Southeast Sojourn: Gold Coast to Springbrook travel guide

It starts with vast stretches of sand then rises into the mountains and the coolness of ancient rainforest. For adventures in the great outdoors, there’s no better holiday than this.


Close-up of six rainbow lorikeets sitting on a plate, Currumbin Bird Sanctuary, Gold Coast, Queensland

If one of you seeks sun and sand and the other is enamoured with the cool shade of a lush rainforest, this is the perfect destination. Spend a couple of days exploring the old-school southern end of the Gold Coast before heading west of Coolangatta and into the hinterland. Here, you can hike in national parks, buy tropical fruit in local markets and marvel at glow worms lighting up a cave. It’s wild and beautiful, but littered with unique places to stay and excellent adventures.


Woman walking along a path cutting through rainforest at Springbrook National Park / Tourism and Events Queensland

At 10am you can be sunning yourself on Kirra Beach and an hour later be immersed in the beauty of Springbrook National Park. It’s part of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest, which clocks in at about 100 million years old and is a living example of evolution. Take a short stroll to Insta-famous Purling Brook Falls or the most popular walk in the park to the Natural Bridge, the most likely place to see glow worms, particularly between December and March.


  1. What’s the Goldie famous for? Surf. And what’s great after a surf? A frosty beer. It should come as no surprise that a bunch of mates, including pro surfers Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning, decided to combine their passions. They launched Balter Brewing Company in 2016 and, since then, it’s won a slew of awards. After a hard day on the waves, hit the taproom for the main range, limited editions, collabs and even non-alcoholic sodas made with hops.

  2. As you begin the drive into the hinterland, you’ll see pockets of agriculture, particularly macadamia farms. If you want to see what life here was like a hundred years ago, visit the Gold Coast Hinterland Heritage Museum. A cluster of original buildings, including a 1930s farmhouse, the original Tallebudgera Police Station and a number of shops, offer a slice of the past.

  3. Lamington National Park is another of the four Gondawana Rainforests in southeast Queensland, and a magnet for bushwalkers. Head to the Green Mountains trailhead where there are five day walks that lead to some of the most beautiful aspects of the park.

    Each of them, however, is difficult, with boulder scrambles, steep inclines and creek crossings. If you’re fit and ready to go, take the West Canungra Creek circuit through the forest. You’ll cross the creek numerous times, so check in clear pools for eels and the blue spiny crayfish that’s endemic to this area. Give yourself six hours to get back to the start.

  4. Set in Lamington National Park, Binna Burra Lodge was a pioneer of ecotourism in Queensland. Rebuilt in 2019 after a devastating bushfire, it offers accommodation from campsites to luxury Sky Lodges, but you don’t necessarily have to stay here to enjoy its best features. The Binna Burra Teahouse serves meals all day every day, with amazing views of the valley.

  5. Discover the Indigenous history and culture of the Gold Coast on the Jellurgal Walkabout. Jellurgal is the Kombumerri name for Burleigh Heads and that’s the area you’ll be exploring while finding out about traditional life, bush tucker, fishing, connection to country and ancient ecological practices. Don’t forget to bring your towel for a swim at the end.


The Mouses House

Relax surrounded by rainforest at one of a dozen timber chalets at The Mouses House on the edge of Springbrook National Park. Each has a spa bath, fireplace and a balcony overlooking a stream, all contributing to an overall sense of calm.

Binna Burra Safari Tents

Get all the joy of camping without needing any of the gear at Binna Burra Safari Tents. Spend the day hiking, go spotlighting with a guide after dark to find possums, bats and owls, then sit out on the deck with the fire pit burning.

The Pink Hotel Coolangatta

Get into the retro vibe of the quiet end of the glittering Gold Coast with a stay at The Pink Hotel Coolangatta. This mid-century motel overlooking the beach has been transformed, with each of its rooms featuring custom art, record players and vintage furniture.


Plates of salad, curry and roti on a well-set table near open windows over a beach, Rick Shores Restaurant, Gold Coast

While you’re booking airfares and hotels and making plans, organise your Apex Car Rental booking. There’s a desk at Gold Coast Airport and your ride will be ready for you when you arrive. Currumbin, Kirra and Coolangatta are some of the beaches right near the airport. It’s 40 kilometres to Springbrook unless you can take a more northerly route towards Nerang and back again past the Hinze Dam, which will take just over an hour.


View of a cliff face, forest and ocean from a lookout, Springbrook National Park, Gold Coast, Queensland

You’ve done beach and rainforest, so why not add a couple of days in Queensland’s capital Brisbane? This city on the river is just over a hundred kilometres away and to get there you can detour through Mount Tamborine. Stop to check out the galleries, visit the glow worm caves or taste the offerings of Tamborine Mountain Distillery.