7 family-friendly walks on the Gold Coast
Calling nature enthusiasts of all ages! If you’re looking for nature therapy the whole family can enjoy, there’s no better place than Queensland’s biggest playground—Queensland National Parks!
A family trip in the great outdoors is special way to connect with nature, explore new environments, teach the kids about parks and wildlife, and create lifelong memories with your little ones. From seaside strolls to mountain trails, waterfalls to wildlife, our rangers have hand-picked walks around the Gold Coast suitable for kids of all ages and abilities to get you started. So pack up the family and give nature a go—your national parks adventure starts now!
1. Oceanview track at Burleigh Head National Park
Oceanview track © Lightcapturer
Explore a forest oasis in the heart of the Gold Coast. This track skirts the rocky coastline from Tallebudgera Creek to the southern edge of the Burleigh Heads township. If little legs need a rest, take a seat at the viewing platform at The Cove, then return either by the same path or via the lush, shady Rainforest circuit.
Tell the kids to keep an eye out for the six-sided basalt columns, just like the ones Moana and Maui climb to get to the entrance of the Realm of Monsters (look closely next time you watch the movie!). With its calm waters, Echo Beach is the perfect spot to get your feet wet or build a sandcastle before heading back to the car.
Just keep in mind that the Oceanview track can be closed for safety before, during and after extreme weather, so always check Park alerts before you go.
Track length: 2.4km return (45mins)
Track difficulty: Class 1. This smooth, sealed track is stroller-friendly. No bushwalking experience required!
Track entrance: Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads or Gold Coast Highway just north of Tallebudgera Creek
Facilities: There’s a council picnic area and toilets at the northern entrance and additional toilets in the carpark near the southern entrance.
How to get there: Take exit 89 off the Pacific Highway and head to Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast Highway or turn off at the traffic lights just past Tallebudgera Creek on the Gold Coast Highway.
2. Tallebudgera Creek mangrove boardwalk at David Fleay Wildlife Park
Tallebudgera Creek Boardwalk Jodie Bray © Queensland Government
Venture along raised boardwalks through mangrove forests with abundant birdlife. Keep all your senses on high alert—you never know what you might see, smell or hear! Kids will love watching for little crabs scurrying over the mud. On your walk, interpretive signs will tell you about the area’s Indigenous culture and the important role of mangrove communities.
While you’re there, a trip to David Fleay Wildlife Park is a must. With a nocturnal house, expansive naturalistic enclosures and wildlife presentations running all day, it’s a great value family day out! If you didn’t pack lunch, make sure to check out Fleay’s café and enjoy a family picnic on the outdoor deck overlooking the park.
Track length: 400m one way
Track difficulty: Predominantly flat and smooth
Track entrance: Off the ramp leading up to David Fleay Wildlife Park
Facilities: Plenty of parking. Toilets and café available inside David Fleay Wildlife Park.
How to get there: Corner of West Burleigh Road and Loman Lane, West Burleigh. Take exit 89 off the Pacific Motorway.
3. Shared trails at Nerang National Park
Nerang National Park © Queensland Government
They should really call this one ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ park. With a vast network of shared trails, you can plan your own scenic walk through this popular bush retreat, or even up the ante with horse riding or mountain biking.
It’s a great park for older kids, and with three mountain biking trails designed specifically for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, you can even ride the tracks of medal-winning athletes! There’s something for riders of all levels.
Track length: From easy trails through to difficult ones, it’s up to you!
Track difficulty: Check the webpage for more information on mountain-bike trails and classifications.
Track entrance: There are five main access points to the parks so have a look at the maps and pick the one that suits you best. The access at the corner of Yarrayne Road and Mylor Street is a good place to start.
Facilities: No toilets, so make sure the kids go before you leave!
How to get there: Take exit 69 off the M1 Pacific Motorway
Want to learn more about mountain biking in our parks? Check out our Mountain biking guide.
4. Python Rock track at Lamington National Park
Python Rock Lookout © Sarah Haskmann
You’ll find this track on the Green Mountains side of Lamington National Park (near O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat). Step into cool rainforest, where enormous curved buttress roots rise from the ground and ancient trees tower overhead.
See if the kids can spot where rainforest transitions into open woodland, and don’t forget to take some photos of the expansive views from the lookout at the end of the track. There’s even a Wi-Fi hotspot back at the park information centre for uploading your pics to Instagram, if that’s your thing.
