December 9, 2019

The Mouses House Rainforest Retreat and Exploring Springbrook National Park as a Family

My family love nothing more than experiencing and exploring nature together. It’s the one place where we ALL feel the most relaxed and connected as a family unit, wide open spaces and natural beauty gives us the opportunity to learn together and create lasting memories. It was my husband that first suggested we travel to Springbrook National Park after he came across some photographs of an amazing retreat set amongst the Rainforest – this magical place is called The Mouses House and it quickly became our magical home base from which we could explore everything Springbrook has to offer families.

About The Mouses House Rainforest Retreat

Before I go into detail about our adventures around Springbrook, I would love the opportunity to tell you all about The Mouses House Rainforest Retreat, a magical retreat that is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in our past travels. When I first contacted them (via the phone) it was to enquire if they actually catered for families as a lot of their online images were of couples on romantic escapes. I was happy to learn that in fact they do welcome families and I was pleased to hear that a lot of couples who stay will often return with their own children to share it’s magic.

Our home away from home. Bashful.

The Mouses House has 13 enchanting chalets all nestled within the Rainforest. Miss 8 was so excited to learn that they are each named after Disney characters, making us all feel like we just stepped into our own fairytail land. We were warmly greeted by Anthony, who quickly acknowledged and welcomed each of our children with the same warmth and enthusiasm as ourselves. Miss 8 was quickly given charge of our chalet’s Mini iPad which acts as your own concierge! We found all the information we needed on it, everything from the walking tracks, lookouts, cafes and all the info about the retreat and it’s facilities like the sauna, hot tub and tennis court…it even had a great video tutorial on how to start your fire!

We stayed in the ‘Bashful’ chalet and it swiftly felt like our home away from home. We felt so cosy and almost isolated from the outside world, which felt AMAZING! Only once did we cross paths with other guests who were on their way to enjoy the Hot Tub and Sauna. The chalets are fitted with everything you need to cook and prepare meals, we brought all of our food with us and took advantage of the private Weber BBQ on our deck – with a Roasted Lamb Rack being the highlight.

After posting some photos on my private Facebook page I had a lot of friends ask WHY we would want to bring the kids to such a secluded and romantic location, where we mad??? lol. To be honest we would have spent 80% of the time feeling bad that they were missing out on this magical retreat, they were really happy to be there and I wouldn’t want to swap the memories we made there for anything. Miss 8 and Master 4 had their own loft bedroom which they ADORED. They were so tired from all the hiking we did that they were in bed early each night, well after they hand fed the very friendly possums who paid us a visit each night.

I would HIGHLY recommend The Mouses House Rainforest Retreat to any family, we can’t wait to go back again soon! Enquire about a booking here and be sure to let them know we sent you.

Miss 8 created this farytale movie using the iMovie app. Such a FUN way for her to put herself in the fairytale and what better place to film it in.

About Springbrook National Park and what to do with the family while you’re there.

As far as I’m concerned this is a MUST visit destination for families! I could not get over how amazing the views were or how close in proximity everything was. It was a 3 hour drive from the Sunshine Coast, yet it’s a short 30 min drive from the Gold Coast highway, the drive itself is spectacular, a windy hill climb with spectacular views – our kids grew more and more excited the higher we went!

Springbrook is a small community which adds to it’s charm! You won’t find any grocery stores but instead a selection of quaint cafes and fudge stores (yes, fudge is a real obsession in Springbrook). As far as attractions go, it’s mostly all about the National Park and amazing bush walks. There is however an Observatory which we would have loved to visit (but the skies did not go along with our plans and it was overcast each evening). This is on our list for our return visit!

I will break down the areas that we visited during our three night stay and what the highlights were for my family. I’ve also made a few video clips to try and share the amazing scenery and adventures as best I can…but nothing beats seeing it in person. You can download a PDF Map of the area here thanks to QLD Parks and learn more about the area on their website here.

Wunburra Lookout
Wunburra Lookout is the first stop as you approach the top of the range, it’s well worth a stop to get your first glimpse at the amazing National Park as well as views as far as the Gold Coast coastline. There is a cafe and information centre located adjacent to the lookout, we were greeted by some lovely local volunteers who were happy to share with us some local history and maps of the surrounding area. We asked about the length of the walks and if they were suitable for children (particularly Master 4). We were also informed of where some recent Koala sightings were and reminded to stay safe on the roads and to watch out for their local wildlife.

