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Seven family-friendly walks around the Gold Coast

19 March 2018

Photo credit: © Anna Osetroff

Photo credit: © Anna Osetroff

With the 2018 Commonwealth Games coming to the Gold Coast, inspiration abounds to get out and get active.

‘Share the dream’ and get the kids motivated to move in Queensland’s national parks. You don’t need to be an elite athlete to tackle these tracks! From seaside strolls to mountain trails, waterfalls to wildlife, these walks have been hand-picked by our rangers for kids of all ages and abilities. The tips and tricks below will ensure that you hit the ground running!

Tips for enjoying a bushwalk with kids

  • The best way to make sure the whole family has a good time is to be prepared. You’ll want hats and comfortable walking shoes for everyone, sunscreen, a few snacks and plenty of drinking water.
  • Make sure you leave enough time to complete your walk before dark—you don’t need us to tell you that it can take a little longer to get somewhere with kids!
  • Start with shorter, easier walks and build from there. Don’t be afraid to stop part-way along and turn back. Having a good time is more important than crossing the finish line. You can always come back and walk further next time.
  • This is no four-minute mile. If you want to instil a lifelong love of the outdoors and physical activity in your child, let them set the pace and give them time to explore.

Always check park alerts before you leave for the latest information on park closures, warnings and conditions.

Tallebudgera Creek mangrove boardwalk at David Fleay Wildlife Park

Venture along raised boardwalks through mangrove forests with abundant birdlife. Kids will love watching for little crabs scurrying over the mud. You don’t have to enter David Fleay Wildlife Park in order to access this walk, but you totally should. With a nocturnal house, expansive naturalistic enclosures and wildlife presentations running all day, it’s a great-value family day out.

For a longer walk, continue on through the Gold Coast City Council green space to the rocky foreshores of Burleigh Head National Park.

Track length: 900m one way.

Track difficulty: Predominantly flat and smooth.

Track entrance: Off the ramp leading up to David Fleay Wildlife Park.

Facilities: Plenty of parking. Toilets and café available inside David Fleay Wildlife Park.

How to get there: Corner of Loman and West Burleigh roads, West Burleigh. Take exit 89 off the Pacific Motorway.

Shared trails at Nerang National Park

They should really call this one ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ National Park. With a vast network of shared trails, you can plan your own scenic walk through this popular bush retreat, or even up the ante with horse riding or mountain biking.

It’s a great park for older kids, and with three mountain biking trails designed specifically for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, you can even ride the tracks of medal-winning athletes! There’s something for riders of all levels.

Track length: From easy trails through to difficult ones, it’s up to you.

Track difficulty: Check the webpage for more information on the classifications of the mountain-bike trails.

Track entrance: There are five main access points to the park so have a look at the maps and pick the one that suits you best. The one at the corner of Yarrayne Road and Mylor St is a good place to start.

Facilities: No toilets, so make sure the kids go before you leave!

How to get there: Take exit 69 off the M1 Pacific Motorway.

Want to learn more about mountain biking in our parks? Check out our Mountain Biking Guide (PDF, 3.8M).

Python Rock track at Lamington National Park

You’ll find this track on the Green Mountains side of Lamington National Park (also known as O’Reilly’s). Step into cool rainforest, where enormous curved buttress roots rise from the ground and ancient trees tower overhead.

See if the kids can spot where rainforest transitions into open woodland, and don’t forget to take some photos of the awesome views from the lookout at the end of the track. There’s even a Wi-Fi hotspot back at the park information centre for uploading your pics to Instagram - if that’s your thing.

This park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, famed for its ongoing geological processes, evolutionary history, and diversity (especially of rare and threatened species).

Track length: 3.1km return (1hr).

Track difficulty: Class 3. Some exposed roots and rocks, but suitable for most ages and fitness levels.

Track entrance: Lamington National Park Road, 800m downhill from the park information centre at Green Mountains.

Facilities: Limited parking at track entrance. Toilets, picnic tables, electric barbecues, untreated water. More parking and the information centre can be found at Green Mountains day-use area. Kiosk nearby.

