Canungra, an old saw-milling town, is a haven for artists and craft-workers. Visitors can view their work at local galleries and potteries and then sit back with a cup of coffee at one of the local cafes. Canungra is nestled in the middle of the three major tourist destinations, and is the gateway to the Gold Coast Hinterland. Mount Tamborine, Lamington National Park, O'Reilly's Guesthouse and Binna Burra. The township is also a meeting place for motor bike club rides, hang gliders, paragliders, birdwatchers and bushwalkers who visit the area annually to take advantage of what the Canungra Valley has to offer.
Location: Canungra is 25 km inland from Surfers Paradise and 65 km south of central Brisbane.
Canungra is the gateway to the Lamington National Park, including the Binna Burra and O'Reilly's holiday resorts. There is a link to the Gold Coast with the Kokoda Walk (2002) from the barracks to Broadbeach. Canungra has annual shows and rodeos, golf and bowls clubs, a swimming pool, a tourist information centre, Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches and a council library. An interesting walk is through the sawmill's old tramway tunnel cut through sandstone, where the walls show the scars caused by logs jamming against them.
Canungra is a horse-breeding and training centre. In 2002 the Wadham Park training complex opened, a $10 million facility situated on 200 acres on the town's outskirts, which includes the country's largest equine hospital. Canungra's fringes are increasingly coming under subdivision and rural-residential development.
The Canungra Village Markets, held on the last Saturday of the month from 8am until 1pm, provide local artists a chance to showcase and sell their wares from ceramics and jewellery to art and photography; alongside local produce. The markets take place at the local primary school.
If you are heading up to O Reilly s Rainforest Retreat, or exploring the beauty of the Canungra Valley, be sure to stop in at O Reilly's Canungra Valley Vineyards. Enjoy a sample of our finest wines, stay for lunch or purchase a gourmet picnic basket and stretch out by the creek with a bottle of bubbles. Location: 852 Lamington National Park Rd, Canungra. Ph (-7) 5543 4011.
Approximately 45 minutes drive from the Gold Coast, this natural wonder can be found in Back Creek Gorge between Beechmont and Canungra. Killarney Glen is the name of a property that's been owned by the Fitzgerald family since the late 1800s. Since the early 1900s the place has been used for recreation, with Killarney Falls and six other falls on Back Creek marking tourist maps before the renown Binna Burra area was established. Not long afterwards, Pat Fitzgerald bought Killarney Glen from his uncle's estate, growing bananas there from 1958 to 1962.
In 1971, at the end of the Vietnam War, the Commonwealth acquired Killarney Glen and the Defence Department used the area as a buffer zone for the Canungra Land Warfare Centre. Over the next 26 years the Fitzgerald family fought and won a battle to keep the land open to the public. While today the Defence Department still uses neighbouring land, Killarney Glen is open for public recreation. Romantic images of Killarney Glen had made the site an international tourist attraction but people are often careless about where they parked and walked, often ignoring barriers established to protect revellers and walking into prohibited zones. The pool was closed in 2017 following the death of a 19-year-old there.
The walk entrance is not too visible from the road (except when heaps of cars are present). Follow Beechmont Road, Witherin, to the entrance on the east just after Rhoades Rd but before Farm Grove Rd.
In 1942 a Land Headquarters Training Centre (jungle warfare) was established at Canungra for training troops destined for combat in the Pacific region, the building complex in the training centre later named Kokoda Barracks. Closed soon after 1945, the centre re-opened in 1954, and was used intensively for training of troops for service in Vietnam during the 1960s. Further military activities were later concentrated at Canungra, including intelligence training (1994) and the Command, Staff and Operations Wing (1997). The military area occupies about 6000 ha, the barracks some 100 ha and the remainder used for field training.
Much of the training centre is in the district known as Witheren. The civilian part of Witheren is on the west side of the training centre reserve. It was named after Mount Witheren, apparently based on an Aboriginal expression referring to the mountain or a turtle. Witheren had a primary school (1899-1965), opened 10 years after Canungra's school. Its census population in 2006 was 769.
Canungra Tramway Tunnel Trail
This rail trail follows the line of a railway constructed in 1900 to transport timber from the valleys to the south to a mill in Canungra. The Darlington Range through which the tunnel passes was a considerable obstacle for the line. Even with the tunnel, the line still climbed on an incredibly steep 1 in 12.5 grade out of Canungra. To tackle these grades, Laheys used Climax and Shay geared locomotives. South of Canungra today you will find Shay Drive and Climax Place. The descent into Canungra with a load of logs must have been nerve racking from the loco crew, and as a precaution, a runaway siding was constructed part way down.
The tunnel can be accessed from a signed parking area off Beaudesert Nerang Road. From there a path leads down to the tunnel and a small picnic area. A trail can be followed for 500m north of the tunnel to the end of Duncan Street, which leads into Canungra.
Sarabah is a small national park near Canungra, 65 km south of Brisbane. The park lies within the catchment area of the Albert River. The park contains the remains of lowland subtropical rainforest and fringing riparian open forest along Canungra Creek. It was declared a national park in 1973. At just 1.416 ha in size, it is Queensland's smallest national park.
Timber was taken from the ranges around Canungra in the 1860s, but the first intensive exploitation of the timber reserves came with the Lahey brothers who had several timber leases in the 1880s. They established a mill at the village of Canungra and for nearly ten years obtained logs within close proximity.
One of the origin of the town's name comes from the Aboriginal word for small owls, "Caningera" The most notable owl found in the area is the Southern Boobook Owl, which appears in various logos & symbols associated with Canungra. In 2005, the local Post Office released a special limited-release frank featuring Canungra & the Boobook Owl.