Springbrook Mountain is about 45 minutes from the Gold Coast – in the hinterland. At Springbrook you’ll see a rare remnant of the ancient Gondwana Forest. This forest covered much of Australia many millennia ago when Australia was joined to Antarctica. Fossils of the Antarctic Beech trees, alive and well in Springbrook, have been found beneath the ice cap in that frozen land.
It is the ‘Noah’s Ark’ of forests – a safe haven for plants and animals some of which exist nowhere else in Australia. Springbrook is one of the last bastions of Gondwana.
Springbrook – An Ancient Forest Photo: Adam Maund
Springbrook Mountain had it’s origins many millions of years ago. It is a small and special place. Please tread carefully, let the wildlife go on their way and leave this ancient forest undisturbed.
Unspoilt by excessive commercialisation, Springbrook Mountain is part of the ancient Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. It is home to an amazing variety of wildlife from the rare Albert’s Lyrebird (only found in Springbrook) to rosellas and bowerbirds.
From the majesty of ancient beech trees to canopies of spreading ferns, here you can relax in the heart of a protected rainforest, wonder at the stars glimmering in the clear sky and visit colonies of glow-worms. It is a slice of serene paradise set in the Gold Coast hinterland (Australia) just 45 minutes from the bright lights of Surfers Paradise and 1.5 hours from Brisbane. Popular among tourists and locals alike, the area is perfect for a day trip or a longer stay.
World Heritage Area
Springbrook is a world heritage listed national park. The cool forests, mountain streams, gorges and waterfalls offer you a glimpse of what our natural world was like thousands of years ago. About 80% of the plants and flowers are only found in the Australian rainforest.
The area includes the most extensive areas of subtropical forests in the world. Few places on earth contain so many plants and animals that remain relatively unchanged from their ancestors in the fossil record. Springbrook is home to many rare and threatened species with a high level of bio-diversity.
Seasons in Springbrook
Any time of the year is a good time to visit Springbrook Mountain. During the Australian summer (Nov-Feb) you can escape from the heat of the coastal areas and enjoy the cool mountain air. At 1,000m the temperature is noticeably cooler.
During the winter months (June to September), walking is very pleasant and the sky is a magnificent blue. In the evenings you can snuggle up to a warm wood fire.
Introducing the Local Wildlife
Springbrook is a special place, a bio-diversity hotspot with hundreds of species of animals, birds, plants and trees. Listed below are some of the creatures that you may come across during your visit.
First, what you are likely to see during a day visit.
Red Necked Pademelon
These are the small, wallaby-like creatures grazing by the road side and in open grassy areas, especially in the early mornings and towards dusk. The term ‘pademelon’ is used to distinguish rainforest members of the roo family – they are low to the ground to allow for travel through the dense undergrowth.
Local Pademelon Photo: Adam Maund
No one needs to be told what a koala looks like, though it is still rare to see them in the wild. There is a large population at the lower part of the mountain near Wunburra Lookout and another in the Numinbah section of the park.
This is the reptile you are most likely to see during the day on Springbrook. It is a fat black shiny lizard about 40 cm long and the world’s largest skink. It gets its name from the resemblance to a black fish that rows itself along the ground on stumpy legs.
Land Mullet Photo: Adam Maund
If you see a really large, long lizard on Springbrook you can be sure it is a lace monitor. If you hear agitated bird noises in the trees above you, look up – a monitor may be climbing up in search of nests. Or maybe a carpet snake has the same idea.
Lace Monitor Photo: Adam Maund
The carpet snake or python is quite common on Springbrook. It may be found curled up on a walking track, sunning itself on a rock or climbing high in a tree after birds or their eggs. They are not venomous but still to be avoided as they may give you nasty bite.
Carpet Snake (or Python) Photo: Adam Maund
One of the most remarkable features of bird life in Springbrook is the fact that it is entirely or almost entirely confined to native birds and this is one of Springbrook’s greatest charms.
Partly this predominance of native birds is due to the height of the plateau and the fact that it is surrounded by sheer cliffs. It is also due to the lack of any continuous strip of cultivation which might provide an avenue for introduced species to spread up the slopes.
There is an immense variety of birdlife ranging from parrots and cockatoos, bowerbirds, ground feeding birds, aerial feeding birds, birds of prey, waterbirds, pigeons and doves, honeyeaters, whistlers and monarchs, night birds, crows and cuckoos. The most commonly seen and heard during a day visit are listed below.
These midsized green and scarlet parrots are usually found in pairs or family groups but sometimes in groups of up to 20. The female is primarily dull green with a dull red underbody. The male has a bright scarlet head and underbody, blue tail with a lime wing flash.
Young Male King Parrot Photo: Tracie Louise
These birds are slim red and blue parrots very common and often in groups up to 25. They have a wide range of calls from harsh squawks of alarm to excited clatter and resonant bell like notes.
Crimson Rosella Photo: Tracie Louise
Pale Headed Rosella
They have the same slim steamlined shape as the other rosellas but with a pale yellow head and back, pale blue on their belly and wings.
These are slightly smaller multi coloured parrots with a blue head and belly, red and orange chest and green body. Like all lorikeets, given to excitable chatter, their aggressive screeching and lunging puts them high in the parrot pecking order.
Rainbow Lorikeet Photo: Tracie Louise
Bower birds are so-called because the males build and maintain bowers on the ground on the edge of the forest. These are not nests but ornamental bachelor pads complete with a tunnel made of twigs surrounded by a performance space.
All this is designed to lure the females, who will later build a nest high up in a tree and bring up the chicks on their own. These are social birds often forming large loose collectives of 20 or more with perhaps four or five mature males in each.