How to get there: Drive 31.5km from Canungra along Lamington National Park Road. Unsuitable for recreational vehicles longer than 4m and vehicles towing caravans or camper trailers.

Rainforest circuit at Lamington National Park

This gentle circuit can be found on the Binna Burra side of Lamington National Park. Meander through lush groves of warm, subtropical rainforest and see if the kids can follow a vine with their eyes from the ground right up into the canopy. This is also a great spot for children to listen for different bird calls—how many can you count?

Pack your own barbecue lunch, or let the café take care of refreshments for you.

Track length: 1.2km return (30mins).

Track difficulty: Class 2. Suitable for most ages and fitness levels.

Track entrance: Binna Burra day-use area.

Facilities: Toilets, picnic tables, untreated water and electric barbecues at Binna Burra day-use area. Café and private camping nearby. 

How to get there: Turn off the Pacific Highway at Nerang and follow the signposts 36km to Binna Burra via Beechmont and Binna Burra roads. Access unsuitable for caravans.

Natural Bridge circuit at Springbrook National Park

This walk is worth two visits—one during the day and another at night! By day, you’ll witness a waterfall continuously carving out an arched cave deep in the Gondwanan rainforest. Then at night, the cave is illuminated by the iridescent-green light of thousands of glow-worms. Join a glow-worm tour or explore by yourselves. Give the kids some glow sticks of their own if you’re worried about losing track of them in the dark.

Track length: 1km return (1hr).

Track difficulty: Class 3. Uneven surfaces and steps. Best walked in a clockwise direction.

Track entrance: Natural Bridge carpark, adjacent to Bakers Road.

Facilities: Toilets and picnic tables near carpark (please note that swimming is not permitted here).

How to get there: Travel along Nerang-Murwillumbah Road, approximately 38km from Nerang or 28km from Murwillumbah, and turn onto Bakers Road.

Curtis Falls track at Tamborine National Park

Have your kids seen a waterfall in real life before? Wind your way down through lush, shaded rainforest and enjoy views of Curtis Falls from the viewing platform. The rock pool and surrounding basalt rock face provides important glow-worm habitat.

Got older or more active kids? Step it up a notch by adding the Lower Creek circuit as well. It branches off the Curtis Falls track and will add another 2km to your walk. This way lies creek crossings, rock-hopping and rougher track surfaces, so it’s only for those who want to up the adventure factor!

Track length: 1.1km return (30mins).

Track difficulty:  Class 3. Uneven surface and steps. Slippery when wet.

Track entrance: Joalah section, Tamborine National Park, off Dapsang Avenue and Eagle Heights Road.

Facilities: Toilets at Joalah day-use area. Cafés nearby.

How to get there: Travel via Oxenford-Tamborine Road, Tamborine Mountain Road or Main Western Road and follow signs to Tamborine National Park—Joalah section.

Paperbark trail at Daisy Hill Conservation Park

Technically this one is closer to Brisbane than the Gold Coast, but it’s so good for kids we just couldn’t leave it off the list!

A pleasant walk for young and old alike, the Paperbark trail is ideal for your child’s first bushwalk. Follow this stroller-friendly track through melaleuca wetlands, where little hands can feel the textures of soft ferns and flaky paperbark. Then round out your visit with a picnic or barbecue and a wander through the Daisy Hill Koala Centre (entry is free!). Make sure you leave time for the kids to try out the nature play ‘missions’ found on signs dotted around the day-use area.

Track length: 450m return (15mins).

Track difficulty: Class 1. Wheelchair-accessible.

Track entrance: Daisy Hill Conservation Park lower day-use area.

Facilities: Toilets, drinking water, barbecues and picnic tables.

How to get there: Take the Pacific Motorway south-east of Brisbane and turn off at Daisy Hill (Shailer or Winnets road exits). Drive 2.5km to the end of Daisy Hill Road.

Want to find out more about national parks around the Gold Coast and hinterland? Go to https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/.

Last updated
19 March 2018