Exploring Queensland’s rainforest hinterland
Cosy log cabins and romantic cottages with heated spas and open fireplaces continue the charm factor. Most are scattered along the Springbrook plateau; try the wonderful Mouses House with its enchanting A-framed chalets nestled in the forest.
Devonshire tea and craft cottages
In the hinterland’s north, Tamborine Mountain is home to Queensland’s oldest national park, Tamborine Mountain National Park, which stretches across an 8km plateau and has numerous walking trails offering tumbling cascades and coastal views. One of the most popular is to Witches Falls in the satellite suburb of North Tamborine. The easy 3km circuit meanders through rainforest, past seasonal lagoons surrounded by piccabeen palms to a lookout and waterfall. Witches Falls was declared a national park in 1908, making it the oldest section of Queensland’s oldest national park.
The birdlife in Tamborine Mountain National Park is spectacular, and kaleidoscopes of butterflies float through the trees. The park is home to the rare Richmond Birdwing butterfly, once commonly sighted along the entire southeast Queensland coast but now restricted to pockets of the Sunshine and Gold Coasts. Look out for it on the 300m rainforest canopy walk at Skywalk in North Tamborine; the male of the species is the most noticeable with brilliant green and black wings.
Tamborine Mountain has its share of rainforest walks, romantic cottages and snug bed and breakfasts, but the primary lure of this mountaintop community is its thriving chocolate, fudge and craft cottage industries. In North Tamborine, be sure to try a boutique beer or a liqueur distilled from native herbs and botanicals at the Tamborine Mountain Distillery. Only 2km away, stroll down Tamborine’s main avenue, Gallery Walk, in the suburb of Eagle Heights, to sample homemade jams and fruity wines, listen to street musicians and artists and discover an ever-changing array of locally made creative knick-knacks. But no matter where you go on Tamborine Mountain, the delightfully English tradition of a Devonshire tea (delicious homemade scones with lashings of whipped cream) is, rather surprisingly, never too far away.
Before leaving Tamborine Mountain, call into the rustic St Bernards Hotel (5km south of North Tamborine in the suburb of Mount Tamborine). This charming relic is one of the oldest buildings on the mountain. It was built in the late 1880s and became a pub in 1911. After being greeted at the door by a shaggy St Bernard, savour the stunning views of the Tamborine Valley and Guanaba Gorge from the back deck with a drink in hand. On a fine day the Gold Coast high rises and sandy beaches are clearly visible – a short drive, but a world away.