If you’re thinking of visiting the Gold Coast hinterland you’ve come to the right place. This post outlines the best places to visit in the hinterland region as well as the top things to do there. Find the place that best suits your holiday requirements and read more about it in our extended pages. Read about the attractions that make the hinterland region so popular and make a list of the things you want to do on your next holiday here.



Best Places to Visit in Gold Coast Hinterland

The cool, green Gold Coast hinterland is only a half-hour drive from the coast, but it’s a world away from the neon lights, theme parks, and crowds. Up here, at an altitude of 500 to 1,000m (1,640–3,280 ft.), the tree ferns drip moisture, the air is crisp, and the pace is slow; you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away.

The hinterland is close enough to the Gold Coast and Brisbane to make a pleasant day trip, but you will almost certainly want to stay overnight, or longer, once you breathe that restorative mountain air.

Below are the best places to visit in the Gold Coast hinterland – Tamborine Mountain, Springbrook National Park and Lamington National Park.


1. Tamborine Mountain


Great for: People who like art and craft shops and galleries, want to relax

Avoid if: You want an active holiday

Best time to visit: Spring (September to November)

Budget: Moderate

Activities: Shopping, bush walking, wine & beer tasting

Accommodation options: Motel, cottages, villas, chalets

Transport options: Car


A mountaintop rainforest community just 45km inland from the Gold Coast beaches, Tamborine Mountain is the most popular vacation spot in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Crafts shops, teahouses, and idyllic vistas are Mount Tamborine’s attractions.

The area shelters several villages well known for their crafts shops, galleries, cafes, and B&Bs. In fact, Mt Tamborine has cornered the chocolate, fudge and craft cottage industries in a big way.

As well as housing a bevy of creative artists and musicians, Tamborine Mountain is home to Queensland’s oldest national park. Easy walking trails wander from the streets through rainforest and eucalyptus woodland, and as you drive you will discover magnificent views. In winter, cosy cabins and fireplaces attract romantic weekenders.

See Tamborine Mountain for more information.



2. Springbrook National Park


Great for: Hikers, want an active holiday

Avoid if: You want a relaxing holiday

Best time to visit: Spring (September to November)

Budget: Moderate

Activities: Bush walking, wildlife viewing

Accommodation options: Guesthouse, chalets, cottages, campsite

Transport options: Car


Springbrook National Park is arguably the wettest place in southeast Queensland and the villages that speckle this area are influenced by the cooler air and vast sea of dense forest. If you want an active holiday without having to travel far, Springbrook is for you. With a Jurassic Park ecosystem of lush subtropical rainforests, it’s a world of strangler figs, vines, epiphytes, glow-in-the-dark mushrooms and worms, colourful wildlife and spectacular waterfalls and gorges. It’s a haven for hikers.

See Springbrook National Park for more information.



3. Lamington National Park


Great for: Bird-watchers, nature-lovers and serious hikers

Avoid if: You want a relaxed holiday

Best time to visit: Spring (September to November)

Budget: Moderate

Activities: Bush walking, bird watching, wildlife viewing

Accommodation options: Villas, cabins, campsites

Transport options: Car


Due to its status as the largest national park in the Gold Coast, Lamington National Park is extremely popular with serious hikers. The park is a eucalyptus and rainforest wilderness crisscrossed with walking trails. It’s famous for its colourful bird life, wallabies, possums, and other wildlife making it a hotspot for bird-watchers and nature-lovers. Unlike Springbrook National Park, Lamington is more developed and tourist-oriented, especially the Green Mountains section of the park; it is further inland though.

See Lamington National Park for more information.




Top 5 Gold Coast Hinterland Attractions

The Gold Coast hinterland is dominated by national parks and mountains so it’s no surprise that the best things to do here are hiking to waterfalls and lookouts, and horse riding. There also the delightful Sunday markets and art and craft shops that attracts visitors from all over.


1. Hiking Gold Coast Hinterland


With three national parks located in the Gold Coast hinterland, hiking is a huge pastime for visitors to this neck of the woods. With so much variety on offer, you can choose to hike at Lamington National Park, Springbrook National Park or Tamborine Mountain. In fact, you can walk the distance between Lamington National Park and Springbrook National Park by undertaking the challenging Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk. See below for details.

