The Coomera Circuit is within Lamington National Park, which is part of the Scenic Rim, a group of forested mountain ranges formed by volcanic activity in south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern NSW. The national park is also part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, which includes an extensive area of subtropical rainforest. The park is divided into two sections: Binna Burra on the eastern side and Green Mountains on the western side of the Lamington Plateau; the Border Track links these two sections by foot. The Border Track also forms a significant part of the Queensland “Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk” (not a walk I would recommend, as it involves a long section of road linking two sections of the bushwalk.)
Lamington National Park has over 150km of trails (largely constructed during the Great Depression) that were designed by Romeo Lahey. There are references to Lahey laying out these trails based on his observations of dairy cow movements on the surrounding hills, with their paths never having a gradient of greater than 1:10 [source: Wikipedia]. While I haven’t found primary evidence of this, it is noticeable when hiking that the paths are never steep, and often “zig zag” endlessly up the side of steeper peaks.
It’s been just over eight years since my last hike in Lamington National Park, so I’m taking the opportunity to squeeze in a walk before an IT conference that’s being held on the Gold Coast. Being easier to get to Binna Burra (it’s 30min less driving than Green Mountains), I awake early and I’m on the track by 7:15am. I’m starting with the Coomera Circuit, which is regarded as one of the best walks in this section and takes in a number of the 400 waterfalls that are in Lamington NP. It was rated as one of the best day walks in Australia by Australia Geographic.
The tracks are well made, and I’m travelling at least as fast as a cow as I leave the Binna Burra track head.
The Coomera Circuit trail soon branches off to the right (the Border Track goes straight ahead), and descends into the Coomera Gorge. The first waterfall, at the 5.4km mark, is the most impressive. Coomera Falls has a drop of 64m, below a viewing platform 160m above the gorge.
The track continues through rain forest as it follows the Coomera River, ascending gradually (the Coomera Falls lookout is the lowest point of the walk, at 695m above sea level). The vegetation is lush and it’s cool on the track, with a number of smaller side waterfalls. Fortunately, there are no leeches!
The next falls are the Gwongorenda Falls and Goorinya Falls. My pace is now slowing, as I stop to take photos every few hundred metres.
Another ten minutes and down a short side-track is the Bahnamboola Falls, which cascades into a deep pool.
Next, there’s Kagoonya Falls and the smaller Gwongarragong Falls, both of them quite different but all of them very picturesque.
Mercifully, as my progress has now slowed considerably (I’m well below cow-speed, despite the very gradual ascent) with the constant photo-stops, there’s 500m or so before my next step. Moolgoolong Cascades are small, but drop into a large and still pool.
A bit further on, I reach the junction with the Border Track, having walked 10.6km. It’s still early in the day, so rather than turning left and returning via the Border Track, I turn right and continue further. It’s about another kilometre to the next junction, where I leave the Border Track and join the Hobwee Circuit (I’m now about half-way to O’Reillys Guesthouse, at the Green Mountains end of the track). The thick rainforest has been replaced by more open wet sclerophyll forest.
A side-track leads to Dacelo Lookout, with views over the Byron Shire. Mount Warning is the highest peak, directly ahead in the distance (another good hike).
The Mount Hobwee Circuit track gradually ascends to the summit of Mount Hobwee, which is the highest point of the walk at 1,164m. There is no view, so I take a photo of the sign, eat my chocolate bar (it’s lunch time) and continue on my way.
I add one more side-trip to my walk, taking the Wagawn Track (4km return) out to Mt Wagawn. There’s again no view from the Mt Wagawn summit (1,015m), but a rough track that leads down the ridge from the summit provides some views to the south. (According to my map, the track should continue down the ridge to Bushrangers Cave, but the track peters out, and I don’t have the energy to bush-bash down to the cave. Post-walk research reveals that the cave is best visited by starting from the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road, at the bottom of the ridge.)
From here, it’s back to the starting point… I’ve walked 18km and it’s more or less all downhill from here. From the Wagawn Track I re-join the Hogwee Circuit, and then I’m back on the Border Track. There’s one more nice view from the Joalah Lookout, this time out over the Woggunba Valley and the Springbrook National Park beyond.
I’m almost back… another 5km and I arrive back at the car, finishing the walk at 1:15pm and in time to get to my afternoon meetings in the Gold Coast – and a well-earned beer!
Accommodation in Lamington National Park
There are two guesthouses that are within the Lamington National Park: Binna Burra Lodge and O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Although they are about 22km by foot via the “Border Track”, by car it’s a 64km (1.5 hour) drive between them. Both offer a range of rainforest walks – but if you are doing the Coomera Circuit and want to get an early start, you need to stay at Binna Burra Lodge – or there’s some accommodation options around Beechmont, which is about a 15min drive.
More information on Coomera Circuit
There are many hikes at both “ends” of Lamington National Park – Binna Burra and O’Reillys (Green Mountains). The Coomera Circuit above combines a few walks to form a longer cicuit. The QLD Pakrs Lamington National Park has information on the many short and long walks you can do.