A Local’s Guide To Gold Coast Hinterland

When you think of the Gold Coast, chances are you visualise the highrise skyline of Surfers Paradise or the popular point at Burleigh Heads. But take a step out of the limelight and follow the locals’ lead to another area well worth exploring: the Gold Coast Hinterland.

I grew up here, so being surrounded by lush, green rainforest and a diverse range of wildlife has always been a part of my life. I sometimes forget how novel this experience must be for international travellers – even local city-slickers. But I only need to chat to the guests here at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and I am quickly reminded of its uniqueness.

Let me show you some of the hidden secrets that exist here, in the green land behind the gold.


Couples on a romantic weekend away will enjoy rolling out a picnic rug under the silky oak trees at Canungra Valley Vineyard and sharing a homestead picnic of freshly prepared food and locally-sourced wine (keep an eye out for the endemic platypus in the creek!).

If you feel like getting out and about to explore the local surrounds, embark on a short drive to Mount Tamborine. On the corner of Long and Curtis Roads, you’ll find The Old Church. Widely renowned as a beautiful wedding venue, locals also come here to experience the restaurant located at the back of the property.

Serving dinner from Thursday to Sunday, you’ll be treated to hearty main meals like slow-roasted duck and peppered lamb cutlets. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t leave without trying the creme brulee with berry coulis.


Coffee connoisseurs won’t want to miss out on a caffeine-hit from Drift, a relaxed cafe located atop Tamborine Mountain. Stick around and admire the Aboriginal artwork on display or grab a takeaway and sip and stroll amidst the cool mountain air.

Prefer grapes to coffee beans? Wet your whistle at Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard & Winery, located in Scenic Rim country. This property also doubles as a great place to see glow worms!

The Wine Tasting Tour through Mount Tamborine is also a good option for those who don’t mind a good drop. Not only will you sample award-winning reds and whites, there’s an opportunity to taste speciality cheeses and local fudge!


Set in the heart of Lamington National Park, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is a nature lover’s utopia. After a scenic drive through green mountains and rainforest, you’ll be welcomed by the O’Reilly family (who have been greeting guests since 1926).

Your home for the next few days is surrounded by 200 bird varieties including wedge tail eagles and kestrels so don’t forget to look up! If you’re craving a ‘digital detox’, this is the place for you. In our Mountain View rooms there are no televisions and once you step out into the national park, phone reception is limited. So, set your emails to ‘out of office’, unpack and relax.

Morans Falls | A local's guide to the Gold Coast Hinterland

Spend the morning at one of the nearby waterfalls, like Morans Falls, or embark on a bushwalk. Lamington National Park contains 160kms of graded walking paths and another 100kms of trails so lace up your sneakers and get the blood pumping!

Binna Burra Lodge | A local's guide to the Gold Coast Hinterland

Photo by Binna Burra Lodge via FB

For breathtaking views across the Numinbah and Commera Valleys, you might like to spend a night at Binna Burra Lodge. These cosy cabins are perfect for reading a book by the fire or sharing stories over a bottle of red.

If you’re coming to the Hinterland as part of a large group of family or friends, consider a stay at Worendo Cottages. There’s a great cooking school onsite where you can get together to learn pastry making or whip up an Italian feast. The cottages double as a farm stay so you can cuddle a lamb, feed the sheep or go horse riding.


Great Walk | A local's guide to the Gold Coast Hinterland

If you’re coming to Gold Coast Hinterland you should experience at least a part of The Great Walk. Covering parts of both Lamington and Springbrook rainforests, this is a World Heritage-listed area boasting diverse fauna and flora, spectacular streams and thundering waterfalls.

If you’re seeking more information on the different short walks available in the area, take a look at these great hiking trails. 

For unparalleled views of the Gold Coast Hinterland, make your way to Springbrook. The famous lookout here is aptly titled: ‘Best Of All’. This is a must-do outdoor activity and one that suits people of all ages. You don’t need to be superman to tackle this one either! You can drive towards the lookout and park within just 150 metres of the clearing.


Head to the laid back town of Beechmont, nestled between the Lamington Plateau and Tamborine Mountain. Here, you can visit quaint cafes and cute homewares stores. If you’re after a unique souvenir, check out the beautiful artwork on display at Gallery Giselle.


I love spending time out at Canungra Creek. More than just a creek, it’s surrounded by beautiful, lush rainforest and ancient trees. If you’re feeling active you can walk the 14km West Canungra Creek Circuit. It’s a challenging track but well worth the effort, as it passes through some of the most stunning parts of Lamington National Park. 

Afterwards, you can relax at Canungra Valley Vineyards. Here, you’ll find a gorgeous old 1880’s homestead, perfectly positioned near immaculate gardens and all the grape varietals your heart (and mouth) could desire.


Moonlight Crag at O'Reilly's | A local's guide to the Gold Coast Hinterland

Moonlight Crag at O’Reilly’s | Photo by @celestemitchell

I like to point out to travellers that the Gold Coast Hinterland is a perfect place to visit any time of year. We’re not as hot as Cairns but not as cold as Sydney; we’re a very temperate area that is fortunate to escape the humidity suffered by other parts of Queensland. 


O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is located in Lamington National Park, in the Gold Coast Hinterland. If you’re coming from the Gold Coast, drive out towards Nerang then west towards Canungra. Turn down ‘Kidston Street’ then follow signs to O’Reilly’s Green Mountains.

If you’re coming from Brisbane, take the Pacific Highway for about 45 minutes towards Beenleigh then take Exit 34. Simply follow the signs to Beaudesert then take the Canungra/Nerang turn off. From there, follow the signage out to O’Reilly’s Green Mountains.

Have you been to the Gold Coast Hinterland before? What were some of your favourite finds?