Tamborine – Springbrook
If you are looking for a great tour to the rainforests, our Springbrook and Tamborine Rainforest Tour has everything – rainforest walks, waterfalls, wineries, arts and craft shops, mountain views. This tour is operated 6 days per week.
The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage area, originally listed in 1986 to cover rainforests in New South Wales, was extended in 1994 to include rainforests on the Queensland side of the border. This property has an area of 366 507ha; 59 223ha is in Queensland.
World Heritage listing is a prestigious international recognition of the important conservation values of this area, especially its unique geology, subtropical and cool temperate rainforests and rare fauna. Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area conserves a rich diversity of wildlife, including more than 1700 species of flowering plants and 500 vertebrate animals
Protected areas in this property include Lamington, Springbrook, Mt Barney and Main Range National Parks. An estimated 2 million people a year visit this World Heritage area.
Before European settlement, these sub-tropical rainforests were probably the most extensive rainforests in Australia. Today, Lamington National Park has the largest remaining area of undisturbed subtropical rainforest.
Less varied than the wet tropical rainforests of north Queensland, these rainforests include warm temperate, cool temperate, sub-tropical and dry rainforests. This property contains the world’s most extensive subtropical rainforest and nearly all of the world’s Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest.
Rainforests on both sides of the border contain more frog, snake, bird and marsupial species than anywhere else in Australia. This site provides a home for many rare and threatened plants and animals and ancient life forms.
The landscape of the Springbrook plateau is a remnant of the northern side of a once huge shield volcano that dominated the region about 23 million years ago. The volcano was built up of highly mobile basalt lavas, and although centered on Mount Warning, it was about 80km across. At about 2000m high, the volcano poured lava over 6000km² (north to Tamborine, south past Lismore to Coraki and west to Kyogle). Some lava flows were 270m deep. Basalt, rhyolite and pyroclastic rock were formed.
About 10 million years ago the volcano began to die. The remaining lava plugged the numerous vents and over the millennia, weathering and water erosion have relentlessly sculpted the volcano to form a classic erosion caldera landform. The Mount Warning caldera — the crescent of perpendicular cliffs extending from Springbrook to Lamington plateau and the Tweed Range above the Mount Warning vent valley — is the largest and best of its age in the world. Your guide will graphically show you the remnants of this massive volcano on our Tamborine day tour.
Rainfall that feeds streams and powers waterfalls continues to shape the landscape in this ongoing erosion process. Natural Bridge is an example of water’s tremendous power. The hard basalt rock bridge we see today was once the lip of a waterfall. The cave was formed when the waterfall eroded the softer agglomerate rock beneath the hard basalt. Upstream from the waterfall, a deep pool was drilled in the creek bed by the swirling action of rocks. This pool eventually broke through the cave roof, allowing the water to plunge through the hole into the cave below.
Flora and fauna
The forests of Springbrook National Park can be grouped into five classifications depending upon the dominant tree species, soil, location and rainfall. These forest types are subtropical, warm temperate and cool temperate rainforests, open eucalypt forest and heath. Subtropical rainforest characterized by a closed canopy, vines, palms, epiphytes and large trees such as strangler figs, can be seen at Mount Cougal, Natural Bridge and in the sheltered gorges of Springbrook plateau.
Two kinds of open eucalypt forest are seen on Springbrook plateau and in the Numinbah Valley. Tall white-trunked flooded gums Eucalyptus grandis tower over palms and treeferns. On poorer soils grow the uncommon and attractive Blue Mountain ash Eucalyptus oreades, with its lemon-coloured trunk, and the grey fibrous-barked New England blackbutt E. campanulata var andrewsii. Tall silky oaks Grevillea robusta line the Nerang River and Waterfall Creek in Numinbah Forest Reserve. Prickly-leaved heath plants, including the golden banksia, red bottlebrush and purple hovea, make a colourful understorey.
Of the many mammals living in the park, pademelons (small rainforest wallabies) are most frequently seen by day visitors. Campers are usually rewarded with sightings of nocturnal animals, especially the greyish brushtail possum and the smaller, reddish, ringtail possum that has a distinctive white tip on its tail. A glimpse of the tiny and elusive sugar glider or large greater glider is the reward for those interested enough to take a red-filtered torch and explore the tracks at night. Koalas are occasionally seen on the drier western ridges of the plateau and in the open forest areas of Numinbah Forest Reserve.
Over a hundred different bird species can be seen and heard in Springbrook National Park and Numinbah Forest Reserve. Noteworthy species include the raucous and distinctively plumed yellow-tailed black cockatoo, which can sometimes be seen feeding on the seeds of the banksia, casuarina and wattle. The slender brown cuckoo-dove is often heard calling a plaintive “oop oop” throughout the park. The elusive Albert’s lyrebird is another species that is more often heard than seen. In the winter months its vibrant composite call can be heard from the depths of the valleys. Smaller bush birds that may be seen along the tracks include the yellow robin, rufous fantail and the dainty superb fairy-wren. Three species of rosella are present in the park. The most striking is the descriptively named crimson rosella with its plumage of scarlet and royal blue. The black and gold regent bowerbird and the larger midnight-blue satin bowerbird represent the bowerbird family.
The most frequently seen reptiles are prehistoric-looking lace monitors, glossy black skinks known as land mullets, and sleepy carpet pythons. These are all harmless if not provoked. Remember that not all snakes are harmless and all are just as frightened of you as you are of them.
The abundance of water in the park and reserve has resulted in a diverse selection of water-dwelling animals. Frogs are the most vocal, blue spiny crayfish the most colourful and eels the most surprising. Orange-eyed treefrogs and large beige-coloured great barred-frogs are often seen on the tracks at night.
