There’s nothing quite like a leisurely walk to stoke the senses and invigorate the soul. It’s also a wonderful way to go exploring and get a feel for a place, especially if you’re visiting for the first time. So stretch your legs and discover a whole new side of the Gold Coast. Here are some of our favourite local strolls to get you started. Whether you prefer to amble slow or set a spritely pace, you don’t need long legs or extreme levels of fitness to enjoy these easy nature walks.
WANDER WITH WILDLIFE – COOMBABAH
With multiple flat trails winding through eucalyptus forest, salt marsh and mangrove habitats, The Coombabah Lakelands Conservation Area’s 1200 hectares is the perfect place to walk while wandering amongst the wildlife. Located between between Helensvale and Runaway Bay in the northern Gold Coast, the park serves as an important wildlife corridor. You’ll likely spot grey kangaroos and red face wallabies foraging and if you’re lucky, wild koalas in the treetops or a shy echidna rustling in the undergrowth. Plenty of bird species too. Keep your phone handy and snap some epic shots to share, or just revel in the wild beauty yourself at one of the Gold Coast’s most accessible conservation areas.
Distance: Tracks weave all over the park, so take as long or as little as you like to explore them.
How to get there: Follow the Gold Coast Hwy north from Surfers Paradise for approximately 25 minutes, turning onto Oxley Dr at Harbour Town before turning onto Harbour Quays Dr to find parking. Alternatively, from Brisbane, take the turn off to Harbour Town before linking with Oxley drive and Harbour Quays Dr as above.
OCEAN THERAPY – COOLANGATTA
Start this easy wheelchair, pram and bike friendly walk on the southern end of Coolangatta Beach where you’ll pass the Tweed Heads-Coolangatta Surf Club before the track elevates slightly to offer endless ocean vista views. Snaking around the headland, and with stairs leading down to the beach at various junctures, you can dip in and out of ocean pools, hop across huge granite rocks and take in the mesmerising skyline views of the city as it appears to hover above the sea. Once around the point, you’ll arrive at Rainbow Bay, one of the best swimming beaches on the Gold Coast. If you like surfing, continue further to Snapper Rocks to watch the pros carving up world class waves. If all that walking has left you with an appetite, drop in to Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club for a meal and a drink.
Distance: 1.4km. Flat, sealed and spectacular ocean walkway.
How to get there: Head to Coolangatta to find parking anywhere along Marine Parade to join the Ocean Walk.
UNDER THE BRIDGE – LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK
As far as easy nature walks on the Gold Coast go, Natural Bridge is one of the most impressive. A sealed and very easy 1km takes you from the car park deep into ancient Gondwana rainforest where “living dinosaurs” of the botanical type can be found. From Jurassic times, towering hoop pines dating back 180 million years dwarf the landscape, while an arched cave complete with gushing waterfall is home to micro-bats and a colony of glowworms (stay after dark to see them light up). It will blow the kids’ mind to join you on one of the Gold Coast’s most magical walks and be on the lookout for the exquisite birdlife as you listen to the shrill call of the catbirds and spy tree frogs, lizards and perhaps a sooty owl or two.
Distance: An easy 1km return sealed track, perfect for beginners, the young and elderly walkers.
How to get there: Head out to Numinbah Valley via the Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd and turn off at Bakers Rd to reach Natural Bridge.
CREEK TO SEA – BURLEIGH HEADS
Tucked right beside David Fleay Wildlife Park, the Tallebudgera Creek track is an easy, wheelchair friendly and mostly flat boardwalk passing through a rich mangrove estuary and beside the turquoise spangled waters of Talle Creek. Interpretive signage along the way shares stories and information about the local environment. Expect to spot all sorts of shy creatures lurking in shaded spots. Keep your eyes up and you might spy a koala from David Fleay’s snoozing close to the fence. At the end of the boardwalk, a narrow bitumen track continues along the creek and you’ll pop out in Koala Park. If you want to extend your walk, follow Ocean Parade down the hill and head left on Elanora Drive until you reach the creek again. Keep going and you’ll link up to the walking tracks in Burleigh Heads National Park. If you need to take a break, drop past Hidden Perk in Koala Park for a cold drink or a coffee.
Distance: A 400m easy stroll (further if you keep going beyond the boardwalk).
How to get there: From Gold Coast Hwy, take West Burleigh Rd to reach David Fleay Wildlife Park on Loman Lane.
HEAD FOR THE HILLS – MOUNT TAMBORINE
Located in Tamborine National Park, Witches Falls Circuit is one of the easiest and most pleasant short walks, provided you don’t mind a slight uphill section at the end. You’ll begin on Tamborine Plateau and weave your way down through banksia buzzing with birdlife, past groves of piccabeen palms and if you hear a rustle, be on the lookout to spot shy Pademelons (a small marsupial similar to wallaby). If it’s rained recently, take a 200m detour to see Witches Falls flowing from the lookout, or just take your time forest bathing before looping back to the top of the trail.
Distance: A short 3.6km return – allow a leisurely hour.
How to get there: From Mount Tamborine’s Main Street turn onto Main Western Rd continuing through the roundabout and past Witches Falls Winery to find Witches Falls Circuit across the road from the Witches Falls Cottages.
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