29 things to do in the Scenic Rim
It has the word S-C-E-N-I-C in its title, so don’t expect anything less than epic mountains, lush valleys, dry plains and wide open roads. The Scenic Rim is big, bold and knows what it’s about.
One of the great food bowls west of Brisbane, the area has a rich agricultural history, is home to six national parks including some of the oldest rainforests, and has its fair stash of wineries and adventure activities.
1. View South East Queensland’s highest peaks
Mount Barney National Park contains seven peaks all above 1000m including Mt Barney, Lindesay, Maroon, May, Ballow, Clunie and Ernest. These rugged peaks are all that remain of the ancient Focal Peak Shield Volcano that erupted 24-million years ago.
The Scenic Kitchen is a true paddock-to-plate experience near Fassifern. Start by milking cows at the local dairy, picking produce out of the ground at a farm before cooking up a three-course meal. Over in the Lost World Valley, Wild Lime Cooking School incorporates native ingredients into traditional dishes from many cuisines in its four-hour cooking experience. And Tamborine Cooking School hosts hands on lessons covering everything from Asian and Moroccan to French, Greek and Italian cuisine.
3. Camp nearby Lake Moogerah
Pitch the tent on the shores of Lake Moogerah deep in the heart of the Scenic Rim. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset, and then wake early for a day of adventure. Hire kayaks, stand-up paddleboards or a small tinnie and head out on the lake.
4. Tour the local vineyards and cellar doors
Exploring Brisbane’s backyard means chasing down local goods and producers – and yes, that definitely means cellar door tastings. Jump in the car and nominate a driver or join a tour to discover the Scenic Rim’s wine, beer and spirit makers. Cork ‘n’ Fork, The Vino Bus, Prestige Day Tours, Ambience on Tour and Queensland Day Tours will take you to wineries, while beer is covered by Hop On Brewery Tours.
5. Wander down the amusing Gallery Walk
The main strip atop Tamborine Mountain is a bustling hub of restaurants, local artist outlets, fudge shops and a German-themed cuckoo shop. Be sure to stroll along, pick up a souvenir and stop by Fortitude Brewing Co for a local beer at one end.
6. Explore ancient Gondwana Rainforest
The southern super-continent Gondwana was once covered mostly in rainforest. Now the national parks in the southern part of Scenic Rim are home to some of the most ancient type of vegetation in Australia. Many primitive plant families can be directly linked to flowering plants that existed over 100 million years ago. Head deep into Lamington National Park, Mt Barney National Park and Main Range National Park to discover it for yourself.
Morans, Cedar Creek, Elabana, Chalahn, Curtis, Bog Log, Coomera, Yarrabilgong, Mirror, Lips and Denham Falls – if there is anything the Scenic Rim doesn’t lack it is waterfalls. Head into one of the many national parks to seek them out for yourself.
8. Cruise between country pubs
A big country region with towns rich in history equals lots of great country pubs. Stop into the Dugandan Hotel in Boonah, the Royal Hotel in Kalbar, Royal Hotel in Harrisville, Beaudesert Hotel or Logan & Albert in Beaudesert, and St Bernard’s Hotel or Fox & Hounds in Mt Tamborine
Submit yourself completely to Nightfall Camp’s tranquil rainforest surrounds and opt for a private massage set alongside a crisp bubbling Christmas Creek and ancient rainforests of Lamington National Park. The three large architect-inspired, hand-built safari tents feature king-size beds, organic linen, rain-head showers, vintage meal baths, a wood fireplace and micro-kitchen.
At Ketchup’s Bank total relaxation awaits where your eco tent comes primped with the finest luxuries. Slip on your plush bathrobe and sit by your own personal campfire, complete with complimentary marshmallows for toasting.
The Scenic Rim is a fruitful area filled with lakes, mountains, rich soil and large plains. Stacks of food producers are harvesting and growing everything from pecans and beetroot, to sheep cheese, free-range eggs and olive oil. Discover them here.
11. Hot air ballooning
Get up, up and away with Hot Air Balloon Scenic Rim or Balloons Over Brisbane. Arrive before sunrise and soar up high as hues of yellow, pink and orange fill the horizon. Finish with champagne and a hot breakfast at O’Reilly’s Canungra Vineyard.
12. Hoppy taste of the hills
Quench your thirst for craft beer with Hop On Brewery Tours. Its Taste of Tamborine tours pick up from Brisbane city and take you via Beard & Brau and Fortitude Brewing companies.
13. Experience remote luxury at Spicers Peak
At the top of a mountain on the far side of the Scenic Rim, Spicers Peak Lodge is the highest non-alpine retreat in the country. Treat yourself to a night of relaxed luxury retreat, have dinner at the award-winning two-hatted restaurant The Peak, explore the natural surrounds on a guided or self-guided hike, or mosey around the lodge at SpaAnise, the pool or play tennis, billiards or lawn games.
14. Sample local liqueurs
Tamborine Mountain Distillery is a must-stop if you’re in the area. Australia’s most internationally-awarded distillery, it’s worth going to meet owner and local character Michael Ward himself. Established in 1993, TMD make high-quality liqueurs, vodkas and schnapps in unique flavours. Native botanicals are put to good use in the Wild Forest Plum, Lemon Myrtle and Wattle Toffee liqueurs, and Eucalyptus Gum Leaf vodka.
