Family Friendly Guide to the Gold Coast Hinterland

Family Friendly Guide to the Gold Coast Hinterland

02 May 2023

If you want to teach your kids to appreciate nature, take them to the Gold Coast Hinterland. In this magical place curious creatures shelter in ancient rainforests and exotic bird calls echo through the canopy. It’s a natural play ground where the kids can dip in waterfalls, slide into swimming holes and swing through the trees. There are plenty of delightful surprises waiting for your family to discover in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Here are 10 of the best to get you started.

1. Walk This Way

Kids love wandering in nature as much as we do, but with little legs and shorter attention spans, set a family-friendly course for the 1km Natural Bridge Circuit in Springbrook National Park. They’ll love being dwarfed within a towering canopy of rainforest giants, before traversing a mossy stone bridge where trolls may tread and being misted by a waterfall before entering a cave carved out by the rushing water over thousands of years.

2. Day Time Glow Up

Normally you need to wait until after dark to see Gold Coast glow worms, but if you can’t stick around until sundown, pay a visit to Cedar Creek Estate during daylight hours. A guided 30-minute tour will take you into a purpose-built glow-worm cave, where you can see them glimmering like a miniature galaxy and learn what makes them glow. Your ticket includes a fascinating frog and insect exhibit too.

3. Pack a Picnic

There’s plenty of places to picnic in the Gold Coast Hinterland, but luckily, you don’t have to come pre-prepared, with roadside stalls, farm gates, markets and retailers across the region stocked with provisions. Hit up Picnic Real Food at North Stores, North Tamborine for delicious, wholesome cuisine, but leave room for the delectable chocolate salted rye biscuit you might accidentally “forget” to share with the kids. Gallery Walk on Long Road, Eagle Heights is a pick-your-own promenade with Franquette Bakery serving fresh baked breads and perfectly flaky pastries and Granny Macs Fudge,  serving creamy, old-fashioned fudge and lollies that will guarantee a happy ride home.

4. Just Add an Alpaca 

To take your picnic to the next level, and treat the whole family to an adorable surprise, book an Alpaca picnic at Mountview Alpaca Farm where for 30 minutes, a quirky, furry friend (with the world’s best eyelashes) can join your family play date. Pet, pat and walk them on a lead, and you can even order them some treats as a reward for good behaviour! There’s pizzas for the kids and a charcuterie platter for parents beside a crisp glass of chardonnay from neighbouring O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards. Cheers!

5. Sky High Soaring

For a natural high, elevate the adventure at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat where you can tackle the Tree Top Walk. Hovering 16 metres above the rainforest floor, kids can weave like the wind along 180 metres of walkway with a bird’s eye view of Lamington National Park. If they keep their eyes peeled, they might spot shy wallabies, hear the shrill call of crimson Rosellas or meet a cheeky Green Catbird or Red King Parrot.

6. Rainforest Glamping

Settle in for a few nights at Cedar Creek Lodges in family glamping tents set beside a pretty creek on 112 hectares shrouded in the rainforest. Shower under the stars in a private ensuite, gather around private fire-pits and or splash out on the luxury family option that includes a private plunge pool. Don’t forget you’ll also be sharing the space with Australia’s largest adventure playground; Thunderbird Park where the kids can dig for thunder eggs, take on the Treetop Challenge, go zip lining or take a 20 minute bush-walk to find crystal clear rock pools to dip into around Cedar Creek.

7. Wild Swimming 

They’ll have worked up a sweat, so cool them down as nature intended with a dip in a waterfall. A beautiful little 1.5 km bush walk begins the descent to Cedar Creek Falls, where on its lower level, you’ll find a popular spot local families love to swim. Certain superheroes have been seen swimming here - a scene from Thor: Ragnorak was filmed at this special spot.

8. More and More Falls

There are over 500 waterfalls flowing through the Hinterland, but for a pretty one that families love best, take the easy 1.5km walk to Curtis Falls. You’ll find it in the Joalah section of Mount Tamborine National Park, and if you can keep the kids quiet - you might spot (and hear) a shy Alberts Lyrebird who likes to forage in the Gold Coast Hinterland too. (Tip: come at night and make the walk by torchlight. Curtis Falls is home to a colony of glow worms – a sight that will inspire wonder and create a core memory to cherish.) 

9. Go on Safari

Why not stay longer and camp out in the Gold Coast Hinterland with the kids? They will love sleeping over in the newly refurbished safari tents at Binna Burra Lodge with two double beds and two single beds guaranteed to fit any family dynamic. BYO cooking gear and some hearty camp tucker if you prefer, but there is dining on site also, plus amenities including a community fire pit, hot showers, gas tops and BBQs to share. If camping is not your style, book a stay in the luxury Sky Lodge apartments with luxurious one, two and three-bedroom abodes complete with spa baths and sublime views over Lamington National Park.

10. Come Along With a Local 

If you don’t feel like sorting out the perfect Hinterland family itinerary all by yourself (you’re on holidays after-all right?) enlist an expert local guide from Southern Cross Tours to do it for you. Operated by proud, super-friendly locals who love showing off their home patch, you can choose to include visits to most of the places we have mentioned above, and the team at Southern Cross will suggest many more. They’ll also work out the logistics, so you can simply sit back, relax and enjoy spending quality time with your family in what we think is one of the most beautiful places in Queensland.

Looking for more family friendly activities on the Gold Coast? Check out Walk on the Wild Side: 5 Easy Nature Walks on the Gold Coast

Narelle Bouveng
Narelle Bouveng

A local Gold Coast mum and well-travelled Australian travel writer, Narelle has over 21 years’ experience wandering and chooses to call Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast home. A sunrise and sunset regular, you will often find her juggling a coffee and her camera, snapping for her blog and family travel inspired Instagram @alittleatlarge while youngest daughter Tiah frolics alongside.


Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. 
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland.