Cougal Cascades & Currumbin Waterfalls – Visitor’s Guide

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A visit to Cougal Cascades in Currumbin Valley is low-key one of the best adventures to be had on the Gold Coast!

Featuring a lush rainforest walk that leads upstream through Currumbin Valley, passing by multiple waterfalls, cascading swimming holes, and epic viewpoints along the way. 

In this guide, I have included some useful information on how to get here, the best time to visit, things to know before you go and what to expect when you’re there.

Also, at the bottom of this post, you can see my recommendations on where to stay on the Gold Coast, a list of awesome tours to try, and links to more of my Gold Coast travel guides that you might like to check out!

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WHERE IS COUGAL CASCADES?

Cougal Cascades is located in Currumbin Valley at the southern end of the Gold Coast.

Click here to see the location on Google Maps.

From Surfers Paradise, it’s approximately a 45-minute drive, and from Coolangatta, the journey takes just 30-minutes to reach Currumbin Valley.

cougal cascades map

HOW TO GET HERE

There is no public transport to access Currumbin Valley, so you will need to have your own vehicle to visit.

The way is clearly signposted, you can simply follow the road to the very end of Currumbin Creek Rd until you come to a dead-end. This is where you will find the parking lot and jump-off point.

Currumbin Rock Pools is also located on the same road leading out to Cougal Cascades and it’s definitely worth stopping in here for a swim!

The road leading out to Currumbin Valley is unbelievably scenic so I urge you not to rush and soak in the nature that surrounds this area.

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Cliff jumping at the cascades

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BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit is from mid-morning to mid-afternoon when there is plenty of sunshine around to warm up the natural swimming holes and waterfalls.

The water temperature can be quite cold in the early mornings and late afternoons, just a heads up.

If you can time your visit for a weekday, chances are you will get to enjoy this epic spot almost completely to yourself with fewer tourists around. 

This location is known to be very popular on weekends so you can expect it to be very busy with many families, bushwalkers, and groups of friends hanging out here. 

RELATED ARTICLE → 3 DAY GOLD COAST ITINERARY

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Natural rock slide

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Before you leave home to visit Currumbin Valley, I recommend packing some swimmers, a towel, a hat, plenty of sunscreen, waterproof shoes, and insect repellent.

It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours or the entire day, so be sure to also bring something to eat and drink with you.

There are no rubbish bins provided, so if you do have any trash or see any trash around the area, please pick it up, take it home and dispose of it correctly. Currumbin Creek flows to our beautiful Gold Coast beaches and we wouldn’t want any trash ending up there. 

There are also toilet facilities and picnic areas with tables and chairs for visitors to use. You can find these in the main parking lot.

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Tranquil scenery
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ARRIVING AT COUGAL CASCADES

When you arrive, there are around a dozen spaces in the parking lot where you can park your car safely, or if there are no available spaces here, it’s also possible to park your car on the edge of the main road near the bridge.

From here, the trailhead is clearly signposted and it’s a short 5-minute walk until you reach the first Currumbin waterfall. 

RELATED ARTICLE → 11 BEST GOLD COAST BEACHES

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The parking lot
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The trailhead to the cascades

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In search of the first waterfall

WHAT TO EXPECT

The best thing about this location is that there is not just one attraction to see when venturing here. There are lots of things to see and do during your visit which are suitable for people of all sorts and all ages!

Here’s a quick overview of fun things to do at Cougal Cascades:

  • Enjoy a rainforest bushwalk
  • Visit the old Sawmill
  • Go swimming in the cascades
  • Cliff jumping for the thrill-seekers
  • Discover several epic waterfalls
  • Slide down the natural rock slide
  • Take a million photos
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Hanging out at the cascades

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BUSHWALKING TRAIL

The bushwalking trail is a combination of tar-sealed footpaths, wooden bridges, and dirt tracks. There is no circuit trail here, it’s one way in and one way out.

An abundance of flora and fauna can be found here in Currumbin Valley, so take it slow and keep your eyes and ears open to spot some of Australia’s iconic wildlife.

You’ll also find a couple of viewing platforms along the trail where you can stop and marvel at the surrounding nature in the valley.

The first set of falls you will come to along the trail is the main attraction, and most people stop here and don’t go any further up the valley… 

I recommend saving this spot for last, continuing along the trail upstream to the very end, and then working your way back down the cascades, stopping at each spot. 

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The bushwalk
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Deep in the rainforest
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Rock hopping

DISUSED SAWMILL

When you reach the very end of the rainforest path, this is where you can find the old Sawmill which was once operational between 1945 – 1951. 

Seven men worked this Sawmill round the clock to produce terrific timber, post-war during the housing boom. 

It’s a step back in time and very interesting to see all the metal components that were once used during these historic times including a breaking-down bench-saw, steel carriages, and rusted-out engine parts. 

Surrounded by towering trees, lush nature, and a running stream, it wouldn’t have been a bad spot to work a Sawmill if you ask me!

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Disused Sawmill
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Rusted-out engine parts
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They don’t build them like this anymore
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Steel carriage used for hauling timber

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CLIFF JUMPING

This one is for thrill-seekers! There are a number of spots for cliff jumping into the cascades though you must exercise caution and do so at your own risk. 

