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Chasing Slow – Part 23: Lamington & the Gold Coast

Lamington National Park, Queensland

We couldn’t resist the urge to pop in to Queensland and go hiking in the Lamington National Park before finishing what has been a long, incredible time exploring Australia.

Byron Bay was meant to be the furtherest north on the east coast that we were going to reach, but we gave into our desires and crossed the border into Queensland for a few days to go hiking in the dense, tropical forest at Lamington.

Lamington National Park is about 40 kms inland from the Gold Coast, just north of the NSW/QLD border. The place is known for having hundreds of waterfalls throughout a relatively small mountain range that’s covered in super thick forest, a really cool place to explore on foot.

The area has lots of steep and narrow winding roads, not suitable for a caravan, so we set up base just outside the northern end of the national park at Spring Gully Stays, about 2-2.5 hours from Byron Bay.

Lucky for us, we were the only ones there and were able to park the van next to the creek, although we still had to share the place with some huge lizards.

On our first afternoon, it was almost 40°C & without another person in sight, I was able to strip off and have a skinny dip in the stream. After letting my monster out, we didn’t see another lizard for days.

Read more about Spring Gully Stays Campground & Cabins.

Based on how the trip has gone so far, a lot of the time when we’ve gone on a hike, we’ve ended up going a bit further than planned as we tend to come across trails and tracks where we can’t fight the urge to go and take a look. Our goal at Lamington was to cover at least two hiking trails, so we allowed plenty of time in case we found some detours, got up early the next morning and drove into the main part of the national park, a place called O’Reilly’s.

We set off on what was meant to be a quick ‘tree top walk’, little did we know that we wouldn’t make it back until sun down.

The Lamington Tree Top Walk was a lot of fun! It’s more or less a suspended bridge that goes right up near the top of the forest’s canopy where you can look out over the trees to the mountains in the distance. At one point, we climbed up ladder to platform, similar but not quite as terrifying as when we climbed the 53 metres Karri tree in Chasing Slow – Part 5: Margaret River.

Read more about the Tree Top Walk.

At the end of the Tree Top Walk, we could have turned left to head back to our car, but Eva had read about a couple of places called Picnic Rock & Elabana Falls that are a few kilometres down the track to the right, so we made our way there for lunch.

The track was mainly flat and straight with lots of huge trees and bright black lizards. Eventually, we came across a creek crossing with a bit of a drop, this turned out to be Picnic Rock, which is the top of the Elabana Falls.

We tried climbing down to the plunge pool, but it was getting a bit wet and steep (& there were a bunch of bright blue yabbies ready to attack), so we followed a track for a few hundred metres that zig zagged down and around.

Things got interesting from here. We had the option of walking back the way we came from to our car, but we could see some sort of track on AllTrails that creates a loop, allowing us to see a bunch of other lookouts and another waterfall.

We didn’t have any phone/data reception but we were able to use our GPS to find the track. For the first couple of hundred metres, we were on an easy-to-see path, then it just disappeared & we found ourselves in super dense forest with no sign of a trail.

Sometimes the forest got so dense without any sign of a trail that it took us minutes to progress only a few metres, as we were having to fight our way through vines and wild bush then determine where we are again with the GPS.

The temptation to turn around was growing stronger each time I wiped a cob web off my face and pulled spiders out of my hair, clearing a path, then all of a sudden we were standing on the edge of a steep cliff, looking out across the untouched mountains and the effort felt rewarded.

We continued along a ridge from there for a while, getting the occasional view out across the mountains. At times, we could kind of see a track, then some ribbons in trees that helped guide us. It was difficult terrain, but stunning and worth every scratch and insect bite!

Lookout in Lamington National Park, Queensland

Eventually, we reached an old, closed picnic area and large abandoned timber lookout. It was a really nice spot with a great view but it hadn’t been maintained for some reason and was starting to fall to bits. I’m not sure why we thought that the track would be formed from here, but we were wrong.

There was a narrow path leading away from the lookout which also soon disappeared, but it wasn’t a worry with the GPS, which we used to guide us all of the way to another waterfall, Morans Falls.

Read more about Morans Falls.

Morans Falls was huge! It’s about 80 metres from the top of the waterfall where a pretty flat running creek goes over the edge of the cliff down a sheer drop. It was a nice final natural site to see for the day, then we followed a well defined path right back to our car.

Read more about this hiking trail here, we called it the ‘Lamington National Park Circuit Walk‘.

It ended up being a much longer and more difficult hike than we had planned on doing for the day, and although we were happy to be out of the jungle, it’s going to be a great memory in the future, that being of one of the rougher and more overgrown trails that we’ve ever gone down!

Although we couldn’t take the caravan into Lamington National Park, we had parked at a resort and campground and there happened to be a bar, so we finished the day with a beer before heading back to Spring Gully.

Our trip around Australia is now just about complete and we’re ready to start heading home, but as we’re less than an hour from the Gold Coast, we thought it’d be rude not to visit!

There’s a caravan park close to Surfers Paradise at Main Beach, we set up there for the night and spent the afternoon at the beach and evening in Cavil Ave.

Read more about Main Beach Caravan Park on the Gold Coast.

It was a short but packed visit to Queensland. We’ll come back another time and head further up the coast! For now, we’re going to start making our way back to the Grampians in central Victoria, about an 1,800 km drive from the Gold Coast.

The rough plan was to drive back over a week or so, but we got stuck into a decent crime podcast and made it all of the way to Sydney on the first day.

We found a free camp in Sydney at Deerubbun Reserve, about 30-40 minutes shy of the city, then made it from there to Lake Hume near Wodonga, just inside Victoria and camped at Ludlows Reserve for the night.

Read more about Deerubbun Reserve Free Campground.

Read more about Ludlows Reserve Free Campground at Lake Hume.

The following day, we drove a few hundred kilometres to the west and made it back to the Grampians to complete our trip around Australia!

It’s been a huge and incredible experience travelling around Australia in a caravan & we hope that you’ve enjoyed following our journey, Chasing Slow. This trip might be over, but plenty more is coming up! (We’re heading to France soon!).

Up next: We’ll rest up in the Grampians and spend some time at the beach house. Check back soon to see the highlights from our trip in the final post of Chasing Slow: Exploring Australia.

About Guy

Hey guys, I'm Guy - one of the founders of WAY&FARER and the main one posting on the blog. I've written about hundreds of places to visit, campgrounds and hiking trails both on the WAY&FARER blog and in the "EXPLORE" section on this website. If you've got any questions about anything that I've written or you've noticed that one of the places we've covered has changed & needs an update, please get in touch with me via guy@wayandfarer.com. Otherwise, I'll leave you to enjoy the blog and while you're at it, take a look at the WAY&FARER Camping Shop! Cheers, Guy

2 thoughts on “Chasing Slow – Part 23: Lamington & the Gold Coast

  1. Spencer Samaroo says:

    Seems like you got a good feel for the Gold Coast area when you visited. Lamington is a great place to head to. The scenery is incredible there.

    1. Guy says:

      Absolutely loved it, thanks mate! Forever dreaming of when we get to head back there again.
      Maybe we could reach out to you when we’re next there and organise a hike to go on together, otherwise, maybe a beer or coffee. Cheers, Guy

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