32 things to do on Tamborine Mountain
It may only be an hour’s drive from Brisbane, but Tamborine Mountain feels like you’re a world away. The beautiful and picturesque area in the Scenic Rim has a rich history, is home to some of the most fertile land in Queensland, with stunning national parks and rainforests, and has its fair share of food and wine experiences.
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1. Reach for the sky
Start your day by watching the sun rise from above Tamborine Mountain. Hot Air Balloon Scenic Rim takes you up into the sky, giving a 360-degree view of the beautiful green landscape of the Scenic Rim and out to sea. Once back on ground, stop in at Canungra Valley Vineyard’s historic grand homestead for a Champagne breakfast and free wine tasting. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?
2. Crack a 200 million-year-old mystery
Don your best cap, dig out your magnifying glass and head to Thunderbird Park to fossick in the world’s largest thunderegg mine. Dig deep and see how many you can find – whatever you find is yours to keep as long as it fits in your bucket.
3. Look at the stars … inside a cave
Take a tour through the rainforest and into the caves, learn about glow worms (because let’s be honest, we don’t know much) and see thousands of them glowing inside the cave at Cedar Creek Winery.
4. Just let yourself relax
Everyone is entitled to a day of total self-indulgence from time to time, and what better way to relax than being pampered from head to toe? Spend the day lounging in the mineral bath or covered in a full-body mud wrap at Tamborine Mountain Getaway Day Spa, or take a tour of Jasmin Organics and see how this award-winning skincare range creates its organic products.
5. Cook up a storm
Learn tricks of the culinary trade from French-trained chef Terri in a two-hour cooking class at Mount Tamborine Cooking School. A multi-course themed lunch menu is prepared (the cuisines vary: French, Italian, Moroccan, Asian, Spanish or Greek) and enjoyed overlooking the gardens and views of the region. Don’t cook? Don’t worry – you can be as hands on or off as you like and still get to enjoy the goods.
Park the car and wander down Long Road to explore the art, craft, gift and knick-knack stores along Gallery Walk. On the eastern side, there’s the eclectic Shon’s Lost For Words, the unique glass studio handmaking dichroic glass, and Granny Mac’s Fudge Store and Café, whose name speaks for itself. Across the road, there’s chocoholic haven Chocolates on Gallery Walk, the magical Dragon Moon and the nostalgia-inducing Bygone Days and Vintage Crafts. Once you’re all shopped out, finish with a pint of local beer at Fortitude Brewing Co.
7. Wander through the botanic gardens
Sprawled over 11 hectares, what is today the Mount Tamborine Botanic Gardens used to be a weed-covered swamp. Follow the short trail to discover the native and exotic species that grow here and finish the visit with a picnic beside the lake.
8. Say cheers with local beverages
What better way to curb wastage than to turn it into alcohol? Tamborine Mountain Distillery started more than 20 years ago when a family on the mountain was growing too much fruit. Today the internationally awarded distillery produces liqueur, vodka and schnapps using native flowers and local produce. Our recommendation? The lilly pilly gin or the eucalyptus gum leaf vodka.
Beard n Brau uses the paddock-to-bottle philosophy, using locally grown malts and water to create its brews, which can be sampled at the Bearded Dragon. Stop in to try a paddle of beers from the purpose-built Fortitude Brewing Company’s two labels, Fortitude and Noisy Minor. There is a restaurant in the building and a cheese shop, too.
9. Enjoy a damn fine vino drop
Like wine? You’re going to love Mount Tamborine. Witches Falls ranks in Australia’s top 4.9 per cent of wineries, Mount Tamborine Winery was the first to grow vines in the area, Cedar Creek Estate Winery and Vineyard has a purpose-built glow-worm cave and Albert River Wines gives you the chance to try your hand – or feet – at grape-stomping in the barrels. Heritage Wines and Mason Wines in the Granite Belt both have a cellar door on Mount Tamborine and are definitely worth stopping at for a tasting with a side of lunch.
10. Hire the designated driver
There’s much wine and beer to be tasted on Mount Tamborine (see points 8 and 9), so make a day of it and join a tour to discover the best the mountain has to offer. The Vino Bus picks you up and drops you off at your front door, taking you around a number of Mount Tamborine’s wineries and ending with a two-course lunch.
Prestige Day Tours will make you feel like a VIP in the business-class private mountain tour and Ambience on Tour stops in at wineries and micro-breweries in the area, while Hop On Brewery Tours stops in at two breweries and pride itself on witty banter. The Grog n Grape Escape with Cork n Fork sounds like a guaranteed good day and Tash Maree Travel’s wine-tasting tour includes the all-important cheese tasting.
