Mt Cougal a Great Gold Coast Hinterland Bush Walk

MtCougal13thJuly2010 006 This is a Real Australian Bush Walking Adventure, climbing Mt Cougal!

You never know what you will find so take care, check the weather and park alerts before you go.

This terrain is always changing, fallen trees and slippery slopes.

There are a few websites that mention this Gold Coast Hinterland bush walking track, but the details are a little sketchy.

Our first attempt to locate this bush walk we went down Garden of Eden Road after visiting Arthur Freeman Lookout.

The road comes to an abrupt end and you are confronted with a track that clearly is not accessible to the public and one behind a locked gate, with an abandoned vehicle shrouded in undergrowth.

There is no visible signage from the outside of the gate…at the time of writing.

However after more research and comments left on my blog by Sam from Currumbin Beach who left detailed directions on how to find the start of this bush walking adventure.

I am pleased to say it was discovered. (If I had been a little more adventurous and climbed the gate I could have saved sometime.)

How to find Mount Cougal bush walking trail

My companions on this bush walk were my ‘fit’ eighty four year old Father and my son Gene. Travelling from the Gold Coast, head for Currumbin then Currumbin Creek Road turn left at Tomewin Mountain Road this sign comes up fairly quickly so watch out for it.

View from the top

Follow Tomewin Mountain Road passed Arthur Freeman Lookout through the NSW tick gates to The Garden of Eden Road on your right. This is a one lane dirt track but you don’t need a 4WD, continue to the end of the road around 5km and park your vehicle in the small parking area away from the gate and the roadway.   Map of location

 How to get to Mount Cougal – Garden of Eden Road

Check out this map to access Mt Cougal walking trail, first head for Currumbin Creek Road and turn left at Tomewin Mountain Road, continue till you get to Garden of Eden Road, its a sharp right.

Be careful it’s a dirt track...

View Arthur Freeman Lookout – Tomewin Mountain Road in a larger map

This is the only signage for the trail

Mt Cougal sign on Garden of Eden Road at the gate.

Climb over the locked timber gate, and immediately turn left and follow the track up the hill, the doubled strand barbed wire fence is on your left and will remain in sight for most of your journey.

(You will then see ‘The Cougals sign’ on the fence from this side) The fence hugs the border between Queensland and New South Wales.

Straight away you are climbing and there is thick undergrowth and loose rocks so take care.

The ground was damp and slippery and I should imagine given the terrain it would be much the same throughout the year, I am only glad its winter, you apparently can get attacked by leeches in the warmer months given the lush vegetation.

New sign

If you are accustomed to using a walking pole you will be using one here, instinctively you start looking for some kind of support to help you with the gradually climb. It wasn’t long before we found sticks or should I say tree branches to give us support. You are climbing straight away.

Wild Cane Grass Forest

After climbing, the trail levelled off and we stumbled on a unique sight, there stretched before us was wild cane-grass growing in large clumps and forming a dense forest like structure for quite some distance; you could almost believe you were standing in the middle of a sugarcane field down on the coastal plains of Murwillumbah.

The grass is over 2 metres

Continuing along the ridge the area opens out to grasslands with spectacular 360 degree views.

Currumbin Valley is stretched out before you right down to the sea, Mount Warning melting into the blue haze and Condong Sugar Mill on the Tweed River bellowing out smoke in the cool morning air in the distance, certainly a sight to behold.

In front of you is the reason for your journey Cougal Twin Peaks, waiting to be conquered yet again by enthusiastic bush walkers.

It’s a great spot to stop and recuperate after your first climb and prepare yourself for the big one. There is history attached to this location, formation of the twin peaks of Mount Cougal—’Ningeroongun and Barrajanda’ were named after two hunting dogs..

Stories demonstrate the Yugambeh’s understanding and connection with their country. The landscapes held many stories that were passed down through the generations. The formation of the twin peaks of Mount Cougal—’Ningeroongun’ and ‘Barrajanda’—is an example. ‘Gwyala’, a great Yugambeh hunter of long ago, had two wonderful hunting dogs—’Ningeroongun’ and ‘Barrajanda’. They were trained to chase kangaroos close in to the camp for the whole account.

Watch out for Hazards on the trail

From here on just keep the fence on your left and don’t wander off the trail. The terrain is constantly changing; at times you think it could be someone’s garden with staghorns strategically placed on towering trees and clumps of wild ferns at their base and of course the tell tail sign of seeded plants that have been carried by the wind.
There is no continuous ascent as you might think, just as you believe you are climbing the trail and getting closer to your destination it quickly descends.

The rainforest canopy is very dense in some sections and when the wind drops there is total silence only the occasional twig or palm frond falling through the tree canopy or so we thought!

