Haven in the hills

Dis­cover the green be­hind the gold in Gold Coast, Aus­tralia.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Travel - By C.B. OH star2­travel@thes­tar.com.my

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.

— Pho­tos: South­ern Cross 4WD Tours

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.

— Tourism and Events Queens­land

At the Green Lane Cof­fee Plan­ta­tion, ev­ery cof­fee cherry is picked by hand only when it is fully ripe.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.