11. Feel on top of the world
The Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk is probably the best – and easiest – way to get your head around just how beautiful Mount Tamborine is. Wander among the treetops and follow the path that gradually descends to the lower canopy, past rock pools to the cantilever that stands 30 metres above the valley and offers views for miles. The walk takes about an hour, including a stop at the Rainforest Eco Gallery, which explores some of Mount Tamborine’s local and indigenous history.
12. Conquer your fears with the Treetop Challenge
Scared of heights? How does relying on just a harness across more than 100 challenges in the Treetop Challenge at Thunderbird Park sound? Hang from trees, climb the ladders, balance on bridges, navigate through suspended tunnels. Our hearts are racing already.
Spread across 3.6 hectares of unspoiled bushland, there are six courses designed for the different levels of adrenaline junkies (think 0-100 real quick). To be fair, conquering your fears is completely worth it once you have a turn on the zipline, and the Treetop Challenge has 11 in total.
Pack a camera, put on your best activewear and grab your walking shoes to explore the waterfalls on Mount Tamborine. For a guaranteed waterfall, follow the 1.1km track through the mossy forest to Curtis Falls, or pack a picnic and follow the trail to Cedar Creek Falls to peer up at the 15-20m waterfall.
If you want to explore more, choose the 3.1km Witches Falls Circuit and take the waterfalls in from the viewing platform, which also has some incredible views. The walk to Cameron Falls takes about half an hour each way, but it’s worth it for the views.
If waterfalls really are your thing, it is possible to visit all four in one day. The Instagram possibilities are endless.
14. Say cheese
Did someone say cheese? Witches Chase Cheese Co makes all its cheeses on site and it is well worth stopping in to sample a few flavours before picking some up to take home. It is also home to Long Road Bistro and Fortitude Brewing Co, making the visit a completely tasty package.
15. Everything the light touches is ours
Set the alarm for nice and early and catch at least one sunrise while you’re on the mountain. The picks of the vantage points are Eagle Heights Resort, Golf Course Road, Magnetic Drive, Licuala Drive and Guanaba Road. Mount Tamborine is 550m above sea level, so on a clear morning, views can stretch from Tweed Heads up to Moreton Bay.
Facing inland, the view from the lookout points is no less spectacular. Pack a picnic and eat overlooking the views from Knoll Road, or take a hike and follow the Cameron Falls or Witches Falls trails. In the mornings you can see hot-air balloons floating below you from Rotary Lookout, and hang-gliders' lookout is the spot to check out for photographers and to watch hang-gliders launch.
16. Go on, take a hike
Even if you’re not the most outdoorsy person, there are hikes on Mount Tamborine that even the most cynical hiker will enjoy. The short, easy and extremely popular trails will take you to Curtis Falls, Cedar Creek Falls Lookout, Cedar Creek Falls Rock Pools or the MacDonald Circuit. A little longer, but still doable even for the only moderately fit, are the Witches Chase Track, Witches Falls Circuit, Palm Grove Circuit and the Cameron Falls Circuit.
If you’re feeling particularly up for the challenge, follow the 4.2km Joalah Circuit, which passes through a flying fox colony and past a giant fallen strangler fig tree.
17. Wander through the markets
Mount Tamborine hosts a number of markets each month – each is different and worth checking out. Every Sunday, the Local Producers’ Market offers organic produce as well as other locally made goodies including honey and preserves. The Country Markets are held on the second Sunday of each month, selling fresh produce, plants, collectables and arts and crafts. Tuck in to a knackwurst with mustard and top it off with poffertjes (Dutch pancakes).
The Tamborine School Ground Markets are held on the last Sunday of each month and are worth visiting for the variety of locally made products – from cookies to soaps. The Green Shed markets are held at the showground every Sunday morning, selling produce grown on the mountain. The range is dependent on the season, and the prices are set by the individual farmers.
18. Discover local art
You’ve done the Gallery Walk, now it’s time to walk the galleries. See the outback Australian landscape through the eyes of Arthur Hamblin at the Arthur Hamblin Art Gallery, or visit the Mountain Dreams Studio to view unique creations by Maki Horanai. Wander through Hilltop on Tamborine and browse the gallery of contemporary and traditional art from local and other artists, followed by lunch in the restaurant with a side of coastal views. The Tamborine Mountain Arts Collective holds the Open Studio event each year, bringing together local artists to showcase their work.
