If you think the Goldie is only about the beach, boy are you missing out. The Gold Coast hinterland, stretching from Tamborine Mountain down to Springbrook National Park, offers breathtaking views with world-class trails, charming and eccentric mountain villages, lush rainforest, and a cooler climate perfect for snuggling up to someone special.
If you’re wanting to romance your other half, the hinterland is an ace spot to earn top-tier brownie points. So, we’ve done the leg work of hitting up the best the region has to offer.
Expect wineries (with alpacas!), glow worm caves, chalet-style digs, cute boutiques and cafes, and fireside lounging, all surrounded by bucolic hills, tropical rainforest, mighty waterfalls, and postcard-worthy views across mountain ranges toward the ocean.
Each option below is worthy of a full two-night trip, perfect for a quick weekend jaunt. But spare three or four nights to easily combine two or all three sections (if you’re fond of mountain drives).
For The Couple Who Love To Hike: Springbrook National Park
Before making your way into the hinterland, stop by a supermarket to load up on a few supplies for your overnight stay at a very special rainforest retreat, The Mouses House.
The drive, an hour from the Gold Coast, is a winding and incredibly scenic journey inland to mighty Springbrook National Park.
Before heading to your cabin for the night, steal 30 minutes to take in the unreal view from nearby Best of All Lookout, which straddles the Queensland and New South Wales border.
Staying overnight at The Mouses House: Nestled within an ancient rainforest, eco-certified The Mouses House is a totally romantic spot with 12 fairy tale-themed A-frame cedar chalets (mine was ‘Snow White’).
Chalets feature private hot tubs, wood fireplaces, full kitchens and a private terrace with BBQ. There’s an enjoyable ‘80s vibe and each cabin is situated about 30-40 metres away from the next for total privacy. Mine had a literal rushing creek smack bang outside.
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Another extremely cool feature is the government-certified pristine spring water full of natural minerals for drinking and bathing at the property. So BYO reusable bottles to fill up with the good stuff.
There’s also a Finnish sauna and cold springwater plunge pool, as well as a tennis court and mountain bikes available for guests.
Accommodation alternative: If cabins aren’t your vibe and you prefer a luxury country retreat, the privately-owned Wagyu and polo farm, Hazelwood Estate, is nestled at the centre of Lamington and Springbrook National Parks, and the rolling hills of Beechmont and Binna Burra.
Day 2: Twin Falls
It’s important to know this mind-blowing fact about Queensland rainforests: the land is so ancient, its trees remember when Australia was connected to Antarctica and dinosaurs roamed.
Springbrook National Park is part of the Gondwana World Heritage-listed area and is roughly 180 million years old. So obviously, you’ll need to do a little hiking.
After cooking brekkie in your chalet, it’s time for the very enjoyable Twin Falls hike (only 400m from The Mouses House), walking along trails that traverse above and behind waterfalls, through dense rainforest and by rock clefts, ancient Antarctic beech trees and ferns.
You can make it easy by turning around at the falls, or continue on as part of the longer Warrie circuit. I was taken aback by an actual hypercolour double rainbow within a smaller waterfall, along with epic canyon and valley views that span all the way to surfers paradise.
When spending two nights in Springbrook, we also recommend checking out Natural Bridge, a rock formation sculpted by the force of the waterfall over a basalt cave. The area is also home to glow worms and a colony of tiny bent-wing bats.
For The Couple Looking To Unwind: Lamington National Park
O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards and the Mountview Alpaca Farm collaborate on a unique way to enjoy a bite to eat en route to Lamington National Park (another stunning section of the heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest).
The farm offers various Alpaca picnic experiences, where you can munch on a basket of goodies – think deli meats, fried chicken, antipasti, cheese and salads – in a serene location flanked by a river, vines and mountain ranges, before or after frolicking with an adorable alpaca.
I was lucky enough to hang with Ernie, a cute and gentle therapy alpaca, along with Thor, a handsome but assertive boy. Finish it all off with your complimentary ice cream.
Staying overnight at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat: Leave yourself plenty of time to reach historic O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. While spectacular, the drive is very windy and the last five-kilometre section especially bumpy. But man, is this journey absolutely beautiful.
