Purling Brook Falls is (in our opinion) the best waterfall on the Gold Coast. The amazing Gold Coast waterfall is located in Springbrook National Park. Stretching inland from the Gold Coast down towards the New South Wales border and covering 6,725 hectares, the national park dominates the Gold Coast’s western skyline.  Springbrook National Park is recognised for the incredible waterfalls and this park comprises a quarter of the world heritage listed ancient Gondwana rainforest. Featuring ancient trees dating back over 180 million years and multiple waterways flowing across cascades and waterfalls into the rock pools below, Springbrook National Park makes the perfect escape to nature from the busy city life of the Gold Coast (30kms) and Brisbane (100kms). Don’t have access to a car? Southern Cross Tours can also get you to Springbrook and Purling Brook Falls with our Springbrook and Natural Bridge waterfalls tour day tours. Read on to find out about the circuit, waterfall, and wildlife at Purling Brook Falls or click on the titles below to jump to your preferred section.

A hanging bridge spans across a body of water within Springbrook National Park, surrounded by dense trees and lush greenery

Purling Brook Falls Circuit

The circuit starts from the carpark at the end of Forestry Road, Springbrook. The hike through the beautiful rainforest to the base of the falls and back is approximately 4km and takes around 2hours. You will want to allow a little extra time to stop and enjoy the sights along the way. The Purling Brook Falls Circuit is clearly signposted, making it easy to navigate your way through the National Park.  Purling Brook Falls Circuit is located in the Springbrook Plateau section, with a large carpark area and toilet facilities to use before and after your walk. The journey includes a stunning walk through Gondwana and Eucalypt forests crowding with wildlife and two lookouts that give a great view of the falls. Here’s a hot tip – Walking the circuit in a clockwise direction is recommended and will minimise the number of stairs for the uphill climb at the end. You’re welcome 😉

What to expect when walking the Purling Brook Falls Circuit –

The first lookout is the highest point of the track, which then continues to wind itself down into the gorge through ancient rainforest. You’ll pass cascades, small waterfalls, and sheer rockfaces along the way. There are exactly 450 steps laid out on the path, which is why we recommend walking clockwise as this will be much easier for families with children to go down at the start (rather than walking up them at the end). Once you reach the bottom, you’ll be rewarded by the sight of the towering Purling Brook Falls. Surrounded by lush green tree ferns and often framed by rainbows in the spray from the falls, it’s a beautiful place to sit and gaze up at the natural beauty. The circuit then continues over a short suspension bridge and a few short sets of stairs. Most of the path gently slopes upwards back to the carpark starting point.

Close-up view of Purling Brook Waterfall cascading powerfully into a pool below, viewed from the top of the waterfall to the bottom, surrounded by lush greenery

The Purling Brook Waterfall

The Purling Brook Waterfall is a horsetail waterfall which means the water descends and maintains contact with bedrocks. Water collects at the base in a round pool before moving along the lower stream through a gorge called the Little Nerang Gorge. The water falls like a curtain clearing the face of the cliff due to the different erosion rates between the top of the stream and the less resistant rocks in the cliff below. Fun fact, the name comes from the word ‘purl’ which is used to describe the sound made by rippling water. The endless view from the falls extends east to the Pacific Ocean. Lush vegetation surrounds the waterfall thanks to rich volcanic soil and good rainfall. Look around and you will see beautiful ferns, orchids, and huge trees that thrive in the moist subtropical air.

Looking for more? Wander further down and explore the Warringa Pools that is far less crowded and offers a secluded swim spot. The lower Warringa Pools adds a further 4kms to your walk, and swimming here instead of the base of the waterfall limits the impact on the wildlife in the pool.

Close-up of a brown-colored bird standing on a rock, its detailed plumage blending with the natural tones of its surroundings

Wildlife at Purling Brook Falls

Springbrook forests are a safe haven for plants and animals some of which exist nowhere else in Australia. The bio-diversity hotspot has hundreds of species of animals, birds, plants and trees, with 80% of the plants and flowers only found in the Australian rainforest. With more than 100 different bird species being found in Springbrook National Park, you may come across Albert’s Lyrebird , Rosellas, Bowerbirds, Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos, brightly-feathered parrots, birds of prey, waterbirds, honeyeaters, Monarchs, Crows, cuckoos, or a Rufous Fantail. Keep your eyes peeled and listen out for the distinctive sounds of these creatures and look up to watch them rest in the canopies of the forests.

The varying landscapes located within the national park provide habitat for many different types of creatures, including native animals and reptile species. Whilst in the park, keep your eyes out for small marsupials including the red-necked Pademelons, which you can find grazing in open grassy areas. Or look up and see Koalas tuck into the leaves of Eucalyptus trees. Reptiles like Land Mullets which are black, fat, shiny lizards and much larger lace monitors stride amongst the trees. Frog life in Springbrook is also one to mention with hundreds of species of tropical frogs, from pretty emerald spotted tree frogs, to weird, tusked frogs. Gwongorella Picnic Area is a park close to Purling Brook Falls, here you can spot Quolls which are carnivorous marsupials native to Australia.

Close-up of a land mullet lizard on a grass field, its dark, glossy skin contrasting with the bright green blades of grass

As mentioned earlier, the high rainfall and mix of volcanic soils provides the perfect growing conditions for a diverse selection of plants visible throughout the Purling Book trail. Being in the subtropical part of the rainforest, you’ll see plenty of black and white Booyong, which is found on basaltic soils. If you are interested in reading more about the flora and fauna of Springbrook National park you might like to look at this more detailed information provided by the Department of Parks and Forests. 

Popular among tourists and locals, and perfect for a day trip, Purling Brook Falls and Springbrook National Park is one that is hard to beat! Originating millions of years ago, it is a small and special place so please tread carefully, let the wildlife go on their way and leave this ancient forest undisturbed. Go grab a pair of good quality hiking shoes, hat, sunscreen, and of course a bottle of water, and come on tour with us to experience the beautiful Gold Coast Hinterland. See you soon!

About Author

Picture of Zoe Abrahams

Zoe Abrahams

Zoe has worked in the Gold Coast tourism industry for nearly 20 years and is the marking manager for Aquaduck Gold Coast, Aquaduck Sunshine Coast, Southern Cross Tours and Gold Coast Sunset Cruise.

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