Walking the Warrie Circuit | A guide to Springbrook’s best walk

If you’ve made it out to the Gold Coast, hopefully you know that the ‘Goldie’, as it’s affectionately known, is more than just surf and sand, and boasts a lush sub-tropical rainforest, just a few kilometres away in the Hinterland. At its heart is Springbrook, a gorgeous area which is filled to almost bursting with gushing waterfalls, delicious fudge (more on that later), and some of the best walking trails on the east coast of Australia. And the crowning glory? The Warrie Circuit.

Warrie Circuit - James climbing over tree

What is it? The Warrie Circuit is a 17km ‘tadpole’ walk in Springbrook National Park which sees you take in between 6-9 waterfalls depending on the route and day. You’ll also find yourself face to face with a plethora of lizards, beautiful birds and – if you’re lucky – a possum or two.

How to get to the Warrie Circuit, Springbrook

Whether you’re coming from Brisbane, the Gold Coast or even Sydney in New South Wales, take Exit 79 off the Pacific Motorway and wind your way down Springbrook Road for about 27-28km. You’ll need to turn off Springbrook Road onto Boy-Ull Road at a sign that shows ’02. Canyon Lookout’, which you’ll follow until you see a small parking lot on your righthand side.

Canyon lookout, Springbrook National Park

Key stats on the Warrie Circuit

Distance: Officially just over 17km, most hikers will tell you it’s between 14.5 – 15km depending on their GPS. Ours measured 14.5 km

Difficulty: It’s graded a ‘4’ by Springbrook standards which makes it a strenuous hike. However, we would say it’s a moderate level hike since it doesn’t have any technical climbing

Elevation: 836m

Total Climb: 2375m

Trail type: Generally well maintained dirt tracks that are easy to navigate. We encountered a few fallen trees and branches but these didn’t pose a huge problem.

Sun exposure: Much of the trail is shaded, which means it can get quite cool in the winter months. Either way, always wear sunscreen!

What to expect at the Warrie Circuit

Now, the Warrie Circuit is no walk in the park. This is a long hike of between 4-6 hours depending on fitness, pace and how many stops you make. While the first half is slightly easy-going, the second half is a gradual uphill with heaps of switchbacks, so you’ll need to be fighting fit.

There is even a sign at the start which warns you sternly not to undertake the hike without considerable thought. You’ll notice that it says not to attempt the hike after 11am, and it’s sound advice. We started at 11am and it was getting dusky by the time we returned.

Once you’ve laced up those cheap hiking boots and packed your day bag, you’ll start the walk at the Canyon Lookout which is an absolutely amazing viewpoint, looking out across – you guessed it – the canyon. This is the best view from the entire hike so we recommend you really take it in.

Canyon Lookout Springbrook

From here, you’ll start what is both the Warrie and the Twin Falls circuit. The Twin Falls hike is an easy 4km round trip which you could attempt if you’re not feeling up to the Warrie itself. And, if you are doing the Warrie, its well-known that you should do it counter-clockwise. Essentially, turn right at the Canyon lookout.

Once you head out, you’ll very quickly come to your first waterfalls, the Twin Falls, which are usually quite interesting although were quite dry when we arrived. That said, your next stop – Rainbow Falls – is pretty amazing.

Rainbow Falls is one of three waterfalls on this trek where you walk behind the falling waterfall. This is an incredible experience if you’re there in wet season – the stuff hikers’ dreams are made of.

After Rainbow Falls, you’ll continue downhill until you reach some very interesting rock formations (see pic below), as well as a heap of other falls on the way which, depending on rainfall, could be good places to stop for a snack – Goomoolahra Falls and Ngarri-dhum Falls.

Along the way we saw a number of different animals, so be on the lookout and vigilant! We spotted skinks (black-coloured, scaly lizards) just chilling in our path, we think we found a red-bellied black snake (it was a little quick for our liking!), and we of course saw many different birds including some mischievous turkeys! If you’re very lucky, you might spot a possum (we saw one later that evening) or a carpet python.

