48 Hours in Mount Tamborine
As predictable as Murphy’s Law, if you drop a piece of Vegemite toast it will land face down, in hinterland towns, like Mount Tamborine, you’ll find wine, cheese and bushwalks beyond your wildest imagination.
Forget what you learnt in maths, the only equation for a good time looks like this: Altitude + Queensland = cuckoo clocks, vineyards and A-framed-alpine architecture.
Test our theory atop Mount Tamborine, the Gold Coast Hinterland’s most famous former volcano with this weekend itinerary.
PM: Hit the road from Brisbane
Sitting just 75km from Brisbane, Mount Tamborine proves another world exists an hour from the big smoke.
We recommend turning off the M1 at Logan Road and, for instant escape-the-rat-race feels, take the back roads via Jimboomba to the mountain.
Alternatively, take the Nerang exit and scoot in that way if you’re having a dream run down the M1.
PM: Check into Scenic (Rim) heaven
If Greenlee Cottages was in Italy it would be dubbed an ‘agriturismo’ – but here it’s called a working farm, which somewhat undersells the beauty of this property in the foothills of the Darlington Range.
Here, you won’t be woken up early by cows being milked, required to crack whips or ride on a quad bike. Instead, you’ll sleep among orchards of macadamia trees – and have the good fortune to be able to eat them as well.
Set on a macadamia plantation with more than 500 trees, Greenlee Cottages is the second arm to Robyn and Paul’s macadamia growing and roasting business – and we can assure your stay at their cottages is just as moreish as the nuts they sell.
There are four cottages in total, offering country charm at the bottom of Mount Tamborine, close to Canungra.
Each cottage has been named after the timbers found on the property and bring elements of the region’s bullock history into the interior design – but not in a ‘I feel like I’m sleeping in a stable’ kind of way.
It’s the perfect springboard to the top of the mountain – but more importantly, stumbling distance to two of Queensland’s favourite wineries – Sarabah Vineyards and Canungra Valley Vineyards if you’re that way inclined.
Throw in a breakfast hamper that’s stocked with local supplies and you have all the important things covered here: a great bed, macadamia nuts, breakfast and wine.
Dinner: Ninja style
A sushi-cum-whiskey bar is the last thing you expect from the small country town of Canungra but you’ll find it on the main drag, Christie Street.
Dishing up authentic bowls, sashimi and sushi rolls, their outdoor courtyard with festoon lights looks like it got lost on the way to Brisbane, and landed in Canungra but we’re not complaining.
For something that’s finger-lickin’ good, start with a piping hot bowl of miso soup and salty edamame beans followed by a teriyaki salmon bowl that will have your chopsticks scraping for the last morsels.
Washed down with a selection of Asian beers, or better yet, whiskeys, this is the kind of place where lunch can extend into dinner quite quickly.
AM: Go up the mountain
From the Canungra valley, it’s 528m up to the plateau of Mount Tamborine, separated by 20 minutes of hairpin bends, narrow roads and epic scenery.
The drive is car-commercial good – and the number of motorcycles and vintage cars at the top is evidence the roads are in good condition too.
If you need a proper coffee to start the day, find a park at The Mountain Brew for a double shot of deliciousness while you get your bearings.
AM: Curtis Falls
Proving that you don’t need to hike for hours on end to find an epic waterfall, you need just 30 minutes to find Curtis Falls.
The short walk covers off lush rainforest, ferns and strangler figs before opening out to a viewing platform.
Cascading over basalt to the pools below, this formation, like many others in the area, is a nod to the region’s volcanic history.
Fallen logs mean you can’t swim here, sorry. Oh, that and the fact you can spot giant eels lurking in the rock pool.
AM: Mount Tamborine Botanic Gardens
If you thought Mount Tamborine was lush, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve been to the Mount Tamborine Botanic Gardens.
This sprawling parkland is maintained by the Mount Tamborine Garden Club, volunteers who prove tropical gardens can be well manicured.
