Queensland’s Gold Coast, the choice of holiday destination for many Australian families. Theme parks, beaches and the shopping mall that is Surfers Paradise are usually what they come for however there is another side to the Gold Coast. Away from the roller coasters, the surf shops and beaches overshadowed by high rise buildings visitors will discover a beautiful natural environment set in the Gold Coast hinterland. The hinterland is my favourite place to explore and it is where I often taken family and friends when they visit. As your tour guide for this week’s photo challenge the hinterland is the destination that I want you to experience.
Springbrook National Park, part of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest and home to spectacular waterfalls, subtropical and warm temperate rainforest, Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest and a variety of wildlife. The Purlingbrook Falls walk is 4km in length, relatively easy on the legs and if you’re keen or wanting to go for a swim you can walk an extra 2km to Warringa Pools. My friend and I did the walk in September, it was a perfect Spring day and we took our time, stopping to admire the beauty of tiny blossoms and to watch a goanna dawdle through the undergrowth. Others use the track for physical training, running up and down the stairs, slipping past us in their fluorescent athletic wear but most appear to do the walk in a more leisurely manner.
Purlingbrook Falls walking circuit
Waterfalls in abundance in Springbrook National Park
Tamborine Mountain is popular with day trippers especially on the weekend, but most tend to stick to the shops and cafes on Gallery Walk. My preference is take one of the many rainforest walks on the mountain, they vary in length and tend to be less than 3km. The Curtis Falls track is not far from Gallery Walk in the Joalah Section of the Tamborine National Park, and is heavily visited by tourists and photographers. Curtis Falls looks its best after heavy rain although the track might get a little slippery so wear appropriate footwear. There is a viewing platform overlooking a large rock pool at the base of the Curtis Falls, swimming in the pool is prohibited and there is a restricted access area below the Falls in order to protect a colony of glow-worms. There is an extension to this walk which takes about an hour to do and if you look beyond the track you will see huge strangler fig trees as well as elk horns, stag horns and birds nest ferns.
Bushwalking through National Park, Mt Tamborine
Which ever walk you do, remember that you’re in the Australian bush so the chances of seeing a snake are pretty good. Always wear covered footwear.
For birdwatchers, animal lovers and people wanting to spend a long weekend in a cabin in the rainforest, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat set in the Lamington National Park is ideal. Early morning guided bird walks through a small section of the rainforest are a wonderful way to start the day. See, hear and learn about the Eastern Whipbird, Eastern Yellow Robins and Bowerbirds before enjoying a hearty breakfast in the restaurant. At the end of the day I recommend taking the tour out to the Moonlight Crag Lookout where you can enjoy a glass of champagne, beer or wine whilst watching the sun set over the ranges.
Easter in Australia means a 4 day weekend, we have a public holiday on Good Friday and another on Easter Monday. It is usually a time when people pack their family into their car and head off to visit extended family or head to the beach to make the most of the warm weather before Autumn kicks in. We generally stay home, relaxing and avoiding traffic the main aim. Sometimes family pop in for a visit however this year it was just the two of us with our two black doggies, a nice break after a hectic start to the year.
Even though the house was void of visitors we still fit in some quality time with family. Hubby’s sister and her family had booked into an apartment at Burleigh Heads on the southern end of the Gold Coast. It is a great spot and from their apartment it is a short walk to the beach, cafes and a variety of small, non-franchised shops. On Monday morning we set the alarm for early, left Maxi snoozing on her bed and took Bundy to the beach to see the sunrise and join Hubby’s sister K for a walk. It was a perfect morning, the predicted rain never appeared and there was wonderful cloud formations happening which made the sunrise so much more interesting.