Mount Cougal Eastern Peak from the trail

Come to think about it we never actually saw any falling only heard movements through the trees and some of those sounds were low on the forest floor! All jokes aside this is rugged country and ‘no walk in the park’ as we are about to find out in a big way.

Take your time and stop for breaks

We stopped quite a bit, it is hard going when you are concentrating on your steps and making sure you place your feet on firm ground. The trail is littered with vines, fallen trees that have died or collapsed by termite infestation or maybe have been struck by lightning, we became used to climbing over them.

In some locations they have taken the barbed wire fence down so you are crisscrossing over the barbed wire fencing lying across the trail so take care.

However the fallen trees were handy to sit on during our many breaks to munch on treats, we did stop a fair bit I think some of it was psychological this was a lot harder then we expected.

It's very steep here, I am in the upper part of the photoStairway to Heaven

Nearing our final destination the twin peaks of Mount Cougal, the trail starts to narrow notably the barbed wire fence is ever present to guide us on our course.

We start to climb in earnest now with little to hang onto other then the chicken wire on the lower part of the fence, it is tempting to grab onto but best left alone.

The trail in front of us resembles a staircase, entwined with a maze of tree roots, like a scene from ‘Lord of the Rings’ however it’s very presents signal the prize of completion.

Up to this point my father had successfully negotiated all the challenges, but now he was done!

Up to this point my father had successfully negotiated all the challenges, fallen trees, and changes in the terrain without any drama. This section before us will require the most exertion and the look of horror on his face signalled clearly that today we will not all be completing our journey.

We continued to climb but now the trail ahead looks almost vertical like a ladder, a living root mosaic. Moving forward for all of us wasn’t an option. So close but yet so far! The summit was so close around 10minutes.

Decided to go it alone a big mistake!

So we decided I would keep climbing till I reached the rocky outcrop were the trail veered to the right. I quickly disappeared into the tree canopy and reached the rocky outcrop, but alas couldn’t go on without my companions.

So I carefully headed back down the trail and this is where things took a nasty turn. I was within a metre of my companions and lost my footing grabbed the first thing within reach which was ‘our guide’ the barbed wire fence…remember I mention the doubled bared wire fence, I found out how much that hurts if the first strand doesn’t get you the second one will.

Our first aid kit had already been raided by one of our party, bandages used for blisters, so band-aids and tissues were my only choice.

Don't grabbed the barbed wire fenceWith a 9cm gash running from my palm to the finger a big chunk out of the other finger and a pieced thumb nail it didn’t look too good.

That finished any hope of completing our journey today and completing this bush walk. I think against the concern for my plight I believe I may have seen a glimmer of relief! (I could be mistaken)

A couple of pieces of chocolate to qualm the shock of the ordeal and I was ready to head back. It never ceases to amaze me how quick the return journey is, our round trip took us over 4 hours and we didn’t make the summit. So make sure you start early in the day to allow plenty of time for stops.

Experienced bush walkers only on this trail

What an adventure! This is a great Australian bush walk/hike and one we will be completing again soon. Will let you know the outcome soon. A final note this walk should only be attempted by experienced bush walkers and make sure you take plenty of bandages in your first aid kit.

Update…we did eventually make it to the top of Mount Cougal

  • Our second attempt, where the weather deteriorated and we went home disappointed, but we did encounter a Coastal Python.. read on
  • Read about the history of the first climb on Saturday 20th October 1928, it makes for fascinating reading. Mr, T. A. Vance, of the Commonwealth Defence Survey, in spite of the statements made by local residents that it was impossible to reach the summit. Read here.. The First Ascent in 1928


 Take a virtual tour of Mount Cougal

Some of the photos we took on the day have been put together in this slideshow…



Update we have since successfully climbed Mount Cougal, third time lucky, the view was fantastic read about it here…

Watch it >>>>

Shaun Johnston This would normally be a really simple walk, just requiring a bit of confidence in fitness, but on the day we went there had been quite a bit of recent rain so things became quite slippy toward the top.  Watch Shaun’s video below for all the details of their climb.

Below are some useful links to enrich and prepare you for your impending experience on this beautiful Gold Coast Hinterland bush walk.

Resource Links
Images of Mount Cougal
More Images of  ‘The Cougals’
Culture and history

See you at the top soon….!

25 Responses to Mt Cougal a Great Gold Coast Hinterland Bush Walk

  1. Well written. I’ve climbed to the East peak 3 times. I use leather garden gloves to hold onto the barbed wire as a hand rail, good for going up and down. 2 spring loaded walking poles help your knees going down. There’s good views to the south from the top of the fence line if you don’t make the summit. There’s also a cave through the peak if you go straight ahead up past the fence, then look behind the heap of large boulders. Then go to the right to see the path up the rock face to the summit. There’s good hand holds but it’s not for the faint hearted.
    The “sugar cane” is actually cane grass, a shelter belt weed that has got away.

