Exotic whipbirds beckon from ancient rainforests

Natural Bridge is in Queensland's Springbrook National Park
Natural Bridge is in Queensland’s Springbrook National Park – click on photo for larger image

FROM the foaming surf that crash onto the golden beaches of the Gold Coast, emerald forests roll inland, steadily rising until they meet the formidable plateau of Springbrook National Park. This is where ancient Antarctic beech trees stand sentinel over breathtaking views toward Mt Warning, and where exotic birds, frogs and snakes thrive in world heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests!

Springbrook is a comfortable drive from either Brisbane or the Gold Coast along winding roads popular with motorcycle riders on weekends. Quaint cafes and craft shops along the way tempt travellers to indulge in anything from coffee to pizza and spoil themselves with original art. Lush foliage crowd the bitumen, seemingly jealous the human encroachment, while from the forests float the hauntingly beautiful call of the rarely seen Eastern whipbird.

The national park is divided into four sections: Numinbah, Natural Bridge, Springbrook and Mt Cougal. Together, they offer visitors panoramic vistas from several lookouts and fascinating walks through Rainforests, Eucalypt forests and montane heath to tumbling creeks and cascading waterfalls. Despite Springbrook attracting two million visitors per year, walkers mostly experience nature’s bounty in splendid isolation, birdsong and curious marsupials peering from beneath the brush the only company.

The Natural Bridge is easily accessible from a picnic site within driving distance from the Gold Coast or Brisbane
The Natural Bridge is easily accessible from a picnic site within driving distance from the Gold Coast or Brisbane

Natural Bridge is undoubtedly the pinnacle attraction in Springbrook. During the day, a track leads the excited visitor to a darkened cave into which a waterfall cascades from above, lit up dreamily by sun rays  that shaft down through the same hole. The juxtaposition between dark and light and the sound of rushing water makes for a sublime experience! At night, a visit to the cave will dazzle you with the twinkling bioluminescence of glowworms clinging to the rock face.

Walking tracks originate from easily accessible picnic areas. They range in distance from a mere 300m to 54km. Some paths are classified as wheelchair-accessible, while others require a good fitness level, bush walking experience and ankle-supporting footwear to navigate exposed roots and boulders.

Mt Cougal and the glittering beaches of Coolangatta and Tweed Heads
Mt Cougal and the glittering beaches of Coolangatta and Tweed Heads

The sheer cliffs of the Springbrook section is the acidic rhyolite remains of eruptions from an ancient shield volcano centered that was centered on Mt Warning. After the volcano died about 10 million years ago, weather sculpted an erosion caldera landform, the result of which can be seen in all its magnificence from Best Of All lookout.

Whatever the reason for your visit, a day spent in Springbrook is a restorative experience that will peak your interest in visiting the neighboring Lamington National Park and perhaps even beyond into New South Wales.

Purlington Brook Falls is one of many that cascade from the Springbrook plateau
Purlington Brook Falls is one of many that cascade from the Springbrook plateau

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