Tamborine Mountain is one of Queensland’s gems. Tucked away in the Gold Coast hinterland, just 62 km from Brisbane Mount Tamborine (as it is also known), this lush, ancient landscape offers a range of outdoor attractions, natural scenery, manicured gardens and quaint shops. I’ve written about it a few times for Australia and New Zealand magazine now and my husband and I have explored Tamborine with and without our kids so have explored all of the best things to do there.
Here is the magazine feature that was published following our first trip. As always, there was way too much to cram into 2000 words, so here is a behind-the-scenes peek to help you Discover Tamborine Mountain in more detail. If you’re keen to learn about more of my travel writing trips, visit the Discover Australia section of my site.
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Discover Tamborine Mountain
Tamborine Mountain is close enough to do as a day trip 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.
Tamborine is an idyllic place to spend a weekend getting away from it all. 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 at Tamborine Mountain
If you’re considering what to do in Tamborine Mountain, here are some of our favourite things..
Thunderbird Park at Mount Tamborine is a fun place for all the family. There are a wide range of activities for all ages including thunderegg fossicking, horse riding, crazy golf and tree top challenges.
Thunderegg Fossicking at Thunderbird Park
Being a Brit, I’d never heard of this – but it is a lot of fun. A thunderegg is a lump of lava containing coloured layers of ash. We’ve visited Thunderbird Park Thunderegg Mine twice now to do this and my kids would happily go back every weekend if they got chance. They love scrambling around the rocky slope with little pickaxes and buckets. Our geology-mad boys, in particular, LOVED the experience, and they were beyond thrilled to find some partial thunderegg eggs which they had cut open along with plenty of pretty rocks that shimmered in the light. If you’re looking for things to do in Mt. Tamborine for kids – this is perfect!
It’s open seven days a week and costs $85.50 for a family of two adults and three children. Find out more here.
Horse Riding Hinterland
Another great outdoor experience at Thunderbird Park is taking a trail ride with Horse Riding Hinterland. A half hour trail ride is suitable for children over seven – my eight-year-old boys loved their first proper experience of horse riding. As our daughter was only five, she was a bit too little to go on a trail ride but she did enjoy a ride around the grass. We all really enjoyed the experience and my kids keep asking when we can do it again.
Every day at 2pm Thunderbird Park comes alive with colourful birds for the free bird feeding. It takes place to the side of the cafe. Read about it here.
Glow Worm Caves Tamborine Mountain
Another great thing to do with kids in Mount Tamborine is a visit to the Cedar Creek Estate to 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.
We’ve done a real life glow worm tour at O’Reilly’s in nearby Lamington National Park and that was amazing but this little man-made attraction is great if you have younger children who can’t stay up too late or who would struggle to walk through the forest at night to see glow worms in the wild.
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.
Do you love wine? If so Check out this guided wine tour.
Cedar Creek Falls Mt Tamborine
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.
The Skywalk, Mount Tamborine
Hubby and I visited this eco-attraction without the kids on a day out. 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 – I know mine would 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.
This pocket of quaint shops is perfect if you love arts, crafts, food and drink. And it’s even fun if you take your kids along too (I promise!) Our kids loved the German Cuckoo Clock Nest – a traditional German chalet shop selling all kinds of cuckoo clocks.
We quickly discovered the perfect shop for our daughter – Flights of Fancy is a dream for anyone that loves princesses, fairies and mermaids! We easily spent an hour walking around trying to decide what to buy. Visit the shop’s website here.
If you can drag your kids out of the shops, there are some tasty options for grown ups too. Castle Glen Tamborine Mountain Cellars sells rows and rows of delicious wines and rich liqueurs in pretty bottles produced by Castle Glen Australia. The range of wines, fortified wines, liqueurs, beers and spirits are all 100% natural, chemical free and preservative free. The chocolate-based liqueurs are delicious!
Tamborine Mountain Distillery is another one for the grown ups.
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 and have someone else do the driving!
Chocolates on Gallery Walk is a great place for a pit stop to refuel after doing too much shopping.
Overall, Gallery Walk was a hit all round. The kids enjoyed the food and they loved spending their pocket money in the little shops.
Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens
My kids love visiting gardens so a visit to the Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens was a high on our agenda. You could easily spend a few hours walking around the plants, exploring the tracks and playing pooh sticks in the water from the little bridge. Take a picnic and enjoy the view!
It’s open seven days a week and is free but a donation is appreciated (and well deserved as it is a fabulous attraction).
Where to stay at Mount Tamborine
We’ve stayed in Tamborine Mountain twice, visiting two very different types of accommodation.
Escarpment Retreat, Tamborine Mountain
For our romantic getaway to Mount Tamborine, 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.
Cedar Creek Lodges, Thunderbird Park
On our most recent visit to Mt Tamborine, we went with the kids and stayed at Thunderbird Park’s Cedar Creek Lodges. As we were doing a number of activities at the park during our visit, it was so convenient to stay on site. The lodges are set in amongst the trees and they provide a very comfortable rural retreat. It felt like we had really stepped away from real life when we walked through the trees to our lodge – it gave us true disconnection.
Our favourite thing about the lodges was the log fire which was laid ready for lighting. We visited in May and as the air temperature is cooler in the hinterland it was a lovely opportunity to light the fire and snuggle up and play some board games. We also loved the bright decor in the lodges. Our lodge had two bedrooms and we had a rollaway bed added to the kids’ room so the three kids could share. The spa bath was handy as everyone came back from the thunderegg mine pretty dusty too!
Breakfast the next morning was served in the bright and sunny restaurant and it was really delicious. I wished we’d been able to stay for longer so we could have eaten at the on-site restaurant in the evening as the restaurant had a great atmosphere and a huge log fire (alas on our one night there we were so exhausted from our days’ activities that we just drove the short way into Tamborine Mountain to get a pizza from Tamborine Mountain Pizza – it was divine though!)
I would definitely go back at stay at Cedar Creek Lodges again as it’s such a handy location for all of the on-site activities at Thunderbird Park. Now that our kids are getting older they are going to want to try more things like the tree top challenge next time. I’m sure it won’t be long before we’re back again.
Where to eat: My choice of Mt. Tamborine restaurants
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. There is even an English pub nearby called the Fox and Hound that looks like fun.
There will definitely be many more trips back to Tamborine in the future!
Discover Mount Tamborine for yourself
Whether you’re looking for a day trip from the Gold Coast or Brisbane, or you’re looking for a weekend away, there are plenty of options of places to stay and things to do on Mount Tamborine and the surrounding area. Check out hotels here.
* My accommodation at Tamborine Mountain and some of our activities were hosted while I was researching a travel article for a magazine. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.