GREEN BEHIND THE GOLD
Inland from the towering skyscrapers and world-famous surfing beaches is a tranquil wonderland of rainforests, waterfalls and charming small villages. By Danielle Lancaster.
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 500 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.
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.
Just above the top of Curtis Falls, is the iconic Curtis Falls Corner shopping precinct. Consisting of a wonderful array of stores, no visit to Tamborine Mountain is complete without taking home a souvenir of your tour. Australia is world renowned for its gem quality opals, and a visit to the Australian Outback Opals showroom won’t disappoint. With impressive opal cutting on site, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of opals and opal jewellery, and take home an exquisite piece for yourself or a loved one. What better way to make lasting and irreplaceable memories than with the gift of opal.
A great place to refuel before you start your walk to Curtis Falls is Crema Lovers café. Recognised as the number one place for great coffee on Tamborine Mountain on Beanhunter, this café offers a lovely vista from the sunny verandah where you can enjoy delicious treats, light meals and of course great coffee.
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 Hanggliding. 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.
Attractions worth adding to your list include Tamborine Mountain Distillery and Thunderbird 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 metres 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 glowworms 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 7am 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.
n For more information visit Gold Coast Tourism at visitgoldcoast.com