Sydney to Gold Coast Drive

Gold Coast National Parks

Gold Coast has something for nature lovers, too. Five National Parks. One is smack in the middle of the Gold Coast, the other four make a great day trip.

Cover Photo: Springbrook National Park by Eustaquio Santimano

Burleigh Heads National Park

Burleigh Heads National Park is a natural forested headland in the heart of the Gold Coast. Its northern side has a famous surf break. If you walk around to the south side to Tullebudgera Creek, you can swim in the calm crystal clear waters.

Gold Coast National Parks
Burleigh Heads National Park. Photo: CatsEyesPoutyLips

Mt Tamborine National Park

A scenic 55 minute drive from Southport, Mount Tamborine National Park consists of 14 sections scattered over Tamborine Mountain which protects the Wtiches Falls, rainforest, palm groves and woodlands. Wildlife includes lyre birds, wallabies, koalas and the enormous birdwing butterfly. There are a lot of walking tracks, picnic areas, and horse riding.

The villages of Mt Tamborine are also worth a visit while you're here, particularly North Tamborine, Eagles Heights and Tamborine Mountain where you'll find local markets selling organic produce, boutique wineries, a distillery, a brewery, historic pubs.

The Gallery Walk is a string of restaurants, shops, cafes, wineries, a Belgian chocolate shop, a cheese factory, and of course, art galleries, in Eagle Heights. To the south are the glow worm caves.

Gold Coast National Parks
Mt Tamborine. Photo: Tim Miller
Gold Coast National Parks
Witches Falls, Mt Tamborine National Park

South Stradbroke Island National Park

25 minutes by water taxi or 50 minutes by ferry is the South Stradbroke Island National Park. It is now called Naree Budjong Djara ('My Mother Earth') National Park, the name given to it by Traditional Owners the Quandamooka people. It's so close to the Gold Coast but feels a million miles away.

If you'd like to spend the night, you can take the campervan on a vehicle ferry, or travel without it and spend the night in a cabin or rented tent.  Once on the island, if you don't have the campervan, you can hire a car or get around using the local bus service, shuttles, or taxis.

South Stradbroke Island National Park protects unspoiled landscapes of sand dunes, wetlands, endangered heathlands and freshwater lakes.Turtles and dugongs swim in the waters around the island. On land you'll see wallabies, frogs, sea birds, and fish in the lakes.

Gold Coast National Parks
South Stradbroke Island. Photo: AdventureQueensland
Gold Coast National Parks
South Stradbroke Island wildlife. Photo: alison_curtis

Lamington National Park 

Just an hour from Southport in the heart of the Gold Coast is Lamington National Park. Lush rainforests, ancient trees, waterfalls, summits, spectacular views and more than 160 km of walking tracks make the UNESCO World Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforest of the Lamington National Park a magical place to visit.

The Binna Burra and Green Mountain sections of the national park have many short walks for day trippers. The cover photo shows ancient Antarctic beech on the Tullawallal circuit that are also present in the Springbrook National Park. 

Gold Coast National Parks
Lamington National Park. Photo: Craigka via IG
Gold Coast National Parks
Lamington National Park. Photo: Mark Wassell
Gold Coast National Parks
Lamington National Park. Photo: FantasticEarthPhotos
Gold Coast National Parks
Moran Falls, Lamington National Park. Photo: Nat Smith

Springbrook National Park

55 minutes from the heart of the Gold Coast, Springbrook National Park is a hikers wonderland with temperate and subtropical rainforests including the UNESCO World Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforest, cliffs and gorges, waterfalls and lookouts. 

The park has four sections. 

  • The Springbrook Plateau along Springbrook Road is sprinkled with waterfalls, trails, and breathtaking lookouts. 
  • The Natural Bridge off Nerang-Murwillumbah road is a short circuit path leading to the rock arch and waterfall. A colony of glow worms lives in the cave. 
  • Mt Cougal via Currumbin Creek Road, has several waterfalls and swimming holes.
  • Numinbah to the north is the thick forested section with ancient mossy trees.
Gold Coast National Parks
Springbrook National Park. Photo: Eustaquio Santimano
Gold Coast National Parks
Springbrook National Park. Photo: epixelimages

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