There’s no need to search for more Gold Coast Hinterland walks! Find out everything you need to know about the Box Forest Circuit at Lamington National Park’s Green Mountains section.
Known as one of the most popular Lamington National Park walks to consider, it’s famed for being home to some of the best waterfalls in Lamington, including Elabana Falls and Box Log Falls.
It was our first time to this Gold Coast National Park, so we thought we would share everything we learnt about this beautiful place everyone needs to visit.
Table of Contents
Where is Lamington National Park?
There are two entrances to Lamington National Park, one at Binna Burra and the main one at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat called Green Mountains. It takes around 1h30m to get to O’Reilly’s and just under an hour to get to Binna Burra from Surfers Paradise in Gold Coast.
I would choose to go to one of the entrances when visiting as the road is very windy and you wouldn’t want to spend the day going up and down the mountain, trust me!
Why Should You Visit Lamington National Park
I have wanted to visit Lamington National Park for ages! Famed for being home to part of the jaw-dropping Gondwana Rainforest, it’s one of Australia’s most spectacular national parks.
If you haven’t heard of the Gondwana Rainforest before, it’s the world’s oldest sub-tropical rainforest split up around 500 million years ago. Now stretching from as far South as Barrington Tops in New South Wales and up to Border Ranges in South East Queensland, make sure you visit one of the many incredible national parks if you can.
With so many hikes to consider, you could easily spend a week here taking time out relaxing at the beautiful Lost World Day Spa at O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat while spending your time exploring the area. To us, this is our kind of heaven, and we couldn’t wait to get there.
Check Out Our Box Forest Circuit Video!
We filmed this Lamington National Park trek for you!
Which Lamington National Park Hike Should You Do First?
We spent a while deciding which Lamington walk to do first because there are just so many to choose from. While there are plenty of long day hikes, there are shorter ones for families like the Treetop Walk, just 800 metres return.
We decided to go with the Box Forest Circuit because it seemed like the most popular hike, and we read that it was supposed to take around 3 to 4 hours to complete the 10.9km hike.
We thought that would be a good enough time to spend hiking as we’ve not hiked that long or longer since we hiked Carnarvon Gorge on a 40C day for eight long hours (although it was worth it!).
Box Forest Circuit is also home to four impressive waterfalls: Elabana Falls, Box Log Falls, Darragumai Falls, and Nugurin Falls, so we thought it would make a beautiful walk along with the rock pools at Picnic Rock.
Our Airbnb host is a biologist who has spent years exploring Lamington National Park and told us the Toolona Creek Circuit is the best for the waterfalls and biodiversity, but it’s at least 6-7 hour walking time. We decided to save that one for another time.
Moran Falls is shorter hike at just 4.4km, which wouldn’t take nearly as long to get to if you’re looking for a shorter walk to an impressive waterfall.
One thing we did notice on our hike is that the few people we came across didn’t really know where they were going. When we asked them which walk they were doing, they just said they were going to walk for a certain amount of time and turn back.
Make sure you make the most of your time at Lamington National Park in the Green Mountains section by checking out all of the hikes on the O’Reilly’s website here.
Things To Know Before You Do Box Forest Circuit In Lamington National Park
1. The Drive To O’Reillys Is Very Windy
I had read that a few people might get car sick on the road up to O’Reilly’s, but what I didn’t realise was for around one hour, you’ll be driving almost on single lanes up through the mountain. We drove very slowly, and it was pretty tiring, but the views are amazing.
When you get to the top, the scenery changes quite quickly into dense Gondwana Rainforest that you’ll undoubtedly want to stop in awe to take a photo or two.
2. It Is Cooler In Lamington National Park
When you drive up the mountain, you’ll notice the temperature drop, but that doesn’t mean it will be freezing when you go on the hike. We hiked on a 30C day and it never felt too hot because the trees shaded us for most of it.
3. O’Reilly’s Is Really Impressive
I had no idea how impressive O’Reillys would be. Known as the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park, the walks are located around O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. I must say, it is impressive. With tours, bird feeding, zip-lining, glow-worm tours and an exceptional spa with an infinity pool overlooking the jaw-dropping views, it’s the type of place you’d bring the whole family for the weekend.
I was not surprised when a couple of kids came up to me to tell me it was ‘the best day ever’. I think they were right. Before I knew it, I had fallen in love with Lamington National Park, as I hoped I would.
Make sure you head over to O’Reilly’s Mountain Cafe for something to eat after you’ve finished your walk; it’s home to breathtaking views.
4. Finding The Starting Point For The Box Forest Track
When we parked up at O’Reilly’s car park, I didn’t know where to go to start the Box Forest Track. Looking at a map, it looked like it was near the Treetop Walk, so we walked up past O’Reilly’s Cafe and found a sign pointing to that walk. As we walked down, we then saw the signs for the various trails from there.
So, if you’re wondering, the starting point for the Box Forest Track starts almost opposite the reception to O’Reilly’s Retreat.
5. Understanding The Various Trails
It was confusing to get our heads around the various trails as first-timers at Lamington National Park. The Box Forest Circuit starts on the Main Border Track, the long walk between O’Reilly’s and Binna Burra. That track takes 21.4km to walk along the Queensland and New South Wales borders.
The path then splits off onto the West Canungra Creek Circuit and further along on the Toolona Creek Circuit.
6. Box Forest Circuit: Clockwise or Anti-Clockwise?
When we did a little research about the Box Forest Circuit, National Parks specifically said to do it clockwise, so that’s what we did. We’re mentioning this because it makes sense to do so. It’s not that the trail is any easier; it all makes sense when you get to Elabana Falls towards the end of the hike.
