Exploring Burleigh Head National Park

Our Spanish plane nose-dived suddenly, unexpectedly and we’ve crashed back in a place I felt I’d explored to death. While returning home for me has been a bit of a downer, I’m starting to appreciate what Australia does so well.  

Burleigh Head National Park
Olin (foreground) having a splash

Walking past the national park sign in Burleigh Heads in south-east Queensland, we followed a path lined with palm trees and arrived at a gate which read “access to track prohibited during high rockfall risk”. Fortunately, today it was open and we wandered beneath the summer sunshine down the Burleigh Head National Park trail – somewhere I’d never been before.

Burleigh Head National Park

A turquoise sea fringed a rocky, tidal shore, while above us the virginal national park thrived in the subtropical environment. There were pandanus groves, tunnels of forest with dappled light, lizards and pretty soon we rounded the headland past old volcanic columns and spied Tallebudgera Creek – which is really an estuary – and discovered our paradise.

Burleigh Head National Park

Through the mangroves I saw the translucent water, which is some of the nicest I’ve seen. Olin, my five-year-old and I plunged into the water and splashed each other. The sea was warm and the colours were bewitching. Wow I thought. I’m usually spoilt for beaches and take them for granted but today I felt like an outsider again.

Burleigh Head National Park

After having a soak we decided to explore further west along Tallebudgera Creek, past more forest, rocks and translucent water until we arrived at Echo Beach. This place is allegedly a ‘secret beach’ although I found it during my first two hours in Burleigh Heads, without looking for it. It is quite the place though, as it’s gentle, has clear water and is protected by a lovely little inlet.

Burleigh Head National Park
The edge of Echo Beach – far away in time

Here people were lazing in the sun and floating on plastic bananas, while on nearby Tallebudgera Bridge, which links to Palm Beach, people were launching into the pristine water. This was typical summer behaviour and I was gobsmacked at what I was seeing.

I thought of the song Echo Beach, by Martha and the Muffins

From nine till five I have to spend my time at work
My job is very boring I’m an office clerk
The only thing that helps me pass the time away
Is knowing I’ll be back at Echo Beach some day

Burleigh Head National Park
Folk leaping off Tallebudgera Bridge in unison

Well, if I was an office clerk in Burleigh Heads, I reckon I would be down at Echo Beach a lot. Heck, I live an hour’s drive south of Echo Beach and I’m sure I’ll be back on many days…

Burleigh Head National Park
Olin, on the Burleigh Head National Park trail

A few fast facts

Burleigh Heads is located on the Gold Coast, QLD, about an hour north of Byron Bay and an hour and 45 minutes south of Brisbane. The Burleigh Head National Park walk can be done in under an hour, although you’ll need significantly more time to stop, appreciate and explore.

Tallebudgera Creek is culturally significant to the Kombumerri people and its estuary contains one of the last sizable tracts of mangroves on the Gold Coast. Its eastern side is also home to one of the most family-friendly places I’ve seen.

Bring your bathers.

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