Being the largest of the national parks, Lamington National Park has the most extensive walking tracks divided into two sections – Green Mountains and Binna Burra. However, walking tracks in all three parks leads to waterfalls and spectacular lookouts with views overlooking valleys and gorges. All trails are well signposted including accessible and restricted areas. One word of caution – the temperature drops about 5°C while hiking in the national parks so take some warm clothes and plenty of drinking water with you.

For more information on hiking in the Gold Coast hinterland, see Green Mountains and Binna Burra in Lamington National Park, Springbrook National Park and Tamborine Mountain.



2. Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk


Distance: 54 km

Time: 3 days

Class: 4

Start: Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park

Finish: Settlement camping area of Springbrook National Park


The Gold Coast hinterland Great Walk is one of the best walks in Queensland, if not Australia. Covering a distance of 54 km, it is recommended to begin in the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park and finish at Springbrook National Park. The Great Walk is divided into three tracks for each of the three days.


Tips for Undertaking the Great Walk

  • Plan your walk using the topographic map trip planner
  • Book your camp sites online


Key to Australian Track Standards – Class 4

  • Distinct tracks with junctions sign-posted, rough track surfaces with some exposed roots and rocks
  • Variable in width; muddy sections, steep grades and steps may be encountered
  • May be extensively overgrown; hazards such as fallen trees and rockfalls likely to be present
  • Caution needed at creek crossings, cliff edges and naturally-occurring lookouts
  • Moderate fitness level with previous experience and ankle-supporting footwear strongly recommended


Day 1 – Green Mountains (O’Reilly) to Binna Burra


Distance: 21.4 km one way

Time: 7 hrs

Overnight: Binna Burra campground


Begin your walk from Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park along the well-known Border Track that links the Green Mountains section of the national park to the Binna Burra section.

The Border Track traverses some of the highest remaining basalt lavas from the Tweed Volcano. With increasing elevation it passes from warm and cool subtropical rainforests into warm and cool temperate rainforests. Lookouts along the Border Track are on the rim of the Tweed Valley erosion caldera and on a clear day you can see Mount Warning, the distant Nightcap Range, the Lamington wilderness area and the Tweed Range.


Day 2 – Binna Burra to Woonoongoora Walkers’ Camp


Distance: 23.6 km one way

Time: 6 to 8 hrs

Overnight: Woonoongoora Walkers’ campsite


Begin your day at the Ships Stern track and Lower Bellbird circuit entrance, below the Binna Burra campground. Follow the clearly marked Ships Stern circuit for 3.7 km, descending through cliff lines of rhyolite and tuff (volcanic ash) and into Kurraragin Valley where the track passes fine stands of piccabeen palm Archontophoenix cunninghamii, large red cedar Toona ciliata and majestic flooded gum Eucalyptus grandis.

Branching left on to the Lower Bellbird circuit, the track passes through a patch of dry rainforest, regarded as an example of the rise of the ‘dry-adapted’ flora now widespread in Australia, and then follows the base of a spectacular rhyolite cliff line to reach the Great Walk track junction.

The track descends steeply for 2.5 km then turns east to cross Nixon Creek. Watch as the intrusive plug of Egg Rock (‘Kurraragin’, meaning ‘very tall’) seems to rise sharply through the trees. The track then heads north-east for a further 2.4 km through selectively-cleared woodland before reaching the Nerang–Murwillumbah Road in Numinbah Valley.

Parts of this section of track follow an unfenced easement through a private grazing property and the Numinbah Correctional Centre’s boundary. This is private property – do not enter! Please stay on the track and observe all signs.

The Great Walk follows the Nerang–Murwillumbah Road for 3.4 km. This can be a busy road – please observe road signs, cross where totem signs indicate and maintain a safe distance from the road. Keep to the Great Walk track, which is identified by directional signs, rather than walking on the road edge. You can continue to the Woonoongoora Walkers’ Camp or end your walk here. Please organise transport before you leave Lamington National Park, as there is no public transport from this point.

