This national park consists of 17 small sections located on Tamborine Mountain. It offers gorges, subtropical rainforests and waterfalls. The park is about 80km south of Brisbane in the Gold Coast Hinterland and is very popular with day visitors due to its beautiful picnic spots and various short walks.
As we like to take our time and truly enjoy our surroundings, we could only manage two of these walks during our day visit. Our first stop was the McDonald Rainforest Circuit. This is a very enjoyable and easy to walk 1.4km circuit. There are various huge strangler figs, orchids, staghorns, crows’ nests ferns and lush groves of piccabeen palms. It was named after Miss Jessie McDonald whom donated land in this area to become national park in 1933. We saw quite a few land mullets on our walk. The land mullet is one of the world’s largest skinks.
Our next and last stop for the day was the Joalah section of the park. Joalah is an Aboriginal word meaning “haunt of the lyrebird”. The dense forest is home to the elusive lyrebird as well as many other species. We are very pleased with the bird pictures and experiences we had. The bush is filled with the tiniest birds imaginable – you constantly catch a glimpse of them in the undergrowth, but getting a decent picture of these birds is quite a challenge. We were lucky enough to observe and capture (on film of course!) one of these birds on its nest!
Joalah offers two circuits: the 1.1km return Curtis Falls Track and the 2km return Lower Creek Circuit. Curtis Falls Track is a very enjoyable walk down some steep stairs to the base of the falls. Swimming is prohibited at the falls to protect a glow-worm colony living at the base of the falls.
The Lower Creek Circuit branches off the Curtis Falls Track. It follows the river for most of the way. One of the giant strangler figs has fallen down and it is very impressive to see not only the damage done to surrounding forest but also the huge gap left open in the canopy. Along the way this track changes from a class 3 to a class 4 meaning you have to make your way along uneven surfaces. A moderate level of fitness and ankle supporting footwear wouldn’t be wasted here.
When you have finished and are in need of refreshments, you can either take the 400m return access track to cafes and shops or visit the restaurant conveniently located at the entrance.
Camping is not permitted in the park, but there are various accommodation options available in the surrounding towns.