Getting to Know the Gold Coast Glow Worms

Glow worms are only found in Australia and New Zealand and are therefore some of the most rarest and fascinating creatures in the world. Like something out of a fairytale, they light up the darkness with their glow and provide a magical scene if you get to see them in the wild.

Throughout Australia’s Gold Coast, there are plenty of chances for you to spot these creatures, whether that’s outdoors under the canopies of an ancient rainforest or inside the confines of a centuries-old cave that has been preserved to make sure the glow worms feel right at home.  You can spot the lit-up critters flitting beneath the ancient canopies of lush rainforests or tucked away inside caves that date back millions of years.

The Glow Worms of Springbrook National Park

In the Gold Coast itself, the Springbrook National Park that boasts Australia’s largest population of glow worms, so if you are keen to spot some, this is the place to go.

Here, you can take an evening bushwalk through the lush forest, where glow worms flit between the leaves and cast magical shadows on the forest floor. As you stroll through the tall trees and pass ancient vegetation, you’ll come to a historic cave that houses the vast majority of the region’s glow worms.

The cave itself is made up of two large chambers that are joined together by interlinking tunnels that weave their way underground. In the first chamber, you can learn more about the glow worms, their history in the region, their behaviour, and their habitat with an audio-visual display that will prepare you for what’s to come.

Inside the chamber, you can also marvel at the extensive collection of realistic-looking stalagmites and stalactites, water features, and flowstone which provide an authentic backdrop to view the glow worms against.

Glow Worms

Natural Bridge

The Natural Bridge rock formation in the Springbrook National Park is located in the ancient Gondwana rainforests of Queensland. It was formed by erosion, as the waterfall that crashes into the basalt cave below, creating a bridge-like structure. The national park is about a hundred kilometres away from the heart of Brisbane and offers stunning views of lush rainforest and waterfalls. The park is comprised of four major sections and covers a total distance of around 6,558 hectares. There are many walking tracks one can follow when in the area as well as guided tours of the protected glow worm caves.

Natural Bridge

Glow Worm Alley

From there, you can make your way through what’s known as the Glow Worm Alley, where you’ll come face to face with thousands of glow worms that are lit up.

Because they need such specific conditions, the cave has been set up specially to cater to the glow worms. This means the conditions are perfect throughout the year, giving you ample opportunity to see these magical creatures in action. So, whenever you visit, you’ll be able to see thousands of glow worms lighting up the inner caves for a truly incredible experience.

This opportunity is a must-do if you’re in the Gold Coast. Not only does it give you a glimpse into the lives of one of Australia’s most elusive creatures, but you also get the chance to explore the area’s natural beauty in a completely unique way.

The Life of a Glow Worm

Glow worms are the larvae of a fly called the fungus gnats which breed over a two-day period before they perish. So, they aren’t actually worm’s at all! What they breed are the glow worms, whose transformation period before they become the adult flies lasts from 9 months to a year depending on how much food they have and the environmental conditions. During this time, the glow worms must eat as much as they can to sustain themselves through the adult gnat period, as they lack functioning mouths and only live a few days if they are female, or around 6 six days for males.
They capture the attention of prey by emitting a blue-green light from within and thus the prey; usually mosquitoes, get caught in their woven silk threads. As the glow worms need a wet habitat to thrive, there are limited places across Australia where they can exist. Springbrook National Park holds the largest colony of glow worms in Australia making it a World Heritage listed area. As Australia becomes a more dryer climate, Mt Tamborine has introduced the first ever purpose-built cave for glow worms, helping them to keep a moist climate and give them substantial food to survive the breeding season. The hope for this cave is that eventually the glow worms will become a self-sufficient colony.

How to visit a Glow Worm Cave

There a couple rules that you’ll need to follow when your visiting glow worms. As they are quite sensitive to light, its best not to use flash photography and if you have a torch, be sure to only point it downwards and not up at the larvae. Noise should be kept to a minimum and the glow worms should not be touched. Glow worms are extremely important to our ecosystem as they control the insect population by eating mosquitoes and smaller flies.

The area the glow worms live in is a heritage site, which means the only way to get up close and personal with them is to take a guided tour. While on these tours, you’ll not only get to see the creatures and their fairytale habitat, but you’ll learn all about their life cycle, behaviour, and eating habits.

The glow worms tour begins after dark, taking you on a mystical bushwalk through the ancient rainforests that characterise the region. You’ll soon arrive at a cave that is illuminated by the magical light of the glow worms.

Here, you’ll get to watch the creatures flit from side to side, casting a surreal glow against the backdrop of old caves with plenty of stories to tell. What’s more, once you’ve concluded watching the glow worms, you’ll be able to enjoy a different kind of glow – the glow of the stars that light up Australia’s night sky. You’ll be able to gaze out at the constellations of the southern hemisphere as they shine down on the surrounding mountains.

The cave you visit on the tour is the Natural Bridge cave, which is where you’ll find the country’s largest collection of glow worms. They cover the entire ceiling of the cavern, creating an illumination of nature that casts whimsical shadows across the surroundings. It’s almost an artistic display, as you watch the creatures wriggle around their habitat.

How do Glow Worms Glow?

The light from a glow worm is bioluminescent meaning it comes from within the living organism. They are not the only creatures that can produce light, so can fireflies, some spiders and deep sea fishes. The light is emitted by way of a pigment that reacts when combined with the enzyme ‘luciferase’, as well as with the oxygen and other molecules to give off that bluish- green light that you see in the caves.

If you find yourself exploring the Gold Coast Hinterland, seeing the local glow worms is an absolute must-do. As well as learning more about these rare and fascinating creatures, you can see them in their natural habitat and watch as they mesmerizingly light up the ancient confines of the cave as they go about their day-to-day lives.

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