A steep 1.6 km climb to Chesters Road begins shortly after leaving Numinbah township. This small section of the walk forms part of the Numinbah section Springbrook National Park’s horse trails network. Horse-riders have right-of-way. Once on Chesters Road, follow it to the top. After crossing the stile to your left, descend into the Waterfall Creek valley, a great amphitheatre walled by spectacular white cliffs. The cliffs are the result of a thick rhyolite flow from the ancient volcano. Follow the road down about 1 km through the Gold Coast City Council’s Springbrook Conservation Area, and then follow markers as the route skirts previously-cleared, grassy areas. The track crosses Waterfall Creek before meandering up a slope to the Walkers’ Camp.


Day 3 – Woonoongoora Walkers’ Camp to the Settlement Camping Area


Distance: 9 km one way

Time: 4 to 5 hrs


From your camp site at Woonoongoora, continue uphill for 1.9 km to Apple Tree Park located on the Springbrook plateau. The first 1.5 km of track, which climbs the rhyolite cliff line, is steep and arduous with over 900 steps to negotiate before reaching the plateau. The track climbs through a grove of cycads that cling to the steep slopes of the ridge. These are an ancient plant form, ancestors of the living cycads predating the dinosaurs. Fossil records indicate that the ancestral plants existed almost 300 million years ago. Despite the very high rainfall, the summit of the plateau supports only tall eucalypt forest primarily because of the poorer rhyolite soils.

From Apple Tree Park, cross Springbrook Road and follow the Great Walk markers along the powerline easement, through the gate and drop down into the catchment of the Little Nerang Dam. This section of the track can be wet and slippery. Care should be taken when crossing Little Nerang Creek. Once across the creek, turn right and follow the track along the west branch of Little Nerang Creek up the side of a narrow gorge with pools and cascades cut into older rocks from beneath the volcano. After 1 km the track emerges at a basalt slab above Warringa Pool—a great place to stop and take in the sounds of the rainforest.

The track continues on the other side of the creek to Purling Brook Falls, where a massive cliff of cream-coloured rhyolite, 100 m high, looms over a deep gorge of black basalt. After passing behind the falls, a steady climb brings you back to the top of the plateau. Just before crossing the top of Purling Brook, the track branches left to The Settlement camping area.



3. Waterfalls Gold Coast Hinterland


One of the main features of the national parks of the Gold Coast hinterland is the abundant waterfalls that grace the landscape. This region is the wettest region in South East Queensland as it receives a lot of rainfall all year round. The best time to visit these national parks is after the rains in order to view the waterfalls in all their glory. The best waterfalls are located in Tamborine Mountain and the Green Mountain section of Lamington National Park.

For more information on viewing waterfalls in the Gold Coast hinterland, see Green Mountains and Binna Burra in Lamington National Park, Springbrook National Park and Tamborine Mountain.



4. Markets Gold Coast Hinterland


A holiday is incomplete without some shopping and there is no better place to shop than in the towns of the Gold Coast hinterland. Tamborine Mountain tops the list for shops with Gallery Walk hosting a plethora of craft shops and galleries. Plus, the Sunday markets are great for picking up local produce or unique souvenirs and mementos.

For more information on markets in the Gold Coast hinterland, see Tamborine Mountain.



5. Horse Riding Gold Coast Hinterland


South East Queensland has an extensive and well-laid horse riding trail network covering a total of 547km. With the tracks laid between Noosa and the Gold Coast, some of the best ones can be found in the Gold Coast hinterland areas. Numinbah, Nerang and Tamborine are some of the popular hinterland towns that have good access to horse riding trails. These horse trails are geared for all levels of riders – from gentle, well graded trails for beginners to rough and difficult terrain for experienced riders.

For the best horse riding tour groups in the Gold Coast hinterland region, take a look at the following.


From Numinbah – Gold Coast Horse Riding Numinbah Trails

From Tamborine Mountain Thunderbird Park Horse Riding & Equestrian Centre

From Nerang – Horseland Gold Coast

From Canungra – Gumnuts Horseriding



Tell us what you think. Which place do you think you’ll be visiting in the hinterland region? If you’ve been before, where did you stay and what did you like about it?

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