Big Volcano Natural History Index of the Northern Rivers NSW, and Gold Coast hinterland and Scenic Rim QLD, region, including national parks and attractions.

Big Volcano® (Wollumbin) Visitor Guide

The natural history, national parks and reserves of the Northern Rivers - Gold Coast region of Australia,
including geology, flora and fauna, World Heritage and general information.

Nature History

Crams Farm, Cudgen Nature Reserve, Mount Warning - Wollumbin
Photos © Big Volcano Tourism

Big Volcano - Natural History Index

More than 20 million years ago a volcano erupted over an area now known as the New South Wales Northern Rivers and Queensland Gold Coast and hinterland region.

After several million years of activity, the Australian landmass moved off the "hotspot" which created the volcano, and other natural forces took over, to help make what is now the biggest erosion caldera in the southern hemisphere, and one of the largest calderas in the world.

It is these natural forces which have contributed to the evolution of unique plant and animal species, and resulted in a feature known as the "McPherson-Macleay overlap", where the flora contains a mixture of northern and southern species.

The fauna is also marked by a mix of northern and southern forms, resulting in some species diversity being the highest in Australia, and has led to the recognition of the region as one of outstanding biogeographical significance, with World Heritage listing for many national parks and reserves.

Icon photo of Mount Warning at sunset, with the 3 sisters to the left and Border Ranges in the distance

Click on the photo to get a 51Kb panorama in a new window.

Photograph © 2002 by James McKenzie, panorama featuring Mount Warning and the 3 Sisters at sunset, taken from Mount Wollumbin

Webmaster note:  NPWS and QPWS COVID-19 advisories checked/updated:12.50pm, April 8th, 2020.


Protecting the health and safety of our visitors and staff is the highest priority for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). We are following the directives and advice of the Australian and NSW Government health officials.

In line with the current limits on public gatherings and advice to cancel or postpone non-essential travel, including trips within New South Wales, we are making the following changes until further notice in response to the COVID-19 emergency:

  • No camping is permitted in national parks from 26 March 2020, including wild and backcountry camping
  • Most visitor centres and historic sites are closed (exceptions are in place for permanent residents living within historic sites)
  • Some high-visitation areas (beaches, picnic facilities, popular lookouts, etc) are closed, and this will continue to change following assessments on a case-by-case basis.

National parks and reserves are special environmental, cultural and recreational places for the people of NSW and they will remain open to the community. Normal entry fees continue to apply where applicable. Visitors are encouraged to stay home, except for essential trips, and follow official restrictions and staff instructions when exercising in national parks near their homes.

Please check alerts for NSW national parks closures before planning your visit and follow temporary signage installed at closed locations. We remind our visitors that it is an offence under the law to disobey temporary closure signage or the direction of national parks officers.

QLD Parks Service (QPWS) COVID-19 advisories

As of 3 April 2020, the following places are closed until further notice:

  • all camping areas and camp sites in Queensland's national parks, forests and recreation areas
  • all barbecue facilities in all day-use and camping areas in Queensland's national parks, forests and recreation areas
  • specified high visitation sites (listed)
  • all Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) Visitor Centres and Wildlife Centres (listed).

Due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, QPWS staff will monitor visitation rates for compliance with Health Directives and any identified high COVID-19 risks with the possibility of further changes to park closures as the situation continues to evolve. Please check this page and park alerts regularly for updates.

  See QLD Park alerts or follow Qld park alerts on Twitter for latest details.

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