Springbrook Twin Falls Circuit, Mar 2021

Summary: Superlative short bushwalk with good rainforest birds

Date of visit: March 2, 2021

Springbrook lies in the Gold Coast hinterland in South-East Queensland, about half an hour from the main highway. It’s a little slice of heaven at high altitude, featuring several stunning lookouts and superlative waterfall-strewn bushwalks, and is much quicker to access than the big Lamington NP sites like Binna Burra and O’Reilly’s. Twin Falls Circuit is certainly one of the finest of the walks you’ll find here.

Astonishingly, Google Maps Streetview lets you see nearly all points along this loop walk, so you can get a good idea of what the track is like before you go. Of course, it’s much better in person than in photographs, especially on a super-sunny day!

Springbrook is a town (as well as a locality, and the name of the associated National Park…), albeit a very small town, with just a handful of streets and a couple of accommodation options. The best spot to park is near Canyon Lookout, or failing that, close by along Canyon Parade. When I arrived here with my bushwalking (non-birder!) companion at about 6:10am, the sun had been up about half an hour and the views from this lookout all the way to the Gold Coast skyline were incredible.

A Satin Bowerbird was very prominent on a power line above the road, reminding me of the elevation we were at here and the pristinely natural feel of this location. The scene was set for some excellent birding… I hoped.

As you can see from the trail map, this circuit makes a very thin shape. Basically you start by walking along the top of the cliff-line, then descend to part way down the mountain, and traverse across again at the base of the cliff line – this description is true regardless of which direction you tackle the trail. We chose to go clockwise, and a cute Brown Thornbill was one of many smaller birds in the low bush along the start of the track near the road, while Rainbow Lorikeet, Lewin’s Honeyeater and Black-Faced Cuckooshrike were spied up above.

As we descended we could see along the sun-lit cliff-line, though soon after the dense forest created some serious shade and the trail became very, very dark. Birding was tough in these conditions with most photos being too blurry for use – notable subjects here being Yellow-Throated Scrubwren and a pair of squabbling Rufous Fantails. A Grey Shrikethrush provided the most substantial photographic encounter but I was also hoping to get closer to one of the Crimson Rosellas I was glimpsing.

The first of the big waterfalls then loomed ahead and the rock bed underneath the gushing water made for a suitably dramatic scene. It was time to tuck the camera into the jacket to protect it from the spray!

Not long after the waterfall an Eastern Yellow popped into the sunlight for some nice (if high-contrast) poses. You can always rely on Eastern Yellow Robins, they’re found in plenty of different types of forest and often near eye level, as they like to spy and pounce down on insects and other prey from these vantage points.

Some days when you’re birding in the rainforest – but definitely not all! – you’re lucky enough to spot the Catbird that is making the distinctive wailing call, and today was one such day.

There are some rocky sections along the track with overhanging cliff structures. The path itself is usually straightforward to follow, but you will need to watch your footing at times. Turn-offs for the much longer Warrie Circuit are suitably sign-posted.

Finally I got a better look at a Crimson Rosella. For some reason I always think of them (or the Eastern Rosella) as the bird on the Arnott’s biscuit packets, but that bird is a Scarlet Macaw, totally not Australian.

It has to be mentioned that due to all the water and mud that can occur along this trail, there is a good chance you’ll pick up a leech or two (or more). I constantly checked my legs and footwear and brushed off a couple off my shoes before they could work their way down into my socks. Be warned!

The waterfall at the southern edge of the circuit – named Twin Falls – soon came into view and looked very pretty. Again you can (actually, you must if you want to continue along the track) pass behind it, giving ridiculously photogenic views of the forest through the veils of cascading water.

The day we were there the track back up to Springbrook Road was closed, which meant retracing our steps. On the way back we were lucky enough to catch a couple of Logrunners busily scratching through leaf litter and they seemed unbothered by an audience. Paradise Riflebird calls were heard but those birds remained unseen.

Another Eastern Yellow Robin and a Lewin’s Honeyeater gulping down a berry or two provided further birdy interest. A Brown Gerygone and Brown Cuckoo-Dove were then added to the checklist, though photos were poor for these birds. Others have seen Albert’s Lyrebird in this area so I was keeping an eye out for that, without luck.

Arriving back at our starting point at Canyon Lookout left us feeling immensely satisfied, though also relieved not to have to check for leeches any more. On the drive back down to the Gold Coast, road works had closed off the main route (the Gold Coast-Springbrook Road) and we were forced to detour up and around the northern side of Hinze Dam, which added a decent chunk of extra time.

Twin Falls Circuit offers superlative bushwalking and quite good birding. Much of the lower part of the track traverses steep mountainside, so you’re often looking across into the mid-canopy of the trees below, which partly helps to offset the usual difficulties of dense forest birding (low light being the main one, though this bush is mostly not quite full-on rainforest). Being a short loop (you can add on the 14km Warrie Circuit if you’re feeling super-energetic…), you can take your time and soak up the atmosphere and the sounds and sights of this intensely natural forest.

eBird
Hotspot: Springbrook National Park–Twin Falls Circuit (82 species)
Checklist for this visit: Mar 2, 2021 (25 species)

Pluses and minuses:
+ Superb rainforest with two waterfalls you can walk behind
+ Amazing scenic views
+ Good birds including some rainforest species
– Can get a little dicey (wet/uneven) underfoot
– Mud and leeches
– Circuit might be a little too short for some

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