Tamborine Mountain has been on our ‘must visit one day’ list for a very long time – both from our backpacking days and since we moved to Brisbane 18 months ago. I was really excited when I was commissioned to write a feature about it for Australia and New Zealand magazine as it gave us the kick to make it happen.
We decided to explore it in two trips. The first with our kids and my in laws (who were over visiting from the UK), and the second was a very rare romantic retreat for Matt and I. On our own. With NO kids anywhere to be seen.
The magazine feature will be out later this year and will cover the trip in detail, so for this post I just wanted to share some of my favourite experiences and tell you a little bit more about this beautiful part of South Queensland.
Tamborine Mountain: The lowdown
Tamborine is close enough to do as a daytrip from Brisbane, yet when you enter the rainforest and hear the wildlife sounds echo around the dense greenery it feels like you’re a million miles from the city.
There’s plenty to do, whether you’re bringing kids, or looking for a romantic getaway, whether you love gourmet food and wine (who doesn’t?!) or you prefer to enjoy the great outdoors and reconnect with nature.
Things to do around Tamborine Mountain
I had a lot cram in to the feature which is partly why we broke it up into two trips. Well, that at the fact Tamborine is the most idyllic, relaxing place to go and the feature not only co-incided with my birthday but also with the visit from my in laws who were more than happy to babysit for two nights – it was meant to be!
Here’s what we got up to:
Thunderegg Fossicking at Thunderbird Park
Being a Brit, I’d never heard of this – but it was a lot of fun. A thunderegg is a lump of lava containing coloured layers of ash. We spent a fun afternoon at Thunderbird Park scrambling around the rocky slope with little pickaxes and buckets. Our six-year-old boys LOVED the experience, and they were beyond thrilled to find one partial thunderegg egg (which we had cut open and it now sits proudly on a shelf at home) along with plenty of pretty rocks that shimmered in the light.
Glow Worm Caves
At the Cedar Creek Estate you can visit their man-made glow worm cave. It’s great for kids as it is accessible and safe, and it’s open during the day so you don’t need to wait for a night tour. It’s only a short tour so it’s a good attraction to slot in around other activities. If you arrive early for your time slot there’s also ‘Frog Hollow’ to explore – a cabin in the forest that is filled with glass cases of different frogs. My frog-obsessed boys LOVED this place. There’s also a lake with ducks and a cafe so you can make it a longer visit you have time to spare.
Cedar Creeks Winery
Yep, as well as glow worms and frogs, you can taste some local wines (five tastings for $4) while you’re visiting the estate. Our favourite was an easy-drinking rose called In the Pink. And they brew a divine chocolate port too which I can imagine sipping in front of a log fire at Christmas in the UK, but I might need to save it until July in Queensland instead and use my imagination about the carols playing in the background.
Reconnect with nature and take a picnic down to Cedar Creek Falls. Don’t forget your swimmers as it’s a great place for a dip (although beware the pool beds are very slippery and the water is icy cold!) The pools are a little walk from the car park down a path and some steps so be sure to take everything you need with you. It was raining when we went and was a little overcast so we didn’t have a swim but it looked like fun.
Hubby and I visited this eco-attraction without the kids (I figured they’d spend the whole time trying to bounce on the bridges that are suspended up in the treetops if we’d brought them along!) It was a really relaxing way to spend an afternoon. The circular walk isn’t long – they suggest allowing 45 mins – but you can easily spend longer if you want to enjoy the tranquillity of the surrounding rainforest and enjoy the view of being up in the treetops. It’s accessible enough for an off-road style buggy and you could bring kids – when mine are a little older and a little less hectic I will definitely bring them as they will love reading the information boards about the wildlife. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the rare Richmond birdwing butterfly too – the attraction has been working hard to create their ideal habitat and we saw plenty of them during our walk.
Visit the Tamborine Mountain Distillery and see the ornate, hand-painted bottles laid out in the tudor-style shop. Sample the eclectic range of vodkas, liqueurs and schnapps in flavours ranging from butter menthol to salty liquorice. It’s a super quirky place – just try to visit on an organised tour so you can do a tasting!
For our romantic getaway, we spent two nights at the luxurious Escarpment Retreat. Here we were treated to a fabulous four-poster bed, a spa bath large enough for a family, a deck looking out to the trees and a beautifully decorated rainforest villa. We were welcomed with champagne, had possibly the most delicious hotel breakfast I’ve ever eaten (every time I look at the photo it makes my mouth water) and we loved every second of our time there. The resort is built into a private area of rainforest with its own creek and waterfalls – the view from the large viewing deck at the far end of the property was just breathtaking. My favourite experience was also using the private cinema. One night after going out for dinner, we came back for a private movie with a bottle of wine enjoyed from the comfort of the big leather armchairs. It was a real treat. Next time we go back, I hope I’ll have time to try out the spa which uses products from the local skincare company, Jasmin Organics.
During our stay, we ate out as food and wine are pretty high up on the list of things both Matt and I love. The highlight by far was a meal we enjoyed at a little, authentic Italian – Belvedere on Main. This wasn’t even the place we intended to go to – The Old Church was the place we’d been recommended by everybody we’d met, but unfortunately it was closed so we ended up picking a random restaurant after checking Google and Trip Advisor. Belvedere was unexpectedly incredible! Hubby’s steak was one of the most tender, juicy steaks we’ve ever tasted and my wood fired pizza was delicious. It was just SO good. It’s definitely a place we’ll visit again when we’re in the area. Alas I was too busy enjoying the food, wine and good company for my birthday meal that I totally forgot to take any pictures. As a blogger for the past eight years, it is very rare for that to happen but I can honestly say the food was so good I didn’t even think about doing anything other than eating it!
Cafe Bravo was a great little cafe on the Gallery Walk – perfect for a cheeky glass of champagne and slice of cake. And the Mount Tamborine Coffee Plantation served up great cups of locally grown, organic coffee and brownies to die for.
There are still plenty of places on my hit list for Tamborine – we definitely need to eat out at The Old Church just because it was so highly recommended by everyone. And I also want to go to the Polish Place to eat and enjoy the great views of the valley. There is even an English pub nearby called the Fox and Hound that looks like fun. When the kids are a bit older we’ll try out more of the adventurous attractions at Thunderbird Park, and I would love to go on an organised wine tasting tour if we can get another child-free night away in the future.
Yes, there will definitely be many more trips back to Tamborine in the future!
If you’re considering places for a weekend break, you might also like this post about Byron Bay.
* My accommodation and some of our activities were hosted while I was researching a travel article for a magazine. All opinions are my own.