ELABANA FALLS AND THE LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK.

 

Lamington NP is a relatively short drive from the Gold Coast, but couldn’t be any more different from the bright lights and beaches of the Goldy. Lamington National Park is split into two sections, The Binna Burra section and the Green Mountain section or better known as O'Reillys, as most of the walks leave from the O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat.

The National Park is made famous for its ancient Gondwana Rainforest that can be found throughout the park, which dates back hundreds of millions of years. The park has an area of 21,176 hectares with varying forest types including temperate Antarctic Beech forest through to

sub-tropical rainforests and dry eucalypt forest.

 

Personally, my favourite section is the Green Mountain / O’Reillys. This has some of the more photogenic walks and waterfalls in the park, not to say that Binna Burra isn’t worth a visit. Most of the trails start from the retreat and are well signposted.  My top picks for waterfalls have to be Elabana Falls on the Box Forest Circuit and Chalahn Falls on the Toolona Creek Circuit. Morans Falls are worth a mention and an easy walk starting near the retreat. Both the Toolana Creek Circuit and Box Forest Circuit have multiple photogenic mossy cascades, waterfalls and wildlife on the walks so you’ll have your camera out for most of the hike.

Access: About an hour from the Gold Coast. Park at O’Reillys Retreat for access and information about the walks.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images ( No dreaded highlights )

Setup: Waterfalls, rainforest and wildlife.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips: Lots and lots of Bushman’s insect repellent for the leeches and ticks.

CURTIS FALLS - TAMBORINE MOUNTAIN

 

Situated on top of Mt Tamborine and not far from the bright lights of the Gold Coast, Curtis Falls is a great looking fall enclosed in a fern and moss-covered alcove with many compositions either from the lookout or by getting your feet wet and photographing from the cascades.

To reach the falls is an easy 1 km track from the car park or the Curtis Falls Café.

 

Access: About an hour from the Gold Coast ( depending on where you’re coming from ). Park at Curtis Falls Café or at Dapsang Drive car park for access and information.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images

( No dreaded highlights )

Setup: Waterfall and rainforest.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips: Lots and lots of Bushman’s insect repellent for the leeches and ticks.

PURLING BROOK FALLS

 

Another highlight in the list of waterfalls close to the Gold Coast and SE Queensland.

Purling Brook Falls is located in the world heritage listed Gondwana Rainforest of Springbrook NP and only an hour drive from the beaches of the Gold Coast.

The loop track to the base of the falls takes around 2 hours return ( 4km ). It's best to follow the track in a clockwise direction so that you walk down the 450 steps and back up an easier gradient of the walking trail. Great advice if carrying heavy camera gear like I was…

The walk starts at the car park and after an easy 500m, you are greeted with stunning views over Springbrook and a lookout that sits high above the escarpment of the falls and down into the valley below.

To get to the base of the falls, the track descends through mountain ash and eucalyptus and further down into sub-tropical rainforest. Once at the bottom you are greeted with the thunderous sound of Purling Brook falls (especially after heavy rain) coming down into a natural amphitheatre. There are multiple viewing and shooting locations, but be careful as the rocks are super slippery due to the constant spray coming off the falls.

Access: It’s about an hour drive from the Gold Coast, take the Springbrook Rd and turn off onto Forestry Rd where you’ll find the designated parking area.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images ( No dreaded highlights )

Setup: Waterfalls, rainforest and wildlife.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips: Lots and lots of Bushman’s insect repellent for the leeches and ticks and good shoes with grip if wanting to climb over the rocks.

NATURAL ARCH

Natural Arch is truly a unique location and well worth being on the list. This waterfall has been formed over millions of years by the water wearing away the Basalt Rock and undercutting into the cave below.

The best compositions are from inside the cave looking out and up on the walkway looking into the cave, which gives some perspective to the cave and waterfall inside.

If you visit after sunset, glow-worms can be seen inside the cave, which opens up some more photographic possibilities.

 

Access: These falls are easily accessed on the well-maintained walkway from the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road car park.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images

( No dreaded highlights )

Setup: Waterfall and rainforest.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips: Don’t disturb the bats in the cave, they don’t like it.