The centrepiece of the park is a lake complete with lilies, ducks and quaint bridges. It’s like a textbook version of what central parks should look like.
Arrive stressed, leave zen – that’s the promise – especially after walking through the Japanese, hydrangea and azalea gardens.
Lunch: Beers and Cheese, yes please
Combine two great loves with a visit to Fortitude Brewing and Witches Chase Cheese Co.
The marriage of these two delicacies is how the whole building came about. The owners had a desire to find a venue that stocked their two greatest loves: beer and cheese. When they couldn’t find it, they built their own. As you do.
With a cheesery out the front and a brewery out the back, you’re best to time your visit with an appetite.
Every Sunday there’s live music from 12noon, which only turns this place from good to great.
To eat, really there’s cheese or cheese on the menu. The brewery bakes pizzas. The Cheesery makes cheese boards, so you can take your pick – just don’t bring anyone lactose intolerant.
We recommend making your own cheese board because you can order by the 100g with optional extras like salami, fig paste and pickles.
To drink, enjoy a tasting paddle of Fortitude Brewing’s own drops. Our pick is the alcoholic ginger beer that’s so good it’s hard to stop at one.
PM: Cedar Creek Falls
At the end of a short 900m return walk, you’ll find the falls and lower rock pools. Trust us, their slimy surface makes for a natural waterslide.
What’s more, the first 500m (return) is completely pram or wheelchair accessible, so everyone can enjoy the view.
PM: Visit the distillery
Like most successful distilling stories, the one of Tamborine Mountain Distillery starts like many others – it was somewhat of an accident.
Russian-born Allah and British born John bought a citrus farm on Mount Tamborine and started turning their ‘ugly’ fruit into schnapps. From there, this award-winning distillery was born.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and the mantlepiece in their distillery is weighed down with trophies.
There are now over 60 vodkas, gins and liqueurs in their range, each taking on modern Australian flavours. We loved the lemon myrtle and macadamia.
A sample is $5 but you’ll need to choose your drops wisely considering you’ll sample not even a twelfth of their range.
Check out this and 5 more of the best micro distilleries and craft spirits in Queensland over here.
PM: Add wine to your to-drink list
You’ve done beer, you’ve done spirits, all that’s missing in the alcoholic-food-pyramid is wine, so set your sights on Witches Falls Winery. This is the only working winery on the mountain and they use Granite Belt grapes to keep things local.
The chief vintner infuses his Spanish background into his wines with blends like Syrah, Monastrell and Garnacha.
From their cellar door on the mountain, you can taste your way across six wines for $6. Of course, if you buy something the experience is completely deductible… so you’d be mad not to, right?
PM: Pick up aperitivo supplies
Considering you’ve had a slow graze all day, a sunset cheese platter is where it’s at.
Stop into the nirvana of all things antipasto, Vintage Pickle, which stocks everything from truffle oil to camel milk fetta.
Take your supplies away and make use of your cottage’s verandah or fire pit for an evening to remember.
Breakfast: Chew with a view
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, why not also make it the most picturesque too?
Pay a visit to O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards who serve breakfast between 7:30-9:30am with the likes of eggs benedict, waffles with ice-cream and a big breakfast on the menu.
A bit over the normal breakfast fare? Why not take things into overdrive and take an alpaca for a walk first? That’s right, at Canungra Valley Vineyards you can walk an alpaca ‘round the property for 15 minutes for $15. Talk about something to give your Insta-stories a point of difference.
Just because it’s time to go home doesn’t mean you can’t explore the hinterland again. Set a return date and bring your stretchy pants to eat your way around this once-volcanic territory with this itinerary.
Looking for more Hinterland itineraries?
- Follow this local’s guide
- Take the kids out for a day in the hinterland with this guide
- Discover the Gold Coast Hinterland with this guide on how to do it all
- Chase more waterfalls with this guide