After an amazing and mind-boggling experience at my first ProBlogger conference, I joined Gold Coast Tourism and Tourism and Events Queensland for a fun and relaxing visit to the beautiful Gold Coast Hinterland.
On our first morning together we piled into a comfy 4WD and headed for Mount Tamborine, about half an hour out of the Gold Coast. We drove along the bumpy fire trail of the mountain and in between scanning the tree tops for koalas (not to be confused with grey bulky ants nests) we stopped to snap up this stunning view of the Gold Coast.
The area has wonderful locally grown produce and is known for an abundance of avocados, kiwi fruit and macadamias. This honesty box roadside stall had the most amazing round avocados and bright sticks of rhubarb on offer for passers by with small change.
We took a walk through the Tamborine National Park rainforest (the third oldest National Park in the world) and our guide showed us huge black bean pods, spider trap doors (thankfully no angry, hairy spiders came rushing out), enormous Morton Bay fig trees strangling smaller host trees and thick thousand-year old trunks hollowed out by hungry termites, now dead and laying beside the walking path.
We spotted a male brush-turkey busily tidying the forest floor as he worked to build a big and impressive nest. When he is happy with his construction, he will mate with a female and after she lays eggs in the nest he will chase her away and take on the role as prime carer and incubator of the eggs. Once the eggs hatch the chicks are on their own as the male shoos them off and again starts the process of building a nest before he mates. How’s that for single parenting?
At the bottom of the track we walked along was Curtis Falls – a waterfall that never stops flowing. The clear pool at the bottom is home to platypus and catfish but sadly they were a little too shy for us to spot.
A stroll through the rainforest is hungry work so we stopped for lunch at Tea & Niceties, a beautiful cafe just outside the rainforest that caters to weddings and functions and offers the prettiest high tea I’ve ever had. Oh that crockery! Those cakes!
To work off all the sweets we took a stroll along The Gallery Walk which is the main stretch of road on Tamborine Mountain, lined with shops selling local produce. We had a wine tasting at Heritage Wines, tasted different flavours of fudge (hello pumpkin pie!) and sampled some of the cheeses (they had a few non-animal rennet cheeses) at Witches Chase.
In the afternoon we visited The Escarpment Retreat, a romantic getaway on four acres with accommodation including chalet-style villas or a 3 bedroom house, a relaxing day spa, cinema and breakfast cooked with local produce. I could totally see myself blissfully soaking in the tub of a villa spa bath.
For dinner we visited Songbirds Restaurant at Songbirds Rainforest Retreat for a five course degustation with matching wines. Of the six of us, dietary requirements included vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy free and these were all easily accommodated by Chef Jasper and his team. Our lovely waitress Bec mentioned that the kitchen will also happily adjust dishes to suit vegan diners too.
The Retreat has a vegetable garden on-site so to incorporate the organic in-season produce that is picked daily from the garden, the menu at Songbirds changes fortnightly.
My vegetarian dishes were wonderful and each course was just the right quantity. Some of the highlights were the homemade bread, amuse bouche of pumpkin and cashew soup, beetroot carpaccio (below) and the fennel risotto with mushroom tempura topped with a parmesan crisp.
When it was time for dessert we ventured inside to relax by the fireplace – the perfect way to end a delicious and indulgent meal.
Keep an eye out for the second half of this getaway as I share a cooking class at Tamborine Cooking School.