Many backpackers who visit Australia’s Gold Coast get so caught up in all the amazing adrenaline activities and the hedonistic nightlife that they don’t even realise the area is home to some of the best national parks in the country, making it a great spot for seeing some iconic (and some unusual) Aussie wildlife.
There are loads of options, but we’ve picked what we think are the four best national parks for seeing wildlife on the Gold Coast.
Burleigh Head National Park
It might be one of the smallest national parks in Australia, but Burleigh Head is also one of the most charming, a tall headland a few miles south of Surfers Paradise that offers surprising wildlife diversity despite its diminutive size.
The Oceanview Track is a popular walking route that connects Burleigh Head and Tallebudgera Creek, and along the way there’s a chance to see koalas, echidnas, brush-turkeys, various species of possums, and a variety of bird life. What’s more the beach that forms the park’s eastern boundary has some great breaks, making it a popular spot with surfers.
Springbrook National Park
Located in the gorgeous Gold Coast hinterland (essentially the rural area behind all the urban beach fronts), Springbrook National Park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests, the largest subtropical rainforest in the world and a World Heritage-listed region. The whole park is ludicrously scenic, and its numerous tracks encompass waterfalls and swimming holes to help you cool off along the way. Most famous is Cave Creek, which features a natural rock arch home to a dreamlike population of glow worms.
Springbrook is part of an Important Bird Area, playing a crucial role in the conservation of several threatened bird species, and is home to over one hundred different species including yellow-tailed black cocktoos, satin bowerbirds, whipbirds, and many more. You might also spot the land mullet, the world’s largest species of skink.
Lamington National Park
Sprawling over a scenic plateau among the magnificent McPherson Mountains, Lamington Nation Park is another part of the Gondwana Rainforests region and laced with world-class hiking trails peppered with spectacular lookout points. The environmental variety here is astounding, including rainforests, waterfalls, grassy hills, and epic mountain views.
Lamington also teems with wildlife, with a particularly impressive array of bird and butterfly species, the Lamington crayfish found only here in pools and streams above a certain height, and a chance to spot the elusive platypus.
Tamborine National Park
Spread atop the plateau of Tamborine Mountain and around its foothills, this is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful national parks in the Gold Coast, and offers some of the best walking trails in the country. Expect to see waterfalls, swimming holes, mountain streams, gigantic palm trees, and amazing views across the Gold Coast hinterland.
Tamborine is an ideal area for spotting rare bird species such as Lyrebirds, satin bowerbirds, eastern whipbirds, and many more. If you can borrow a pair of binoculars, we recommend bringing them along.