Queensland is an expansive state with a multitude of hidden gems to discover. In fact, the Sunshine State is home to five World Heritage areas that remind us just how much diversity lies on our doorstep, from K’Gari, the world’s largest sand island, to the Wet Tropics of Far North Queensland. But there’s one World Heritage area right here in South East Queensland that gets comparatively overlooked, one dating back 180 million years: the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, which just so happens to be the largest areas of subtropical rainforest in the world.
Spanning fifteen national parks between Brisbane and Newcastle, four of which are in South East Queensland — Lamington, Springbrook, Mt Barney and Main Range — the Gondwana Rainforests get their name from the prehistoric southern supercontinent, Gondwana, which used to encompass regions like Australasia, Africa and South America, and was characterized by vast expanses of temperate rainforests. Following the separation of Australia from the Gondwanan landmass, a substantial portion of these rainforests underwent a process of warming and desiccation.
Stretching 366,500 hectares in 40 separate reserves, Australia’s Gondwana Rainforest is the largest and most significant of its kind.
What to do at the Gondwana Rainforests
Tucked away in the Scenic Rim, less than two hours from Brisbane, the Gondwana Rainforests are a perfect spot for weekend getaways from the city. Lamington National Park is home to over 500 waterfalls, and you can catch some of its bests (like the breathtaking Elabana Falls) along the 10.9-km-long Box Forest Circuit. If you’re looking for something a bit more accessible, look no further than Springbrook’s glow worm cave, which can be seen illuminated at night along the 1km Natural Bridge trail. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife along these walks, such as native birds and wallabies.
For mountain hikes on the more challenging side, we recommend tackling a trail at Main Range National Park, or the intimidating Mt Barney summit, which is South East Queensland’s second-highest peak.
Some NSW bushwalking highlights in the Gondwana Rainforests are Border Ranges National Park, Dorrigo National Park, New England National Park, Barrington Tops and more.
Where to stay at the Gondwana Rainforests in SEQLD
Take ‘treat yourself’ to new heights, literally, by booking a stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Book your stay in a rainforest villa nestled within the trees, and get pampered with a valley view at Lost World Day Spa.
You can also camp within the Gondwana Rainforests at Mt Barney.
How to get to the Gondwana Rainforests
The Gondwana Rainforests can be found inland from Gold Coast, just over 100km south-west of Brisbane, all the way down to Central NSW. As parts of this World Heritage area are remote, driving is recommended.
To find out more about the Gondwana Rainforests and to start planning your trip, head to the website. Keen for more outdoor adventures near Brisbane? Check out these hidden beaches or beat the heat at one of these natural swimming spots.