Think of walking through a tranquil rainforest, past towering palms to waterfalls and gurgling creeks. Look closely and you may see an endangered Birdwing butterfly, Albert’s Lyrebird or a Land Mullet, the world’s largest skink, sunning itself under a slither of sunlight reaching the forest floor.
Welcome to Tamborine Mountain, home to Queensland’s oldest national park and the third oldest in the world. In less than an hour from the Gold Coast’s surf and sand , you can be in the midst of one of the area’s hinterland gems.
Tamborine Mountain, rising over 600 metres, is the first hill behind the Gold Coast, giving it the ‘Green behind the Gold’ status.
This is the most northern section of the great volcanic caldera of Mt Warning and forms part of ‘Australia’s Green Cauldron’, an Australian National Landscape of Significance. When this once fiery shield volcano finally spewed its last ash around 20 million years ago, the landscape was coated in rich volcanic earth and the biggest erosion caldera in the southern hemisphere, and one of the largest in the world, had been formed.
Tamborine Mountain National Park consists of different sections. The Witches Falls Section, with its grassy picnic areas surrounded by a natural greenhouse, was the first section declared in 1908. Since then, 13 sections have been added. There’s Joalah, Cedar Creek, The Knoll, Palm Grove and MacDonald, to name a few. For a wheel chair/pram friendly walk consider Esme Street Environmental Park—a community rainforest maintained area. The short Curtis Falls walk in the Joalah Section of the national park is easy and if you can only fit in one walk, choose this one.
At Hang Gliders Lookout, the panorama spans across the Border Ranges, valleys and to neighbouring mountains such as Lamington. If the wind is right, keen hang gliders will be preparing and running off the grassy ledge for their descent on the thermals into the Scenic Rim below. If you’re brave, you too can soar like a bird doing a tandem jump with South East Queensland Hang Gliding. It’s also the perfect location to watch the sunset.
The Gold Coast’s hinterland is recognised as one of the most biodiverse regions in Australia. Its subtropical rainforests harbour a huge number of rare and endangered animals and plants. Over 170 species of birds have been recorded, and numerous frogs, insects, reptiles and intriguing fungi can be seen by those with an eager eye.
Today’s visitors can experience not only natural but also man-made treasures. There are award-winning restaurants, artisan’s studios, shopping for antiques and knick-knacks at quaint outlets and quirky mountain markets. Plus roadside stalls, wineries, distilleries and local events. Gallery Walk is the tourist hub of the mountain with its diverse collection of stores offering everything from fudge to soap to art to clothes to fortune telling.
Jasmin Organics, at the top of Tamborine Mountain, combines nature and science in an organic skincare and beauty range. Stop by their beauty shop to sample award winning products. Knowledgeable staff are on hand to help you discover how to achieve radiant, healthy and younger looking skin.
Stop by Antiques Plus in Eagle Heights for treasures from the past. With quality, unique pieces, you’ll feel like you are stepping back in time when you visit their store.
Attractions worth adding to your list include Tamborine Mountain Distillery and Thunder Bird Park where you can dig for thunder eggs. Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk is a unique eco-adventure which has elevated walkways in the beautiful rainforest canopies. It is set in a magical 30 acres of privately owned rainforest and the walk takes approximately 45 minutes at a leisurely pace. The entire walk totals 1.5 kilometres and is a combination of forest floor trails, 300 meters of high-tech steel bridges and a 40 metre cantilever bridge that soars a breathtaking 30 metres above the creek and rainforest below.
Another popular thing to do is to see glowworms. Do a tour at night into the National Park to see them in their natural habitat or visit the man-made Glow Worm Caves at Cedar Creek Estate where you can see the nocturnal glow worms during the day in realistic underground chambers.
All of this adventure does work up an appetite, and Songbirds is an excellent place for lunch. This multi-award winning restaurant is set in a private rainforested retreat and has accommodation available. It is very popular so it’s best to book ahead. For something less formal, The Botanic Garden is perfect for a picnic and is popular for all ages. The garden has a rainforest walk, Japanese Garden, Orchid House and quaint stone bridge over the lake.
Foodies who want to cook their own will not be disappointed. There are numerous road stalls selling organically grown produce dotted around the mountain and many fine dining options boasting award-winning chefs. The Green Shed, where the locals take their excess produce for sale, is open Sundays from 7 am at the showgrounds.
Whether you come for a day trip or stay for a few days, Tamborine Mountain, shrouded in its rainforest blanket, will win over your heart.