Apple Tree Park
Just a few minutes further from Wunburra Lookout is Apple Tree Park – important to note that this park has the closest public toilets (which anyone who travels with kids will know this is a place you will no doubt need to stop at). The amenities were clean and the picnic area was set amongst some beautiful tall pine trees. We noticed a hiking trail there as well but decided not to walk it as we were on a mission to check into our accommodation.

Canyon Lookout
This lookout was our next stop and the views were breathtaking and completely different landscape to the Wunburra Lookout. We could still see the Gold Coast coastline but also some amazing rock formations surrounded by lush green rainforest. Rainbow Falls, as the name suggests, is where you will most likely see (on a sunny day) a rainbow radiating from the falls…unfortunately it was slightly overcast so no rainbow for us that day (a good reason to visit again!).  There was a great compass statue that gave us a better understanding of where we were standing and of the local surrounds. You will also find great information signs located all across Springbrook National Park, detailing lots of varied information regarding the history, wildlife and geography (perfect for sneaking in some education without the kids even realising it).

Spectacular views looking towards the coastline and Rainbow Falls.

Goomoolahra Falls & Picnic Area
We decided to drive around to check out the opposite side of the Canyon. This lead us to Coomoolahra Falls and Picnic area. It was around 11am and there were several families lighting the wood BBQs for their picnics. We were amazed to discover the waterfall was only a few meters walk from the picnic area. There’s something so soothing about the sound of a waterfall, what a perfect place to sit and enjoy a picnic lunch. We enjoyed exploring the bubbling stream that lead to the waterfall, important to note that you do NOT want your children wandering off without you as the cliffs are very steep and the waterfall can be accessed through the stream (if they wandered off the track).

We stopped in at the little Cafe directly opposite and enjoyed some fresh scones before moving on to the next adventure, the cafe owner invited us to walk through his beautiful garden before we left. What an amazing place to call home.

The Best of All Lookout
I must admit we all had a chuckle at the name for this lookout. I wondered after seeing so many incredible lookouts already, how could this one be the best? Well this particular lookout does boast some pretty amazing features that set it apart from the rest – one of the major highlights were the incredible ancient Antarctic beech trees, these are thought to be some of the oldest trees in Australia and are only found in a few locations. It’s thought that these trees could be 3000 years old!

We continued on to the main lookout and were greeted with an amazing view to the west, we could see Mt Warning in the distance and the kids were amused to learn they could cross the QLD/NSW boarder on the lookout – effectively loosing and gaining an hour with each step (thanks to daylight savings time).

The walk is a short 600 meters and can be done in just 30 mins, although you’re going to want to take a lot longer than that to soak up the amazing Rainforest and views. Be prepared for cooler conditions too, it was freezing cold on this walk even though the temps on the coast were in the low 30’s!

Natural Bridge
The Natural Bridge has been on my travel bucket list for a very long time. I’ve seen it photographed on so many occasions and knew we needed to make sure we visited whilst in the Springbrook National Park. This was the longest we had to travel by car but the scenery was amazing, we passed by Hinz Dam and stopped twice along the way to explore some creeks and parks.

The Natural Bridge walk is an easy one to do with kids, the paths are wide and very well maintained (mostly concrete with stairs and rails where necessary). We spent two hours exploring this section and if you ask Master 4, this was his favourite adventure because we saw BATS in the cave! Bats are not the only amazing thing you’ll discover, if you visit at dusk or early evening you’ll discover Glow Worms and possibly even firefly’s in the summer months!

We spotted lots of wildlife on this walk including Pademelons, a small marsupial (a bit like a wallaby). They were really shy whenever I grabbed my camera out.

There is strictly NO swimming allowed at Natural Bridge, however, there is a great park and river to cool off just a 5min drive called Bochow Park. It was a bit cool for a swim for us but we enjoyed the playground and exploring the rocky river on foot.