At the very beginning of the trail, there is a sign that it’s dangerous to go cliff jumping and sliding down waterfalls as it may cause serious injury or death.

To be fully transparent, there has been a number of cases of people injuring themselves here so I can’t stress enough to take extra care when cliff jumping.

My favorite spot for cliff jumping, and safest, in my opinion, is at the third waterfall along the trail, closest to the old Sawmill. 

Featuring an almost vertical rock wall and a deep catch basin, this cliff jump ranges from 5 meters up to about 7 meters. As always, make sure to do a depth check before jumping.

If you’re not keen on cliff jumping at this particular spot, you can simply go for a dip in the natural swimming pool and check out the small waterfall at the top.

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7-meter cliff jump
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Full send
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Beautiful rainforest

CURRUMBIN WATERFALLS

Cougal Cascades plays home to some of the best Currumbin waterfalls! Although they aren’t as tall as Purling Brook Falls or Twin Falls in Springbrook, they are impressive in their own way. 

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 BEST SPRINGBROOK WATERFALLS

Continuing downstream from the cliff jumping spot, you’ll find an epic little waterfall that is quite easily accessible by walking along the rocks. This spot features a wide set of falls that flows into a large catch basin, perfect for a refreshing dip.

From here, follow the shallow cascades further downstream, which will bring you back to the main set of falls that you would have seen along the path when you first arrived. 

It’s clear why this Currumbin waterfall is the main attraction, featuring a set of twin falls and a natural slide into a circular rock pool.

If you want to access this waterfall from the main walking path, it’s a bit of a steep scramble down a dirt track located next to the viewing platform. It can be very slippery when wet, so take it slow and use your hands to grab onto the trees as you climb down. 

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Rock hopping downstream
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Epic little waterfall
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Ultimate rainforest vibes
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Circular rockpool at the main falls

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THE MAIN FALLS AT COUGAL CASCADE

One of the best attractions is the natural rock slide which spits you out into a small rock pool at the bottom of this Currumbin waterfall.

I’ll say it again, please use extreme caution if you decide to go sliding down the cascades and if you are unsure, it’s probably better to not try it at all.

MUST READ → 3 DAY GOLD COAST ITINERARY

There is a wide rock face on the left-hand side of the falls where you can set down your belongings and perch up in the sun for a while.

From here, it’s easy enough to traverse across the rock face and go for a refreshing dip in the small circular rock pool or head right down to the bottom and swim out into the larger pool to cool off.

This area of the cascades is my favorite spot to hang out as it’s completely surrounded by tropical plants and the scenery is phenomenal. Be sure to whip out your camera here to capture the good times!

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The main set of falls
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Natural rock slide
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Cougal Cascade

OTHER GOLD COAST ATTRACTIONS

There are so many things to do on the Gold Coast you could spend months here and not run out of things to do.

See the list below for some other Gold Coast tourist spots that you might like to check out:

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BEST GOLD COAST TOURS

 

BURLEIGH HEADS ACCOMMODATION

There is no shortage of accommodation options on the Gold Coast and most people want to be by the beach as often as possible – I don’t blame them!

It’s first in, best dressed when looking for a place to stay in Burleigh, especially in the peak holiday season which is during the summer months between December and February.

I have narrowed it down to a few of my favorite places to stay in Burleigh Heads to fit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between. See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:

Luxury: Luxury Beachfront Sky Home

Centrally located in Burleigh Heads and a stone’s throw from the beach. This 5-star accommodation features an outdoor swimming pool, garden, fitness center, and free wifi. The apartments are spacious and include a fully equipped kitchen, living and dining room, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, hot tub, flat-screen tv, and ocean views. Perfect for families and couples.

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Mid Range: Outrigger Burleigh

The best and most affordable hotel in Burleigh Heads. The Outrigger is a two-minute walk from the beach featuring an outdoor pool, hot tub, and ocean views! The rooms are spacious, air-conditioned, equipped kitchenette, living room, private bathroom, and balcony. Close to supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, bars and public transport. Perfect for couples and families.

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Budget: Maxmee Backpackers Resort

Maxmee Backpackers Resort is one of the cheapest and best backpackers on the Gold Coast! Located a stone’s throw from the beach, it features a beach club, outdoor pool, table tennis, hammocks, and more. There are dorm rooms and private apartments available, perfect for friends and solo travelers.

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FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY ON THE GOLD COAST, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM

WHAT TO PACK FOR CURRUMBIN VALLEY

When visiting Currumbin Valley, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you:

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FINAL THOUGHTS

I have visited Cougal Cascades many times in my teenage years (that’s right, I was born and bred on the Gold Coast), and I’m so glad I revisited this epic swimming spot to put together this adventure guide for you to follow. 

It’s the perfect place to go to escape the hustle and bustle of Gold Coast City and spend a day swimming, adventuring, and relaxing in nature with your friends and family.

I guarantee that you will enjoy this place as much as I have and if you have any questions, feel free to let me know in the comments below. For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.

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TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!

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THANKS FOR READING

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