3 Road Trips to the Gold Coast Hinterland

The Gold Coast hinterland is not on the list of many travellers visiting the Gold Coast but, in my opinion, is the best part of the whole region.

While swimming, surfing, walking, biking along the coastline are fantastic ways of exploring the Gold Coast, the hinterland’s varied landscape is indeed the best way to connect with nature and break from the hassle bustle of the city of Gold Coast.

How to Explore the Gold Coast Hinterland on your own
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When I accepted a house sit gig, I didn’t know what to expect. After the first days, I was overwhelmed by the number of things to do on the Gold Coast.

I had been in Coolangatta 3 years ago, but that is just a  fraction of the region. I didn’t have a car from the house owners, so I decided to rent a car from Surfers Paradise and went off, on my own, exploring the Gold Coast Hinterland.

A Gold Coast Road Trip Itinerary to the Hinterland

The hinterland Gold Coast is peppered with ancient national parks, Lamington National Park, Springbrook National Park, lakes, valleys, and headlands.

All main destinations are within one-hour driving distance, which is a huge benefit, and it means you don’t have to travel for long hours. A self-drive road trip is the best way to explore the hinterland. There is a variety of activities to suit any level of fitness and type of traveller.

Numinbah Lookout Daves Creek Walk Binna Burra
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How to pick self-guided trips of the Gold Coast

It was not easy to choose the places for my self-guided trip to the Gold Coast Hinterland. I had over a dozen tips on things to do, including walking tracks in the national parks.

My Tip: I first browsed on the internet and checked the Lamington National Park downloaded the Binna Burra Map to get an idea of the type and length of the walks. I then asked friends and fellow bloggers on Social for tips and suggestions. In the end, I picked this fantastic Gold Coast walks, which I am wrapping up for you on this blog post.

Things to do and see on the Gold Coast hinterland

Getting around the Gold Coast by car is not difficult, but it’s pretty easy to miss a turn and go in the wrong direction with the heavy traffic. It happened to me a couple of times.

My tip: get a digital Gold Coast Map. I love the one from Google Maps that you can download onto your iPhone and use offline too. They are such a great help when there is no internet.

On all my solo road trips in Australia, I use Google Maps as a navigation system, and it works very well.

The Tamborine Mountain National

This is probably the most known destination of the Gold Coast hinterland. Tamborine Mountain is a popular destination for a day trip for locals and travellers alike. It’s about one hour drive from the Gold Coast Surfers Paradise. It offers from short to long walks in the Tamborine National Park and the possibility of hang-gliding from the launch site between Tamborine Mountain and Tamborine North.

The hang-gliding launch site overlooks the magnificent valley of Fred Bucholz Par. If you are more into epicurean explorations, you can taste local produce at distilleries, wineries, fruit and veggie plantations; you can go to the glow worms caves and visit art galleries. In contrast, some day-trip tours take you to Tamborine North.

My Tip: Hire a car to explore the region. Also, I prefer weekdays for a day trip as this place gets jam-packed over weekends.

Cedar Creek Falls Tamborine National Park
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A Road Trip to Tamborine Mountain from the Gold Coast

There are many walks you can do from Tamborine Mountain. I did two short walks to Curtis Falls and Cedar Creek Falls. Cedar Creek Falls are located in the outskirts of North Tamborine on the way to the Forest SkyWalk. They are both short walks, and within a couple of hours, you can do both. Witches Falls and the Knoll are two more exciting places worth checking out.

I only had time to take in the view from the Knoll Lookout. From the Knoll, there is some beautiful day walks too. Late afternoon I went to the Botanical Gardens, a very peaceful place. Sunset is the best time to stroll along the lush garden alleys and take photos with beautiful light reflections.

The Binna Burra Walks in Lamington National Park

For my second day of Gold Coast Hinterland explorations, I was undecided between the Mount Warning Hike (had been on my list for four years) and the Green Mountain Section of the Lamington National Park with O’Reilly.

In the end, I picked a third option, the Binna Burra section, which is the more accessible part of the Lamington National Park.  It’s a shorter drive (about an hour), a more relaxed route, and the scenic drive is breathtaking (the photo below is just one of the many vantage points). The Binna Burra section also offers a dozen varied walks in the National Parks with many lookouts.

Gold Coast Hinterland Scenic Drive
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Walking on the Gold Coast: What to know

One basic rule: the earlier you leave, the better. I planned to leave by 7.00 in the morning, but I only got out of the house by 8.00 am and got to Binna Burra later than 9.00 am as I stopped along the way. So no chance to get started with the 17 km walk I had planned. As much as I like solo travel, I think hiking is an outdoor activity that I prefer doing with a companion.

To self: get up early to make the most of the awesome daylight in Australia.

There were no cars parked at the info point at my arrival, so I was cheering as this was a good sign predicting a very calm day. Indeed it was so peaceful (bumped into five people in 5 hours). The weather was perfect: a deep blue sky with a light breeze and plenty of sunshine.

I was so happy to catch up with a park ranger and ask for his advice on which walk to choose. The clock was ticking by 9.15 am, and I hadn’t started yet. He suggested the Daves Creek Circuit Walk, and that was the walk of the day.

Strangle Trees from Binna Burra Gold Coast
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The Daves Creek Walk in the Binna Burra Section

The walk starts where the cafe is, at the very end of the road, about 2 km from the rangers station. This is one of the most beautiful walks I have ever done in Australia! So easy to walk in such a varied landscape. The first 3 km skirt the deep forest alongside the Border Track.

The Border Track is a popular walk among serious local hikers, one of the most extended hikes that connect the Binna Burra Section to the Green Mountains Section.

The Daves Creek route meanders through the Woggunba Valley, alongside creeks, changing vegetation with various trees, from fig trees, strangle trees to blue gums and all kinds of spinifex and palms. And the wildflowers are amazing, saw lots of Banksia trees, and many more. I bet in spring, and this walk will be stunning with all wildflowers blooming.

The Lookouts

The Daves Creek Circuit leads to a couple of lookouts; the view from Numinbah Lookout is fantastic. I spent 50 minutes there, taking in the place’s peacefulness and the beautiful green panorama around me. Being there completely alone, I was happy to find time to play with my camera and experiment with my new tripod. Beware of the terrain, which in some spots can be slippery.

Daves Creek Walk Woggunba Valley Gold Coast
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The Currumbin Valley

You don’t have to drive for an hour to see some of the best spots of Gold Coast Hinterland. In fact, in just 20-minute drive west of Currumbin, you can do short walks in the national park. Take the Currumbin Creek Road from off the Gold Coast Highway and keep driving to the very end of the road, to the entrance to Mount Cougal Waterfalls.

The short walk on a paved track takes you up to the old sawmill through beautiful re-grown forests. I learnt that the area in the 30ies was a vast banana plantation, and the timber was used to build banana boxes.

The cascade-shaped waterfalls are pretty and ideal for hiding from the heat in summer for a refreshing dip. Beware, though, cause there are submerged rocks, and you shall pay attention where you swim or dive. It is not allowed, so beware.

Conclusions about the Gold Coast Hinterland Road Trip

I enjoyed these three days-trips exploring the Gold Coast Hinterland. I would have kept exploring but only had my car for a few days, and the weather was gorgeous. To me, walking in the national parks means excellent weather conditions. I don’t fancy walking if it rains or the weather is not so good. So I was happy I could do most of my time here.

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How to Explore The Gold Coast Hinterland copy
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Best Ways to Explore the Gold Coast Hinterland photos
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Last updated in March 2021


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