Long-finned eels Anguilla reinhardti are common in the larger pools such as Warringa on the Springbrook plateau and in the upper reaches of Waterfall Creek and Nerang River. They are remarkable for their breeding behaviour. Adults travel enormous distances to breed in the tropical ocean and the young elvers return to the freshwater streams to continue the cycle. Platypus make their home in the large waterholes of the upper reaches of the Nerang River in Numinbah Forest Reserve and Currumbin Creek. Using their large bills to search for food by sifting through sand and gravel on the creek or river bed, platypus feed on shrimps, small crayfish, worms and the nymph life stages of many insects — dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, stoneflies, caddis-flies and beetles.
Natural Bridge section is known for the colony of thousands of glow-worms found in the cave’s roof — only seen after sunset. Please note that while glow-worms are present year round, their display is visibly reduced in the winter months. These glow-worms, larvae of the fungus fly Arachnocampa flava, produce a brilliant blue-green light to attract insects into their sticky webs. It is only during this larval stage that the species feeds — a period of about nine months. Up to 70 threads, hung from the glow-worm’s nest, entangle small invertebrates such as midges, mosquitoes and mayflies. Adults emerge to live only three to four days, long enough to mate and lay eggs.
Springbrook National Park’s earliest human inhabitants were an Aboriginal kinship group, the Yugambeh who lived in this area, carefully managing and using its rich natural resources. Known as kaban (bush or rainforest) to the Yugambeh, the mountains are sacred and spiritual, places to be nurtured and respected.
Gurilahbu bungill — “a long, long time ago”… Jabreen was the creator of this land. He sent water to fall on the land and to give it life. It flowed towards the ocean, its energy changing as it went, flowing gently here, cascading there; nurturing the needs of all living things along the way. This place became the homeland of the Yugambeh people.
Gulli Yugambehnga gaurema — “this is the Yugambeh story”… our ancestors have lived in this region for thousands of years. Scattered across the landscape are stone artefacts, rock shelters, rock art, scarred trees and earthen rings. They lived in a rich environment where water flowed in abundance. Natural resources were plentiful and families were self-sufficient in all seasons.
The Yugambeh family groups were identified as the Wangerriburra, Birinburra, Gugingin, Migunberri, Mununjali, Bollongin, Minjungbal and Kombumerri. They shared language, ceremonies, celebrations and economic exchange.
This kinship group used both the open forest and rainforest. Evidence of their occupation has been found in throughout the park, including stone artefacts, rock shelters, rock art, scarred trees and earthen rings.
The arrival of Europeans changed the Yugambeh’s lifestyle forever. To the newcomers, natural resources must have seemed vast and they did not understand the needs of Yugambeh people. Yugambeh land was divided for settlement, restricting waterhole access and making hunting and food gathering difficult. Many Yugambeh people were moved to reserves. Some stayed, found occasional work and adapted slowly to a new lifestyle.
Springbrook plateau section
Wanting to go to Springbrook? Our Springbrook day tour not only visits the Natural Bridge at Springbrook but also Byron Bay.
The plateau’s formidable terrain was the major obstacle to settlers and timber-getters claiming Springbrook. Until the early 1900s the plateau remained intact. The first Europeans to explore the plateau were surveyors. When Queensland separated from New South Wales in 1859 an accurate map was needed to show the new border. In April 1863 Queensland’s Surveyor-General August Charles Gregory instructed his surveyors, Francis Edward Roberts and Isaiah Rowland, to survey the border along the watershed of the rugged and mostly unexplored McPherson and Great Dividing Ranges to the Dumaresq River. In an early official report the terrain of the south-east border areas was considered so rugged that “settlement upon it will never take place until flying machines are in general use”.
Springbrook was originally referred to as Numinbah Plateau but was also known amongst timber getters as the “Land of the Tall Timber”. In 1906 the plateau’s status of timber reserve was revoked and it was opened for selection as agricultural land. The government offered special inducements to intending settlers to inspect the available lands in the hope of increasing the population of the newly formed state of Queensland.
Living on the plateau proved difficult. When the first selectors arrived in November 1906 the promised access road was still under construction. Better transport saw Springbrook become a popular tourist destination by the 1920s. The very obstacles that made life on the plateau difficult were the very things that attracted people — sheer cliffs, deep gorges and tumbling waterfalls. A guesthouse with dormitory-style accommodation, a post office and telephone exchange and a flourishing dairy industry were established and life improved on the plateau. By the 1940s seven guesthouses, three cafes and four different styles of self-contained accommodation were operating to cater for Springbrook’s growing popularity.
By the 1930s parts of Springbrook were almost devoid of trees. Many of the forest areas on the plateau visible today are regrowth following the decline of the dairy industry after World War II. The growing interest in the plateau coupled with the push for precious rainforest remnants of the McPherson Ranges to be conserved, soon saw areas of the plateau gazetted as national park.
The Numinbah Valley area saw the arrival of European timber-getters around the 1870s. Magnificent trees felled in the area included a giant red cedar taken in 1893 from near Natural Bridge. A huge section of this impressive tree was displayed at the 1900 Paris World Fair.
By the end of the 1920s large areas of Numinbah Valley had been cleared and dairy farms were expanding. Remaining forests provided a venue for social outings and recreation. People began to recognise the need to protect the few remaining lowland rainforests. In 1922 Natural Bridge, named after its natural geological feature, was declared a Recreation and Scenic Reserve. It became a national park in 1959 and was incorporated in Springbrook
Hall, P 1991, Springbrook: Where the clouds touch the earth, Watson & Ferguson, Brisbane.