The Gold Coast Hinterland exists within South East Queensland. Known by tourists and locals alike, the GC Hinterland provides all sorts of natural escapes, wonders of nature, and scenic views. As much as the rainforests, small towns and rural escapes are all so gorgeously picturesque, and trust me, they are. Here’s a guide to the top 15 places you need to know when visiting the Gold Coast Hinterland. To ensure you don’t fall into any tourist traps next time you come around.
Tamborine Mountain is one of the best known places within the Gold Coast Hinterland, drawing both locals and tourists to explore its beautiful rainforests and breath-taking views. The land was originally inhabited by the Wangerriburras at the time of European settlement, and the name of the mountain originated from the Yugambeh Language. While you may be drawn to this beautiful gem of a mountain because of its scenery, check out these must-see attractions below.
1. Tamborine Mountain Gallery Walk
Tamborine Moutain Gallery Walk is the one stop tourist shop. With a selection of stores ranging all the way from food and drink, gemstones and jewelry, arts and crafts, you’ll be sure to find something for everyone, all while supporting local business.
For the perfect day of family filled fun, head up the mountain and start your journey at Tamborine Mountain Heritage Center, where you’ll be able to learn the extensive history of the mountain and what life was like for early settlers. Then head West along Wongwallan Road to Long Road “Gallergy Walk” (2 minutes by car, or a 7 minute walk). Stop in at one of the delicious restaurants or cafes, such as George’s Paragon, or The Monkey Tree.
Explore these highlighted shops below, depending on what takes your fancy;
- Art lovers be sure to take a peek at Hansen Galleries, e360design and Arts Tamborine! Here you’ll find breathtaking prints, panels, and originals all by local artists.
- For all things mind, body and soul seek out WitchScents Organics, and Heart of the Soul. Chance upon a range of tarot card readings, therapeutic massages, inception, essential oils, organic self care products and aromatherapy.
- Crystal Mountain Australia, Matthew West Jewellery Studio, and Romance at Jacaranda Corner, all carry a selection of jewellery and gemstones for those who enjoy the finer things in life.
- Sweet tooths head over to Mumma Duck’s Sweets & Treats, or Fudge Heaven for your weekly fix.
- And we can’t forget the kiddies! Bring them over to Vera Rose Collectables & Curiosities, Hollys Country Crafts, or Fairies on the Walk to satisfy their curious minds.
Finish the day full of memories at one of the mountains’ beautiful and rustic cafes, such as Cinnamon Bun Cafe or The Treehouse, and head on home with arms full of the goodies you scored!
2. Glow Worm Caves
This next attraction is perfect for all families, friends and couples alike. Be sure to book a spot before heading out to the Glow Worm Caves, and arrive early if youd like to explore the Cedar Creek Estate, Cafeteria and Restaurant beforehand. You’ll then be taken on a 30 minute guided tour of the glow worm caves, learn about their eco system and lifestyle, and what we can do to help ensure the survival of this species! After the tour, guests also have the option to explore the frog hollow on the forest broadwalk, with native species and interesting insects.
3. Cedar Creek Falls
One of the last natural waterfalls left where visitors are allowed to take a dip in the water, this beautiful cascade sits at the base of Mt Tamborine with a variety of open cayons, waterfalls and rock pools. It’s recommended to arrive early as parking is limited.
On the first 500 meters of track, suitable for strollers and wheelchairs, you’ll be able to find picnic facilities, small rock pools and a large platform to take in the view. If you’d like to go for a swim in the cool water, continue along the trail (just under a kilometer) and find a bunch of paths and staircases heading down the gorge (be sure to stick to signed pathways only), to the bottom of the canyon. Keep your eyes open and you’ll find yourself adventuring along with the local wildlife; fish, turtles, lizards and snakes alike. Be sure to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent on your next adventure this summer and explore Cedar Creek Falls.
Canungra exists within the Senic Rim Region of Queensland. Originally a town known for it’s extensive timber industry, it’s now best known by tourists as a hidden holiday hideaway, or a quick stop for coffee on your 9 hour road trip. For those who don’t mind roughing it, Canungra also offers plenty of natural swimming holes, camp grounds, bush and bike trails. I’d definitely recommend the Canungra hotel or Spring Gully Stays if your looking for your next holiday destination.
4. Canungra Township
Located in the heart of Canungra, along route 90, you’ll stumble into one of the quaintest towns you’ve ever seen. Though Canungra itself has plenty of highlights, as stated above, the main road through town would be my favorite place. Similar to Mt Tamborine Gallery Walk, the route has a selection of cafes, op shops, book stores, hardware shops and your random knick-knacks, all owned and operated by locals.
