Purling Brook Falls

Springbrook National Park, Queensland, Australia

About Purling Brook Falls

Hiking Distance: 4km round trip (to base)
Suggested Time: 2 hours

Date first visited: 2008-05-10
Date last visited: 2008-05-10

Waterfall Latitude: -28.18999
Waterfall Longitude: 153.27088

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Purling Brook Falls (I’ve also seen it spelled as Purlingbrook Falls) was one of those waterfalls that Julie and I anticipated seeing prior to our visit.

We knew from the pre-trip research that this was one of Queensland’s taller waterfalls as it would dive some 100m off an escarpment into a well-forested base.

Purling_Brook_Falls_052_05092008 - Purling Brook Falls
Purling Brook Falls

The cliff-diving aspect of the falls made this one really stand out as the falls pretty much didn’t make any contact to its cliffs throughout almost all of its entire plunge.

Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who looked forward to coming here because we noticed it seemed to get many visitors.

I’d imagine that the close proximity of the Gold Coast Hinterland to the populated Gold Coast itself had a lot to do with Purling Brook Falls’ popularity.

Experiencing Purling Brook Falls

Our experience with this waterfall consisted of doing half of a 4km circuit track.

We started off by walking along the track following the cliff top to the top of Purling Brook Falls, where we managed to check out the falls from a lookout near its brink.

Purling_Brook_Falls_021_05092008 - Context of Purling Brook Falls from its brink showing the vertical cliffs it plunged off of
Context of Purling Brook Falls from its brink showing the vertical cliffs it plunged off of

From this vantage point, we could look further downstream at the panorama of the lush rainforest below.

We merely walked about 200m from the car park to this lookout so we checked out this top down view of the falls first.

Then, we swung back towards the car park as we continued along the cliffs affording us more angled views of the entirety of the waterfall.

We also examined the bare cliffs giving rise to the Purling Brook Falls.

Clearly, the cliff dropped too precipitously to allow foliage to grow on it, despite getting some of the spray from the waterfall when it would bend with the wind.

Descending to the base of Purling Brook Falls

Purling_Brook_Falls_024_05092008 - Looking back at Purling Brook Falls as we took the trail descending to its base
Looking back at Purling Brook Falls as we took the trail descending to its base

The track continued to lead us away from the falls while eventually making its way into the lush rainforest below over a lone switchback plus some steps.

When we crossed a bridge over a creek, we soon found out that we stood upstream from the brink of Tanninaba Falls.

As the track bent back towards the base of Purling Brook Falls, we then noticed the hidden Tanninaba Falls itself, which we couldn’t see.

However, we did hear it loudly as its waters would crash within a crack in the cliffs that prevented us from seeing the falls from the track.

Therefore, we certainly couldn’t photograph this waterfall, and we had to be content with its audible (as opposed to visual) presence.

Purling_Brook_Falls_035_05092008 - Looking up at the unusual Tanninaba Falls, which we could hear but couldn't really see
Looking up at the unusual Tanninaba Falls, which we could hear but couldn’t really see

Continuing downhill beyond the Tanninaba Falls, the track eventually led us right to the base of the impressive Purling Brook Falls.

More Characteristics of Purling Brook Falls

Like many of Australia’s waterfalls, we noticed hints of basalt columns suggesting the volcanic origins of the area.

But given the waterfall’s somewhat light flow compared to some other photos I had seen in the literature (especially considering this area had a flood just a few months ago), I reckon this waterfall wouldn’t last completely through the Dry Season.

Heck, it might not even have lasted another month after our May 2008 visit.

Indeed, this waterfall would probably perform best during the summer months of the Wet Season when monsoonal downpours would give the Little Nerang Creek a lot of life.

Purling_Brook_Falls_055_05092008 - Julie standing on the trail going around the base of Purling Brook Falls
Julie standing on the trail going around the base of Purling Brook Falls

We were able to walk behind the impressively tall plunging waterfall as the track took advantage of the overhanging cliff that gave rise to the plunging characteristic of the falls in the first place.

This overhanging property definitely suggested that the Purling Brook Falls had been in the advanced stages of its formation (and certainly prone to receding further back from its present position).

In any case, we couldn’t proceed much further beyond the backside of the falls because a landslide prevented further progress on the walking cicuit (undoubtedly caused by the flooding that occurred in the previous Summer just prior to our visit).

