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TALLE­BUDGERA CREEK Gold Coast High­way, Talle­budgera

If you’ve ever been to Talle­budgera Creek on a clear, sunny day, there’s only one word to de­scribe it: par­adise.

The nat­u­ral ocean in­let, flanked by Burleigh Heads Na­tional Park, is a calm wa­ter­way with sparkling aqua wa­ter skirted by patches of golden sand.

Talle­budgera Creek is one of the best swim­ming spots on the Gold Coast for fam­i­lies as it’s usu­ally flat with no more than a gen­tle cur­rent.

How­ever, this does make it a pop­u­lar spot with all kinds of aquatic en­thu­si­asts, so Gold Coast City Coun­cil lifeguard Chris May­nard rec­om­mends securing your patch of sand early.

“It’s very pop­u­lar for tourists and as a hol­i­day area,” Chris says.

“It’s quite full dur­ing sum­mer pe­ri­ods. There’s good fa­cil­i­ties, pub­lic toi­lets, and a great out­look to the sea.”

The south­ern bank is pa­trolled by life­guards and con­tains the afore­men­tioned ameni­ties, as well as a grassy play­ground.

The north­ern side has a pop­u­lar patch of sand called Echo Beach that’s pro­tected from off­shore winds.

To truly im­merse your­self in the Talle scenery, park your car along Good­win Ter­race near the Burleigh Heads Na­tional Park en­trance and walk along the Ocean View Track to Echo Beach.

You’ll be sprin­kled in sea­spray as you wan­der through the base of the nat­u­ral head­land of for­est and basalt boul­ders.

After 20 min­utes of strolling you’ll ar­rive at Echo Beach, where you’ve more than earned a wade for your ef­forts.

Talle­budgera Creek is the ideal place to cool off on a hot day, but be pre­pared to share in its de­lights as it’s no lo­cals’ se­cret.

TWIN FALLS ROCK POOL Gold Coast-Spring­brook Rd, Spring­brook Na­tional Park

TLC may not ap­prove but you have our full per­mis­sion to chase this wa­ter­fall. The Twin Falls rock pool is fed by the dou­ble cas­cade of fresh­wa­ter tum­bling over a 30m high rock wall in Her­itage-listed Spring­brook Na­tional Park. Get­ting there is a bit of a chal­lenge but it’s such a pic­turesque hike you won’t no­tice your calves burn­ing un­til you’ve found the serene splash spot. Start­ing at Tal­lan­bana pic­nic area or Canyon Look­out, the 4km round trip winds through an epic pre­his­toric rain­for­est, so al­low about three hours for hik­ing, swim­ming and gasp­ing in awe. It’s a re­fresh­ing pool of wa­ter so brace your­self for the chill fac­tor.

ARALUEN WA­TER­ING HOLE Talle­budgera Creek and Araluen Roads, Talle­budgera Val­ley

This swim­ming spot is truly a lo­cals’ se­cret so keep it on the DL, yeah? Araluen Swim­ming Hole is in Talle­budgera Val­ley and is a utopia of fresh­wa­ter, shady canopies and lots of grass to stretch out on. The rocky pool is ex­pan­sive and deep with full body sub­mer­sion guar­an­teed, and a rope swing will have you squeal­ing with ex­cite­ment. You’ll be for­given for think­ing you’ve stepped into the land be­fore time, with the nat­u­ral sur­rounds un­touched by hu­mans (bar the rope swing) — just bring sup­plies if you’re plan­ning on mak­ing a day of it. It’s on the cor­ner of Talle­budgera Creek Road and Araluen Road.

ELABANA FALLS Lam­ing­ton Na­tional Park Rd, Lam­ing­ton Na­tional Park

These falls are set deep in the wilder­ness but worth the slog. Part of a pic­turesque pack­age of falls and swim­ming holes along Ca­nun­gra Creek, Elabana Falls re­quire a 7.6km round trip through O’Reilly’s Rain­for­est in Lam­ing­ton Na­tional Park. The track forks off after 1.7km into the Main Bor­der Track and de­scends through rain­for­est to fresh­wa­ter cas­cades. Be­gin­ning as a tall, tum­bling chute be­fore fall­ing into a pool and cas­cad­ing over an­other smaller rock wall again, you can sit on the edge of the mossy ledge and feel the wa­ter flow­ing past, or sub­merge your­self into one of the larger rock­pools be­low.

