Cougal Cascades, Springbrook National Park
Southern Gold Coast Walk
You’ll find Springbrook National Park hidden in the hinterland at the headwaters of Currumbin Valley. This pristine National Park is home to Mount Cougal, the beautiful Cougal Cascades and a delightfully easy but stunning rainforest trail.
Only 20kms from the coast, and 6kms on past Currumbin Rock Pools, at the very end of Currumbin Creek Road, you’ll reach the Springbrook National Park carpark and Cougal Cascades trailhead.
The trailhead found to the right of the carpark next to the picnic tables, is marked by a huge fallen tree – a legacy of the pre-park logging history of Mount Cougal – and an information stand reminding visitors to feel privileged to be visiting a world heritage area.
The sealed and gently sloping 800m trail (1.6km return) is suitable for prams and assisted wheelchair access and follows the cascades through this wonderful wilderness area of subtropical rainforest and rock-strewn creek beds up to the remnants of a historic sawmill.
Take time to delight in the sounds of the fauna as you walk through the lush rainforest. This truly is one of the world’s most outstanding and valuable places, forming part of the surviving Gondwana Rainforests of Australia full of amazingly diverse plants and animals.
Under the rainforest’s closed canopy spot vines, palms, epiphytes and strangler figs and you’re bound to see the odd lace monitor or glossy black skink. Look out for bower birds, pademelons and elusive sugar gliders and listen out for brush turkeys, whip birds, Albert’s lyrebird and the barking owl. In calm creek pools you may be lucky enough to spot the elusive and endangered platypus.
You’ll begin to pass some majestic trees with huge buttress roots alongside the trail and about halfway up (at the 400m mark) stop at the viewing platform for a magical view of Cougal Cascades as they splash down the rockface into the waterholes below.
Signs warn visitors not to take risks as creeks and cascades can be slippery and contain fallen trees and logs, however there is a well-worn track down to the best swimming spots. While Currumbin Rock Pools is a safer place to swim (where you won’t disturb fauna), most days there’s likely to be visitors enjoying a refreshing plunge into the mountain stream.
Past the cascades, continue up the track following the self-guiding signs sharing information about the history of the now protected big trees and the stories of the inhabitants, the Yugambah People, that lived on this land.
After 400m you’ll reach the historic sawmill that operated from 1945-1951 and discover the park's past. The partially restored disused mill is a vivid reminder of the days when forests were valued only for their millable timber.
The easy downhill return journey is a great opportunity to do as the information signs suggests–to take time to reflect on why we need forests like those at beautiful Mount Cougal.
Track Length: 1.6km circuit (45-60 minutes)
Track Difficulty: Grade 2. Easy sealed gently sloping pathway.
Facilities: There are toilets, shaded picnic tables, a viewing platform and limited parking in Springbrook National Park carpark at Cougal Cascades trailhead.
By Michaela Lyons
Springbrook National Park carpark at the end of Currumbin Creek Road.