As the track winds down into the valley, you’ll start to walk along the West Canungra Creek, which is absolutely stunning. As you tick off the waterfalls along the way, you’ll come to the famous Elabana Falls in Lamington National Park last. It’s then when you get to the falls that you realise and appreciate how beautiful this walk truly is.
Although there is a shorter way to get to Elabana Falls by going anti-clockwise, which is great if you’re low on time, you need to do the whole circuit to appreciate it.
7. Is Box Forest Circuit Suitable For Families?
We saw quite a few families heading down to Elabana Falls on the anti-clockwise route, which is a bit safer than the clockwise route. I say this because the clockwise track is quite narrow and you wouldn’t want young children falling off the side of the mountain! Otherwise, it’s worth pointing out the track is well signposted, and you’re sure to have a wonderful time.
8. Watch Out For Snakes!
Just a friendly reminder that there are snakes in this national park because this is Australia! We met a couple who saw a black snake along the path, so be mindful if you see one. Don’t run-up to a snake, and don’t jump over it. Simply stop and wait for it to pass.
9. Stop And Listen To The Birds
Take time to be in nature and stop to listen to the birds on this hike. It really is awe-inspiring and something we just adored. You’ll heard the incredible Eastern whip bird cracking his whip often on this walk, making us feel like we could almost be in a David Attenborough documentary!
10. The Trees Are Mind-Blowing
The Box Forest Circuit is home to the Antarctic Beech Trees, which is just amazing. We also loved the strangler fig trees while watching them wind their way through the forest.
11. Look Out For Leeches
I read that there are a lot of leeches in Lamington National Park so I wore long leggings on our hike. Steve only had shorts with him and was totally fine throughout the day. I would wear long trousers if it was raining or had been raining that day for sure.
12. Don’t Take Shortcuts!
If there’s one major thing you need to know, don’t take any shortcuts on the path. Although the track mainly contains switchbacks, you can see how people have made shortcuts through them. We met a couple who couldn’t find Elabana Falls because they had taken a shortcut and missed the sign to it. They ended up having to walk back up the hill to try and find it again because of this error.
Also, be mindful when you’re on the path. Although it’s easy to follow, you can quite easily walk off it, which I did a few times. Thankfully Steve is a proper hiking legend who just knows his way around the bush and steered me off it straight away.
13. How Long Does Box Forest Circuit Take?
The main thing I tried to find out before we did this hike is how long the Box Forest Circuit takes to walk? You just never know with National Parks website because they consider everyone. I was worried it might be too short or worse, even longer than expected.
Here are our timings on what to expect, so at least you have a ball park figure. Bear in mind that we walked very slowly, took loads of photos and videos and spent a while having lunch on a rock in the creek.
The whole Box Forest Circuit walk took us 4h23m in total. We walked over 20,000 steps and over 12km as it said on my Garmin watch. I don’t know why it said we did more KMs than the track which is 10.9km, but I suppose you have to take the Garmin with a pinch of salt. If you’re the kind of hiker on a mission to walk fast and not stop much, I think the whole circuit will take around three hours.
To break up the hike, this is what it looked like:
O’Reillys car park to the turn off for clockwise to anti-clock wise paths: 40 minutes
If going clockwise, it took us 3 hours to walk from the start of the track to Elabana Falls, then 1h20m back to the starting point (we did spend a good 10 minutes at Elabana Falls as well).
Picnic Rock is about a 10 minute walk from Elabana Falls. A lot of people stop at Picnic Rock for lunch if you’re doing the hike anti-clockwise.
In total, it took us 4h23m to complete the circuit.
Wondering how long this rainforest hike takes if going anti-clockwise? It will take you about 1h20m each way to get to Elabana Falls. I strongly recommend continuing on for about another 10 minutes to Box Log Falls as they are lovely as well.
14. What Is Elabana Falls Like In Person?
When I saw photos of the waterfalls on the Box Forest Circuit in Lamington National Park, it didn’t look as impressive as other waterfalls I’ve seen in Australia. But, I have to say something is stunning about this Lamington National Park waterfall.
It’s not just the waterfall itself; it’s the entire space it’s nestled in which makes it stunning. The trees surrounding the waterfall and granite walls really makes you feel like you’ve been transported into a dinosaur world. Trust me, it’s impressive!
To get to Elabana Falls, you have to climb over a few boulders to see it. While it will only take you a minute or so to do this, the boulders are incredibly slippery. I was wearing my SCARPA hiking boots and I was slipping. Make sure you wear hiking boots on this walk!
15. Is the Box Forest Circuit Worth It?
I was unsure the Box Forest Circuit would wow me because the images I had seen didn’t seem to impress me as much as other places. However, I have read many reviews of others saying it’s one of the best hikes in Australia.
To be honest with you, we loved this Lamington National Park hike. It simply is jaw-droppingly beautiful! The creek crossings and the clear mountain water cascades make you want to jump straight into the water. But, please don’t do that because you need to respect the traditional owners, even when you’re at the picturesque Elabana Falls.
We just adored this hike, it was one of the best hikes we’ve done in ages! Make Lamington National Park your next day trip from Brisbane and you’ll be back time and time again, just like we will be! We cannot wait to go back soon!
Don’t Forget To Watch Our Box Forest Circuit Video!
More Hikes To Check Out Nearby!
You might like to go to the nearby Springbrook National Park and check out our guide for Purling Brook Falls. It’s a massive waterfall, only taking 30 minutes to walk to from the car park.