If ever in town, explore these hidden gems below;
- My Country Escape
- Lydia’s Garden
- The Shoe Vault
- Canungra Hardware & Farm Supplies
- KD’s Antiques
- Naturopath & Health Foods
- The Butchery Canungra
- Canungra Books and Art
- Canungra Op Shop
It’s certainly a town you have to see to believe, and I hope you do. The town also has a vast selection of cafes along the main road. The most notably known being The Outpost Cafe. Check out D J Smith Park on your way through, and the war memorial, commemorating all those who served in World War 1 & 2.
5. O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards
Along Lamginton Park National Road, a short scenic drive out from Tamborine Mountain, you’ll find the O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards. You might want to leave the little ones at home for this particular trip, and bring your special someone out into this Lost World to enjoy the fabulous wines and meals on offer. Head down to the O’Reilly’s Cellar door for a selection of wine tastings, or purchase a Homestead Picnic Basket and head to the river as you devour, sounded by the melodies of local musicians.
If you do happen to bring the kiddies along, be sure to check out the Mountainview Alpaca Farm. With over 40 animals apart from this small, adorable family, book a meet and greet experience, a chance to pet, feed and snap some pictures. Alternatively, make a selection from the ‘Alpaca Devonshire Tea, Wine & Cheese, Picnics & Pizzas!’ tab on O’Reilly’s website and share your lunch with your furry friends.
6. Old Saint Johns Church
If your searching for something with a bit more heritage, Old Saint Johns Church was built in 1932. One of the two best churches I’d recommend within the GC Hinterland, it also offers accommodation for those who would like to stay the night. Comfortably sleeping up to 4 guests, decked out in antique furniture, and well stocked with food and a warm fire. While visiting, you’ll also be able to learn about the church and its history, provided upon arrival.
Springbrook resides in the heart of the Gold Coast Hinterland, with its National Park occupying 6,725 hectares of land. With all its wonders of nature, the park is split into 4 sections; Numinbah, Natural Bridge, Springbrook Plateau, and Mount Cougal. It offers some of the most breath-taking rainforests, waterfalls and lookouts across South East Queensland, with two of its best attractions highlighted below.
7. Natural Bridge
Now its no wonder that the Gold Coast Hinterland is filled to the brim with beautiful walking trails and lookouts, so I’ve tried to avoid listing every single one I know of, and instead provide readers with some variety in attractions and locations. Though Springbrook’s Natural Bridge is an exception. The trail itself is just under a kilometer in an easy clockwise loop. Upon arriving at the attraction, you’ll find a unique rock formation that has been worn down by the surrounding waterfall over the years.
Home to local wildlife, you’ll spot plenty of animals along the trail. At night, you might even get a peak at the glow-worms, fireflies and luminous fungi found in the cave (though it’s recommended you take a guided tour if you plan on visiting after dark). The location provides a decent sized carpark, so parking shouldn’t be an issue, in addition to public toilets and picnic areas. Unfortunately, swimming is prohibited at Natural Bridge. But if you’re in desperate need of a quick dip, you can find Purling Brooke Falls 30 minutes down the road.
8. Best of All Lookout
While in Springbrooke, be sure to check out the Best of All Lookout. Located at the end of Repeater Station Road, just over the Queensland border, you’ll reach the carpark. From there it’s a 350-meter walk to the platform through Gondwana Rainforest, where you’ll travel back in time and explore the flora and fauna around you. When you arrive at the lookout, you’ll find a view that stretches all the way from the Gold Coast Hinterland, through to Mount Warning, Murwillumbah Valley, down to Byron Bay. When standing at the lookout you are at 984 meters elevation. The highest point of Springbrook Mountain reaches 1020 meters elevation. It’s one of the most breath taking sights to see. If you’re an early riser, I would recommend arriving early in the morning and watching the sunrise with some good company.
9. Tallebugera Creek
Tallebugera Creek exists on the south end of the GC Hinterland. A perfect place to visit in the summertime, it provides plenty of swimming locations, cafes and enjoyable short strolls. At the mouth of the creek, you’ll find two of the most popular beaches along the river; Echo Beach and Tallebugera Beach, only a quick 20 minute walk from each other. South of the river, you will also find Tallebugera Creek Tourist Park, offering cabins and caravan sites to guests with a list of amenities including a pool, game room, and children’s play equipment/ activities.
If you’d like to stretch your legs, you can head up the Gold Coast Highway (first erected in 1926) and into Burleigh Head National Park. There are 5 tracks to choose from, ranging from 80 meters to 1.7 kilometers, and a chance to visit the Tumgun and Jebbribillum lookouts. Or alternatively, head down the breakway along the riverside and catch some of the sea spray. Grab a coffee and sweet treat at one of the cafes along the riverside; Neptune Kiosk, Custard Canteen or Poffertjes King, and call it a day!
