Things to do in the Gold Coast Hinterland

True to its name, the Gold Coast is a place where beach season never ends. You could easily lose whole days exploring its golden shores and testing out its world-class surf breaks. But what do you do when you’ve had enough of feeling the sand between your toes and salt water in your hair? Grab the keys to your ride and get ready to find things to do in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

A veritable playground of experiences to suit every type of traveller, it’s all just a short drive from the coast. From ancient national parks to boutique vineyards, rustic farmers’ markets to treetop ziplines, this corner of Queensland has no shortage of things to do.

Whether you’re seeking action and adventure, seclusion and romance, or something else entirely, here’s how to do the Gold Coast hinterland, your way.

For nature fans and outdoor adventurers


O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat | How to do the Gold Coast Hinterland

A Queensland icon with almost a century of history, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is nestled in the foothills of Lamington National Park – a huge swathe of World-Heritage listed rainforest just one and a half hour’s drive inland.

While there, take a trek through the park to discover tumbling waterfalls and panoramic vistas, hand-feed native animals with an O’Reilly’s ranger, or soar through the rainforest canopy on the lodge’s 180 metre zip line.


Bushwalking | How to do the Gold Coast Hinterland

Lace up your walking boots and dust off your map-reading skills, because the Gold Coast hinterland is a bushwalker’s dream. Spend a day (or three, or four) reconnecting with nature as you hike your way through some of the oldest national parks on the planet.

This region of Queensland is famous for the sheer diversity of its flora and fauna (there’s over 200 bird species alone) so if you pay attention and keep noise to a minimum, you might catch a glimpse of the creatures that call this place home.

Up for a challenge? Then prepare to take on the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk – a 54km, three-day walk that starts in the Green Mountains in Lamington National Park.  Follow the trail past the sacred mountain of Woonoongoora, known to the local Yugambah people as Queen of the Mountains, and discover firsthand the Aboriginal origin story of how these rivers and valleys were formed.

For those seeking romance and escape


Floor-to-ceiling glass leading out to a private deck and your very own patch of rainforest. A wood-fired stove for those cool, rainforest evenings. A spa bath with a view and just enough room for two. It’s safe to say that the adults-only Pethers Rainforest Retreat in Mt Tamborine definitely delivers on the romance front.

But this boutique getaway, home to ten private treehouses, is more than just a pretty face. Sustainability and respect for its natural environment is a big part of life at Pethers – so you can enjoy the serenity knowing that the local wildlife and habitat is being well looked-after.


Canungra Valley Vineyard | How to do the Gold Coast Hinterland

If you know your cab sauvs from your pinots, then you’re really going to love it round here. Why? The Gold Coast Hinterland also happens to be Queensland’s fastest-growing wine region.

There’s no shortage of picturesque wineries with award-winning restaurants attached. Head to Cedar Creek Estate in artsy Mt Tamborine to sample classic vintages alongside lesser-known varieties like Chambourcin and Verdelho which grow best in the Hinterland.  After lunch take a stroll down Cedar Creek Falls Road to find a secret waterfall tucked away behind the greenery and admire the views over the gorge.

At the other end of the spectrum is Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the Tallebudgera Valley. Part health retreat, part eco-resort, you won’t find any wine on offer here – just plenty of soul-searching. Set high on a hinterland plateau surrounded by ocean and valley views, Gwinganna is all about detoxing your mind, body and soul with organic cuisine, spa and wellness therapies, yoga and meditation.

If you’ve got kids to entertain


Embrace the great outdoors and pitch a tent at one of Thunderbird Park’s bush camp sites. Not only will it give you easy access to the Park’s endless activities, you’ll be able to end each day with a cosy campfire session complete with toasted marshmallows.


Thunderbird Park | How to do the Gold Coast Hinterland

Take a break from the ocean and explore some of the hidden waterfalls and freshwater swimming holes that are scattered throughout the region. If you’re up for a hike, take the two hour, four kilometre round trip to Purling Brook Falls in the World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest of Springbrook National Park.  Springbrook is also where you’ll find the equally beautiful Twin Falls, a four kilometre trek through ancient forest and 1500 year old brush box trees.

There’s more adventure to be had at Thunderbird Park on Tamborine Mountain. Go fossicking for crystal-filled thundereggs in the world’s largest open-cut thunderegg mine, hone your battle strategy with a game of Laser Tag through the hinterland, or test your courage on the flying foxes and tarzan swings of the TreeTop Challenge.

Last but certainly not least, get your heart racing on the thrill rides and waterslides of the hinterland’s world-famous theme parks: Movie World, Dreamworld and Wet’n’Wild. All three have dedicated junior sections designed for younger kids, so no one has to miss out on the fun. Not sure which park to tackle first? Get some guidance with this simple quiz.

if you’re food and wine-obsessed


The Mouses House Rainforest Retreat | How to do the Gold Coast Hinterland

Less than an hour’s drive south west of the Gold Coast in Springbrook National Park lies the charmingly named Mouses House Rainforest Retreat, a collection of 13 rustic timber chalets surrounded by lush rainforest.

From your cosy abode, you’re only a hop, skip and a jump from Mudgeeraba’s food markets or the town of Springbrook where you can dine al fresco among tree-lined streets.


You’ve already heard all about the region’s growing reputation for wine, but the Gold Coast hinterland is also where you’ll find unique local food experiences at every turn.

Explore rural villages where you can pick up produce fresh from the field, visit quaint roadside stalls, see the inner workings of a local cheese factory and stock up on home-made jams made with native ingredients.  Taste everything from paella to pastries at the  Mudgeeraba Sunset Markets (5 to 8pm every Friday night in October) or check out the town’s Country Markets every Saturday morning.

Tamborine Mountain Distillery is another must-do: sample award-winning gins, vodkas and liqueurs from the Tasting Room, perched on the mountain’s peak, then get schooled in the distillery’s history with a tour of the onsite museum.

If you’re a wine buff, don’t miss the chance to dine overlooking 6,000 grape vines at  O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyard, near Lamington National Park. For a more laid-back lunch, pre-order a gourmet picnic hamper or cook-your-own barbeque pack and find a spot beside Canungra Creek – home to platypus and turtles.