15. Enjoy all-star fine dining in the rainforest
Two restaurants in the Tamborine area have made a name for themselves with fine dining that incorporates local produce. "I can't think of too many fine dining restaurants where the chef can grow his own foods," head chef at Pethers Rainforest Retreat Obie Faulkner told Visit Brisbane. His restaurant boasts a vegetable and herb garden just metres from the kitchen, and there is also an avocado orchard on the property and four beehives. Nearby Songbirds Restaurant is also highly regarded for its fine cuisine.
Calling all motocross enthusiasts – if you haven’t already found it, this is your spiritual home. The world-class off-road motorcycle venue has been designed by some of Australia’s leading experts in the field and offers a wide range of options and levels.
17. Explore all six national parks
Within the Scenic Rim region six national parks are ripe and ready for exploring. From the ancient Gondwana Rainforests in Lamington, to the easy walks in Tamborine, or the more inland rocky mountains of Mount Barney, Main Range and Moogerah Peaks parks, to last-but-not-least the quieter Glen Rock State Forest.
Calling all wanna-be hikers. Want to switch off from your 21st century life and learn to appreciate nature in its purest form? Sure you do. We chatted to our friend and hiking enthusiast Nam Tran to gather tips for beginners.
19. Wander around Wyaralong Dam, go mountain biking and camp
Yes, do all three at Mt Joyce Recreation Park. If using the mountain biking trails isn’t your thing, go for a hike from the Meebun recreation area and walk a scenic 8km around the dam to the Ngumbi base camp. Camping here is free of charge. From here, the hike to the Mt Joyce summit is only about 1km, but it is steep so allow one hour.
Let’s be totally honest here, with so much natural beauty in the region there are swimming holes, dams, creeks and lakes a plenty. Take a look at this article where we have rounded up the best all around Brisbane – most fall in the Scenic Rim.
Chef Andy Cooper and his baker wife Toni swapped the coast for the country three years ago. Instead of acreage, they bought a restaurant. The town of Kooralbyn is now undergoing something of a resurgence, with the Coopers’ restaurant/cafe gaining an increasing following. Take a spot on the shady verandah, order a coffee and enjoy a slice of Toni’s carrot cake … it’s to die for.
Want to reach the top of a mountain? We bet you do, and the Scenic Rim is the place to do it. Moogerah Peaks National Park is home to Mt Greville, Mt Edwards and Mt Moon; Mount Barney National Park has West Barney Peak, East Barney Peak, Mt May, Mt Maroon, North Peak, Mt Lindesay, Mt Ernest, and the Ballow Range; Main Range National Park has Mt Cordeaux, Mt Mitchell, Spicers Peak, Mt Matheson and Mt Alphen; Lamington National Park features Mt Merino, Neglected Mountain, Mt Wagawn, Mt Hobwee and Mt Bithongabel; and lastly, Mt Joyce is a fairly easy walk within Mt Joyce Escape Recreation Park.
23. Take the family for a farm stay
Escape to the countryside with the little ones and show them a slice of farm life. Lillydale Farmstay lets kids feed the animals, milk the cow, ride the tractor and explore Mount Barney. Tommerup's Dairy Farm is a sixth generation 200-acre working farm home to cattle, sheep, pigs and more and of course, your farmer hosts, The Tommerup family.
Cedar Glen Farmstay in the Lost World Valley, Crebra Farmhouse situated in the pretty Kerry Valley, Destiny Boonah ECO Cottages and Donkey Farm is five minutes from Boonah, and Clandulla Cottages and Farmstay are other options. Read about farm stays in the Brisbane regions here.
24. Climb your way to the treetops
A short walk from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is the Tree Top Walk. Do not miss this walk while here, we repeat – don’t miss it! The easy 800m trail consists of nine suspension bridges up to 16m above ground, plus part way climb a giant fig tree to 30m above the ground and enjoy true treetop views of the area.
Dating from the 1840s to present, the museum features an in-depth collection of transport and industry tools including agricultural machinery, plus outdoor displays of buildings an structures. A couple of highlights include a 1936 Dennis Fire tender in excellent condition, a vertical steam boiler and numerous belt driven agricultural machines, and a Gutenberg Press and Type Setter.
26. Jump on horseback
If you have your own, there are trails at Mt Tamborine, Lost World Valley, Mt Barney and Mt Joyce. If not, Thunderbird Park, Cedar Creek Lodges and Cedar Glen Farmstay all run tours.
27. Hangglide off Mount Tamborine
“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.
28. Enjoy all-natural rock climbing
Beginners can join Mt Barney Lodge on a five-hour rock climbing adventure at Mt Gillies, suitable for ages 10 and up. Those more experience will find challenging climbs through the rocky Mt Barney area.
29. Meet artists in their studios and browse art galleries
Ambience on Tour’s unique ArtEssence Tour provides the opportunity to meet talented artists in their own studios and browse charming art galleries in the beautiful Tamborine Mountain setting. Within their serene studio environments you will be able to informally chat to the artists, find out what inspirations they draw on and potentially see them at work. The artists' repertoire includes mixed media painting, drawing, ceramic art, sculpture, pottery and printmaking.
Mixed media painting adopted by some artists demonstrate the use of ink, aluminium, coffee and bitumen. Acrylics and pastels as well as a combination of graphite, charcoal and oil paint mediums have been adopted by other artists. Exquisite pottery depicts bird and poetry motifs while a stunning ceramics range includes unique didgeridoos and fine tableware and gifts. A leisurely lunch can be accompanied by optional wine tasting at a winery.