WALKS

THE MILD SPRING WEATHER IS IDEAL FOR GET­TING OUT AND EN­JOY­ING THE GOLD COAST’S HIKES. FROM SCENIC STROLLS TO EPIC TREKS, AM­BER MACPHER­SON EX­PLORES 10 OF THE BEST

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - FEATURE EYE -

O’REILLY’S RAINFOREST Lam­ing­ton Na­tional Park Rd, Ca­nun­gra

If you’re look­ing for some­where to get swept away in the wilder­ness, O’Reilly’s is the place to go.

There’s 320km of walk­ing tracks through 22,000ha of an­cient rainforest, home to more than 160 species of bird as well as rep­tiles, frogs, mam­mals and in­ver­te­brates.

The most out­stand­ing walk is the Tree Top Walk, an icon in the O’Reilly’s Rainforest.

It con­sists of nine sus­pen­sion bridges 16m above the ground — you’ll lit­er­ally be walk­ing through the canopies.

“The iconic Tree Top Walk is bril­liant for fam­i­lies of all ages,” O’Reilly’s spokes­woman Nikki Hobbs says.

It’s only 800m re­turn and is free for all to ex­pe­ri­ence. Other top tracks in the rainforest are the Wish­ing Tree trail, which winds past a huge old tree trunk that cre­ates an open shel­ter, and Mick’s Tower, a rainforest ob­ser­va­tion tower that can be climbed. The 7.6km Ela­bana Falls (pic­tured main) walk branches off the Main Bor­der Track 1.7 km from the en­trance and de­scends through a stand of Antarc­tic Beech to the pret­ti­est of pic­nic spots.

For ad­ven­ture hik­ers, there’s the 37km Stin­son Hike, which is run as a guided tour twice a year or can be booked for groups of four peo­ple or more.

It fol­lows the foot­steps of rainforest name­sake Bernard O’Reilly as he looked for the Stin­son Model A aero­plane that crashed in the Na­tional Park in 1937.

Be­fore you em­bark on an ad­ven­ture, it’s best to visit the O’Reilly’s Rainforest Re­treat and fol­low the signs and in­struc­tions for the var­i­ous tracks.

It’s wise to bring in­sect re­pel­lent and a jacket, as the high el­e­va­tion of­ten means cooler tem­per­a­tures than the Coast.

O’Reilly’s sells pic­nic ham­pers at the re­treat re­cep­tion, but car­ry­ing the good­ies is up to you, so re­mem­ber a back­pack.

“IT CON­SISTS OF NINE SUS­PEN­SION BRIDGES 16M ABOVE THE GROUND — YOU’LL LIT­ER­ALLY BE WALK­ING THROUGH THE CANOPIES.”

CUR­TIS FALLS CIR­CUIT Dap­sang Drive, Tam­borine Moun­tain

Breathe in clean moun­tain air as you ex­plore the re­mains of a 22 mil­lion-year-old vol­canic erup­tion at Tam­borine Moun­tain. The flow­ing lava from the ex­plo­sion of the pre­his­toric Mount Warn­ing left fer­tile soil, forests, val­leys and wa­ter in its wake, in­clud­ing the for­ma­tion of Cur­tis Falls. The Cur­tis Falls cir­cuit is 1.1km re­turn and loops through eu­ca­lypt bush as well as lush rainforest, boast­ing staghorn ferns and the fa­mous stran­gler fig. Upon ar­rival at the falls, a look­out plat­form of­fers views of the fresh­wa­ter tum­bling down a two-storey rock wall.

MOUNT WARN­ING SUM­MIT Mount Warn­ing Rd, Wol­lumbin Na­tional Park

Wol­lumbin / Mount Warn­ing sum­mit track is not for the faint­hearted. It’s 8.8km re­turn and takes about five to six hours to com­plete, with a steep in­cline and lots of steps. Wol­lumbin holds great spir­i­tual sig­nif­i­cance to the lo­cal in­dige­nous com­mu­nity, the Bund­jalung Peo­ple, and they ask vis­i­tors not to climb it. In­stead you can try the nearby Lyre­bird Track that takes you through Break­fast Creek and a palm for­est to a scenic view­ing plat­form. Woolumbin Na­tional Park is World Her­itage listed and boasts a lush sub­trop­i­cal rainforest, home to a va­ri­ety of an­i­mals and birdlife. It’s a magic spot for sun­rises.