Bochow Park – a great place to explore after visiting the Natural Bridge

Purling Brook Falls
Okay, this was a massive highlight of our adventures in Springbrook National Park. We learned that the return track for this walk was 4km so we decided to do it early in the morning, before it got hot and whilst our kids had the most energy (remembering our youngest is only 4 years old).

I will admit the start of the hike was a little daunting with some sheer cliffs and drop offs, please ensure that you always hold your child’s hand whilst hiking these sections of the track. There were guard rails in the most dangerous sections but you can never be too careful. About 500 meters into our walk we were rewarded with the first lookout – it felt like we had entered Jurassic Park! So much lush green rainforest as far as the eye can see.

We continued our decent into the beautiful rainforest and at each turn the scenery became more spectacular with huge rocky cliffs and amazing views. This kept the kids entertained and there was no need to take any rest stops on the way down. The track was in great condition with a few sections of stairs along the way. They do recommend you walk this track in a clockwise direction (I think the downward decent would be worse to walk up).

Upon the first sight of the falls from the basin made the walk so worth while, seeing the looks of amazement on our children’s faces was priceless and something I hope to never forget. We stopped and soaked in the amazing view whilst enjoying an early lunch to replenish our energy.

We started the return leg of the journey and were immediately met with a suspension bridge, this was yet another highlight! Standing in the middle of the bridge offers you a direct view of the falls and then the water bubbling under your feet and into the dark and lush rainforest, truly spectacular!!

The return walk up the hill was more challenging for Master 4 who made it about halfway before saying “I can’t walk any further, my legs can’t walk anymore!”. This is where we took our time and stopped every couple of turns of the track for some fruit and water. We were in no rush and it gave us time to look at the rainforest in even more detail. We even found a Trapdoor Spider nest!!

Once we made it back up to the top we were rewarded with yet another amazing lookout. We could see just how far we had walked and we were all so proud of our efforts! We worked as a team and encouraged each other along the way. We then walked over the actual falls on a well maintained boardwalk which lead to another lookout from the other side of the waterfall. This would have to be my favourite family hike of all time.

Springbrook Observatory
We had planned a visit to the Observatory but unfortunately the weather was stormy and overcast each night. The ideal times to visit are during the winter months. We look forward to coming back so we can experience this first hand. I’m sure it would be a great experience for the whole family.  You can learn more here on their website.

Lyrebird Drive
Just around the corner from The Mouses House is Lyrebird Drive, this very scenic road is FULL of wildlife and is well worth a drive. Please remember to drive very carefully as the wildlife can often jump across the road and be injured.

 

Tips for Hiking with Kids in the Springbrook National Park.

  • Wear protective footwear, comfortable clothing and hat (closed in shoes with good treads and long pants are the best)
  • Pack a basic first aid kit and any medications you might need (we also pack a snake bite bandage with directions on what to do – find it here).
  • Bring plenty of drinking water and high energy snacks/food/fruit.
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged in case of an emergancy, most places had good reception where we were hiking.
  • Suncream and Insect replant (we also pack salt in case of leeches)
  • Pack a Map. Binoculars, compass and magnifying glass – these are optional but a great way for kids to learn to navigate and see more of the environment
  • Talk to your kids about the importance of reading signs and following your directions BEFORE and during your hike. Most of the walks in this area have cliff faces and other hazards that kids might not recognise.
  • Play games along the way or go on a nature scavenger hunt to see who can spot all the ‘yellow’ leaves or talking about the sounds of the birds – who can imitate them the best and so on. This is especially good when the kids get tired towards the end of a walk.
  • Pack a camera to record all your special memories and don’t forget to get the whole family in some photos too!
  • Leave nothing but your footprints and respect nature. Kids love to collect things however it is best that they leave everything in it’s place. We like to discuss animal habitats and how they rely on everything around them.
  • Most importantly, take all your rubbish with you and if you see rubbish be sure to pick it up and dispose of it.

I really hope you found this travel blog post helpful in planing your visit to Springbrook National Park. We would like to thank The Mouses House for hosting our stay and QLD Parks for maintaining and protecting this pristine area for us and our kids, hopefully many more generations will continue to enjoy it too.

Louise x

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