AWOL has teamed up with Airbnb to explore the huge range of listings scattered all over the country.
Ask most Aussies and they’ll say they’ve been to the Gold Coast. Ask them if they’ve ventured beyond the high-rise hotels and golden sands of Surfers Paradise to explore the surrounding area, and that number will likely drop dramatically.
When it comes to the Gold Coast Hinterland, few people know it exists, and fewer have considered visiting it. But with its unspoilt rainforest, charming mountain villages, and tucked-away Airbnbs, the region is one of the country’s best-kept secrets.
Where To Stay
First thing’s first: accommodation. If you’re the outdoorsy type, consider camping. The area has plenty of ideal spots for setting up your tent. If you plan to spend a day or two strolling around Springbrook National Park, stay The Settlement, one of the park’s many campsites. Or, if you’re into horse riding, look no further than Numinbah Valley Adventure Trails Camping.
If you’ve got some serious cash to splash, stay at one of the region’s many rainforest retreats – even if it’s only for one night on a longer trip. You won’t find better views than at Escarpment Retreat & Day Spa, a more remote stay than at Wongari Eco Retreat, and more rainforest-draped spaces than at Songbirds Rainforest Retreat.
And, if you’re working with a budget between no-frills and luxe, go with an Airbnb. The region is home to dozens of gorgeous (read: Instagrammable) and conveniently-located properties, like this private room space in Mudgeeraba, this stylish two-bedder, also in Mudgeeraba, and this five-bed Gold Coast Hinterland home with sea views and enough space for you and seven mates.
Where To Eat
From casual grab-and-gos to fine dining, you definitely won’t go hungry in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Start your day at Spice of Life Café & Deli, which is said to have the mountain’s best brew, or Tea & Niceties, an English manor-style teahouse with all the trappings – fine china, cake stands, and flowers everywhere.
For lunch, head to Three Little Pigs Bar and Bistro, a modern eco-friendly bistro with fresh, local fare and views for days. Fan of American BBQ? Head to Hickory for a whole rack of ribs or plate of maple chilli chicken wings. Keen to taste some wines with lunch? Mosey on over to Eden Restaurant, the eatery at Mason Wines Mt Tamborine. Set in a converted old winery and barrel room, the restaurant has a big, open kitchen and a sprawling veranda looking out onto the vineyard.
If you’ve spent the day immersing yourself in nature, chances are you’ll have worked up an appetite. The Old Church, a hidden gem at the back of a large, rolling lawn property, is a fine dining treat, as is award-winning Vue 175 Restaurant, which offers both a degustation menu and a la carte.
For something a little less exxy, try Drift. In addition to its affordable prices, the mellow restaurant features a large balcony and an Indigenous art collection.
What To Do
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that most of the activities to do here are, for the most part, nature-focused. But with such stunning scenery everywhere you look, you’ll soon understand why.
For the perfect introduction to the area, sign up for the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk. The 45-minute, 1.5km walk winds through privately-owned rainforest and crystal clear rock pools with information about local flora and fauna displayed along the way.
Once you’ve got an overview of the rainforest and general lay of the land, head below ground to the Glow Worm Caves Tamborine Mountain. Offering the only opportunity in Queensland to see glow worms during the day, the tour takes 30 minutes and lets you learn all things glow worms. As an added bonus, you’ll be doing a good deed – your admission ticket will help support their survival in South East Queensland.
Of course your time in the Gold Coast Hinterland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Springbrook National Park. Here you’ll find tumbling waterfalls, cool rock creeks and swimming holes, and some of the oldest trees in the country. There are lookouts to walk to, drives to do and places to swim.
In fact, there’s so much to do and see, we suggest you come thoroughly prepared.
(Lead image: Tourism and Events Queensland)
Ready to discover Queensland’s best-kept secret for yourself? Book with Airbnb and uncover everything the Gold Coast Hinterland has to offer.
Sangeeta Kocharekar is a freelance travel writer. She grew up going on trips to India and Europe on school holidays, and hasn't stopped travelling since.