TWIN FALLS

 

The relatively short walk ( 4km ) has to be one of my favourite in the Springbrook National Park region and only takes a couple of hours to walk the loop track. The adventure begins at the Tallanbana picnic area or at the Canyon lookout and takes you past multiple falls, through rock clefts passages occasionally opening up, offering incredible panoramic views over the Springbrook Plateau and on to the coast.

The main attraction is Twin Falls and as the name suggests, its splits as it falls down in a large swimming hole that is surrounded by lush ferns.  The track down leads you behind the falls, offering for some great photo ops and a cool off from the walk in.

Access: About an hour from the Gold Coast on Springbrook Rd.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images ( No dreaded highlights )

Setup: Waterfalls, rainforest and wildlife.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips: Lots and lots of Bushman’s insect repellent for the leeches and ticks

MOUNT COUGAL CASCADES

 

Mount Cougal is a section of Springbrook National Park and only a short drive from the Gold Coast beaches. It’s one of the easier falls to get to if you’re looking for a relaxed waterfall mission and a nice drive through the lush Currumbin Valley.

It’s also a great place to bring the family as it's an easy 1km bitumen track to the main falls, with more falls and cascades if you’re game to follow the stream up ( it's worth it ).

It gets super busy on the weekends; so if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, best to get there early.

There’s plenty of wildlife around to spot including lizards, birds and the worlds largest Skink, the Land Mullet.

Access: Roughly 30 minutes from the Gold Coast. Follow the Currumbin Valley Road until it ends.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images

Setup: Waterfall and cascades.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips. Get there early as there’s limited parking.

CEDAR CREEK CASCADES

 

Cedar Creek Falls is situated in the Mt Tamborine NP and is one of the more popular attractions to visit whilst up on the mountain and great in summer as its always a few degrees cooler than the coast.

Only a short walk from the carpark, it’s an easy 1km return on graded bitumen.

The track takes you down into the falls via a lookout, multiple waterfalls and Eucalypt forest.

After a short rock hop at the end of the trail you’ll find yourself at the base of the main swimming hole and waterfall.

There are multiple photography options here, with the top waterfall being one of the better compositions, but there’s many small falls and cascades to explore while here.

Access: About an hour from the Gold Coast ( depending on where you’re coming from ). Take the turn off on to Cedar Creek Falls Road and Thunderbird Park then it’s about 1km to the bottom of the hill and the free parking for the falls.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images

( No dreaded highlights )

Setup: Waterfall and cascade.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips. Get there early as there’s limited parking.

KILLEN FALLS, NSW

 

While technically not in Queensland, Killen Falls has to be one the best waterfalls only a short drive from the Gold Coast.

To the base of the falls takes an easy 20 minutes but with the final 5 slightly tricker, as you have to traverse over slippery rocks near the water's edge. Making it a little tougher to carry heavy camera gear or a loaded picnic.

The falls themselves are spectacular, falling over 10 meters into a large swimming hole surrounded by old fig trees and ferns.

One of the real drawcards of these falls is that the rock has eroded significantly behind the fall creating a cave large enough to walk behind the thundering fall without getting wet. Its perfect spot to get out of the sun and enjoy some lunch if you don’t mind sharing with a few bats.

There are many great photography compositions around the base of the falls and behind it, so a great spot to spend a few hours.

It gets really busy, especially on a weekend, as it’s only a short drive from Byron Bay, so best to arrive early to avoid the crowds.

 

Access: The falls are located on Killen Falls Drive, Tintenbar, New South Wales, about a 30 minute drive from Byron or an hour and a half from the Gold Coast.

Time:  Any time of the day. For ideal conditions, photograph after rain on an overcast day for best images ( No dreaded highlights )

Setup: Waterfalls, rainforest and wildlife.

Essential Equipment: Tripod, polarizer and shutter release.

Tips: Stock up on supplies, as there’s no local shops near the falls.

Hope this guide helps when planning your next waterfall mission around the Gold Coast.

Happy hunting.

VC

 

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Cedar Creek Cascades

A guide to Cedar Creek Falls.