OCEAN VIEW TRACK Burleigh head­land

The Burleigh Heads Ocean View Track has fi­nally re­opened af­ter fall­ing boul­ders forced its clo­sure for five months. The 2.4km re­turn trip is pram-friendly and of­fers gor­geous views of the Gold Coast coast­line to the north and south. “It’s about 45 min­utes (walk) or so,” Scott says. “You can ac­cess it from carparks at ei­ther end. It’s a pretty easy cir­cuit and at this time you’ll prob­a­bly see a heap of whales.” For a more chal­leng­ing hike, there’s a cou­ple of longer tracks that branch off from the en­trance of Ocean View loop­ing the tip of the head­land. Photo: Tourism & Events Queens­land

COOMBABAH WET­LANDS BOARDWALK Coombabah Lake­lands Con­ser­va­tion Area, My­ola Ct, Coombabah

This walk en­com­passes wet­lands, eu­ca­lypt for­est, salt­marsh and man­grove habi­tat. The en­tire Con­ser­va­tion Area stretches more than 1200ha but you’ll get to ex­pe­ri­ence plenty of wildlife along the 300m My­ola Court boardwalk, part of the 1.2km trail flank­ing Coombabah Creek. It’s the best spot for spot­ting kan­ga­roos and other an­i­mals in­clud­ing koalas, na­tive owls and grey-headed fly­ing foxes. It’s suit­able for all fit­ness lev­els and is wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble. There are no toi­lets or drink­ing wa­ter, how­ever, so plan ahead.

OCEANWAY 37KM WALK Sea­world Drive, Main Beach

This walk con­nects the north of the Gold Coast to the south, start­ing at Fed­er­a­tion Walk at The Spit in Main Beach and wind­ing all the way down to Point Dan­ger at Tweed Heads — or vice versa. The route hugs the coast­line with the vast Pa­cific Ocean to the east and city sky­line to the west. You can walk the en­tire length on foot­paths, or mix it up with board­walks and sand walk­ing. It takes about seven hours non-stop, but luck­ily there are count­less cafes to rest and re­cu­per­ate along the way. Photo: Tourism & Events Queens­land

HINZE DAM Spill­way Rd, Ad­vance­town

The colos­sal vol­ume of Hinze Dam can be seen up close with a walk along the dam wall. The vast­ness of the dam and the sur­round­ing hills and val­leys stretch out for as far as the eye can see. “Stretch­ing just un­der 2km, the scenic walk of­fers spec­tac­u­lar views of the wa­ter, dam wall and the hills sur­round­ing the dam,” Se­qwa­ter spokesman Matthew Welling­ton says. “It is a pop­u­lar site for fam­i­lies to en­joy — es­pe­cially those look­ing to get their ex­er­cise fix.” To ac­cess the wall, vis­i­tors can head to the Hinze Dam Vis­i­tor Cen­tre on Ad­vance­town Road.

THE PIN­NA­CLE LOOK­OUT Tweed Range Scenic Drive, Bor­der Ranges Na­tional Park

This walk is the best for un­in­ter­rupted views with­out col­laps­ing in a heap at the peak. The dis­tance is only 800m re­turn, but it presents a 360-de­gree panorama of the Bor­der Ranges Na­tional Park, out to the coast­line, the es­carp­ment crater and Wol­lumbin / Mount Warn­ing. The track is re­garded as a high­light of the en­tire Bor­der Ranges Na­tional Park. Those in the know rec­om­mend mak­ing the trek at sun­rise and watch­ing the sil­hou­ette of Wol­lumbin cast over the vast bush­land below. The Pin­na­cle Look­out track is listed as a Grade 2 dif­fi­culty, with gen­tle hills and oc­ca­sional steps.

NAT­U­RAL BRIDGE CIR­CUIT Bak­ers Rd, Spring­brook Na­tional Park

The shapes and struc­tures of Mother Na­ture will leave you breath­less at Nat­u­ral Bridge Cir­cuit. Na­tional Parks se­nior ranger Scott Rogers says this Spring­brook Na­tional Park track is re­mark­able at any hour. “You can do it 24 hours a day,” Scott says. “You’ve got two dif­fer­ent as­pects — the day as­pect of view­ing the creek and the rainforest birds, ver­sus the night ex­pe­ri­ence, where you’ve got the noc­tur­nal wildlife and glow worms.” The cir­cuit is 1km re­turn and is paved the whole way, which makes it suit­able for fam­i­lies, how­ever, a num­ber of steps are not ideal for wheel­chairs. Photo: Jules In­gall

PURLING BROOK FALLS CIR­CUIT Car­ricks Rd, Spring­brook Na­tional Park

This cir­cuit boasts one of the most stun­ning wa­ter­falls in Queens­land. At 80m high, the rush­ing wa­ter can be heard from al­most ev­ery point on the track, and re­cent rain­fall has only en­hanced its mag­nif­i­cence. “It’s a pretty im­pres­sive wa­ter­fall,” Scott says. “The track is about 4km long. It takes you for a short walk around the top of the wa­ter­falls — you start at the Gwon­gorella Pic­nic Area. It is a beau­ti­ful rainforest walk that goes past War­ringa Pool and a num­ber of dif­fer­ent tracks leads off that.” The track is un­even in parts with many steps. It’s rec­om­mended you walk it in a clock­wise di­rec­tion.

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