Springbrook National Park is a grouping of four protected rainforest areas on the eastern coast of Australia. The park is situated in the southeastern-most part of Queensland, about 60 miles (100 km) south of Brisbane, the state’s capital and largest city. Springbrook is renowned for its many waterfalls and rugged tropical terrain, and it is home to many rare and endangered plants and animals. Tourists from all over the world flock to Springbrook National Park to experience nature in a direct and hands-on way. Visitors are welcome every day of the year for hiking, nature walks, camping and photography, among other activities.
There are four main components to Springbrook National Park: the Springbrook section, the Natural Bridge section, the Mount Cougal section and the Numinbah section. All were once independent preserves, with Mount Cougal at the center. Mount Cougal was, many centuries ago, an active volcano, and the land mass disturbances from its many eruptions created many of the rifts, cliffs and valleys that make the terrain so unique.
The areas surrounding the mountain have long been popular, both within Australia and among international tourists. Developers in the 1920s targeted much of the area surrounding the Natural Bridge section for picnic areas and recreation facilities. A large hotel was also erected in the rainforest. Before long, logging became a major industry in the area, and the dense hardwoods that had grown in the forests for centuries were soon discovered to fetch very high prices on the European market. Dairy farms and other industries opened up on the cleared land surrounding the hotel.
Noting a general decline in native flora and fauna, the Australian government intervened during the late 1930s. The Springbrook section was first to win federal protection in 1937, and the Mount Cougal land followed in 1938. Both remaining sections earned protections after World War II, but it was not until 1990 that the four were incorporated into the singular Springbrook National Park. In 1994, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the rainforests that make up Springbrook a World Heritage Area.
The park is most famous for its dynamic collection of wildlife, as well as its sweeping vistas and lush green valleys. Conservation efforts brought about by the government and a handful of public trust organizations have largely reversed the damage wrought during the early part of the 20th century, with many plants having regenerated and animal species procreating back to sustainable levels. Some estimates put the number of animal inhabitants at far more than 1,000, with the park supporting at least 100 species of birds alone. Plant life is widely believed to be just as diverse, which makes the park an excellent site for all sorts of ecological and biological research.
Most visitors come to the park for recreation, however. Various nature paths and hiking trails weave through the land, with a multitude of marked lookout points and wildlife scouting areas. Camping in Springbrook National Park is permitted in one designated location but is highly restricted. Campers must apply for a special permit and must agree to keep their camping equipment within the specific confines of the plot to which they have been assigned. Similarly, swimming is allowed in some — but not all — streams and rivers, and nearly all of them are marked.