Gold Coast day trip: Love Heart water hole/ Killarney Glen waterfalls

By Lauren – Gold Coast Mum

If you’re on or near the Gold Coast, then you definitely need to check out the gorgeous heart-shaped water hole at Killarney Glen Waterfall – otherwise known as the Love Heart Waterfall.

If you’re wondering… YES you can swim in the gorgeous heart-shaped water hole!

Miss 5 and I have been looking forward to this since before the Christmas school holidays.

We’ve had a very limited window of opportunity – but today was a perfect day as Mr just-turned-4 and the twincesses were at kindy while I worked in the morning.

 After lunch, when I finished work (I’m a permanent part-time employee working from home as well as a freelance journalist and editor) Miss 5 and I jumped in the car to set off on our adventure.

Miss 5 was super excited to go on our “hike” and put on her gorgeous Cotton On Kids boots (that are more dress shoes but she couldn’t be talked out of it as she had her mind made that they would offer the ultimate protection should she encounter any snakes or wildlife. ;-)

Once we were in Nerang, the journey took around 35 minutes to drive.

Miss 5 and I enjoyed driving through the country and the windy, and sometimes steep, roads.

We followed Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd out past Nerang, right onto Clagiraba Rd, past the Silkwood School at Mt Nathan, and followed that out, left onto Nerang-Beaudesert Rd and left onto Beechmont Rd, passing the Government’s Kokoda Training facility. 

Interestingly, the Lower Beechmont area is a military training zone so there are signs warning about live ammunition, and warnings and barbed wire fences to keep off the property!

The land is reportedly owned by the Commonwealth Government but is apparently heritage listed and is open to the public (other than when there’s army training scheduled). 

(The Land Warfare Centre was originally established during World War II at Canungra, Queensland, as the Jungle Training Centre to prepare troops for combat in the South West Pacific Area!)

We followed Beechmont Rd, then saw a sign for Killarney Glen on the left, where we pulled up and parked. 

(Signs warned that there have been car break ins in the area, especially given that cars are parked there for hours on end whilst the owners are enjoying the bushwalk and waterfalls. So, ensure all valuables are left at home).

Miss 5 and I applied some mozzie repellent, locked the car, and headed off on our hike.
The start of the track was quite wide and I was thinking, ‘oh this is totally manageable, maybe we could come back with the pram’.



But later on, as we zig-zagged down the mountain and steep/rugged terrain, I realised it definitely wasn’t a place to bring my other 3 kids until they’re a bit bigger.

At one point, there  was  T-junction and we had to make a decision whether to go left or right (which was all very exciting for Miss 5).

We chose left, which was more zig-zagging paths. To the right, was a steep hill, better for 4WD access apparently (though I would be in fear if I was in a 4WD driving down that hill!).

(Apparently the expert advice is to go down the mountain on the steep 4WD track and walk back up using the zig-zag walking trail.)

It took Miss 5 and I around 30 minutes to navigate our way down to the waterfalls.

We enjoyed sharing this precious one-on-one time, holding hands most of the way down, and helping each other over logs and pointing out interesting things along the way.
There were a couple of old huts/shelters and a rickety-looking toilet.

Miss 5 and I entered the clearing and could see different groups of people lazing around on the rocks surrounding the waterfall, and watched people jumping into the waterhole (no way, Jose!).

Miss 5 and I hopped over the creek, stepping on sturdy stones whilst managing to keep our shoes dry, and navigated our way to the other side, where we finally saw what we had been eager to feast our eyes on – the Love Heart Waterfall!

I didn’t want Miss 5r to get too close to the edge, so we didn’t peek right over the edge (where I could have captured a photo of the perfect love-heart shape), but still close enough to enjoy and appreciate its beauty.

We watched a few people jump in, teens, young adults and entire families.
To climb back up, they climbed up the steep rock face to the left, which wasn’t entirely safe, but seemed to work.
Killarney Glen, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Killarney Glen, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Killarney Glen, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Killarney Glen, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Killarney Glen, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, love heart waterfall

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On the other side of the waterfall, we followed a track in the side of the mountain, parallel to the creek, down to a water hole that was easier for us to access.

The path was narrow, leafy, and a bit steep at the end, but we managed well, and set up on a couple of large rocks and enjoyed a gorgeous, refreshing swim. 

The rocks were pretty slippery and once we were swimming in the water hole, it was well over my head (I’m 168cm).

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Military range boundary. Live firing. Do not enter.
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We stayed put in that water hole, but had we had reef shoes, we were definitely keen to make our way further up the creek, back up towards the love heart water hole and waterfall. 

(But you can’t just swim straight through, there’s some climbing over rocks etc required which would be no problem if you have enough time).
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After spending some time swimming in the refreshing water hole, frolicking, and taking in the surroundings, Miss 5 and I exited the waterhole, got dry and set off back over and up the hill back up to the top of the Love Heart Waterfall where we watched a couple of other small groups take photos and take turns jumping into the waterhole.


