. After a bit of rock hopping to explore around there and get some photos of the cascades including spotting a spiny blue crayfish in the still water (YES!!) you cross the rocks and continue on the track until it branches off to Elabana falls.
The walk is 7.2km return and the only difficult bit is the boulders at the end are quite a stretch to climb for those like me with shorter legs. We made it over with the camera packs and tripod intact and WOW once you are up on top it is stunning. I only wish we’d had more time and had thought to pop swimmers and a towel in the bag. The waterhole is stunning and it’s one of the few in the National Parks where swimming is allowed. Often for the sake of the wildlife the parks service need to ask people not to swim which is totally understandable but it’s also nice to have a cooling dip at the end of a summer hike when there is the option.
4. Moran Falls
The first time we went to Moran falls it was on a sunset tour with the O’Reillys team. All very civilised, a 4 wheel drive transfer to the top of the path and short walk down to the viewing platform over the valley. There was bubbles to toast the sunset and a quick trot up to the track to see the falls. There are two other ways to get here with different length walks. The usual way starts about 1km before you get to O’Reillys, there’s a small marked pull off area and carpark you will probably have noticed as you drive up. From here it’s a 4.6km return walk with a few other options to add on other tracks or return via the dirt road.
On our last trip we were told about a shortcut that’s available from within the O’Reillys guest area. We wanted to see the falls again but were a bit tight on time so decided to do that and see if it would be an option for a sunset shoot on foot. It’s a bit overgrown and can be muddy but it’s definitely a lot shorter if you just want to go as far as the top of the falls and the lookout, however I wouldn’t try getting back that way in the dark myself. I’m not sure on the exact distance as we didn’t track it but I think it was only around 1.2km.
I do start to wonder if the world is mocking my short legs though as you need to walk through very long, thick grass and soft plants at one point that is well above your waist. I do have video that I must try to salvage but at one point I stood on something, I still don’t know what that was, then I kicked my foot on a rock and said a rude word in the middle of the video – so now I need to work out voice over editing before I can use it.
5. Micks Tower & the Wishing Tree
This is a 2.8km return walk including the detour off to the tower although you can extend it if you want to go down to the glow worm gully and Morans Creek. The observation tower is 18 metres high into the tree canopy with good views into a large Red Carabeen growing near it. We were the only people there when we went and it offered some good birding opportunities both up the tower and along the track.
Getting to the Lamington National Park Walks
The Green Mountain section of the Lamington National Park walks are accessed from O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat. That’s a 90-minute drive from Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast or 2 hours from Brisbane City.
When you arrive there’s a large car park available for day use guests, toilet facilities, a cafe and a small shop. The walking tracks leave from a variety of points within the O’Reillys grounds and just before the entrance. Check where your preferred walk leaves from on the large map board outside the shop, you can also buy personal maps for a gold coin either in the store or at O’Reillys Reception.
Where to stay in the Lamington National Park
We don’t do it every time we visit but I do recommend staying in or around the National Park if you have the chance. The rainforest is at it’s best in my opinion in the early morning and late afternoon. It’s also stunning to see the night sky with no light pollution. If you’re considering it we have our review of the O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat villas here on the site.
If you have a tent and prefer to camp there’s a National Park campground just before the carpark which looks like it’s had some major work done on it recently. It looks like a good option if you’re camping with a tent but don’t even contemplate attempting the run up the hill with a caravan or camping trailer. It would be a hairy drive at best and the camp sites aren’t sized for anything more than a tent.
We have yet to spend time in a National Park that we didn’t enjoy but the Lamington National Park has some great features that make it a good choice for visitors and locals alike:
- The National Park is conveniently located for access from both the Gold Coast and Brisbane
- It’s a beautiful part of the world with millions of years of history, striking geography and unique flora and fauna
- Lamington is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Area known as the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, the most extensive tract of sub-tropical rainforest in the world
- The parks are well maintained with facilities and well-marked walking tracks
- There are tracks suited to all levels of fitness and rated using the Australia-wide track grading system
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Have you tried these Lamington National Park walks? Which do you like best or does another track earn the Lamington ‘best track ever’ tick from you? Let us know in the comments below.