CURRUMBIN VAL­LEY ROCK POOLS Currumbin Creek Rd, Currumbin Val­ley

A pris­tine nat­u­ral swim­ming hole with­out the tor­tur­ous trek, Currumbin Val­ley Rock Pools is a 15 minute drive from Currumbin Beach and comes with its own con­ve­niently close car park. A wide creek is fringed by bush­land and a park, with small and large pools of wa­ter sec­tioned by smooth rocks. There are plenty of shal­low wad­ing ar­eas as well as a deeper pool where dare­dev­ils jump from ledges, all con­nected by trick­les or rapids of flow­ing wa­ter. The banks of the wa­ter­hole have been en­hanced to en­joy the spring all day, with nearby toi­lets, bar­be­cues and pic­nic ta­bles.

BROADWATER PARK­LANDS Gold Coast High­way, South­port

Less of a nat­u­ral won­der but a favourite with young fam­i­lies, the Broadwater Park­lands is the thought­fully re­de­vel­oped South­port fore­shore. De­signed for cu­ri­ous chil­dren keen to get wet with­out bat­tling the surf, Park­lands is flanked by a calm wa­ter­way with sandy banks and grassy lawns per­fect for set­ting up a pic­nic. There’s a net­ted swim­ming spot with a pon­toon for jump­ing, a ma­rine play­ground with in­ter­ac­tive foun­tains, plus an in­flat­able obstacle course float­ing off­shore (par­ents need to buy course passes for chil­dren). Dozens of bar­be­cues and shady pic­nic ta­bles seal the daytrip deal.

NAT­U­RAL BRIDGE Bak­ers Rd, Spring­brook Na­tional Park

While you can’t swim un­der this in­cred­i­ble won­der, it’s worth the trek to sim­ply gawk at its mag­nif­i­cence. Nat­u­ral Bridge in Spring­brook Na­tional Park is a large cave in an an­cient for­est, but the spec­tac­u­lar part is the wa­ter­fall flow­ing through its sky­light roof into jade waters be­low. And that’s just dur­ing the day — at night it’s filled with lu­mi­nes­cent glow worms. Swim­ming has been banned at the site but you can slip into a fresh­wa­ter rock pool just be­fore the trail turns off to the arch. It’s eas­ily reached with a short sealed path and can be found by search­ing for Nat­u­ral Bridge in your GPS. Photo: Jules Ingall

CEDAR CREEK FALLS Cedar Creek Falls Rd, Tam­borine Moun­tain

Tam­borine Moun­tain is a lush par­adise of wa­ter­falls and creeks, but Cedar Creek Falls is the only one with a swim­ming tick of ap­proval from the au­thor­i­ties. The trail to the nat­u­ral wa­ter park be­gins off Cedar Creek Falls Rd and takes about half an hour to stroll down one way, paved by steady foot­paths and steps. There are three rock pools for frol­ick­ing, each one lower than the next, cre­at­ing long cas­cades of fresh, nippy wa­ter. Cedar Creek Falls is very pop­u­lar in the school holidays, so don’t be sur­prised to be stretch­ing out your towel on the rocks next to a dozen or so daytrip­pers.

COUGAL CAS­CADES Currumbin Creek Rd, Currumbin Val­ley

Cougal Cas­cades can be ad­mired by all with a gen­tle, paved track lead­ing you along a num­ber of falls and rock pools, but you’ll need some ex­tra dex­ter­ity to get wet. Found in Spring­brook Na­tional Park, the splash ac­tion is big­gest about half­way along the walk­ing track with a wa­ter­fall that spills over two small cliff edges into pools be­low. This area is pop­u­lar in peak sea­son and re­quires some scram­bling down rocks off the main foot­path to ac­cess. If you trust your nim­ble feet, you can walk fur­ther up­stream and find your own less pop­u­lated pool.

CURRUMBIN CREEK Gold Coast Hwy, Currumbin

The lit­tle sib­ling of Talle­budgera Creek, Currumbin Creek also de­liv­ers calm waters for pad­dling and plenty of room to re­cline. In fact, there’s so much ex­tra stretch-out space you won’t need a flag to mark your sandy ter­ri­tory, with Currumbin Creek of­fer­ing a far more re­laxed vibe than its north­ern coun­ter­part. There’s wide sand­banks and vast, shal­low waters ideal for lit­tle ones to ex­plore, and a fantastic pi­rate park at the ad­joined Palm Beach for liv­ing out your ul­ti­mate yo ho life ad­ven­tures … and your chil­dren’s. Nearby Dune Cafe is a top spot for a cof­fee and lunch.

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