48 hours exploring the green behind the Gold Coast
You know the pain of being stuck behind a Sunday driver holding up traffic, 20 kilometres under the limit?
Well, instead of cursing them and tailgating like a maniac, why not become one? A GPS-free driver who lives in the moment without needing to constantly check emails or respond to that annoying social media ping.
It’s actually pretty damn easy to do. Just schedule yourself ‘out of office’ for 48 hours.
SET THE ALARM & GET OUTTA BED
Beat the heat (and those other pesky, leisurely drivers) and make tracks early.
Within two hours of Brisbane or the Gold Coast, you’ll arrive on top of the world at North Tamborine – a haven of colourful trinket shops, homewares, clothing, jewellery, galleries of handmade art and loads of gourmet nibbles. I hope you’re hungry.
If you manage to coincide your stay with the second Sunday of the month, make sure you visit the country markets.
10:45am: FEELING PECKISH?
Poke your head into Drift Cafe on Main Western Road for brunch on the deck, followed by a tour of the Aboriginal art gallery.
Walk off those maple pancakes on a stroll to Curtis Falls (a 1.5-kilometre return trip) for an infamous ‘open mouth’ waterfall pic you can upload later to Facebook.
12:30pm: WATERING HOLE OF A DIFFERENT KIND
Stop into MT Brewery and order a tray of award-winning beers and a made-to-order cheese board from Witches Chase Cheese Co next door.
2pm: SPEND A DOLLAR (or two)
If you’re fond of antique stores, you’ll discover loads on the goat track to Canungra, along with cute roadside stalls bursting with avocados, rhubarb and tomato chutney (pending the season).
4pm: REST YOUR NOGGIN’
Overnight at Wallaby Ridge in Wonglepong and you guessed it, there are wallabies, but also bushland and vineyards. Oh my!
If you can squeeze it in, ask about their drawing, painting, cooking or produce-growing classes. (Note: Yoga and meditation are coming soon.)
You choose: OPEN THE CURTAIN (no clothes required)
Opt to rise early with the wind (literally) in your hair aboard a hot air balloon. Otherwise, watch the wallabies from the comfort of your bed till it darn well suits.
Meet the locals and meander down the Canungra main drag (that’s main street in ‘Strayan) and stock your pantry with organic potatoes and pumpkin sold out the back of a farmer’s old tractor.
11am : LA-DE-DA IN THE VINES
Don’t miss a squiz at the breathtaking Albert River Winery before making a beeline to Canungra Valley Vineyards on the manicured banks of the Canungra Creek. With an impressive 1800’s heritage-listed homestead perched within rows of grape varieties, it’s oh, so pretty.
Be spontaneous – Pop the question or just say yes to a wine tasting at the bar (and who cares if it’s before lunch).
Pre-order a gourmet picnic hamper of smoked salmon, cured local ham and cheeses, flop on the freshly-cut grass with a blanket and watch the resident turtles and platypus swim past.
1:30pm: RALLY CAR DRIVER (no cruise control necessary)
Take it easy on the 40-minute drive up the winding, narrow (but fun) road and splurge on an uber-exclusive villa at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
2:30pm: THE DAY IS STILL YOUNG
There’s loads of wildlife, activities and secret places to explore at O’Reilly’s such as the Glow Worm Grotto. Or simply spend your afternoon and night bird watching and star gazing in the comfort of your jacuzzi with some local honeycomb, macadamias and wine you’ve carefully selected.
6pm: HAPPY HOUR
Eat like a king in the dining room, or choose to keep it simple with a pizza and cocktails from the upstairs bar. (Ask for happy hour times when checking in).
6:30am: SO YOU’VE RESCHEDULED YOUR 10am MEETING?
The eggs and coffee are great here, so indulge a little longer and stay for buffet breakfast or order a hamper to the villa and cook your own as you enjoy that last piece of rainforest serenity.
Be warned: This carefree lifestyle is addictive and it will (likely) leave you begging for more. (If that’s the case, check out more 48-hour itineraries here.)
*Please note the temporary closure of all Queensland campgrounds in national parks, state forests and state-managed recreation and protected areas, in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.