The Gold Coast’s magnificent hinterland – the green behind the gold – remains (inexplicably) one of the Big Lap’s best kept secrets.
For grey nomads who do take the short detour away from the glitz and glamour of the bustling coastal strip, the contrast is startling … and generally very welcome. While seeing the high rises and high rollers of Surfers Paradise is very much part of the around Australia adventure, many find the pace of life a stone’s throw to the west more to their liking.
The 28-square-kilometre plateau known as Tamborine Mountain is as peaceful and as relaxed as its name suggests. The area, which includes Tamborine National Park, as well as the communities of Mount Tamborine Village, North Tamborine, Eagle Heights and Canungra, has a population of around 7,000 and a vibe all of its own.
The plateau, which was actually created by a lava flow from the Mount Warning volcanic eruption 22 million years ago, has got the lot. As well as waterfalls and walks, there are wineries and markets, and the attractive villages are packed with craft shops, art galleries and cafes. The sprawling national park boasts some great walks, including the Cedar Creek Circuit which snakes past cascading water and rock pools to get to Cedar Creek Falls, and the Witches Falls Circuit which takes visitors through the rainforest’s giant strangler figs before arriving at the falls themselves.
Other great (and not too demanding) walking tracks include the Cameron Falls Circuit, the Curtis Falls Walk, the Palm Grove Circuit, and the Joalah Circuit To get different perspectives on the area’s natural attractions, many visitors are eager to try the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk which offers a bird’s eye view of the rainforest, and then to go the other way and head underground into the Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm Caves.
The man-made caves include the ‘glow-worm cave’ filled with countless thousands of dazzling glow-worms. The caves are actually located at Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard, which should offer a clue to one of the other things that should bring grey nomads flocking this way … the wine.
There are half a dozen other stunning wineries in the region … and there’s even a brewery and a distillery, as well! This is fertile country and it’s the place to pick up some great natural produce ranging from cheeses and fudge to avocadoes, macadamia nuts and kiwi fruit.
The local markets are particularly exciting too. Other attractions include Thunderbird Park, where you can fossick for thunder eggs, the nine-acre Botanic Gardens at Eagle Heights, and the Tamborine Mountain Heritage Centre, a historical park consisting of a museum and seven heritage buildings.
For a relaxed place then, there’s a surprising amount of incredible things to do and see … and, for those looking to spend a few days (or weeks) in the area, the Tamborine Mountain Caravan and Camping Park is set among the trees in the northern valley.
And it all goes to prove that you really don’t need a beach to have fun on the Gold Coast.