So you’ve decided to peel yourself away from the beach? Escape the seaside and dive into the Gold Coast’s diverse hinterland—the ‘green behind the gold’ as it’s fondly known. Here you’ll unearth a piece of the city’s fabric that’s as magical as the sandy coastline that made it famous.
We’re helping you out with our top five totally splash (and insta)-worthy waterfalls located in our wildly lush and mysterious backyard. Go chase them, we dare you.
PURLING BROOK FALLS
Purling Brook Falls is hands down the most dramatic waterfall in the region and no visit to the Coast would be complete without a wondrous few hours admiring her might and beauty. Located in Springbrook National Park and plunging sharply 300 feet to the forest floor, while you can’t technically swim in the pool at the foot of Purling Brook Falls, you can certainly cop a refreshing face full of spray when standing in close proximity.
It’s an energetic one hour long hike down from the top car park and lookout, and an even more vigorous hike back up again; though if you’re eager to get submerged on a hot day, continue on to Warringa Pools for a splashable rock pool and cascades. Rained recently? Jackpot!
Where: Forestry Rd, Springbrook
CEDAR CREEK FALLS
This hinterland gem is a favourite among Gold Coast locals, making it a perfect spot to visit in the cooler months when it’s less crowded. Though don’t let that deter you. With a dramatic gorge carving several freshwater cascades and plunge pools, there’s no shortage of natural goodness to go around at Mount Tamborine’s most popular waterfall. It’s an energetic 3.2 kilometre round-trip hike to reach the base of Cedar Creek Falls (longer if you can’t nab a space in the small car park at the head of the trail).
So don’t miss the opportunity to take a refreshing dip when you reach your destination, followed by a rewarding picnic lunch under the towering Gums back at the park before rallying the troops and heading home. Our tip? Detour via Cedar Creek Estate Winery and Witches Falls Winery for tastings and takeaway bottles for local vino.
Where: Cedar Creek Falls Rd, Tamborine Mountain
We love waterfalls. You can cool off without the fear of getting tumble-rolled by a ferocious wave or departing with a car full of sand. One of the best waterfalls on the Gold Coast is Twin Falls in Springbrook National Park. This four-kilometre circuit is superbly scenic, peppered with tropical rainforest, abundant flora, dreamy vistas, and all set to the soothing soundtrack of native birds that linger in the forest canopy. A hike to Twin Falls comes with the added bonus of a track that meanders behind the falls, ideal for the enviable Insta selfie or three. Naturally, this place goes off when it rains.
Where: Rush Creek, Springbrook
In the foothills of Springbrook National Park, Cougal Cascades is one of the most convenient to access Gold Coast waterfalls that you can dip your feet or swim under. A scenic 20-minute drive inland from Currumbin and the beach, Cougal Cascades is often overshadowed by its more popular cousin, the Currumbin Rock Pools. Though keen waterfall chasers are strongly encouraged to trek a few minutes further west to the very end of Currumbin Creek Road. Here you’ll find a gentle paved nature walk, a double waterfall with an icy plunge pool in its middle, plus plenty of peaceful rock pools further upstream if you have little ones in tow. Pure bliss.
Where: 1815 Currumbin Creek Rd, Currumbin Valley
If you prefer to work up a sweat for your waterfall swim, you’ll find what you’re searching for at Elabana Falls in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park. Trade a beach day and strap on your hiking shoes for the picturesque three-hour round trip walk to this enchanting Gold Coast waterfall. Accessed via O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, about 1.5 hours drive from the Gold Coast, Elabana Falls forms part of the longer Box Forest Circuit, a popular route for more ambitious nature lovers.
Secreted away deep in the Gold Coast hinterland, upon reaching Elabana Falls a seriously postcard-worthy scene will unfold before you. Picture this: a dramatic rock wall and ledge rimmed with lush rainforest and bubbling cascades that splash into a cool water pool underneath, perfect for swimming. Sounds like heaven, right? When you return with plenty of photos sure to spark some Insta-envy, you’ll agree this is one Gold Coast waterfall that’s totally worth the effort.
Where: Main Border Track, O’Reilly