There is a path along the esplanade that leads into Burleigh National Park, dogs aren’t allowed in the National Park so we stopped at the top of Burleigh headlands and joined many others in admiring and photographing the sunrise. Some photographers were there to take photos of the surfers out in the water, I have to say that I did feel a little lens envy when I saw the zoom on their cameras. Turning around we headed north, choosing to walk on the sand rather than continue on the footpath. Bundy loves the beach, he’s not too fond of swimming but he loves zig-zagging through the water and the sand, oblivious to everyone passing by. He is such a happy chappy when out and about and if given a chance he’ll say hello to other dogs and engage them in play for a short while, however he does prefer to hang with his two legged friends.
It was a beautiful way to spend the last morning of our long weekend, I hope you all had a wonderful Easter as well.
Summer means going to the beach and our doggies just love the beach. Loading up the car with bottles of water, portable drinking bowl and towels we headed off to the coast early in the morning to avoid traffic and the hordes of people that usually end up at the beach mid-morning. Bundy loves a car trip regardless of the destination, but Maxi knew that we were going somewhere special and once we got closer she could smell the salt air and her happy, excited face appeared.
Parking spots aplenty at that hour of the day, we chose a great spot by the water and under shade. As soon as the dogs were out of the car it was noses to the ground and it took all my strength to stop them from dragging me down to the water while Marty unloaded the necessary gear. Maxi loves to swim, Bundy loves to wade, Maxi and Bundy both love to roll in stinky dead things that they dig up and they both always end up covered in sand.
The car ride home is always a quiet one, Bundy lies down for a nap on the back seat and Maxi settles in her position so she can look out the window. Happy, tired dogs 🙂
Sea World on the Gold Coast is one of four theme parks frequented by visitors to this region and one of three owned by Warner Bros: Sea World, Movie World and Wet ‘n’ Wild. Situated on the Broadwater, not far from Surfers Paradise or the six star Palazzo Versace Resort, Sea World provides a variety of entertainment for guests of all ages: 3D Spongebob Squarepants; rollercoaster rides; water slides and diving with sharks and although there are food outlets selling the usual fare of fish and chips, hot dogs, pizza and sandwiches, families can save money by packing a picnic.
If you don’t like rides you can relax and watch the stunts on the lake, sit by the pool, circle the park on the monorail or check out the Dinosaur exhibition, helicopter rides over the coast are also available for those preferring an aerial view. I personally love seeing the polar bears, seals, dolphins and penguins and I know that for some, the idea of paying to see animals in captivity is abhorrent, Sea World has a good reputation for the research and rescue of marine life and if seeing such amazing creatures up close in this environment teaches people love and respect for them (and their environment) then I’m all for it.
On the day we were there so were hundreds of school children, that’s right, crazy as it might seem we went to a theme park during the school holidays and we don’t have children. Hearing them squeal in excitement over the pelicans catching fish or as they watch dolphins perform reminds me how special these experiences are and I have to admit that on the inside I’m squealing in excitement too! Watching the seals I can’t help compare them to my two black doggies with their long noses and whiskers, at Sea World there are three types of seals in Seal Harbour: New Zealand Fur Seals, the golden maned Australian Sea Lions and Californian Sea Lions but it is impossible for me to figure out which seal is which. Polar Bear Shores is the other area I like to spend my time in, today it is quiet and we can easily get a good position to see the polar bears and it soon becomes obvious why, only one polar bear is out and about and he or she is not budging from their shady spot under a tree. The environment that the polar bears live in was created ten years ago and it is set up to provide them with the appropriate temperature, stimulation in the form of waterfalls, deep pools and trees, to see them diving into the water and placing their huge paws on the viewing glass is amazing but alas it is not going to happen on this visit.
It’s a shame that the article didn’t include Springbrook National Park or Mt Tamborine’s national park walks, but I love these alternatives to the theme parks and typical tourist hotspots. My favourite is place that they mentioned is O’Reilly’s, great for a day trip if you want to go bushwalking, see the native wildlife/birdlife and indulge in some bird feeding and it is even nicer if you can afford to stay a couple of nights and explore the area further. The sunsets are sensational and if you like early mornings you can join the birdwatching walk with a resident expert, I wouldn’t mind going back there again before the year is over.