One of the Gold Coast Hinterland walks that we regularly recommend is the Witches Falls walking track on Tamborine Mountain. It’s a hillside track so the scenery changes as you descend and then ascend again, it’s part of the stunning UNESCO World Heritage recognised Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, it’s an easy length walk for the whole family and the area around it has a wide range of attractions including gardens, more national park tracks, wineries, glow-worm caves and great local food.
You access the Witches Falls walking track from the car parking and picnic area on Main Western Road. From there it’s a 3.1 km circuit returning to the car park and picnic area.
The Witches Chase track (2.7 km return) is an extension from the falls lookout and exits at Witches Chase so is usually walked back along the same path rather than returning along the road.
The walks are classified as moderate difficulty. The paths are safe and well-formed unless there has been heavy rain but they steep in parts as you climb down the mountain to the valley floor and back up again to the top of the falls, then back up to the car park area.
The Witches Falls National Park was the first National Park in Queensland, it was established in 1908 and is believed to be the third oldest in the world after Yellowstone in the USA and the Sydney Royal National Park. It is an easily accessed area of the Gold Coast hinterland about an hour from either Brisbane or the Gold Coast with good roads in and out. Its convenience makes it particularly popular with locals on weekends.
The park area has excellent facilities including car parking, a picnic area with a number of tables and BBQ’s plus clean (organic) toilets. The tracks are well formed and cleared of any fallen debris regularly. You will walk it easily if you have reasonable mobility but it does include uneven ground and steps, children manage the track well but should be supervised as some areas do have a steep drop off to the side.
We have found that while waterfalls are more spectacular after heavy rain the area is prone to some rockfall and the mud can be slippery so take care after extended wet periods.
We tend to walk the track clockwise spending time down on the valley floor earlier in the day, I don’t personally think there’s much difference in difficulty as you have to walk down and back up either way but I think the general view is that anti-clockwise around the loop is easier going down the steps and up the more sloped track coming back.
The whole area is great for wildlife, we’ve been lucky enough to almost always spot the rare and timid Albert’s Lyrebird but there is much more to see in the park which is full of birdlife, possums, lizards and the odd snake.
The area near the seasonal lagoon is good for bird spotting but so is most of the track if you listen and stand still occasionally as you walk through. On our latest walk here we also spotted the green catbird, golden whistler, black cockatoo, silvereyes, eastern spinebill, pale yellow robin, grey and rufous fantails amongst other more common birds.
If you’re planning to head up Tamborine Mountain to do a few of the walks like Witches Falls it’s worth remembering a jacket. Although it’s not a tall mountain the air temperature is often 5-6 degrees cooler than the coast and more likely to experience a bit of unexpected rainfall, it is a rainforest after all.
The moisture while great for the plants can also be attractive to the biting insects so insect repellant and a hat are also a worth packing in the car.
Others things to do near Witches Falls
There are great spots for a picnic right here at the start of the walking track but there are also dozens of interesting places to eat, drink and shop a few minutes drive away in Witches Chase or the Gallery Walk areas if that has more appeal.
Just next door as you head back to the township is the Witches Falls winery, a lovely place to enjoy a glass of wine or a tasting paddle of their ciders with a platter, the truffle brie they stock here is delicious so I picked up an extra to take home.
A bit further down the road is the Mount Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, an opportunity to look into the canopy layer and down from above for a different perspective. This does involve walking but on a much easier and shorter path so could be an option if you want to experience the rainforest but don’t have much time available. You can also enjoy a coffee or lunch out on the deck where we’ve watched white throated tree creepers looking back at us from eye level.
Something else we’ve done up here recently on a day trip is a Mystery Picnic. You fill your basket with picnic staples and treats from the local producers as you follow clues around the area then end up at a picnic spot to spread out your blanket, or grab a table,and enjoy them.
How to get to the Witches Falls walking track
Head into the Gold Coast Hinterland following signage for North Tamborine. The main road through here changes names many times but you’ll find the car park for Witches Falls just past the intersection of Hartley Road with Main Western Road if you’re coming in from the north.