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Top Five Best Day Trips on the Gold Coast

Home > Queensland > Walks | Parks | Outdoor | Escape the City | Day Trips | Lists
by Tracey Winning (subscribe)
A freelance writer who can't resist good food and exploring new places. Visit my blog at
Published March 9th 2016
Gold Coast Treasure Trove of Day Trips
Here are my top five best day trips on the Gold Coast for residents and tourists alike. I have done each and every one of them many times over because each of these day trips brings a feeling of exhilaration and bucket loads of pleasure.

These are the activities and scenery that turn 'just another day' into a memorable day trip out. Most of them can be as cheap as you choose them to be. I have provided options for picnics or for great places to dine in after engaging in fun activities amongst beautiful Gold Coast scenery.

Lamington National Park - National Park Hike with Lunch
Gold Coast waterfalls, Gold Coast rockpools, Top best day trips on Gold Coast, Springbrook rockpool

Lamington National Park was the one place I missed most when I lived in Melbourne. It really is a national treasure and there is nowhere else in Australia quite like it. One of my absolute favourite things to do on any given day is to pack a backpack with drinks, a picnic and jacket and spend a day hiking in the national park. If you are feeling lazy and only want to do a short hike, and buy your lunch there are some nice café options.

Take your pick from the following sections of Lamington National Park and click on the links for further details:

Green Mountains hiking with picnic

Binna Burra hiking with lunch

Springbrook hiking with lunch: I suggest doing Purling Brook Falls with a picnic lunch or lunch at Dancing Waters Café - delicious. After doing the Purling Brook Falls walk and having lunch, head out to Best of All Lookout for a pretty scenic short afternoon stroll. Alternatively, you can do the beautiful Twin Falls Circuit (there are no cafes nearby, but there are picnic tables and BBQ's).

Currumbin Valley – Cougal Cascades Walk, Rock Pool Swim and Picnic
Currumbin Rock Pool, Gold Coast Rock Pools, Gold Coast Swimming holes, Currumbin rock pool

Currumbin Valley is utterly gorgeous. The peaceful pretty drive from the coast through Currumbin Valley is so scenic it is worth the short trip alone. To get to Cougal Cascades, keep driving along Currumbin Creek Road until the very end. You will come to a car park where the Cougal Cascades walk begins. The walk (approx. 1.6 km return) is 'assisted wheelchair friendly' and follows a lovely cascading creek up to an historic saw mill. There are viewing platforms along the way which look down on cascading water and a rock pool.

Of course you could have a picnic lunch here afterwards, as there are some picnic tables and toilets in the car park – but no shops to buy food or drink. However, if you want to swim, it is best to drive back to the Currumbin Rock Pools which you would have passed on your way up. It is a great area with picnic and BBQ facilities and toilets there too –still no shop though, so bring a picnic or food to BBQ. Note: This area is best avoided on public holidays or school holidays as it can get very hectic at those times.

Currumbin –Currumbin Creek Kayak and Lunch
Hire a kayak (or take your own) and kayak the beautiful Currumbin creek. Currumbin Boatshed offers kayaks for the hour or the whole day at a reasonable rate. Paddle boards are also available for hire.

After the first time I hired a kayak at Currumbin Boatshed and did this I was so hooked I went out and purchased my own kayak. Since then I have spent many wonderful days kayaking these waters and seen sting rays, loads of fish jumping out of the water, dolphins, and even a dugong (literally within touching distance).

You can take a picnic lunch and have it on the banks of the creek after kayaking. Alternatively, there is a café right next to the kayak hire place. If you prefer something a little more fancy, you can always lunch at my favourite Gold Coast restaurant Allure On Currumbin. You might have to wear more than board shorts and a bare belly though. If you find you're like me and get totally addicted to kayaking, you may want to read about other great places to kayak on the Gold Coast.

Burleigh Head National Park - Scenic Walk with Swim and Lunch
Burleigh Head National Park walk, best Gold Coast beach walk

Take a scenic mountain walk around Burleigh Head National Park followed by a swim and picnic along the crystal clear waters of Tallebudgera Creek. This never gets old. Alternatively, you can swim at the Burleigh Heads beach and grab lunch at the Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park Surf Life Saving Club afterwards.

There are two options for the Burleigh Headland walk (and you can certainly do both easily enough). The first option is to start your walk from the Mowbray Park Surf Life Saving Club and follow the ocean up the hill to the headland where the walk begins. Just follow the track around the bottom of the headland until you get to Tallebudgera Creek where you can have a picnic and swim. The second option, if you want to keep walking, is to take the track which goes straight up the mountain for wonderful view from the top - and it comes straight back down again on both sides of the mountain.

I have done both walks many times and have even walked to the top of the mountain in a dress and high heels with a failing torch in the middle of the night after clubbing (not recommended), because that's what you do when you are in your twenties and in the moment. These days I prefer to wear flat shoes when walking up a mountain and usually do it in daylight, (but if the truth be told, not always).

Mountain Markets, Lunch and Fun Shops at Mt Tamborine
Mt tamborine markets, Country markets Gold Coast, Mt Tamborine Country Market

It is hard to beat a day trip to Mt Tamborine, there are so many things to do and so many places to visit, I never tire of it. One great day trip is to head up early for the Mt Tamborine Country Market for arts, crafts, food, produce and all sorts of interesting things.

The market is held on the second Sunday of each month from 7.30am – 1.30pm at Mt Tamborine Showground on Main Western Road (dates could change so check first). I always have breakfast there when I go. Sure it might be waffles or a kransky or baked potato or dutch pancakes and all sorts of things I shouldn't be having – but it is only held once a month so you might as well just indulge and enjoy.

Of course after tramping the markets for a few hours it is almost time for lunch. You may not exactly be starving, but my recommendation is to have lunch and skip dinner. Why? Because lunch at Mt Tamborine is not just lunch, it is an experience with spectacular views and atmosphere. Two places for lunch with magical views are:
- The Polish Place (views over steep cliffs and pretty birds)
- St Bernards Hotel (great views with gardens you can roam around, a fireplace and St Bernard dogs)
- For a decadent afternoon tea in place of lunch, book ahead at High Tea and Niceties. They have changed address and are now located near some lovely walks at 32 Eagle Heights Rd, Eagle Heights QLD 4271..

Food and drink stores to visit if you have time in the afternoon:
- For cheese lovers, visit the Witches Chase Cheese Shop and Factory.
- For liqueur lovers, visit the brand spanking new Castle Glen Liqueurs (a liqueur store and winery in a castle styled shop). I first discovered this place in Stanthorpe a few years ago (they are also in Monteville) and have just opened in Mt Tamborine. I have been a huge fan ever since. Hot Tip: ask to try their Whiskello (whiskey with subtle caramel) and the Musk Stick. They have some of the most unique liqueurs in the country. It is a fun place to visit and do tastings. It is also the perfect way to end a huge and awesome day out - taking home a little something for an indulgent night cap.
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Why? Explore all the state has to offer
When: Anytime
Where: Around the Gold Coast
Your Comment
Hi Tracey, great article! You touch on some of my favourite hiking spots and have posted a link to this in my article
Thanks Kate
by Kate Blake (score: 3|1501) 2514 days ago
Wonderful choices
by margi (score: 0|2) 977 days ago
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