The illusive promise of the ‘weekend’ can be the only thing that gets us through a hectic week. But come Friday night – or Saturday morning, if your weekend starts after all the oranges have been handed out at half time – it can be tough to decide how to spend your precious downtime. Want to try something new, cheap and a little bit adventurous? Bushwalking could be your new favourite family activity.
I’ve got to be honest – when it comes to bushwalking, I don’t have a clue. I’ve tried asking Google where the best hikes near Brisbane are and only found photos of adventurers atop cliffs so high they would give Q1 a run for its money (which, incidentally, is a lot). As someone who considers walking the bridge from South Bank to Brisbane’s CBD a little too much on a scorching hot day, I was hardly about to scale Mount Tamborine in the middle of summer. I was looking for hikes – not heights – and maybe even a shady rock pool to have a dip in when I was ready to give up. Was that really too much to ask?
Thankfully, National Parks Association of Queensland (NPAQ) didn’t think so. They suggested plenty of walks of different lengths and intensities that would suit my skill level – the skill level of most children. I chose Warringa Pool in breathtaking Springbrook National Park, a little over 30 minutes’ drive inland from Palm Beach. The pool is the last stop on the Purlingbrook Falls circuit on Springbrook Road, which is dotted with other walks and lookouts along the way.
Expecting to trek through scrubby bushland to a creek just deep enough for us to dip our feet into, my hiking buddy and I followed the path that promised Warringa Pool was just 3km away. Only 5 minutes in, our expectations were well and truly blown by the view of Purlingbrook Falls and the valley beyond.
Across from the viewing platform was a waterfall cascading into a valley of lush palm trees, with trees and vines crawling up the cliff face that were so reminiscent of the set of Jurassic Park I could almost hear pterodactyls flying overhead. I said, “I can’t believe this is Queensland”, so many times that ‘Hiking Buddy’ nearly pushed me down the hill.
As we made our way down the track, we passed parents piggybacking toddlers, middle-aged couples and groups of teenagers. An eight-year-old boy even stopped and told us that the pool was “absolutely beautiful” which was all the encouragement we needed on a steamy Sunday.
The path was well kept, so all we had to worry about was conserving our snacks (which we did not do) and admiring the views (which we definitely did do).
More than halfway through the walk we found the base of the waterfall, where people were swimming and soaking up the sun. We were seriously tempted to stop here, but with Warringa Pool just 1km away we plodded on. And boy, was it worth it. The pool is partly shaded by the same leafy palm trees we’d seen from the lookout, and was surrounded by around a dozen people enjoying the spots of sunlight.
We set up our towels, cursed each other for eating all the snacks and spent the rest of the afternoon in and out of the water – which was deep enough to dip our feet in some places and to jump into in others.
A few hours later we were back on the M1 and homeward bound, tired but proud of ourselves for trying something new. I had successfully bushwalked, without scaling any cliffs, and even come away with a newfound love for it. I never thought I’d say it, but I now keep a list of potential hiking spots in my phone for future adventures.
HIKING SOUTH-EAST QUEENSLAND
NPAQ’s ‘Kids in National Parks’ booklet features tips for bushwalking with your family, as well as 84 great walks in South-East Queensland. Here are the Top family bushwalking tracks recommended by NPAQ’s Marika Strand.
Springbrook National Park: Natural Bridge Circuit (1km). Visit Natural Bridge by day to see a unique waterfall or after dark to discover the park’s amazing glow-worms. Take a lunch and picnic on the shaded banks of the Nerang River at Forest Park picnic area.
Burleigh Head National Park: Rainforest Circuit (2.3km). A beautiful circuit through the rainforest along the headland. Tumgun Lookout is a great place to look for humpback whales in winter and spring.
Lamington National Park: Caves Circuit (5km). This is a great walk for older children. There are caves to explore and koalas are often seen on this interesting walk.
HIKING NORTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES
Here are the Top 3 bush walks as recommended by Lee Middleton of National Parks New South Wales.
Border Ranges National Park: Pinnacle Circuit (800m). A short, beautiful walk in the World Heritage listed Border Ranges National Park. The area is very unvisited, offering amazing views of the rainforest.
Broke Head Nature Reserve: Three Sisters Walking Track (1.6km). Learn about the Indigenous heritage of the area and enjoy whale watching and picnicking by the beach.
Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve: North Head Walking Track (700m). This short route is perfect for even the most novice walkers and provides a fantastic view of the Brunswick River. During the warmer months the area is filled with native birds, providing an excellent sight for those looking out for our feathered friends.
Words // Anastasia White