10. Tree Top Challenge
This one is for thrill seekers. Located just on the edge of the Gold Coast Hinterland lays Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is known for providing care for local Australian animals and certain endangered species, caring for injured animals in their hospital. Providing education and special experiences to tourists and families for years. Many animal rehabilitation centers and conservative parks exist within the Gold Coast Hitlerland. But Currumbin provides guests with an unforgettable experience, making them stand out from the masses.
The Currumbin Tree Top Challenge sends guests up into the skys, across 80 different courses throughout their park, with 11 intense zip lines over Crocodile and Dingo enclosures. They provide a green, red, and black course option, depending on how hard and high you’d like to go. Guests must book before they go, the full course will take roughly 3.5 hours to complete, and everything you need will be supplied to you when you arrive. Availability of the courses does depend on the season and height limits apply on some courses. If your looking for something to get the adrenaline pumping next time you’re in the GC Hinterland, this is certainly one for you.
Nerang is located west of the M1, in line with Main Beach across the coast. Nerang’s name was derived from the Bundjalung language, and has to do with the river running through it. The fact that most of the towns’ operations related around said river in colonial times. Nerang was originally established as a rural agricultural town, mainly focusing on farming maize, sugar and dairy. With the addition of the South Coast Railway in 1887, it quickly became the backbone to the Gold Coast; every tourist stops at a point before entering the holiday haven in front of them.
11. Nerang Stunt Park
Nerang Stunt Park has been operating for 23 years, providing stunt training and education to performers. The park offers ongoing weekly lessons for those who are passionate about being a stunt performer, with specialized courses on offer. For those who would like to explore the stunt world for fun, they also offer half and full day stunt sessions. As well as a selection of parties on offer. Students are able to learn how to sword fight, abseil, rappel, and work with firearms and car crashes. The stunt park is great for a family fun day out, a chance to bond with one another and learn about your own strengths and weaknesses.
12. Hinterland Baptist Church
The Gold Coast Hinterland Baptist Church is the second church I’d recommend visiting within the GC Hinterland. A bit more recently founded in 1995, the architecture still captures the rustic and authentic look most of us relate back to a previous era. It is definitely worth a drive, to capture the sights. The GC Hinterland Baptist Church, unlike the Old Saint Johns Church, is still operating and offering services every Sunday.
13. Carrara Markets
On the outskirts of Nerang, lay the suburb of Cararra. Every weekend, Carrara Markets opens its gates to the local community and local stall vendors. Built on 24 acres of land, you’ll be sure to find something for everyone. The markets consists of over 300 stalls, ranging from fresh food and produce, fashion and jewellery, random knick-knacks, art galleries and everything a greenthrumb could desire. It’s a popular day out for families, due to its great balance of child-friendly activities and parents winding down corners.
Children will be able to enjoy pony rides, farm animals, face painting and bungee trampolines. Adults will be able to catch up over a coffee in one of the markets’ cafes, or grab a sneaky bite and a drink in one of the licensed restaurants. Families can then come together to enjoy a round of mini golf, or explore the butterfly house. Supporting the local community, they also provide the chance for aspiring performers and artists to busk or display art in one of their galleries. Be sure to also check out their What’s On Calender, to keep up with events and entertainment. Not to mention their weekly car boot sales!
14. Gold Coast Wake Park
GC Wake Park is located on the outskirts of town, along the Coomera River. They offer both an aqua park and wake park at this location, with lessons and passes on offer. In addition to school experiences, sports programs, and parties. So long as you can swim, and you’ve mustered up the courage, come check them out!
The aqua park consists of a large inflatable obstacle course stabilized out on the water. Large slides, swings, balance beams, trampolines are all available. Life jackets are provided to guests, and sessions run for 50 minutes, 100 minutes. Or you can purchase a full day pass. It is recommended that young children are supervised, and children under 5 years are not allowed on the course.
The wake park offers kneeboarding and wakeboarding to guests. Beginning lessons are available, in addition to kids under 15’s lessons, family memberships, and experienced wakeboarder passes. An extensive amount of information can be found on the GC Wake Park website. As well as information on events and pricing.
15. Terrarium Cafe
While in Maudsland, be sure to head 5 minutes down the road to Terrarium Cafe; one of the most praised sights within this small town. Terrarium Cafe is located along Maudsland Road, in the heart of town. The cafe itself is a gorgeous balance of rustic furnishes, decorated with natural flourishes, and the food does not disappoint. All dishes and drinks are presented in the upmost fashion, with a large focus on organic, healthy and wholesome produce. Open for breakfast and lunch throughout the week, with a BYO drinks option (perfect for a girls’ day out). If you don’t believe me, be sure to check out their Instagram page for snaps of their unique menu!
So here’s your ultimate guide to locations and attractions next time you visit the Gold Coast Hinterland. With a wide range of quaint towns, churches, cafes, adventure parks, retreats and natural beauties, there’s something for the whole family. Hopefully, next time you visit the GC Hinterland, you can avoid all the tourist traps, to make for an even more memorable holiday!