Gold Coast and Northern NSW Scenic Drives
The Gold Coast and Northern NSW regions have some of Australia’s most scenic drives; they are literally at our finger tips just beyond the beach.
Most people come to Australia’s playground to enjoy the pristine beaches, nightlife, Theme Parks and our restaurants.
However one of the greatest treasures is the Hinterland or should I say the Green Cauldron which stretches from Byron Bay in NSW to Queensland’s Gold Coast, and west towards the Great Dividing Range.
This mountainous region drench in sub tropical rainforest is so different from other parts of Australia.
It’s former volcanic activity thousands of years ago left its mark on the terrain and provided an abundance of landmarks unique to this area and an ideal backdrop for scenic drives.
When you leave the Gold Coast by plane and your flight path takes you south over the Tweed Valley, make sure you are sitting on the right hand side of the plane next to a window.
Part of the Green Cauldron becomes visible below; Mount Warning sitting in a Valley with escarpments rising out of the valley floor, quite spectacular. Tourism NSW created a map which puts the whole location in perceptive, its well worth a look.
Let the borders between states melt away and explore this region…
Accessing the Gold Coast Hinterland can be a little confusing, before you embark on your next day trips, take a look at the Google Map below and get your bearings.
Many of the popular locations listed below are on different routes, and unless you are familiar with the Hinterland they are best kept that way, some have a linking road which may take you out of your way.
View Gold Coast Hinterland Drives in a larger map
The main scenic routes or Tourist Drives are broken down into a number of roads which are numbered and it’s on these routes that the following popular natural attractions can be found.
GPS is wonderful to get you there and out of trouble, however in the hinterland satellite navigation is not always reliable. Carry a map; there are plenty of tourist maps available.
What is a scenic drive anyway?
|Perhaps adding a couple of quick detours on the main route to a lookout, and then returning to your accommodation.
If this is your definition of a drive you are missing out big time! Let’s explore a couple of options:
Scenic Drive Vs. Scenic Drive. Which?
|Suggested Route||Distance||Travel Time|
|From Central Gold Coast Scenic Route 98 to Murwillumbah||42 km||45minutes|
|Murwillumbah- Central Gold Coast via Scenic Route 40||40km||42minutes|
|Total distance & travel time||82 km||1 hr 27minutes|
Currumbin Valley to Murwillumbah Round Trip
Itinerary 1 (Case Study a typical scenic drive)
Take a scenic drive through Currumbin Valley (no stopping). First head for Currumbin Creek Road drive through picturesque country right to the end, this road comes to a dead end.
Arrive at Springbrook National Park (Mount Cougal Section), with Camp Eden on your left. Take a quick drive into dense rainforest to the Carpark and drive out.
Take the road back and make a right at Tominwin Mountain Road, follow this winding route through lush rainforest and catch glimpses of usual coned shaped mountain peaks shrouded in cloud.
Arrive at the ‘Tick Gates’ which separates QLD from NSW, cross the border and continue down Tominwin Mountain Road to Murwillumbah through tall cane fields hugging the edges of the road (depending on the time of year).
Notice the vibrant colours and catch fleeting views of a majestic deep blue mountain peak over eleven hundred metres, dominating the landscape.
How beautiful you undoubtedly will think, continue to Murwillumbah drive straight through town take a left on the main road and head back to the Gold Coast, onto the Pacific Motorway M1 and back to your accommodation or home.
Did you enjoy your scenic drive? I am sure you did, this country is spectacular, and Currumbin Valley so close to the Gold Coast is a lovely drive, but what did you miss?
Itinerary 2 Currumbin Valley to Murwillumbah Round Trip
Let’s start again and take a different approach
However taking your time and doing a little research before hand will enrich your experience and make that drive memorable.
These are some of the diversions along the way if you take your time and explore what the region has to offer.
1. Springbrook National Park ( Mount Cougal Section)
This World Heritage listed Park is at the end of Currumbin Creek Road and offers your first taste of dense rainforest, where you can walk comfortably on a wide asphalt path with viewing platforms of the rock slides below with mountain green pools.
The walking path finishes at the Sawmill a mere remnant of its glory days, when these beautiful majestic trees were ripped from the valley floor.
If you stand quietly and listen you might still hear on the wind long ago the sawing of timber and hear it crashing to the ground.
Take the time to read the plaques and get a real sense of the history of this location and then look up and be appreciative of its towering gums you are observing and not open scrub-land.
2. Currumbin Rock Pool
The location is full of mystic stories from the rock pool being bottomless to underwater caves.
There are no life guards here so take care if you decide to go for a swim.
During the warmer months Currumbin Rock Pool can become very busy, a wonderful spot to visit, bring a picnic or have a BBQ under the covered area.
Along Currumbin Creek Road are many local businesses that offer invitations to enter from Gardens, Roadside Stalls, Art and Craft and a few Cafes, its always nice to stop and check them out you never know what you will find, this is part of the adventure of touring the hinterland.
