Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Tallebudgera Creek to Burleigh Heads (Gold Coast)


Linking Tallebudgera Creek Conservation Park to Burleigh Heads National Park, the Tallebudgera Creek to Burleigh Heads walk explores a variety of vegetation types close to the Gold Coast. Starting through mangroves at David Fleay Wildlife Park, the trail follows the creek to the rainforests at Burleigh Heads, with excellent views of the Pacific Ocean. A relative easy walk, this is a perfect trail for a late afternoon stroll


Distance: 7.4 km (return with a loop at Burleigh Heads)
Gradient: A mix of relatively level walking and moderate descents and ascents
Quality of Path: Very clear and well maintained bitumenised trail with constructed steps and railings in places as well as boardwalks through the mangroves
Quality of Signage: Unclear until Burleigh Heads National Park. The Tallebudgera Creek Walk Track pdf is essential.
Experience Required: Some Bushwalking Experience Recommended
Time: 2-3 Hours
Steps: Some steps in places
Best Time to Visit: All year round, except after heavy downpours
Entry Fee: No
Getting There: The trail starts at David Fleay Wildlife Park on Loman Lane. From the Pacific Motorway, take Exit 89 onto Tallebudgera Creek Rd and head north along the road. Loman Lane is the first turn off to the right.



With work on the Gold Coast picking up, I was happy to discover that I had Wednesdays off when I received my roster. Inspired by Perth blogger Bree of Nature Mondays to make the most of my wid-week break, I decided to instate Walking Wednesdays and get a couple more walks in before leaving the Gold Coast. After a restful morning, I decided to head out to check out the trail from Tallebudgera Creek to Burleigh Heads. Having been keen to check out Burleigh Heads' walk trails but put off by their short length, a more detailed look online unearthed the Tallebudgera Creek Walk Track which extends the walk to a more decent length of 7.4 kilometres by linking the riverside from David Fleay Wildlife Park to Burleigh Heads National Park.



Having started the walk fairly late in the afternoon, I didn't have time to check out the animals at David Fleay Wildlife Park however I was able to start by following the boardwalk leading through the mangroves that surround the park. Having focused the vast majority of my South East Queensland/Northern New South Wales walking on the rainforests of the hinterland, the chance to walk through mangroves was a welcome change in spite of the general excellence of subtropical rainforest walking.



Following the boardwalk through the mangroves, the trail leads to a section of bitumen path that runs along the edge of David Fleay Wildlife Park. This section of bitumen doesn't last too long, with the trail again leading to another stretch of mangrove-lined boardwalk.



A lookout point along the boardwalk was somewhat overgrown, however a short stroll to the banks of the creek leads to a clearing in the mangroves that provides a perfect vantage point from which to view the water body of Tallebudgera Creek.





After a further stroll along boardwalks, the trail returns to a sustained section of sealed paths as it leaves the vicinity of David Fleay Wildlife Park and enters Tallebudgera Creek Conservation Park. As can be fairly common on the Gold Coast, the trail ahead features a gate that the Department of National Parks is able to lock in times of flooding or dangerous landslips.



Luckily the gate was open on the day I did the trail, however a very prominent sign advised that this is a landslip area and that visitors should walk through without stopping. With fairly clear weather the way was pretty safe, however I can imagine the heavy rains and floods that the Gold Coast receives could make this a fairly dangerous place to be. As with the Wonga Walk in Dorrigo National Park, I can see why sealing the path is more than just a taming of the landscape but an attempt by the Department of National Parks to prevent serious erosion damage.



This stretch of the trail is a pleasant stroll through Eucalypt forest with glimpses of the creek through the trees, and crosses a number of small bridges as it makes its way through the Conservation Reserve.



The trail leads to Ocean Parade where a secondary car park is located. For those looking to do a short walk, David Fleay Wildlife Park to Ocean Parade is a decent 3.2 kilometres of walking, however by passing through a short section of suburbia walkers can reach Burleigh Heads.



I would later discover on my way back that simply crossing the street would have lead me to a set of stairs that provide a shortcut by cutting the corner out of Ocean Parade. Regardless, the next stretch of the walk is a bit boring as it requires hikers to walk through the suburban streets before eventually returning to run along the creek once again.



Turning off Elanora Drive and onto Awoonga Avenue, the walk heads along the paved paths of Kevin Gates Park as it passes the broadest section of Tallbudgera Creek before it flows into the Pacific Ocean. 



While the open nature of the park makes it far from natural, it does serve as a perfect vantage point from which to view the mountains of the Gold Coast Hinterland looming in the background. 



Kevin Gates Park stretches onwards until it reaches Gold Coast Hwy and its bridge over the creek. For the end of the park, the trail runs under the bridge as it enters Burleigh Heads National Park. 



Heading under the bridge, the trail provides lovely views of rocky headlands along the creek. From there it is only a few metres to a large information board advising hikers that they are entering Burleigh Heads National Park while providing excellent information about the short trails in the park. 



Running along the river on a paved path, the trail brought back memories of the Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay Walk in Sydney Harbour National Park (sadly pre-blog days) due to the wooden railings and dense vegetation. 



The trail passes above Echo Beach and provides lovely views of the creek. This beach seemed to be fairly popular with locals as there were many people enjoying an afternoon swim as I walked past. 



My initial plan for Burleigh Heads was to follow the Ocean View Trail that runs closest to the creek and Pacific Ocean. While rainforests are a definite plus, one of the downsides of trails in high rainfall areas is the high frequency of landslip-related track closures, and I was disappointed to find that the Ocean View Trail was closed at the time of my walk. 



With the Ocean View Trail closed, I decided to tackle the 1.7 kilometres Rainforest Circuit to the Tumgun Lookout by using a short section of joining trail that leads up the hill. 



While it was called the Rainforest Circuit, I was nevertheless surprised by how lush and dense the rainforest was being so close to the coast. This is definitely not the kind of forest type you see so close to the ocean in Western Australia! This was also one of the busiest sections of trail I've walked in South East Queensland, with a lot of people out for an afternoon stroll or run. 



Continuing up, I eventually reached the Tumgun Lookout, which provides excellent views of the mouth of Tallebudgera Creek as it flows into the Pacific Ocean.





After enjoying the view, I continued onwards along the Rainforest Circuit as it looped back across the high point of the headlands. 



The walk back along the circuit featured pleasant rainforest walking as it continued back down the hill. 



Reaching the bottom of the hill meant completing the rainforest loop. From here it was a matter of retracing my steps back along the path to Gold Coast Hwy, through Kevin Gates Park and the suburbs and back through Tallebudgera Creek Conservation Reserve to the end of the walk at David Fleay Wildlife Park.



Compared to the epic wildness of the Gold Coast Hinterland, Tallebudgera Creek to Burleigh Heads was a lot more of a suburban walk given that it passes through streets and features a sealed path for most of the trails kilometres. Nevertheless, I found the very varied vegetation of the trail - from mangroves to rainforest - to be very enjoyable. While it would be lower in my rankings for favourite Gold Coast hike considering how spectacular the Hinterland can be, I actually enjoyed it more than the Witches Falls and Witches Chase Trail in Tamborine Mountain. Not an essential walk, but one that is perfect for locals on the Gold Coast who don't have the time to drive out to the mountains but still want to get an enjoyable walk in. 

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