WHETHER YOU’RE AFTER A HARDCORE HIKE, A STROLL WITH YOUR SOULMATE OR HAVE A FAMILY IN TOW, PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER ON ONE OF THESE LOCAL WALKS – YOUR MIND, BODY AND SOUL WILL THANK YOU FOR IT.
For the challenge
Springbrook National Park is known for its cascading waterfalls, rock pools and glow worm caves, but the twin peaks of Mount Cougal provide a great challenge for committed hikers. While it definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, the views and caves that you’re treated to along the way certainly make the trek up Mount Cougal well worth your while. Stretching 10km, the walk takes you through fields, up rock faces, across the rainforest floor and up to the peaks of the mountain itself where you can enjoy sprawling views of the coastline, Mount Warning and Tweed Valley.
For those with a fear of heights, Mount Cougal offers another great walk a bit closer to sea level – the Cougal Cascades. The walk is a 1.6km round trip, partially on well-maintained bitumen, and you’ll pass the remnants of a 1940s sawmill that was once used to produce timber. Explore the area, keeping an eye out for the land mullet – the world’s largest skink, which calls the Godwana Rainforest World-Heritage Area, that Springbrook is part of, ‘home’ – and then treat your trotters to a dip in the rock pools.
For the couples
Whether it’s catching a wave or catching up with friends, Burleigh Heads is kind of a one-stop shop for everything you could ever need – including a great bushwalk. The rugged headland and rocky foreshore of the Burleigh Heads National Park make it a stunning spot for hiking and the various swimming spots – the slice of paradise that is Echo Beach, for example – and rainforest canopies make it a ‘walk in the park’ all year round. From the mangroves down by the sea to the Pandanus groves that line the walkways, there’s no better place to get to know your special someone. And, depending on the time of year, you can make your way down to the water or stop at one of the lookouts along the way to see migrating humpback whales or dolphins at play. Then, when you’re done, a romantic picnic on Burleigh Hill is the perfect reward for your efforts.
For the fam
The estuary of Currumbin Creek is one of the best places to watch the sea and bird life in their natural habitat, and the boardwalk of the Beree-Badalla Reserve offers the ultimate vantage point. Set back from the coastline on the Western side of the Gold Coast highway, the Beree-Badalla Reserve boardwalk is less than a kilometre in length – but those hoping for a longer route can continue through Tarrabora Reserve and back again for a 2.4km round trip – making it ideal for families. It’s also a great spot for fishing and swimming and is dotted with picnic tables for those hoping to make a day of it. With the pirate ship playground at the Palm Beach Parklands and Dune Café close by, there are plenty of spots to stop and refuel before continuing toward the mouth of Currumbin Creek. Plus, the Beree-Badalla Reserve boardwalk is dog-friendly, meaning your pup can join in on the hike – so long as they’re on a leash.