Waterfall at Lamington National Park, Qld

Visit the Gold Coast Hinterland and discover the other side of Queensland

By Josh Edwards

June 17, 2023

Queensland is renowned for being home to the world famous Great Barrier Reef and a seemingly endless stretch of glistening, pristine coastline. Whilst no one would dare argue that these are, indeed, places worth visiting, there is another side of the superlative Australian region which deserves a much closer look. The Gold Coast Hinterland is home to a myriad of fantastic wilderness regions, comprising state forests, protected national parks, cloud and rainforests and an incredibly scenic mountain range, dotted with quaint villages. The nature here is simply astounding, so if it’s a relaxing and reinvigorating vacation you’re after then you could do no better than to explore this most divine part of Australia’s favourite sunny state.

Where it is:

Found on the borders of south-east Queensland, the large rural area which comprises the Gold Coast Hinterland starts west of the main motorway and extends for well over 50km inland. Every destination within the region, whether it be a national park or village, is easily accessible for those with a rental car. Arrange to pick up your vehicle as you land at the Gold Coast Airport and you can be in the midst of this spectacular wilderness within a mere hour of arriving in Queensland. As public transport is limited in the area, a Gold Coast rental car is an essential convenience if you wish to explore the most beautiful and less trodden spots in the area.

Where to stay:

Your choices of accommodation base, once here, are numerous. The Hinterland is home to many historic and rustic villages, so your pick will be dependent on which national park or area you wish to spend most time in. Having said this…the roads are great and landscapes stunning, so exploring the entire region is quite easy, and this is especially true if you choose to travel with a rental car. The most popular towns for overnight and multiple day stays are Canungra, Tamborine, Beechmont, Mudgeeraba and Springbrook. From cosy bed & breakfast gems to rental villas, historic homesteads and farm-stays, your choice of accommodation style is also extensive. Many of the national parks also play host to exclusive retreats, like O’Reily’s (Lamington National park) and Escarpment Retreat Health Retreat ( Mt Tamborine), where you can make the most of the location and the services offered.

What to do:

The entire Hinterland region is awash with UNESCO-listed protected parks, all of which are ideal for bushwalking. With over 2,700 hectares of tropical forests and endless kilometres of walking trails, the Hinterland is the ideal destination for those who love to get hopelessly lost in untouched wilderness and sterling natural surroundings. Those looking for more active pursuits will also not be short of things to do, as horse riding, abseiling, hang-gliding, and organised 4WD safaris are just some of the adrenalin-pumping activities on offer here. But the fun doesn’t end there! Splurge on a phenomenal hot-air balloon ride over the extensive valleys and gorges and indulge in an unforgettable tour of the region’s most famous wineries.

Special highlights:

Lamington National Park – this UNESCO listed haven is possibly the most visited of all in the Hinterland, and for very good reason. With over 21,000 hectares to explore on foot, amidst luscious tropical forests, waterfalls and gorges, it epitomises all that is so incredibly stunning about this inland region of Queensland. Campsites within the park abound, so pack a tent and some cooking equipment in the boot of your Gold Coast rental car and consider spending several days lost in this spectacular place.

Springbrook National Park – A hot contender for the most revered of all the parks here, Springbrook is equally worthy of your undivided attention. As distinctively fertile as Lamington, this park is home to otherworldly luminous glow worm lakes (which you can tour at night on organised excursions) as well as a plethora of striking waterfalls and lakes. Don’t miss the Natural Bridge rock formation along Cave Creek, it is simply stunning! Although swimming is restricted in some areas (for habitat protection reasons) picnic and camping areas abound.

Tamborine Rainforest Walk – One of the most popular organised activities here is the Tambourine Rainforest Walk, which is a brilliant walk-way built about 30 metres above ground along Cedar Creek. This is by far the best place to head to if you want to enjoy sweeping and breathtaking views of the forest and valleys beyond.

Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk – The most famous walking trail is the 54km Great Walk, which will take you through and past some of the most iconic, natural and historical sites in the Lamington and Springbrook National Parks. The most popular flow direction is from west to east, starting from O’Reily’s and winding through all the way to Springbrook. Wind your way through the Numinbah Valley and experience rain, cloud and temperate rainforests as you walk through ancient volcanic lands.

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