Gold Coast’s hinterland is often somewhat of a forgotten land. Some call it the green behind the gold or Queensland’s Emerald City, and it’s easy to see why.
Summer is when we all flock to the beach, but this time of year is perfect for venturing inland and exploring all the beauty the hinterland has to offer: famous for unspoilt World Heritage sites, charming mountain villages with antique shops, art galleries, award-winning wineries, and sweeping coastal views. Add to that, rainforest that’s situated in one of the world’s oldest national parks, which we reckon is a good enough reason to get there pronto!
If you still need convincing, here are a few spots you need to check out in the Gold Coast hinterland.
If coffee is the first thing you think about in the morning, then we suggest having one before you make your winding way to the hinterland. For your second hit of the day, probably around mid-morning, then Mount Tamborine Coffee Plantation should be your first port of call. Family-owned and operated and producing beans sought after all around the world, due to the perfect growing climate and organic principles.
Nestled in the Springbrook rainforest is Dancing Waters Café which is too cute for words, specialising in exceptional coffee that goes down nicely with fluffy warm scones and other homemade daily baked goods.
If you’re more of a tea lover, then Tea & Niceties situated in the Scenic Rim is where you will find classic Devonshire Tea served in a European-style tearoom. It’s time to round up the troops and treat yo’ self to a high tea, ladies!
Outpost Café situated in the Canungra region is a real country café; exuding rustic charm with good old fashioned food. They also claim to have the best pies in Australia—we’ll let you be the judge of that.
If you have to drag your man away from the surf, then treat him to Hickory, an American BBQ joint that prides itself on slow-cooked meats, wine, and beverages. Five hours of labour and love goes into serving you succulent ribs with a special blend of spices and salt—sticky fingers, anyone?
Mrs. Frost's Kitchen is another hidden hinterland gem you absolutely need to check out. The picturesque farm offers outdoor dining experiences with delicious paddock-to-plate food, and fresh air that’ll give your lungs a well-deserved break from the micro-aggressions of sand and exhaust fumes of the Gold Coast Highway.
For a sweet treat and probably your hardest decision of the day, visit Granny Mac’s fudge store which has a whopping 80 different varieties of fudge, of which 40 are for sale at any given time. Think of all your old favourite flavours, as well as a few with a twist: bubble gum, pumpkin pie, chai, and even flaming chocolate chilli. We’ll taste test them all!
Tamborine Mountain Distillery has the most awards of any distillery in Australia, over 300 in fact, resulting in a world-wide reputation for the highest quality liqueurs, vodkas, schnapps, and Eaux de vie (which means “water of life” in French).
If wine is more your thing, then book a day tour where you’ll be transported to the best wineries in the region because, let’s be honest, life is far too short to drink bad wine. If you prefer to do a DIY tour then make sure to pop by Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard and Winery who do a mighty fine Rosé or Mount Nathan Winery where you can even see how honey is collected from the bees, while sipping from honey-infused wines. Sounds magical, no?
It’s no secret us Gold Coasters love a good cold brew, so why not go and learn how the delicious drop is made at Fortitude Brewing Co. where they have 15 beers on tap, all hand-crafted with premium ingredients, big on flavour and a little too easy to drink.
Let’s make this clear, the hinterland has plenty more to offer than award-winning wines and delectable food. So, make sure to earn your stop at the fudge shop by exploring the area first. At only 1.5 kilometres, the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk experience won’t take you long, but is definitely worth the walk through the canopies and to check out the crystal clear waters of Cedar Creek.
Next stop should be the Glow Worm Caves, seriously something that needs to be seen to be believed. Although they reside in purpose-built caves, it’s still pretty neat to see thousands of illuminated glow worms on the cave ceilings; you will even learn why they glow!
For something a tad more exhilarating, try the Treetop Challenge; an ultimate adventure experience including Tarzan swings and flying foxes (just be sure to go before lunch if heights make you queasy).
There’s also a cooking school where you’ll learn from a French-trained chef, an organic skincare farm and factory where you can understand the delicate process from farm to the final product, or just enjoy the scenic drive and numerous walks on offer and see what you stumble across.
Springbrook National Park is totally worth exploring with Apple Tree Park being the best access point for many of the fab walks in the area AND a great picnic stop. Natural Bridge is a must, featuring a unique cave waterfall amid lush rainforest that is spectacular to say the least.
A day can easily be filled on Tamborine Mountain alone, so why not take a weekend bag and go for a mini stay-cation? You can choose from cosy cottages (check out our article on the best ones here) or opt for an Air BnB that has something for everyone.
Enjoy an overnight escape in the boutique villas hidden away in the pristine surrounds at Songbirds Rainforest Retreat; snuggle up with your love at Avocado Bed ‘n’ Breakfast with a glass of wine, cheese platter, spa baths, log fires, and some of the best views of Mount Tamborine plateau, need we go on?
For the ultra keen among us, dig out your warmest sleeping bag and get in touch with nature for reals. The Springbrook National Park Camping Ground has toilets, drinking water, and a cooking shelter with free BBQs. All you need, right?
If you’re more of a glamper then Nightfall is a luxury camp boasting permanent safari-styled tents in the sub-tropical rainforest of Lamington National Park. Think complimentary champagne, vintage baths, organic bedding, in-tent fireplace, and a rain-head shower; our kinda camping!
Hankering to escape the city? We've found 10 romantic cottages and cabins that are definitely worth the drive.
Image credit: Brooke Darling