After Ngarri-dhum falls it’s probably the most ‘boring’ (if that can really even be uttered about this magnificent hike) stretch as you plod on until you reach what is just beyond the halfway mark: the Meeting of the Waters.

It is literally where a number of rivers and creeks converge and is the perfect place to stop for a spot of well-earned lunch. We spent quite a long time there – about 45 minutes – since wanted to fly our drone and capture some footage. Unfortunately since the GPS signal wasn’t strong, we just got the pretty pictures below.

From here, you’re onto the most ‘challenging’ part of the hike – uphill with switchbacks. Now when we say uphill, to be honest this is really a gentle, gradual uphill that didn’t pose too many problems. However, we wanted to finish our hike since were keen on an early dinner and so the uphill was a bit much for us, since we went at it with a frenetic pace.

The remainder of the trail sees you do a number of switchbacks (hiking lingo for ‘zigzags’), and you can stop at even more waterfalls, since the Warrie loop trail has them in droves! It includes the Gooroolba Falls, Poonyahra Falls and Blackfellows Falls – the last one is apparently spectacular in rainy season since, like Rainbow Falls, you walk behind it and skirt the tall cliff face.

Blackfellow Falls

You’re then onto the home stretch where you should actually take a minutes to admire the view, as there are three viewpoints to take you back to the parking lot, each offering sweeping views of the valley below.

When to visit the Warrie Circuit

Well, this really depends. In the Australian summer months (November – February), you’ll have easy walking conditions in that the paths will be dry and easy to navigate. However, the waterfalls and rivers – a key part of the hike – won’t really be too spectacular.

In the winter months of June-August, the paths can get a little slippery and muddy, but the waterfalls will be jaw-dropping.

Entrance fee for the Warrie Circuit

Nada, nothing, none! It’s absolutely free of charge to walk the Warrie Circuit and no permits are needed.

Warrie Circuit Map

Now unfortunately Google Maps doesn’t have the necessary detail to help you along, although the path is well marked! Our solution? Use maps.me! They have offline maps that you download free of charge to your phone, and this helps you navigate even without internet (which is pretty spotty or non-existent on the hike).

Either way, we’ve included a map showcasing the parking area and starting point below.

What to pack for the Warrie Circuit

Of course this does depend a little on when you do the hike. If in rainy season, pack your rain jacket/poncho, shoes with good grip and warmer clothing, especially since it gets very cool as most of the hike is shaded.

If in summer, sunscreen is a must.

  • Sturdy hiking boots. It goes without saying – this is not one for sneakers or flip flops. Wear proper shoes that are – if possible – waterproof.
  • Sunscreen. Come rain or shine, Australian sun is harsh on the skin. Wear sunscreen.
  • Swimming gear. You can swim at the Meeting of the Waters, or even the bigger waterfalls if they are full.
  • Camera. You’ll get some amazing photos on this hike, but pack a dry bag if you want close-ups of the falls in rainy season
  • Water. We should probably put this first. You need quite a bit of water for this hike, especially on the switchbacks at the tailend.
  • Snacks. There are no shops or stores on the trail and the nearby café was closed when we set off, so bring your own snacks.

Where to stay in Springbrook

There are a few small hotels and properties in Springbrook but the best of the bunch is undoubtedly the marvellous Mouses House.

Think fairytale-inspired cabins dotted across a forest of towering trees; the suites are even named after characters like the Wicked Witch, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – we stayed in the brilliantly-named Bashful.

The cabins are absolutely decadent. They are beautifully appointed with high-end Miele appliances, an incredibly well-equipped kitchen, a sumptuously soft bed (what a great night’s sleep!), a fireplace, barbeque and ours even had its own hot tub, perched to look out onto the nearby trees.

You’re presented with an iPad with gives you everything you need, including video instructions for the TV and it’s never-ending supply of blockbuster movies; and a list of must-do things in the area.

And the crowning glory? One of the owners, Wayne, is a trained chef. It’s his passion for food that really shows through in the gorgeous food baskets – we ordered a BBQ basket that had our tastebuds singing after we threw a few pieces on the grill.

Check the latest prices on Mouses House Springbrook here.