O’Reilly’s is an hinterland institution. Run by the third generation of the O’Reilly clan, their ancestors pioneered eco tourism in Australia in 1926. The property started out as a modest cabin-style guesthouse and has since expanded to a full-blown retreat completely immersed in Lamington National Park.
The main guesthouse at O’Reilly’s gives old school US summer camp lodge vibes, a la Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. The restaurant food is well-executed and tasty and the brekkie buffet well-stocked.
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Cabins are comfortable if a little tired, but offer incredible views over the surrounding McPherson and Great Dividing Ranges – sunset being especially swoon worthy.
A two-night stay here is ideal for active couples wanting to make the most of the gorgeous natural surrounds with 160kms of lush bushwalking trails and opportunities to get up close and personal with wildlife ( some might even say ‘hi’ right on your balcony).
A few goes on the flying fox is a must, as is the evening glow worm experience, where you’ll learn all about “maggots with tail lights” and watch them sparkle in the rainforest like a constellation of stars. When you need a little rest, be sure to take your lover down to the Lost World Spa and infinity pool.
Accommodation alternative: Snagging a booking less than six months ahead at luxury glamping Nightfall Camp is as rare as hen’s teeth. Also in Lamington National Park, this is one special – and uber romantic – experience.
For The Couple Who Want To Feel A World Away: Tamborine Mountain
Ah, Tamborine Mountain, everyone’s favourite eccentric mountain town. Part-hinterland and part-Scenic Rim, this colourful village is brimming with fab eateries, quirky boutiques, lush rainforest, waterfalls and a proud sense of community.
First things first, stroll down Gallery Walk to try handmade chocolates, world-class fudge, buy a few crystals or jewellery and scope out the art.
Local cafes like Treehouse and Wild Plum are delicious, along with the Tamborine Mountain Coffee Plantation, which serves up quality beans as well as tasty food. But over in North Tamborine, a stop at Picnic Real Food Bar is a must for seasonal fare.
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Award-winning boutique Tambourine Mountain Distillery is also worth a visit. Founded on the grounds of an old citrus orchard, it’s a fun place for lunch. Ditto the mountain’s cool climate wineries, with winos sure to enjoy Mason Wines and Witches Falls.
For Eastern European cuisine with a gorgeous view, The Polish Place can’t be beat. Or for something really different, check out the historic St Bernards Hotel, where yes, you’ll meet two St Bernards who live at the premises. It’s just a bonus that it happens to be perched on the edge of an ancient volcanic escarpment with ridiculous views.
With so many good options for a feed, you’ll need some physical activity, also in abundance. There are six sections of hiking trails from Cedar Creek through to Witches Falls. For an easy quick walk to a waterfall, however, you can’t go past Curtis Falls. The Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens are also incredibly scenic.
Come sunset, do as the locals do and take some wine and nibbles to the Hang Gliders Lookout (Robert Sowter Park), to watch the colours change over the distant ranges and valley below.
Staying overnight at Tamborine accommodation: There are myriad sweet digs for couples, depending on what vibe you’re into.
Those fond of glamping and adventure activities (like the Treetop Challenge) should check out Cedar Creek Lodge’s Woodland Glamping tents, with full bed, TV, fridge, balcony and lovely outdoor bathroom. They’re found 10 minutes down the mountain within Thunderbird Adventure Park.
More traditional romantics should look into adults-only Pethers, which offers 10 luxurious modern tree houses with views of the surrounding sub-tropical rainforest. Alternatively, Songbirds holds its own with secluded rainforest bungalows.
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If you really want to wow your partner with a secluded luxury getaway and are happy to treat Mount Tamborine as a day trip, consider a stay at the recently opened Wander at the Overflow 1895.
The five stunning architecturally-designed ‘WanderPods’ are set around Lake Wyaralong and named after the breathtaking mountains that surround The Overflow 1895, forming the centre of the ancient caldera called the Scenic Rim.
The writer travelled as a guest of Destination Gold Coast.
Lead Image: Sonia Taylor
Sonia feels most at home on the road, with travel her greatest passion. But really, she’s hype about a lot of things: beautiful design, tasty food, wellness, nature, interesting people and women’s issues. The Founding Editor of Junkee’s The Cusp and former Homes Editor at Nine, Sonia prides herself on seeking out authentic experiences with charm and loves sharing a personal rec. Catch her on Instagram @sonnietothetee.