Haven in the hills
Discover the green behind the gold in Gold Coast, Australia.
THE Gold Coast hinterland is often hailed as the green behind the gold. I discovered there is a lot of gold in the green too, during a media trip hosted by AirAsiaX and Tourism and Events Queensland. The hinterland is home to nine national parks, some of which are Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Less than an hour’s drive from Gold Coast’s famous Surfers Paradise is Tamborine Mountain, nature’s paradise. We were booked for a half-day tour with Southern Cross 4WD Tours, and their little demonstration of what a 4WD can do up steep hill tracks, added to the excitement. Our off-road adventure took us through protected eucalypt forests to the top of the mountain.
Tamborine Mountain, a 28 sq km plateau, is part of an ancient volcanic rim. It is home to 10 different types of forest, including subtropical rainforest, wet eucalypt forest and open eucalypt forest.
We took a short trek through Tamborine National Park and our guide, Ross, filled us in on the secrets of the rainforest.
“Don’t touch any plants,” he warned right from the start, and for good reason. Along the way, he pointed out to us the gympie gympie, one of the world’s most poisonous plants. The leaves, stems and fruit of the shrub are covered with silica-tipped hairs which deliver a potent neurotoxin upon contact. It is capable of killing dogs and horses.
We kept a safe distance from the heart-shaped leaves of the innocuous-looking shrub, and continued our bushwalk beneath the canopy of towering flooded gum trees, piccabeen palms, staghorn ferns and strangler figs. These figs are called stranglers because they grow on host trees which they slowly choke to death.
The walking track ended at a viewing platform overlooking a large rock pool, with a good view of Curtis Falls. The restricted area beyond the platform protects a fragile glow-worm colony.
Invigorated by the trek and pristine mountain air, we were all ready for a bite and a cuppa at Green Lane Coffee Plantation. As it turns out, this plantation with a cafe is a little gem on Alpine Terrace. Run by the Williams family who are passionate about coffee, we were shown around the grounds to see how coffee is grown, harvested and roasted. Every coffee cherry from the 650 coffee bushes, is picked by hand only when it is fully ripe.
It was a unique “seed to cup” experience for us as we savoured every drop of our full-flavoured organic coffee. The delectable gourmet “toasties” and waffles that we ordered for lunch, were presented like little works of art on a platter.
After a satisfying lunch, we headed off to Gallery Walk to check out the craft shops, and souvenir and gift outlets on this tourist stretch.
Tamborine Mountain is also well-known for its many wineries, and a tour of the mountain would not be complete without visiting a winery or two. We stopped by Heritage Estate Wines for some wine-tasting. Heritage Estate Wines has been producing award-winning wines for the past 25 years. It bagged a five-star rating from Australia’s most notable wine critic, James Halliday, in the 2016 Australian Wine Companion.
The palate-pleasing wines that we sampled easily won us over, and some of us left with bottles of wine. And it was on this heady note that we rounded up our tour of Tamborine Mountain, a cool getaway that will leave you with many warm memories.
Tamborine Mountain offers a sweeping view of the Gold Coast hinterland.
A 4WD heading up a hilly track that cuts through protected eucalypt forests to get to the top of Tamborine Mountain.
At the Green Lane Coffee Plantation, every coffee cherry is picked by hand only when it is fully ripe.