Bonus: More activities in Springbrook

Best of All Lookout

Actually, there are a number of beautiful viewpoints and walks around Springbrook including the Wunburra Lookout, Tallanbana Picnic Area, Gold Coast Lookout and the Natural Bridge. But the best of them all is actually named as such: The Best of All Lookout!

Head down to the end of Repeater Station Road, park up and walk about 300m to this lookout. There are also some 2000 year old Antarctic Beech trees to marvel at along the way!

On the day we went there was unfortunately a lot of haze, but we think it’s a great picture nonetheless.

Purlingbrook Falls

A few kilometres from the Warrie Circuit is Purling Brook Falls, the second highest waterfall in all of Queensland. You can either just park and check it out from the lookout point (our aching legs meant we did just that), or you can take a brisk walk down the valley to do the Purling Brook Falls Circuit (4km return) and see the base of this 109m high waterfall, before heading to the picnic area.

Natural Bridge and Glow Worms

Near all the main attractions is a natural ‘arch’ called the Natural Bridge. Here you’ll find a cave which you can find yourself sharing the atmosphere with glow worms! We didn’t have time to check it out, but apparently it’s a cool thing to see.

The Fudge Shop

Maybe you don’t think eating fudge is an activity, but you would be wrong! The Fudge Shop makes the ‘best fudge in the Gold Coast’ – self-proclaimed but after tasting it, we couldn’t agree more. The shop presents everything from their award-winning Lemon Meringue fudge, to usual favourites like Caramel Macadamia, Rocky Road and Malteser flavours. Or, for the more outlandish, the Orgasmic fudge packs a orange-flavoured punch.

What camera equipment and other gear do we use?

We’re living proof that you don’t need the most expensive gear to travel the world and take good photos. Here are some of our must have items that make it into the packing list for all our travels.

FAQs: Warrie Circuit and Springbrook

Should I be worried about bush fires in Springbrook?

In essence: No.

The Springbrook area is in the Gold Coast hinterland which, unlike most of Queensland, enjoys cool, slightly wet conditions. This usually means that the area is well-protected from fires. That said, of course bush fires are always a potential threat in Australia so it’s worth always checking with the relevant authorities or, potentially more useful would be to contact the accommodation providers in the area.

Before we visited Springbrook, we were under major assumptions that there might be uncontrolled bush fires in the entire area, much of this fuelled by media speculation. It couldn’t have been further from the truth – there had been no incidents in the area and there was nothing to worry about at all. Chatting to locals, it seems that this kind of media coverage really hurts the tourism of what is a gorgeous corner of the Australian countryside, and you should always check the facts and not think twice about booking a room in this incredible national park.

However, make sure you are always fire smart – follow the rules that are set out for the area.

Can you fly a drone in Springbrook National Park?

At time of writing, yes. Queensland has some of the most relaxed rules around drone (UAV) usage in Australia and you are allowed to fly your drone as long as you observe all of the usual rules created by the authorities, like those available from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

We also spoke to a few locals in the area, who have flown their drones at the Canyon Lookout. It’s worth checking the latest rules before you fly though.

Hope you enjoyed this Warrie Circuit review, if any of the information has changed, or if you would like any advice get in touch here or let us know in the comments below.

Disclosure: We truly enjoyed the hospitality of Destination Gold Coast and Mouse’s House, who offered us sponsored accommodation in Springbrook. However, the views expressed here are really our own – we had an incredible time and would highly recommend the circuit and this breathtaking property.

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Warrie Circuit - Complete Guide

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  1. Joanne Lau
    15th January 2021 / 4:08 am

    Contrary to what the article says the Warrie Circuit is actually full of water in the Summer months as it is the wet season with storms from Dec to March. It is dry in June to October. I hiked it yesterday and Ngarri-Dhum Falls was spectacular with the twin falls cascading. There are some rock slides and the waters are high so negotiating these require caution. So beautiful, green and lots of water snd leeches.

    • James & Lee
      15th January 2021 / 12:46 pm

      Thanks so much for the valuable feedback Joanne! We walked in November 2019 and it was desperately dry, but must have picked up the wrong information about dry/wet season – we will update accordingly.