19. Go antiquing
Have you always wanted to describe yourself as someone who goes antiquing? Here’s your chance. At Antiques Plus you will notice a luxury vibe inspired by items from the past. While you’re in, be sure to ask about Jodi, the proud owner of the store. Her story will leave you amazed. Helen’s Antique Unique Vintage is in a beautiful French provincial building where she has a number of antiques, vintage goods, retro and rustic furniture, china and home decor.
20. Put romance first
Pethers Rainforest Retreat is romantic getaway defined – no kids are allowed. Tucked away in the subtropical rainforest, each treehouse has a private spa for two and five-metre-high glass windows leading to an outdoor balcony with an amazing view. Relax in a hot tub that overlooks views fit for a queen at Wallaby Ridge Retreat or sit out on the deck and watch the sun go down at Avocado Sunset B&B. The historic Bungunyah Manor is one of the oldest manor hotels in South East Queensland (circa 1882) and feels a world away from the busy city life – think Victorian suites, leather lounges and an open log fire.
21. Savour fancy flavours
The restaurant at Pethers Rainforest Retreat is cosy and intimate. Once you stop drooling over the menu you will be amazed by the intimate setting centred on an open fire place. The restaurant has a vegetable and herb garden just metres from the kitchen, and the property also features an avocado orchard and four beehives.
For a fancy feast, rainforest retreat Songbirds changes its menu regularly to showcase the best of the region’s seasonal produce. The restaurant has been a winner of the Australian Good Food Guide Chef Hat Award since 2011 – so you know you’re in for something special.
22. Fudgin’ delight
Those with a sweet tooth, rejoice – there are two fudge shops on Mount Tamborine and both are pretty great. Granny Mac’s has more than 40 varieties and encourages sampling. We like the sound of the pumpkin pie and the cappuccino. From here, wander along the Gallery Walk to Fudge Heaven, where grown-ups are specially catered for, with an "Adults Only'' creation on offer.
23. Get the wind beneath your wings
“Have you ever dreamt of soaring like an eagle?” asks its website. Get a bird’s-eye view over the hinterland with Hangglide Queensland, using the purest form of free flight. No cockpit, no engine – just you and nature.
24. Take a day drive
Follow one of the three drive routes to ensure that you see the best of Mount Tamborine in one go. The itineraries are detailed but just remember to stop in at one of the many vantage points and get snap happy along the way.
25. Pick up goodies along the side of the road
Keep an eye out as you’re driving around Mount Tamborine. Dotted along the roads, next to mailboxes, are stalls selling fresh produce, plants and other home-made goodies – chances are they taste better than anything you’ll ever buy in a supermarket and they’re a fraction of the price. They’re rarely manned, so drop some money into the honesty box and keep going until you see the next side-of-the-road stall.
Take your own horse - if you have your own - and go for a ride along one of the trails on Mt Tamborine. If not, Thunderbird Park, Cedar Creek Lodges and Cedar Glen Farmstay all run tours.
27. Find this hidden gem
You don’t need to travel to Lightning Ridge to get your hands on a beautiful Australian opal. Wander through Australian Outback Opals, admire the striking colours of this beautiful gemstone and learn a little more about it.
The waterfalls and hiking trails get us out and about, but we also need to refuel. Pack a picnic and have lunch overlooking spectacular views from The Knoll, or grab a picnic table after walking back from Cedar Creek Falls. Just remember to leave nothing but footprints so that visitors to the mountain can continue to enjoy the beautiful region.
29. Pat all the dogs
You can't leave Mount Tamborine without giving bulk pats to Syrah and Molly at St Bernard's Hotel. They are - naturally - St Bernards and they are possibly the most beautiful girls on the mountain. See their adventures here.
30. While away the hours at the Scarecrow Festival
Scarecrows line the roads on Mount Tamborine during the annual Scarecrow Festival. Creativity runs wild with some of the displays – with everything from quite literally scary crows to nativity scenes a la scarecrows. We dare you to not get If I Only Had A Brain stuck in your head.
31. Tuck into some street food
We realise that the food and drink options on Mount Tamborine are seemingly endless, so follow your nose and tick it all off the list in one go at the Tamborine Mountain Street Food Festival. It’s held annually at Witches Chase Cheese, so keep an eye out for dates.
32. Tour de Tamborine
Never mind the Tour de France, the Tamborine Mountain Hinterland Sports Festival is what you should aspire to conquer. Held over three days in November, the festival offers a range of events for participants of all ages and abilities on two wheels or two legs.