The first time I visited Tamborine Mountain, I was just 20 years old and traveling around Australia on a Contiki tour.
I will always remember my trip to Tamborine Mountain. The road to it from Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast was so windy. We’d had a big night out the previous day, with barely any sleep and way too much booze. My stomach was not coping at all with the twists and turns and I couldn’t wait to get there, leap out of the car and take a deep breath of fresh mountain air. What was actually quite a short trip felt like it took forever. But, when we finally arrived, I felt so much better; the views were stunning.
When we moved to Brisbane, I knew I needed to return to Tamborine Mountain.
This little slice of heaven is just an hour away from Brisbane, so how could we not? It’s the perfect place for people who, like us, enjoy nature, hiking, wildlife, and wine. Read on to find out what to do in this incredible part of South East Queensland.
How to get to Tamborine Mountain?
Tamborine Mountain is about 80 kilometres south of Brisbane. Depending on the time you leave the city, it can take from just under an hour, up to an hour and a half or slightly more. At peak hour, things tend to get jam-packed on the M1 highway.
There are a couple of different routes you can take though, so load up Google Maps and see which way the app thinks looks the fastest. We ended up jumping off the motorway early and let it take us there via the backroads, which was also much more scenic!
From the Gold Coast:
Tamborine Mountain is about 40 minutes from the Gold Coast. Use the Pacific Motorway and take Exit 57 at Oxenford just after Movie World. Then, follow the signs up the mountain. It’s only a short 15-minute drive from Movie World and Dreamworld.
What to do in Tamborine Mountain?
Take a hike in the rainforest
A walk in the rainforest is the best escape from a hot day. The shade provided by the tall, leafy trees is a welcome relief from the soaring temperatures that can be unbearable at the peak of summer, even up on the mountain. The lush, tropical rainforest is packed with Strangler Figs and towering Cedar trees. Some of them have roots so big that they will blow you away. Strangler vines take up residence in trees and their strong branches grow downwards into the soil. All of this makes for some great photo opportunities.
Curtis Falls Track (1.1 kms return)
Cedar Creek falls Track (900m return)
Witches Falls Track (3.1kms loop)
Palm Grove Circuit (2.6 kms loop)
Lower Creek Circuit, Curtis Falls (2 kms loop)
The Sandy Creek Circuit (2.6 kms loop)
Check out the many viewpoints
There are several viewpoints on the mountain, providing spectacular views of the surroundings. For views across the national parks of the Scenic Rim, don’t miss the Hang Gliders Launch and the Rotary Lookout on the Main Western Road. For views over the Gold Coast skyline and Pacific Ocean, head to the Eagle Heights Resort.
Go wine tasting
Tamborine Mountain is home to a few wineries. So, knowing us, we had to check a few of them out for some tasting. While I won’t say the wines match those of say the Hunter Valley, surprisingly they weren’t too shabby. When we moved up here, I assumed that we’d struggle to find decent wineries. But there you go, I was wrong!
We visited Albert River Wines and had a lovely relaxing lunch on their veranda, with some stunning views to go with their wine!
We also did some tasting at the Heritage Wines cellar door on the Gallery Walk. Their Fiano was very enjoyable.
See glow worms
There aren’t too many places in the world where you can see glow worms, but you can on Tamborine Mountain, thanks to a conservation initiative located in the grounds of the Cedar Creek Estate.
Their 30-minute tour will take you through a purpose-built cave containing thousands of glow worms. Before entering, you first watch a 7-minute video explaining more about these little guys. You are then taken inside the cave where, with the help of a red light, you can check them out. As you enter the cave, you’ll see thousands of little lights all around you. Some are much brighter than others; those are the big females. Our tour guide told us stories of how glow worms eat their siblings to survive, since mum isn’t very helpful when it comes to rearing her babies! It was a very informative tour and having not seen glow worms before, I really enjoyed it.
Visit the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
The Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk is just over a kilometre long and takes approximately 45-minutes to complete if you take your time. The walk takes you across a high-tech steel bridge and onto a cantilever pier that rises thirty metres above the creek and the rainforest below. From there, you have a great view over the rainforest canopy. As you walk through the forest, keep your eyes peeled for birdlife.
Shop on the Gallery Walk
When you’ve spent enough time exploring all the wonders of the mountain, it’s time for some retail therapy! The Gallery Walk is the best place to do just that. Walk up and down the Gallery Walk, taking time along the way to check out all the little shops that line it.
You’ll find crafts, local produce, wine, clothes, cafes and, my absolute favourite, the Cuckoo Clock shop. Even if you aren’t planning on buying a cuckoo clock, you just have to visit this store! I loved looking at all of the clocks, each of them slightly different. Lots of very impressive craftmanship went into making them. The building itself is worth the detour. For us, it was a little flashback to Germany.
Have a tasting paddle at the brewery
If wine isn’t your thing and you prefer beer (or if you like both!), head to Fortitude Brewing for a great selection of craft beers. Order a tasting paddle and try out five of their beers. Right next door is the Witches Chase Cheese Co., so why not get a little cheese platter to go with your beer? But if pizza is more what you’re craving, the brewery has that on their menu as well.
Check out the Botanic Gardens
The Tamborine Mountain Botanical Gardens is set across 11 hectares of land. It combines a wide variety of exotic and native flora. The glorious lake is the centrepiece of the gardens, along with a tranquil Japanese garden, a tropical rainforest walk, and many other delights.
Bring your picnic to eat at one of the picnic tables on site. Before or after your picnic, take a stroll along one of the walking trails around the gardens.
Where to stay in Tamborine Mountain?
Mountain Sanctuary B&B
The Polish Place
The Polish Place offers award-winning, self-contained chalets, set on the escarpment of Tamborine Mountain, with 180-degree views facing out towards The Great Dividing Range. Each of these European-style mountain chalets includes a fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities. All have a dining area, private balcony, “cathedral ceilings” and a loft-style bedroom. Click here to find out their prices.
If neither of those make sense for you, use HotelsCombined to search across all the top accommodation websites:
Where to eat in Tamborine Mountain?
The Tree House: This is a great place for coffee and breakfast on the Gallery Walk.
Three Little Pigs Bar and Bistro: Excellent food made with high quality ingredients and beautifully presented. They have huge portion sizes, but you can get a doggy bag!