4 places to visit in the Gold Coast hinterland
Inland from the half-naked bodies sunning on the beaches and riding epic waves lie the densely forested mountains of the McPherson Range. They may only be less than an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast beaches, but it will feel like you’ve stepped back in time to a place where empty country roads lead to canyons and valleys with hidden secrets of the subtropical jungle such as waterfalls, lookouts, and rampant wildlife. It’s the green behind the gold and is awakening as the hottest destination in the South East Queensland region.
Don’t miss these four places in the Gold Coast hinterland:
1. Mt Tamborine
Just a 40-minute drive brings you to the hinterland town of Mt Tamborine where you can experience tropical Queensland at its best. There’s a 45-minute walking journey high above the canopy on the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk through the lush, Tamborine National Park.
For kids, there is Australia’s first and largest high ropes Tree Top Challenge, the glow warm caves, and Thunderbird Park. For the older kids, take an amble down Gallery Walk for vibrantly coloured shops, art galleries, wineries, restaurants and cafes, boutique shopping and arts and crafts; attend a cooking class with chef Terri Taylor at Tamborine Cooking School; taste cheese at Witches Chase Cheese Factory and sip on award-winning hinterland wine at Witches Falls Winery.
2. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Lamington National Park
Deep within the World Heritage Lamington National Park, and at the end of a winding road on the edge of the mountain lies O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. As the name suggests, it’s where you can escape the chaos of life and connect instead to ancient forests, clean air, adventurous activities, birdsong, potoroos, and simplicity.
You can camp in the National Park for a minimal price, or if you want to upgrade, there’s the retreat lodge, or indulgent, luxurious Eco-villas, complete with a spa on the balcony and epic views over the rainforest canopy. It’s not necessary to spend all day admiring the view, the retreat and national park comes with 160km of graded walking tracks, Segway rainforest tours, trees to climb for views, bird shows, and flying fox canopy rides. It’s one of my favourite Gold Coast secret hideaways.
3. Binna Burra Mountain Lodge
Again in the Lamington National Park, this UNESCO World Heritage listed area comprises Australia’s largest remnant of sub-tropical rainforest and is the perfect place to disconnect to reconnect.
Start with the Bellbird Lookout walk which takes you through rainforest, eucalypt woodland, and open forest and ends with stunning views over Ship’s Stern, Egg Rock, Turtle Rock and the Numinbah Valley from the lookout. The 5km Caves Circuit walk is also worth doing and takes you down a gentle gradient to the cave, and back up again. Look up for sleeping koalas!
Ranger-led activities such as hikes, archery, flying fox rides over the canopy, evening spotlight walks, and campfire talks are available. The Binna Burra Lodge restaurant has amazing views out over the hinterland and is the perfect place for sunrise or sunset drinks.
4. Springbrook National Park
With its dense forest and cool air, Springbrook National Park is possibly the wettest place in southeast Queensland, which means you’re in for an enchanting emerald treat. There are a range of walking tracks from 300m to 54km in length. The 4-kilometre twin falls circuit takes you through forest and rock clefts to the bottom of Twin Falls.
Canyon Lookout gives spectacular views over the sheer walls of the Canyon. A 10-minute walk from here will give you views of the falls plunging over the side from above. Springbrook is also home to the popular and picturesque Natural Bridge rock arch formation, which is also where you’ll find Australia’s largest population of glow worms. If you want a real enchanting forest experience, stay in an A-frame cedar wood chalet named after one of the seven dwarves amongst the twisted vines at the Mouse House Retreat. Soak in the hot tub after your long walks, or sit on your deck beside the running stream and zen out.