This park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, famed for its ongoing geological processes, evolutionary history, and diversity (especially of rare and threatened species).
Track length: 4.9km return (1.5hr)
Track difficulty: Class 3. Some exposed roots and rocks, but suitable for most ages and fitness levels.
Track entrance: Lamington National Park Road, 800m downhill from the park information centre at Green Mountains
Facilities: Limited parking at track entrance. Toilets, picnic tables, electric barbecues, untreated water near the information centre. More parking and the information centre can be found at Green Mountains day-use area, and there’s a kiosk nearby.
How to get there: Drive the 36km winding road from Canungra along Lamington National Park Road (takes at least 50min). Unsuitable for recreational vehicles longer than 4m and vehicles towing caravans or camper trailers.
5. Natural Bridge circuit at Springbrook National Park
Natural Bridge © Sarah Haskmann
This walk is worth two visits—one during the day and another at night! By day, you’ll witness a waterfall continuously carving out an arched cave deep in the Gondwanan rainforest. Then at night, the cave is illuminated by the iridescent-green light of thousands of glow-worms. Join a glow-worm tour or explore by yourselves. Give the kids their own glow—LED headlamps are cool—if you’re worried about losing track of them!
Glow-worms are highly sensitive to changes to their environment. To keep these remarkable little creatures safe, please ensure to keep noise to a minimum, apply insect repellent before entering the park and keep all bright lights away from the glow-worm colony.
Track length: 1km return (1hr)
Track difficulty: Class 3. Uneven surfaces and steps. Best walked in a clockwise direction.
Track entrance: Natural Bridge carpark, adjacent to Bakers Road
Facilities: Toilets and picnic tables near carpark (please note that swimming is not permitted here).
How to get there: Travel along Nerang–Murwillumbah Road, approximately 38km from Nerang or 28km from Murwillumbah, and turn onto Bakers Road.
6. Curtis Falls track at Tamborine National Park
Curtis Falls track Briony Masters © Queensland Government
Have your kids seen a waterfall in real life before? Wind your way down through lush, shaded rainforest and enjoy views of Curtis Falls from the viewing platform. The rock pool and surrounding basalt rock face provides important glow-worm habitat—please stay on the track to avoid damaging it.
Got older or more active kids? Step it up a notch by adding the Lower Creek circuit as well. It branches off the Curtis Falls track and will add another 2km (approx. 1hr) to your walk. This way lies creek crossings, rock-hopping and rougher track surfaces, so it’s only for those who want to up the adventure factor!
Track length: 1.1km return (30mins)
Track difficulty: Class 3. Uneven surface and steps. Slippery when wet.
Track entrance: Joalah section, Tamborine National Park, off Dapsang Avenue and Eagle Heights Road
Facilities: Toilets at Joalah day-use area. Cafés nearby.
How to get there: Travel via Oxenford–Tamborine Road, Tamborine Mountain Road or Main Western Road and follow signs to Tamborine National Park, Joalah section.
7. Paperbark trail at Daisy Hill Conservation Park
Paperbark trail © Queensland Government
Technically this one is closer to Brisbane than the Gold Coast, but it’s so good for kids we just couldn’t leave it off the list!
A pleasant walk for young and old alike, the Paperbark trail is ideal for your child’s first bushwalk. Follow this stroller-friendly track through melaleuca wetlands, where little hands can feel the textures of soft ferns and flaky paperbark. Then round out your visit with a picnic or barbecue and a wander through the Daisy Hill Koala Centre (entry is free!). Make sure you leave time for the kids to try out the nature play ‘missions’ found on signs dotted around the day-use area.
Track length: 450m return (15mins)
Track difficulty: Class 1. Wheelchair-accessible
Track entrance: Near car park three in the Daisy Hill Conservation Park day-use area
Facilities: Toilets, drinking water, barbecues and picnic tables
How to get there: Take the Pacific Motorway south-east of Brisbane and turn off at Daisy Hill (Shailer or Winnets road exits). Drive 2.5km to the end of Daisy Hill Road.
Ready to find your next family adventure?
The best way to make sure the whole family has a good time is to be prepared, so make sure to always check Park alerts before you leave for the latest information on park closures, warnings and conditions.
For more information about national parks around the Gold Coast and hinterland go to https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/.
For more family-friendly walks check out 7 most accessible parks and tracks close to Brisbane.
Last updated: 25 June 2020