Male Satin Bower Bird Photo: Adam Maund
A quirky bird! Mid- sized, olive green with black head, black crest, and white cheeks. Most often recognised by the male’s whip crack call and the females answering choo choo. It also has an amiable chuntering mutter as it goes about its they have become accustomed to human presence and feed casually around houses.
Male Whip Bird Photo: Tracie Louise
As the name suggests, this is a friendly plump, yellow chested bird the size of a large sparrow. Like Kookaburras they perch, though on lower vantage spots, on the edge of open areas of ground waiting for the sight of potential food.
Yellow Robin Photo: Tracie Louise
The only finches common on Springbrook, These very small brown and grey birds are distinguished by fiery red patches on their tail and brow. They often travel about in flocks.
The resonant call of the Albert’s lyrebird can often be heard from the lookouts at Springbrook in the morning in spring and early summer. Smaller and much rarer than their southern cousin the Superb lyrebird, they are just as accomplished mimics.
If you stay up on the plateau for a night or two you may see and hear some of our nocturnal residents.
The most common possum on Springbrook is the Mountain Brushtail or Bobuck Possum, a larger and more thuggish cousin of the common brushtail which is so often seen in suburban gardens. A mother possum with her baby riding on her back is a delightful sight.
Possums – Mum and Bub Photo: Tracie Louise
Funnel-shaped holes in the ground indicate that bandicoots or potoroos have been at work overnight. It is difficult to distinguish between the long nose Potoroo and the Northern Brown (short nosed) Bandicoot. The official list shows the bandicoot as present on Springbrook but not the rarer potoroo, though recently there has been plenty of evidence that the potoroo is here as well.
The sugar glider is a nocturnal marsupial with a gliding membrane that stretches between front finger and rear toe. Sugar Gliders live in groups of up to seven adults in a shared nest. They can best be seen at dusk, gliding down from one tree to the base of another or scampering up trunks.
About The Frogs
If you like frogs then Springbrook Moutain is the place for you. There are many frogs in the rock pools and along the myriad small creeks that run through the forest. Some frogs are quite rare and others, abundant.
Cascade Tree Frog (Endangered)
This tiny frog, although listed as ‘endangered’, is fortunately abundant in several Springbrook locations. The delicate Cascade Tree Frog highlights the critical need to keep frog habitats in place and untouched for future generations.
Cascade Tree Frog Photo: Adam Maund
Black Soled Frog (Rare)
This is a large ground dwelling frog found in rainforest and tall eucalypt forest. Unfortunately their numbers are dwindling because of habitat destruction.
Black Soled Frog Photo: Adam Maund
Emerald Spotted Tree Frog
This is a beautiful frog. It has ‘cross’ shaped pupils and is speckled with bright green spots. It is found in many habitats on the mountain
Emerald Spotted Tree Frog Photo: Adam Maund
Tusked Frog (Vulnerable)
Males have tusks which fold out of their mouths when they ‘lock horns’ with other males. Unfortunately, populations of these very interesting frogs are declining.
Tusked Frog Photo: Adam Maund
Red Eyed Tree Frog
One of the favourites. These frogs are mostly active in warmer months. Their loud calls are often heard around the mountain during and after summer rainfall.
Red Eyed Tree Frog Photo: Adam Maund
For more detailed information and photographs see ‘Springbrook – A Visitor’s Guide’ by Colin and Jane Crisp.
A visit today through the national parks of Springbrook will leave you with little doubt to the origin of our first inhabitants. Many of our waterfalls, picnic areas and lookouts bare the original name handed down from the Yugambeh people, the first human inhabitants to appreciate the splendour of the Springbrook Plateau. The Yugambeh people would have considered this region sacred and evidence of their occupation here can be traced back thousands of years.
It is difficult to get detailed information about the first people to wander this area.
In 1906 Springbrook was available under land ballot for selection for the purpose of farming. Parcels of land were selected under a freehold tenure requiring five years personal residence by the selector and certain improvements within a specified time.
Early Settlers Campsite, Purling Brook Falls 1906 Photo: Gold Coast Library
The blocks were graded first and second class, according to fertility and location, with a charge of £2 per acre for first class and £1 per acre for second class blocks. The awesome task of clearing the land was taken up by farmers mainly from around Cobargo, Central Tilba and Bermagui on the south coast of NSW.
In 1906 an access road was still under construction. It was hand built, using pick and shovel, by the prisoners of Boggo Road Jail in Brisbane, under the supervision of the Labour Bureau. In most cases dwellings constructed by the early settlers consisted of slab huts, split or pit-sawn timber from timber on the properties with stringybark roofing.
Provisions had to be bought at Nerang and transported by horse-drawn transport to the junction of Pine Creek Road and the Numinbah Valley Road. From there it all had to be carried on their backs, giving an insight to the reason of naming the last steep pitch of the road known as “Heartbreak Hill.”
Springbrook, known as “Land of the Tall Timber” by timber-getters, was originally called Springwood, but the mail kept being sent to a place of the same name in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, so selectors changed the name to Springbrook in 1907.
Timbergetters 1906 Photo: Gold Coast Library
Dairying was the main farm occupation. A primary school was opened in 1911 and in 1914 a track to Mudgeeraba was upgraded for wheeled traffic. An improved road with lower gradients was built in 1925-28, in time for tourism and guesthouses. The first guesthouse, Rudders opened in 1925 and by the end of the 1930’s there were seven along with cafes and self contained accommodation. A bus also brought visitors from Southport for wholesome holidays at Queensland’s ‘premier mountain resort’.
Until the early 1960’s Springbrook was a tourist drawcard but it went out of fashion in the heyday of beach tourism. By the 1970’s the estimated population was 50 as dairying declined and the school was closed (1971). A revival came in the next decade led by retirees, alternative life stylers and day trippers seeking scenery and local crafts. A new school was built in 1984.