Thus, we had to turn around and our hike went from a 4km walking loop into a 4km out-and-back return hike.


Purling Brook Falls resides in the Springbrook National Park near the Gold Coast, Queensland. It is administered by the State of Queensland Department of Environment and Science. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Purling_Brook_Falls_015_05092008 - Panoramic view of the rainforest looking downstream from the top of Purling Brook Falls
Purling_Brook_Falls_018_05092008 - Looking towards the Purling Brook Falls from the other side of its top
Purling_Brook_Falls_030_05092008 - Looking down at Purling Brook Falls from the walking track leading to its base
Purling_Brook_Falls_033_05092008 - On the track to the base of Purling Brook Falls
Purling_Brook_Falls_034_05092008 - Julie continuing on the track to the base of Purling Brook Falls as it continued descending into the rainforest
Purling_Brook_Falls_015_jx_05092008 - Walking besides some interesting fig trees within the rainforest as we made our way to the base of Purling Brook Falls
Purling_Brook_Falls_037_05092008 - Julie approaching the base of Purling Brook Falls
Purling_Brook_Falls_042_05092008 - Looking up at the Purling Brook Falls from its base
Purling_Brook_Falls_069_05092008 - Looking across the base of Purling Brook Falls towards the landslide that prevented further progress on the walking circuit
Purling_Brook_Falls_072_05092008 - As we were walking back to the car, we noticed more buttressed fig trees like this one
Purling_Brook_Falls_075_05092008 - Looking over the top of Tanninaba Falls
Purling_Brook_Falls_076_05092008 - Looking down at the context of Purling Brook Falls when the clouds started showing up

In our minds, the most straightforward route to get to Purling Brook Falls would be to start from the Gold Coast then work your way up to Springbrook National Park.

Starting from Robina Towne Centre exit on the M1 (Pacific Motorway) in the Gold Coast, take the roundabout going right onto Regency Pl (note, I’m assuming you’re going south on the M1).

Then, at the next roundabout, take the first exit left onto Hwy 99 (starting off as Railway St then becoming the Gold Coast-Springbrook Rd).

Follow Hwy 99 for just under 25km before turning left onto Forestry Rd, where there was a signpost leading us to the car park for the falls.

Overall, this 37km drive would take under an hour.

Julie and I actually came to this waterfall from the Natural Bridge (also part of Springbrook National Park).

From there, we headed north on the Nerah-Murwillumbah Rd for 15km.

Then, we turned right onto Pine Creek Rd and took it for about 7.2km before making another right onto Springbrook Rd.

We then followed Springbrook Rd south for about 5km turning left onto Forestry Rd (there are signs here at this point).

This turnoff led us to the proper car park.

For context, Gold Coast was 78km (about an hour drive) south of Brisbane and 94km (over an hour drive) north of Byron Bay. We actually stayed in Surfers Paradise, which was a resorty area by the beach within the Gold Coast.

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Fixated on the falls from the top

Fixated on the falls from an overlook letting you see the entire thing

Bottom up sweep from the base of the falls to its top. Notice the basalt columns behind the falls.

Right to left sweep from behind the falls.

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Tagged with: springbrook, national park, gold coast, brisbane, hinterland, tanninaba falls, purlingbrook, queensland, australia, waterfall

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Purlingbrook Falls, Gold Coast, Australia in flood Feb 2012 June 3, 2012 5:44 am by Alan Maxwell - I took this shot after heavy floods on the Springbrook plateau in the gold coast hinterland. The power and sound of the falls was amazing. ...Read More
Have a swim (Purling Brook Falls) March 3, 2012 11:36 pm by Jeremy Nicholls - Just letting everyone know that after you walk under the falls (or just before depending which way you walked) there is an amazing swimming hole with its own little waterfall that you can jump off. There is a path the whole way and is a beautiful walk ...Read More
Purlingbrook Falls April 7, 2009 11:38 am by Chris L - I just wanted to add a shot I took of Purlingbrook Falls after recent heavy rain. Also, "Purlingbrook" is actually one word in the name of the falls, and two words (Purling Brook) in the name of the stream. I'm not sure who came up with that idea. The falls do generally flow year-round, although… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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