3. Arthur Freeman’s Lookout
Tomewin Mountain Road, is a winding scenic road, Arthur Freeman’s Lookout is on your right, and one of the only remaining views where you can pull off, it was at this location that bananas were hauled up the mountainside.
The mystical Twin Peaks of Mount Cougal, shrouded in clouds at times will be visible before you enter NSW through the ‘Tick Gates’ where years ago you were stopped to make sure you were not carrying fruit or plants into New South Wales.
Continuing down the mountainside, Murwillumbah comes into view all laid out on the valley floor and the country changes, Mount Warning rising from the cane fields beckoning and promising another wonderful day out to be planned.
Along here take a detour and have Coffee and cake at the Red Rattlers Gallery (Wed-Sunday) or head straight to Murwillumbah and on to the town of Tumbulgum along Scenic Route 40 and back to the Gold Coast.
The picturesque town of Murwillumbah sitting in the middle of the Tweed Valley is a must to stop and have a wander, the coffee culture is alive and well here. On weekends the cafes are busy with the chatter of cyclists who have negotiated the Tomewin Mountain Road and succeeded.
The scenery is exquisite take any one of the surrounding roads to explore and you will be enthralled by what you see. The art world is brimming in this region and why wouldn’t it be, at every turn there is a picture to inspire you.
What can you see in Murwillumbah?
- Murwillumbah Historical Society Museum on Queensland Road.
- Art Galleries, Tweed River Art Gallery
- Lisnagar Homestead, Victorian style home, overlooking the cane fields (book Tours Sunday)
- Historic Tumbulgum Cemetery
- Mount Warning
This is a quaint historic village on the banks of the Tweed River, famous for its Tumbulgum Tavern where many a day tripper travelling by car or motorbike stop for lunch.
The village boasts a number of Cafes and Art Galleries all with views of the picturesque Tweed River with Mount Warning standing guard in the distance.
There is a lovely grassed area on Riverside Drive to have a picnic and a public ramp for your boat. There are boat tours on the Tweed River, so plan ahead or arrange for another visit.
Attractions at Tumbulgum
- Tumbulgum Tavern
- Birdwing Cafe and Curio’s
- Boutique Gallery
- House of Gabriel
- Tumbulgum Gallery
- Historic Cemetery North Tumbulgum
Tumbulgum Historic Cemetery is well worth a visit, the cemetery is located in dense rainforest, a fascinating place. The walking track up to the cemetery is lined with plaques outlining the rich history of this location.
You get a real sense of the past the late 1800’s and how valuable this location was for the cedar getters and how beautiful it must have been before the land was cleared.
Be careful climbing the steps up to cemetery the ground is uneven and slippery.
Tumbulgum Cemetery is over the bridge on Duguigan Road, this road loops back to Tomewin Road, you can also travel back to the Gold Coast via Terranora Road.
This road trip from the Gold Coast over Tomewin Mountain Road and through Murwillumbah and on to Tumbulgum and back to the Gold Coast will keep you entertained for hours, there is so much to see and do.
Take Itinerary 2, there are so many options instead of a quick trip or you can make it more interesting by planing before hand.
A Quick Guide – Gold Coast Day Trips
|Scenic Route No||Main Roads||Location||what you can see|
|Route 90||Beaudesert Beenleigh Rd||Nerang
|Route 95||Tamborine Oxenford Rd||Mount Tamborine||
|Route 97||Nerang – Murwillumbah Rd
|Route 98||Currumbin Creek Road- Tomewin Mountain Road. (Detour – Cougal Casades)||Currumbin
|Route 40||Terranora and Tweed Valley Way||Murwillumbah – Condon-Tumbulgum||
|Route 99||Springbrook Road connects with Gold Coast Springbrook Road to Route 97||Mudgeeraba Springbrook||
|Beechmont Road||Binna Burra||
The Gold Coast Hinterland is packed with things to do and see, this is just a taste.
Check out the map before hand and plan your next scenic drive in the Gold Coast and Northern NSW hinterland.
More Scenic Drives
|Discover the Tweed Coast and Northern NSW|
|Razorback Lookout..discover the beautiful Tweed Coastline and start your scenic drive at Razorback Lookout, and plan where you would like to drive right from this elevated site. Take this drive…|
|Gold Coast Hinterland Day Drives|
|Best Of All Lookout Why this name? The only way to find the answer is to visit the lookout at Springbrook National Park and see why it was named ‘Best of all Lookout’…Take this drive….|
|Purlingbrook Falls Seeing Gum trees growing over rocky outcrops gripping boulders like giant bonsai plants was testament to the life giving water supply, it was fascinating….Take this drive|
|Hinze Dam is a short drive into the Gold Coast hinterland. There is a 4 kilometre wall along the Dam wall and after you can sit in the shade and enjoy a coffee from the Hinze Dam Coffee Shop… Take this drive|
|Useful Links to Tourism Sites|
|Map of Australia’s Green Cauldron||Tweed Tourism|
|Currumbin Valley||Visit Gold Coast|
|Big Volcano Visitor Guide||Visit Site|
This is the experience of the writer alone; yours may be quite different for many reasons. Just be ready for an adventure.