In­land from the tow­er­ing sky­scrapers and world-fa­mous surf­ing beaches is a tran­quil won­der­land of rain­forests, wa­ter­falls and charm­ing small vil­lages. By Danielle Lan­caster.

Where Brisbane - - Explore The Hinterland -

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 wheel­chair/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 knick­knacks 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.

■ For more in­for­ma­tion visit Gold Coast Tourism at vis­it­gold­

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