The Gold Coast is rich in national parks, UNESCO World Heritage listed rainforests and stunning natural attractions. We love to head for the hinterland areas at any time of year and the Springbrook waterfalls and National park walks are among our favourites.
The area has so much to see with dramatic geological formations, native flora and fauna, spectacular views and pristine rainforest.
These waterfalls all flow to some degree year-round in our experience, even during some significant drought but they are most spectacular after the summer rains.
Table of Contents
- In search of Springbrook waterfalls and swimming holes
- Some of our favourite Springbrook waterfalls
- Springbrook’s best picnic areas and rest stops
In search of Springbrook waterfalls and swimming holes
There are some dramatic waterfalls in the Springbrook National Park, these will be flowing well and at their most dramatic after a period of summer rain but that can also make some of the steep tracks quite slippery so always put safety first.
The base of many larger waterfalls forms an attractive swimming hole that is very tempting to jump in and cool off on a hot day. Consider packing your swimmers and a lightweight towel if you think you might be tempted.
I’ve also started wearing my Tropicfeel shoes for some of these shorter tracks that need supportive shoes but not necessarily hiking boots. I can then wear them into the water as the rocks or submerged debris can be uncomfortable underfoot and then easily walk back up the hill to the car as they are designed to dry quickly and be comfortable to wear wet.
Be aware that some of these waterfalls don’t allow swimming to protect specific wildlife and plants in that immediate area. For these ones, the rules are well signposted but missing out on a swim altogether can be disappointing so I’ll include some nearby alternatives for them you might want to head to afterwards.
Some of our favourite Springbrook waterfalls
The Natural Bridge
One of the most popular walks in the Springbrook National Park is the Natural Bridge. The waterfall itself is quite unique in that it has eroded through the top of the rock and falls into a cave below before flowing onward. The natural wildlife in the area is diverse and the cave itself is home to glow worms in their natural habitat and tiny microbats. It is also a very short 1 km loop track to the Natural Bridge through the beautiful rainforest on a mostly sealed path.
There is a good amount of sealed car park at the top, there are also toilets and picnic facilities here. It’s around a 50-minute drive from the Gold Coast beaches but there is no public transport into the area.
If you don’t have your own transport you can still visit the Springbrook National Park on this waterfalls tour that includes the Natural Bridge along with several other waterfalls and lookouts in the area.
I’ll link our full article on planning your trip to the Natural Bridge which includes all the information you’ll need for a self-guided visit. Although it’s a very popular walk it’s worth including on almost everyone’s itinerary.
The Natural Bridge is one of the areas where you can’t swim in the pool for environmental reasons. As you drive back down the road to the Gold Coast from here (10-15 minutes) you will see a sign on your left for the Forest Park Picnic Area in the Numinbah Valley. It looks like a rest stop with a few tables and facilities but if you follow a short track down behind the picnic facilities it takes you to a pretty section of the Nerang River that is good for a dip.
Purling Brook Falls & Warringa Pool
The Purling Brook Falls walking track is a great all-rounder. There is a substantial picnic area with parking and facilities at the entrance. You can get a great view of the falls from the top just a few steps into the track and then an even more impressive view from the base. On the loop track as you head back you get glimpses of the falls from midway and the full height from the opposite side which is usually the clearer view.
It doesn’t end there though. One downside on a hot summer’s day is that the pool at the base of Purling Brook Falls is one of the ‘no swimming’ waterholes in the National Park but there is an even more enticing option just a bit further on down the track.
Keep walking and you will come to the Warringa Pool and the cascades that lead from Purlingbrook Falls down to it. It’s a gorgeous spot. The lower pool is a good size and deep enough to swim. Just upstream from it there are a number of spots to set yourself up on the rock shelf, dip your toes in the water and find shallower pools to enjoy.
These are of course the namesake falls on the Twin Falls circuit and one of our favourite Springbrook waterfalls. You’ll find a lot more information about this track and planning your visit here in our Twin Falls article. If you are planning to visit I’d suggest clicking through to take a look at that.
There are two potential starting points, we usually use the Tallanbana Picnic area although that can be a little busy on weekends and the Canyon Lookout is another alternative, just follow the signage from either entry point.
This is one of the falls that you are able to swim at the base of. Provided its not in full flood the pool is often quite clear, there are spots to sit on the rocks around the edge and it is easier to enter and exit the swimming hole here than on some of the other options.
Continue on along the Twin Falls track again you will walk behind, or kind of through, the Blackfellow falls. Depending on recent rainfall you’ll get somewhere between a little damp and quite wet, you get the idea in the photo below. It’s a lovely waterfall that you can get in behind but if you have delicate electronics with you some care may be warranted.
A bit further along the path you make a hairpin turn and the second half of the track continues along the top of the cliff, the pools and view at the top of Blackfellow falls are equally impressive looking right out across the rainforest to the highrises on the Gold Coast.
There are two great perspectives on these falls. The Goomoolahra Picnic area at the top is one option. This is one of our favourite lunch spots or for a relax in the late afternoon before heading back down to the Gold Coast or Brisbane.
Another option is to see it from the base, this is about 3 km into the Warrie Circuit and you start from the Twin Falls track car park area and veer right at the first intersection. Families or those with limited time may be put off following the signs for a 17 km circuit track but it’s only 3 km out and back along the same detour to these falls making it a far more realistic option for many.
You can view the Rainbow Falls from across the valley at the Canyon lookout or walk behind it following that same 3 km section of the Warrie Circuit mentioned above. These may be one of the most underrated falls in Springbrook, who doesn’t love a waterfall that you can walk in behind and a less busy one at that!
The Canyon Lookout can be reached from the adjacent car park or on the home stretch of the Twin Falls circuit.
Springbrook’s best picnic areas and rest stops
Hinze Dam Visitors Centre
While not technically in the National Park, you will pass it on the way in. Walking out on the dam wall is interesting and the visitors centre and gardens have great views out over the lake. We like to stop here to check whether the dam is spilling, it if is then you are likely to get an incredible show at the various Springbrook waterfalls but even during dry periods, we find most of the falls flow pretty well and are worth a visit.
Forest Park Picnic Area
This picnic area in the Nimumbah Valley is just after the road into Springbrook splits, straight through for the Natural Bridge, left for Twin Falls and Purlingbrook Falls, you will continue straight through and it’s around 2 minutes (2 km) from here. Watch for the turnoff on the right, there’s a parking area, large trees, picnic tables and toilet facilities.
Walk away from the road and follow the path down to the Nerang River, you can go boulder hopping along the river or take a dip in the swimming hole.
Bochow Park Picnic Area
On the Nerang Murwillumbah road that leads through to the Natural Bridge, you will find Bochow Park. It’s a public park on the banks of the Nerang River with shady tables under mature trees and a large open grassy area, it has all the usual facilities including a picnic shelter and tables, gas BBQ, toilets and a playground.
The big attraction of this one as a picnic stop is that it has a great swimming hole. If you are just driving past you may not even notice so it’s worth a stop to take a look down into the river.
Goomoolahra Picnic area
This is a great picnic area at the far end of Springbrook Road. We often end up at this one at some point during our visit, usually for a final afternoon coffee before the drive back down the mountain. It’s located alongside the tannin-stained creek that bubbles alongside the picnic area before tumbling off the mountain as Goomoolahra Falls into the valley below.
There are individually placed picnic tables next to the creek and in the gardens, a shelter containing several tables, BBQ and toilets but there is no tap at this one.
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