Natural Bridge ~ Springbrook National Park
Located just 35 minutes scenic drive from Murwillumbah you'll find the rock archway known as Natural Bridge. Behind the Bridge the mountain-fed waters of Cave Creek form a waterfall which plunges through the roof of a cave into a sparkling pool below, which then flows into the Nerang River and down the Numinbah Valley. At night the forest and caves are alight with the largest glow-worm colony in Australia ~ a must-see for visitors and locals alike.
Surrounding the creek is dense sub-tropical rainforest. To the east, towering cliff faces form the edge of Springbrook Plateau. Visitors come to see the rock formation, stroll along the rainforest paths, picnic in the surrounds or swim in the chilling waters of the cavern's recesses.
How to Get There
Natural bridge is located on the Numinbah Valley road between Nerang and Murwillumbah, about 3 km north of the border gate. If travelling from Brisbane down the Pacific Highway, you can turn off at Nerang (43 km to the park) or at Mudgeeraba (42 km to the park via Springbrook Plateau).
If travelling from Murwillumbah then take the Nerang Road through Crystal Creek. The scenic access roads are winding and should be travelled with care, however the views are stunning and well worth the effort. Mini-bus tours run to the park from the Gold Coast and Murwillumbah.
If you're planning to stay longer in the area, then take a look at some of the peaceful and beautiful accommodation for either short of long-term stays by clicking HERE.
Once home to the Kalibah Aboriginal people, the Natural Bridge area remained untouched by European settlement until it was discovered by timber-getters, probably in 1893.
Magnificent trees felled in the area included a giant red cedar taken in 1893 from near Natural Bridge. A huge section of this was displayed at the Paris World Fair.
By the end of the 1920s, large areas of Numinbah Valley had been cleared and dairy farms were expanding.
In 1922 Natural Bridge was declared a Recreation and Scenic Reserve. Upgraded to a National Park in 1959, it now forms part of Springbrook National Park.
How the Natural Bridge Formed
The huge volcano centred over the present Mount Warning was erupting about 23 million years ago, pouring out layer upon layer of hard volcanic rocks. The Numinbah Valley resulted from the erosion of a north-flowing stream on the northern flank of the volcano.
The Natural Bridge was formed at the junction of one basalt layer and a softer volcanic layer beneath called agglomerate. The lower, softer layer was undercut at the base of a waterfall, forming a deep cavern. At the same time, the circular motion of boulders in the stream above had formed a deep pool. The drilling action deepened the pool until it broke through the cavern roof, allowing the stream to plunge through the hole and out through the cave below.
Personalised one-on-one art classes by renowned local
artist Barbara Suttie by advance arrangement at Your Accommodation
Profusion of Plants
On the deep deposits of rich volcanic soil grows the dense lowland subtropical rainforest of Natural Bridge. This is only a small remnant of rainforest once widespread in the Numinbah Valley.
The forest canopy is a mosaic of many tree species. Fruit from some including figs, lillipillies and blackbeans were used by the Aborigines for food. The large, poisonous seeds of the blackbean were specially treated before being roasted and eaten.
Below the canopy, the rainforest shelters a diversity of ferns, vines and epiphytes such as orchids and staghorns.
At early morning and dusk the rainforest is busy with wildlife. Small wallabies called pademelons are often seen feeding at the rainforest edge. Birds such as eastern yellow robins and eastern whipbirds can be seen darting through the lower levels of the rainforest. Often heard, but not easily seen, are green cat-birds, common koels and wompoo fruit doves which feed in the lofty heights of the dark green canopy.
During the day brush turkeys and goannas are commonly seen near the picnic areas. The brush turkey, a large black bird with a bright red head and yellow collar, builds a mound of rotting vegetation to incubate its eggs.
The park comes alive with a variety of fruit-eating birds during spring and summer. Flocks of scaly breasted and rainbow lorikeets noisily descend upon the brightly flowering blackbean trees.
As night closes in, mountain brushtail possums, sugar gliders and bandicoots begin to quietly feed and forage. The solitary call of the boobook owl echoes through the forest.
Natural Bridge is well known for the colony of thousands of glow worms found in the cavern's roof. These glow worms, larvae of the fungus fly, produce a light to attract insects into their sticky spun webs. The colony at Natural Bridge is generally considered the largest of its kind in Australia.
Smoke from cigarettes or fires can kill glow worms - please do not expose them to it.
Things To Do
Enjoy the 1km circuit track, which branches to the left and leads past a lookout and across the creek below the bridge. A short side track leads into the cave. An easy climb up the hill brings you to the Natural Bridge. If you prefer a shorter walk take the tracks' right branch down a gentle grade to the bridge. Please note there is no longer access over the Natural Bridge. It can still be viewed from the tracks on either side.
Visit at night with a small, quiet group. With torches you may see possums, spiders and frogs. Experience the "miniature galaxy" created by thousands of glow worms in the cavern roof.
Examine from above and below the natural wonder of the unique rock bridge.
Visit the forest at dawn to see and hear the birds at their best.
Toilets, water and electric pay barbecues are provided. As the park can be very crowded, it is best to be self-sufficient with your own gas bbq and portable table.
Graded walking tracks allow easy walking for all.
A display stand at the beginning of the walking track has maps and information about the park and its wildlife.
An annual rainfall of 1500mm falls during the hot, humid summer. Winter days are often clear and crisp, but it may be cool at any time of the year.
Camping is not permitted in the park, but accommodation is available through the hinterland and down into New South Wales at Crystal Creek.
Caring for the Park
Lamington National Park
This spectacular natural treasure covers 20,500 hectares in the McPherson Range along the QLD/NSW border. More than 150kms of well-graded walking tracks reveal many wonders - jagged mountain peaks, steep gorges, lush valleys, delicate rainforest gardens of ferns and orchids, hundreds of waterfalls, spectacular views and bird life. Two centres have been developed for recreation and access to the park - Binna Burra and Green Mountains. The southern end of the park is undeveloped and suitable only for keen, well equipped and experienced walkers.
As you enter the Binna Burra recreation area, visit the information centre for maps and brochures on self guiding nature walks. Both short and day walks are available. The 1km rainforest circuit or 2km Bellbird Lookout walks are ideal for people with limited time. A senses trail for visually impaired visitors offers a unique and fascinating experience.
The Border Track is the backbone of the track system, and full day walks include the Dave's Creek circuit and the Coomera River circuit. Campsites are not provided by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, but the privately run resort operates a kiosk and a camping ground. Backpack camping for the more adventurous is allowed by permit, except during Christmas holidays. Telephone the ranger on (07) 55 33 3584.
Walking is also the best way to explore Green Mountains, and a track guide is available from the Ranger Station at the picnic grounds. Two delightful short walks are Python Rock (suitable for wheelchairs and strollers) and Moran's falls. The Border Track, linking Green Mountain to Binna Burra, provides access to longer walks such as Blue Pool (10km return), Box Forest (11km circuit), and the Albert River circuit (21km return). Green Mountain is renowned for its bird life, including King Parrots, Crimson Rosellas and the Regent and Satin Bower Birds.
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