Forget the theme parks and the beaches, one of the Gold Coast's most spectacular sights is nestled in a peaceful hinterland valley only 45 minutes from the hubbub of Surfers Paradise.
The Springbrook National Park
near the Queensland/New South Wales border is the site of one of the most rewarding walking tracks in the hinterland.
section is a well-maintained, category 2 circuit track suitable for most fitness levels. Allow about an hour to walk the loop, but add on at least another hour to marvel at nature's creation.
Natural Bridge is a basalt rock arch, the remnant of the original path of Cave Creek.
The arch, the cave below, and the hole in the roof of the cave are the result of thousands of years of erosion. Combined with the cascading waterfall through the cave roof these rock formations make for an impressive scene.
Cave creek falls through the roof into the cave below
Rich and diverse arrays of flora and fauna inhabit the area. Strangler figs, bird's nest ferns, walking stick palms, and hoop pines are just a few of the sub-tropical rainforest plants thriving in the park.
By day the bush is alive with birdlife. Log runners hop around in the undergrowth, scratching at leaves in search of insects. Eastern yellow robins flit between the trees, and brush turkeys push leaves into massive piles to create a nest. The canopy hums with bird song including the elusive Albert's lyrebird and eastern whipbird, which are often heard, seldom seen.
At night sugar gliders, brushtail and ringtail possums, bent wing bats, and bush rats come out to feed. The cave interior as well as rocky overhangs and steep banks along the circuit take on an enchanted ambience as thousands of tiny glow-worms light up to snare a nightly meal. Keep an ear open for the boobook owl and green tree and fletchers frogs. A night-time trek to the bridge is highly recommended, although follow the guidelines to avoid disturbing these sensitive creatures.
If glow-worms and caves are not enough of a drawcard for you, consider this: Springbrook National Park
is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, a 366507 ha World Heritage property chosen for its exceptional bio-diversity. The various types of rainforest contained within the site are considered to be some of the best in the world, now that's impressive.