The “green behind the gold” was the plan for today and it was a glorious day (finally!) to explore the beautiful national parks of southern Queensland. There are lots of different national parks that are set just behind the Gold Coast’s beaches and we headed down there early, starting at the Springbrook National Park, just near the New South Wales border.
As it’s midweek, the tour was really quiet and there were only six of us plus the guide so it was really nice. We took a walk through the forest at Natural Bridge, to the (guess what) ‘natural bridge’, a huge piece of rock with a hole in it that forms an arc over the creek with a waterfall. It was already midmorning but the forest canopy was so dense that it was actually quite cold as we walked around.
From Natural Bridge, we drove through the very green Numinbah Valley and past some really cute houses and cattle farms, onwards and upwards to Tambourine Mountain.
We stopped a couple of times at lookouts on the way, the first to overlook the Gold Coast with the Pacific in the distance.
And the second to see a great view of Springbrook National Park; It sits on the rim of the Tweed Shield volcano, active more than 20 million years ago, with Mt Warning as the ‘plug’.
After a very steep drive up, we got to the top of Tambourine Mountain and the very touristy ‘Gallery Walk’. The whole area is really popular with visitors and the tourist main street (there is another main street for locals) is packed with arty, crafty, chinzy, crappy shops.
From there we had a quick drive round the corner to the Cedar Creek winery, a lovely place with a restaurant, function space for weddings, large gardens and glow-worm cave. Yes, a glow-worm cave!
We had lunch and a glass of their finest white wine then crossed the lawn to the homemade glow-worm cave. Homemade makes it sound a bit amateur but it’s really quite professional.
First you watch a video while your eyes adjust to the darkness – apparently this takes 6 minutes. We then walked into the glow-worm cave, a pitch black, damp cave with thousands of little glow-worms. You’re in there for about 20 minutes while the guide explains everything you ever wanted to know about glow-worms. It was a bit disconcerting when water dripped on me, but what did put my mind at rest is, because it’s a man-made cave, there are no spiders in there 🙂 You are not allowed any photos – even the light from the camera display is enough to upset the glow-worms.
From the winery, we drove further north for a few minutes to Curtis Falls and walked off our lunch through the forest to a small waterfall amongst the trees. On the walk we were really lucky to get a glimpse of a very cute pademelon, a small kangaroo type animal that hops about on the forest floor. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo but google ‘pademelon’ and you can see how sweet they are!
Usually at this time of year the rains have been stronger and the falls bigger, but they haven’t had much rain so it was more of a gentle shower.
We finished with a little walk through a eucalypt forest and then headed back to Brisbane.