Get up close and personal with the ancient rainforests of the Springbrook and Tamborine National Parks in the Gold Coast Hinterland on this fabulous full day tour from Brisbane. You’ll have the opportunity to explore two of Southeast Queensland’s most stunning and unique subtropical paradises. Highlights include the Natural Bridge rock arch and the renowned glow-worm cave at Mt Tamborine. The tour includes a hearty lunch at one of the region’s wineries, along with commentary from a friendly local guide. Duration: 9 hours (approx.)
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Brisbane offers easy access to Southeast Queensland’s most stunning natural enclaves.
I’m about to join a day tour bound for the Springbrook and Mount Tamborine National Parks in the lush Gold Coast Hinterland. Our mini bus departs Brisbane’s Roma Street railway station promptly at 7.45am, and as we head south along the busy M1, Harrison — our friendly guide and driver — explains the itinerary for the day. He also asks us to introduce ourselves. We’re a mixed bag — five musicians from Nashville, Tennessee, single travellers from Germany, Canada, Switzerland and Japan, an Aussie couple from Victoria, and myself. Apart from Harrison, I’m the only Brisbane local on board.
In less than an hour, Harrison heads off the highway and takes us on a scenic drive through the Numinbah Valley. We soon arrive at our first stop — the World Heritage-listed Springbrook National Park. At the park’s entrance we’re greeted by the calls of kookaburras — carried on a gentle breeze that meanders through the canopy of towering trees. At this point, Brisbane’s CBD is already a distant memory.
The Springbrook plateau is a remnant of a volcano dating back 23 million years. With that mind-boggling number to ponder, we enter the rainforest for a guided stroll. Harrison leads the way, and shares interesting facts as we go. We learn that Springbrook has five types of forests (classified by the dominant tree species, soil and rainfall), and that this subtropical forest is characterised by a closed canopy and a proliferation of large trees such as the strangler fig. After a 30-minute walk, we hear the sound of thundering water. We’ve reached Natural Bridge — a rock arch formed by thousands of years of rushing water.
The bridge is a piece of hard basalt rock that was once the lip of a waterfall. The continual flow of water created a pothole over time, which eventually broke through into the cave below. The creek now flows through the cave. Thanks to heavy rain over the previous fortnight, the waterfall is deafening — and it’s impossible to be heard above the din without shouting.
The rocky overhang of Natural Bridge is home to tiny glow-worms (the larval stage of a species of small fly), which emit a small blue-green light at nighttime. As it’s the middle of the day, we’ll need to head to a different location to see these incredible critters in action. Once we’re back on the bus, Harrison hands around a menu so we can pre-order our hot lunch.
A short drive delivers us to The Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard & Winery in Mount Tamborine, where we’re taken on a guided tour of the estate’s purpose-built glow-worm cave. The controlled environment provides perfect conditions for the glow worms to thrive. As we enter the pitch-black cave, our eyes slowly adjust to the dark and we see a constellation of tiny twinkling stars hugging the cave’s surface. Each glow-worm emits a chemical glow from its rear end! As we exit the cave, we’re still laughing at the glow-worm tour’s catchphrase: ‘I wish I was a glow-worm. A glow-worm’s never glum. How can you be grumpy when the sun shines out your bum!’
Our glow-worm cave tour is followed by lunch at the estate’s restaurant. While I’m more than happy with my choice of chicken in filo pastry, I do eye off the vegetable stack chosen by Miriam from Switzerland.
Fortified by our hearty meal, we take a short drive to the heart of Tamborine National Park. Situated on a plateau 550 metres above sea level, Mt Tamborine offers breathtaking 360-degree views. To the east is the skyline of Surfers Paradise, while to the west is the stunning Scenic Rim mountain range. The walk through the magnificent rainforest to Curtis Falls yields more photo opportunities.
Our last stop of the day is Mount Tamborine’s fabulous Gallery Walk. Here we have time to browse the arts and craft stores, and enjoy an ice cream or a sweet sample of homemade fudge from a local store. A coffee at The TreeHouse on Long Road helps sharpen the senses for the journey home.
This Springbrook and Tamborine rainforest tour from Brisbane is a relaxing and educational experience that showcases a unique piece of Southeast Queensland. It’s a sweet taste of two very special natural environments.
Jennifer travelled as a guest of Queensland Day Tours.
Additional images: Bigstock
Jennifer Johnston is a Brisbane-based freelance writer and blogger inspired by travel, health and wellbeing. She juggles pursuing her passion for writing with raising three rowdy young men, a dog and a couple of goldfish. Jennifer has explored much of the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States (including Hawaii), Canada, New Zealand, Egypt, Israel, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan and Fiji. When she’s not writing, you may find Jennifer hiking in some distant part of the world.