  2. Thanks Jeff for that info, I have been out of action the last couple of weeks. However I will be posting again about Mt Cougal, did the second climb got to the rockface just before the summit, but I wasn’t sure whether I had the upper body strength to finish the last few metres. Third time lucky!

  3. Looks like a great track. A prerequisite for every home I have lived in is that the property needs to be within walking distance to a walking track such as this one. I love South East Queensland for it’s variety of tracks.

  4. Hi,
    yes gr8 blog. I’ve done this hike as well.
    Has anyone done an “off beaten track” from Currumbin Cascades heading further upstream into Cougals?? there is the start of a rough track behind the fence at the old restored saw mill, and just a warning sign from Cougals-Springbrook Nat Park to have topographic map, and notify friends your walk etc.
    Not sure where it would take you?

  5. Loved climbing the cougals today but I actually did the off the beaten route from the cascades defiantly not for the faint hearted. left the car park at 7 back by 230pm love the view from the top.

  6. Thanks for the comments Adrian, I am aware of the track behind the old Saw Mill but I don’t know much about it.

  7. Robert you are talking about the track behind the Saw Mill?
    I hope to finish the Mt Cougal trail and reach the top in the next few weeks.
    Thanks for your comments.

    • Hello,

      Where did you purchase the topo map for SE QLD from?
      Also, how long from the sawmill to this waterfall that you must turn right? Does this upstream lead to the top of mt cougal? Thanks.

  8. Yes the track behind the saw mill follows the creek until you get to another waterfall which you have to hike up and around the right hand side. After that there is no real track to speak of at all. So I used my compass altimeter and topo map to follow a ridge line to the top, ended up taking 4 hrs to reach the top and then followed a dry riverbed back down from the top. well worth it though thinking about doing the other track in a few weeks with my girl.

  9. Hi there
    Great blog Gillian. A couple of friends and I did this walk today and had a lovely picnic where the fence ends at some boulders as another poster Jeff mentioned near the top.Great views to the South. Those leather garden gloves are a great idea, will use them next time!
    The old van covered in moss at the start of the track is great to photograph. My friend says there was an old commune down on the Northern side and there must have been some dwelling up there past the Cane grass section once as there are still Cannas , Loquats and other fruit trees including what looks like a Queensland Bopple Nut ( pre Macadamia )along the track. The history of that area would be fascinating.

  10. Thanks Mel for the comments. I love it up there but unfortunately because of circumstances haven’t made it to the top which is very disappointing. Next week however it will be success. Did you get to the top?
    That old van is interesting it changes every time you see it. The first recorded climb is very interesting, I will post the full details in the next few days. Thanks for reminding me..
    Might see you at the top sometime..

    • Fabulous Shaun! Thanks so much for recording and sharing this, my son and I went a few days before but unfortunately we had to abandon the climb, due to a severe grass allergy on the grassy plateau. Not sure whether it was grass or insect repellent. (For the leeches) You must go again when the weather clears, the winter is best with cool mornings and clear blue skies. The bonus is that a lot of that grass dies off. I would like to use your video on a couple of my pages. See you at the top!

  11. Have you heard of Geocaching? If not a quick Google Search will correct that. Anyway, there are geocaches on both peaks of the Cougals and it’s interesting to read the logs of those who attempt the climb and find the cache. There is also one that follows the track at the back of sawmill.

    The usual procedure for any geocache is to rate the terrain of the pathway into the cache, all three of these are outside my experience and fitness levels, therefore they are not walks I have done. Perhaps when I finally sort out my dodgy knee and built up to the fitness and skill level needed I will have a go.

    Did you know there is talk of revitalizing the old dairy track from Springbrook to the end of Tallebudgeera Valley? I think the plans are for it to link up with the Hinterland walks creating a bush to the beach type trail.

  12. Hi All,
    Please keep the border fence on your left when ascending. There are two private properties on the other side of the fence that are lived on by the owners. We have recently had a number of ‘lost’ people and vehicles on our property and requiring assistance (including a tow out). We’ve been adding signage and clearing the path with machinery to assist but it appears Google believes there is a path through our property to the Coogles / Currumbin rock pools. This is not the case! However, we’re pretty chilled up here and will happily assist if you get lost / bogged / need a hand. If you’ve been a regular you will know us and our dogs. Enjoy!

    • Sorry for the late response. I haven’t been up for a while but intend to this winter. Thank you for your generosity when some get into trouble. I suppose its about planning with some people. Just keep the fence in view on your left, other than a detour for a fallen tree. Thanks for sharing. If you want to add any other comments about access and the walk let me know and I can attach a link to a page for this article.

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