(Miss 5 did make me extremely nervous a couple of times as she wanted to jump in like the other, much older, kids. So I had a tight grip of her arm and we stayed well away from the edge as I know how clumsy 5-year-olds can be. So it’s definitely not the best place to take toddlers! We won’t return as a family until the twins are much older - as it’s always a challenge keeping an eye on 4 young ones without the stress of cliffs and waterfalls ;-))
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The walk back up the hill was a good work out.
It probably took around 45 minutes and we stuck to the path on the right-hand-side going up which zig zagged up the mountain.

It was a great achievement.
I was so impressed that Miss 5 enthusiastically walked down – and back up the mountain - without fuss.
She had mountains of energy even racing to the top at the completion of our adventure.

Once we were in the car, it was around 5pm.
Within 2km, on our way home, Miss 5 was fast asleep in her car seat after her great work out.

It was a gorgeous spot and somewhere I’ll definitely encourage/take friends/family and visitors to go!
It would also be a great spot to propose/ get engaged on the Gold Coast!

What a piece of paradise – it’s like somewhere out of a dream.

It’s such a lovely walk, with a beautiful reward at the end – love heart shaped waterfall and a nice place for a dip!

Well worth a visit!


LOVE HEART WATERFALL/ KILLARNEY GLEN,
Lower Beechmont, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
* Approx 45 minute drive from Surfers Paradise
* Walk down the mountain is approx 35 minutes.
* Allow at least an hour to swim/ explore the area.
* Allow an hour to climb back up the hill.
* Leave valuables at home/ don’t leave in the vehicle that will be unattended for a few hours.
* Bring water, snacks, tissues, mozzie repellent, sun cream, cozzies, towel and a first aid kit.
* Let people know when/where you’re going and what time you expect to be back.
* Take any rubbish back with you. Keep Australia beautiful.


How to get to the love heart water hole/ Killarney Glen:
I typed ‘Killarney Glen’ into my phone’s map and was directed all the way there.
* Just off Beechmont Road, between Beechmont and Canungra.


* From Surfers Paradise/ Nerang:
From Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd, turn right onto Clagiraba Rd (passing the sign for the Silkwood School), follow Clagiraba Rd.
Turn left onto Beaudesert-Nerang Rd. Follow.
Then left onto Beechmont Rd. Follow for around 8km and look out for the sign for Killarney Glen on the left.


* Alternative route (coming from the other direction/ other end of Beechmont Rd):
Go past Farm Grove Road, Beechmont on the right.
Killarney Glen is roughly between Farm Grove Road and Rhoades Road, approx 1.5-2kms after Farm Grove Road. Watch out for the sign to Killarney Glen.  (If you go past Rhoades on the left and over a small bridge, then you've
gone too far.)


Have you visited this location before?

Where are your favourite day trips/water falls/ hidden gems?

Have you been to Killarney Glen?

Share your pics and experiences here and via Facebook. 

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6 comments

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Great write up. Thank you.

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  3. Hi Lauren, I'm glad you enjoyed 'discovering' Killarney Glen with your 5 year old daughter. Your story takes me back to my own days there, as a child of the 1950s. My family first settled Killarney Glen in the late 1800s and always welcomed visitors to the waterfalls, picnic grounds and Amethyst fossicking area (on the Eastern side of the creek and now strictly out of bounds). At the end of the Vietnam War, however, the Commonwealth took Killarney Glen by compulsory acquisition for use by the Army as a 'buffer zone' for its 'live firing ranges'. I was with my father when he passed away at Killarney Glen on 17/08/97, aged 87, with the threat of eviction hanging over us at the time. Dad would be delighted to know that people like yourself are re-discovering the beauty of Killarney Glen and Back Creek Gorge with its 6 permanent waterfalls, beginning with Lip Falls in Denham Scenic Reserve, off Doncaster Drive at Beechmont. The Commonwealth Government (not the Army or Department of Defence) is now the self-appointed custodian of Killarney Glen. Army is currently the 'tenant' of the Commonwealth. Back Creek begins near Binna Burra, on the edge of World Heritage listed Lamington National Park. There is not another creek in the whole of Lamington that can boast 6 permanent waterfalls. Changing community needs and values, along with the increasing pressure of population, suggest that Killarney Glen and Back Creek Gorge should be managed wisely for the benefit of ALL Australians and our international visitors, for ALL time. My father died secure in his belief that people's love of this place, along with people power (not military might) would ultimately decide the fate of this precious natural resource. Congratulations on getting to the Heart of the Hinterland! Regards, Janet Kan

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    1. Thanks so much Janet for sharing your story and sharing this information! I look forward to returning there again these summer holidays! x

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