Behind the Gold Coast's celebrated beaches, city skyline and meandering canals is an impressive frame of rolling hills and hinterland mountains capped with rainforest and bushland. Journey through a patchwork of rural plantations, vineyards, farmland and livestock estates on the way to more than 100,000 hectares of National Parks and reserves, networked with miles of enchanting bushwalking trails. Quiet country roads, just 30 minutes from the beaches, lead into canyons and valleys with their hidden secrets of natural wonders.
The densely forested valleys and mountains of Tamborine, Lamington and Springbrook National Parks are part of the Scenic Rim, a remnant of an ancient volcano active some 22 million years ago and regarded as the largest caldera in the southern hemisphere.
Nestled between Lamington National Park and the coastline, Springbrook National Park is renowned for its waterfalls and ancient Antarctic beech trees. Be sure to visit Purlingbrook Falls, Canyon Lookout and take a lunch break at Goomoolahra Falls picnic ground at the southern end of Springbrook Road, Don't miss the Springbrook Homestead and its fantastic observatory for night-time entertainment with a difference.
The Numinbah Valley on the southern Queensland border features the Natural Bridge - a spectacular waterfall that plummets through a stone archway into a rock pool below. Home to one of Australia's largest glow-worm colonies, it lights up at night like a starry sky.
The Beechmont Plateau is one of the numerous northerly spurs of the McPherson Range located south of Tamborine Mountain on the way to Lamington National Park. For thousands of years, the Yugambeh people called the Beechmont Plateau, the place of the Binna Burra, referring to the areas blessing of ancient Antarctic Beech trees. Today visitors look out on a view that has changed little from when Yugambeh roamed the land. The forests of Antarctic Beech trees remain and the clear mountain air still rejuvenates the spirit. On clear days the area is home to the entertainers of the skies such as hang-gliders, model airplane enthusiasts and the natural masters, our native birds.
Towering 560 metres high, Mount Tamborine National Park is a green oasis. The park consists of 14 parcels of land, including Witches Falls (which in 1908 became Queensland's first national park). The mountain features basalt columns, cliffs, rocky outcrops, numerous waterfalls and lush rainforest. It is also home to the rare Albert's lyrebird.
A visit to Mount Tamborine will keep you busy. Nine walking tracks lead to some excellent views, beautiful waterfalls, forests of large red cedars and groves of tall piccabeen palms. At Curtis Falls, sit quietly in the early morning or late afternoon for a chance to spot a platypus. Enjoy a picnic at The Knoll or Witches Falls or browse the art and craft shops, antique stores and eating spots of the sensational Gallery Walk.
Canungra dates back to 1873 when pioneering families established farming and logging industries. Visit the historical centre to relive the coming of the railway. The township is the gateway to the massive Lamington National Park and O'Reilly's Plateau.
Lamington National Park is a natural treasure, and in 1994 its significance was officially recognised when it was listed as a World Heritage Area.
The fortunate visitor will experience Australia's largest preserve of pristine sub-tropical rainforest, over 900 species of plants and more than 120 bird species, a remarkable diversity of wildlife and an environment of extraordinary majesty. The region supports more frog, snake, bird and marsupial species than any other area in Australia. Birdwatchers may be lucky enough to see the endangered Albert Lyrebird or the regent and satin bowerbird.
O'Reilly's Rainforest Guesthouse offers the chance to hand-feed brightly coloured native birds or climb up the rainforest canopy on the popular tree-top board walk.
The new and popular wine trail in the Gold Coast Hinterland is growing in size, picking up medals and awards on the way. There is a great selection of boutique wineries and cellar door outlets, all within an hour's drive of the beaches, offering an exciting new wine trail for wine aficionados.
One of the newest and most delightful is the Thumm Estate in Upper Coomera on the way to Mount Tamborine. Set in 15 acres of bushland this estate offers a sensual journey of fine wines, cheese platters, coffee and cakes, or fine restaurant food in the company of friends. The atmosphere is so relaxed that you won't want to leave - it's a definite ‘must-do'.
The Gold Coast Hinterland offers a natural experience unlike any other. The region's vast rainforest hinterland is home to World Heritage wilderness areas, national parks and quaint rural villages. It provides the chance to experience impressive views, bushwalks, a diverse range of adventure activities, subtropical rainforests, mountain villages, art galleries, craft shops and wineries all within an easy 30 minute drive of the coast.