THE BEACH ISN’T THE ONLY PLACE TO COOL OFF ON THE GOLD COAST. AMBER MACPHERSON FINDS 10 OF THE BEST SWIMMING HOLES AND WATERFALLS TO CHASE WHEN THE MERCURY RISES
“GOLD COAST CITY COUNCIL LIFEGUARD CHRIS MAYNARD RECOMMENDS SECURING YOUR PATCH OF SAND EARLY.”
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.