South of Brisbane on the east coast of Australia you’ll find the Gold Coast. This is an incredible area with surfing, diving, many different beaches, ways to get up close to nature and even plenty of amusement parks for entertainment. There is so much to do and see that I have chosen just some samples to tempt you.
Once you have soaked up all the sun that you can take you might want to get up close to nature and take the Great Hinterland Walk. You’ll go through World Heritage rainforests Lamington and Springbrook. You’ll see the magic of ancient volcano and amazing waterfalls.
Imagine walking past Egg Rock and Turtle Rock in the scenic Numinbah Valley. Once erupting about 25 million years ago is the Tweed Volcano and by it you can enjoy crystal-clear streams and fantastic waterfalls. You can explore Woonoongoora, which the local Yugambeh people refer to as “Queen of the Mountain”. Visitors can learn about their ancestral legends and get to know how the valleys and rivers were formed. Go camping in the rainforest at Green Mountains, Woonoongoora and The Settlement or head for Binna Burra and private camping. The best time to walk this track is when the weather is milder between March and October.
The Border Track stretches for 21.4 km between the Binna Burra and the Green Mountains in Lamington National Park. Have an adventure climbing through the Tweed Volcano’s highest remaining basalt lavas and watch as the rainforest changes altitude. Along the way moving from warm to cool subtropical rainforest you’ll see stangler figs, palms, ferns, hoop pines and Tarzan-like vines. Higher up there are coach wood trees, ancient flowering plants and southern beeches. Along the track are lookouts from which you can see over the rainforest. Keep a look-out for platypus, bandicoots, wallabies, pademelon, pygmy possums and birds like bowerbirds and scrub turkeys running over the forest floor. You’ll see wedge-tailed eagles searching for food and rosella, lorikeets and cockatoos singing in the trees. There is a privately-owned campsite at Binna Burra where you can pitch your own tents or book a safari-style tent onsite or get a room in a rustic cabin.
Just beneath the Binna Burra campground stretches a 19.5 km walking section. Here you’ll head down through cliff lines of volcano rack and ash then turn left onto the Lower Bellbird circuit track. You’ll be walking past piccabeen palm, large red cedar and graceful flooded gum. From Egg Rock Creek you can see the towering Egg Rock or Kurraragin. Yugambeh legend says that Kurraragin was a giant who battled the huge land formations around him in order to become king of all the mountains. Egg Rock Creek will take you along Nixon Creek then through woodland to the Woonoongoora walkers’ camp in the Springbrook Conservation Area.
Visitors can choose to walk along the 13 km section heading up to Springbrook plateau and down into the natural amphitheater of Waterfall Creek Valley. Walking over 900 steps you’ll head past ancient cyads groves to a plateau where tall eucalypts grow. By Little Nerang Creek you’ll head up a narrow gorge where waterfalls and pools carve through older rocks from beneath the ancient volcano. At Warringa Pool you can enjoy a refreshing swim and listen to the bird choruses high in the trees.
Get up close with nature and cuddle koalas at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. At the sanctuary visitors can hug a koala, feed a kangaroo, see the feeding of wild lorikeets, see a free-flight bird show and an Australian sheep shearing. You can see Aboriginal presenters perform didgeridoo and dancer shows. Go on the Adventure Parc High Ropes Course and children will enjoy Wild Island where they can play in an outdoor adventure playground. You can see experienced vets in action in the Wildlife Hospital precinct.
Enjoy Australia’s biggest theme park – Dreamworld. Here visitors can enjoy more than 50 rides and attractions. There is a lot to do for toddlers, thrill seekers and even seniors. The park is also popular for offering some of the highest and fastest rides in the country and is home to the Big 9 Thrill Rides among the Tail Spin, where you control the ride.
For children there is ABC Kids’ World featuring Giggle and Hoot, The Wiggles, Play School and Bananas in Pyjamas. The theme park has various lands like Madagascar Madness, Shrek’s Faire Faire Away and Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness. Young and adult visitors will enjoy Gold Rush Country with rides like Thunder River Rapids, Rocky Hollow Log Ride and AVIS Vintage Cars.
For more excitement and adventure head for Sea World. Here visitors can delight in a dolphin show and see what is happening under the sea. You can meet Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who show their moves every day. You can get up close to dolphins, seals, polar bears, penguins and other animals. See Castaway Bay and ride the Storm Coaster.
Enjoy a family picnic and barbecue at Cascade Gardens. This park is located at the riverside and includes a large playground for children. They even have Liberty Swing, designed for wheelchair bound children to be able to enjoy swinging. The gardens include a lovely rotunda which is popular for weddings and other ceremonies. Visitors can take quiet rainforest walks, find traces of aboriginal culture and find an enclosed sanctuary for water birds. A lot of the picnic areas offer lovely views of the Nerang River.
An amazing feature of Cascade Gardens is the Kokoda Memorial Walk. It has been created to help visitors appreciate the courage and determination of the men who fought on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during WW II.
Visitors really enjoy Tamborine Mountain. Here you can find different walks and lookouts to get close to the beauty of nature. Each is so diverse such as the mysterious Witches Falls or beautiful Cedar Creek. Each of the 12 walking tracks is not longer than about 3 km. You can take wonderful strolls and see trees, flowers and hear birds trilling in the trees. There are several wineries you can visit and there is also a brewery and a distillery up on the mountain. You’ll also find art galleries and restaurants and impressive coastal views.
Visitors can enjoy home-grown produce like avocados, kiwi fruit and macadamia nuts as well as award-winning cheeses and fantastic fudge. Here you’ll also find the iconic St. Bernard’s Hotel. You can explore this area on your own or take a tour that includes such attractions as the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk and the Glow Worm Caves. The skywalk stretches for one and a half kilometers and includes the Skywalk Bridge (steel-structure) and the Cedar Creek Viewing Platform, joined by twisting pathways along the canopy floor. At the main center – The Eco Center you’ll find a gift shop, cafe, restrooms and bus parking.
The Glow Worm Caves consist of two large chambers that are linked by tunnels. The first chamber is known as the “presentation cave” where visitors can see an audiovisual display on glow worms and the construction of the caves. In this chamber there are realistic formations like stalagmites and stalactites, water features and flow stone. Then you go on to the incredible “glow-worm cave” which is full of glowing glow-worms.
Wine lovers will enjoy Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard and Winery. It is set in charming wine country with awesome scenery all about. They offer two varieties among them Chambourcin and Verdelho. The wine and grapes come from some of Queensland’s top vineyards. The winery also had a restaurant which adjoins the Gazebo and Deck which overlook Wild Duck Lake. The lake is a sanctuary for native wildlife and is also home to some platypus. It is fast becoming a tourist attraction because by taking a short stroll along the Prime Ministers’ Way through rainforest you get to Glow-worm Caves.