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Mt Tamborine Day Trip or Escape

Home > Brisbane > Day Trips | Escape the City | Family | Food and Wine | Romantic | Lists
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published January 5th 2023
Mt Tamborine is the perfect tourist destination
Mt Tamborine is in many ways the perfect tourist destination. Located not far from the Gold Coast and an easy drive from Brisbane, it includes a range of activities and attractions for all ages, from national park walks and falls, to top wineries and restaurants, and of course, everything in between.

The beauty of Mt Tamborine
The beauty of Mt Tamborine


About Mt Tamborine

The name Tamborine is taken from the Yugambeh language and refers to the native Australian wild finger limes that grow in the area. European settlers didn't move into the area until the last quarter of the 19th century. The allotments were marketed as perfect for gentlemen's estates with great views of the surrounding area, setting the gentrified mindset that continues to this day.

A Mt Tamborine farmland
A Mt Tamborine farmland


However until the 1990s, Mt Tamborine was not a premium destination, but a more rural farming area. Then the first wineries were opened, and it didn't look back, heading more and more upmarket with some great restaurants in the area. I think that both the overt tourism and the nature of the shops and restaurants have pushed people away but it remains a place suited to all types of visitors, young and old and is worth visiting or revisiting.

Getting There & Getting Around

It is a 50 minute drive from Surfers Paradise and only a little over an hour from downtown Brisbane. People staying in Logan or in Gold Coast's outer suburbs will find that this gets closer to a 30 minute drive.

There is really no public transportation to Mt Tamborine or on the mountain itself. There is a vague proposal to develop a funicular railway (cable car) up the mountain but it would make more sense just to add a public bus. But for now, you have to either take a taxi or uber from somewhere like Nerang Station ($50 to $70) or contact the transfer service which is around $40 per person.

Once on the mountain, there are no taxis that I know of, so you have to try your luck with rideshare companies like Uber. It is possible to walk between places, though from the most central point, many attractions are up to 4 kms away. Still, you will find a number of attractions within easy walking distance if you need to visit them. You can do a weekend up on the mountain choosing a place to stay near wineries, national park walks, restaurants and shops. Driving the mountain is pleasant, and locals don't mind that the tourists are driving slowly, as even the locals are never in a hurry.

One option to get to and around Mt Tamborine is a tour. There are plenty of tours that focus on wine and food, with some also including natural attractions as well. The one I am familiar with is Kiff & Culture which offers private tours to Tamborine. This is a good way to get your friends together to enjoy the wines without having to have a designated driver.

The crazy lads of Kiff & Culture lead tours to Mt Tamborine
The crazy lads of Kiff & Culture lead tours to Mt Tamborine


Natural Attractions

With lots of little walks, you could actually spend the whole day driving around doing different walks, which involve lookouts, rainforests and waterfalls. My favourite walk is the Sandy Creek Circuit, which is a lovely walk through rainforest and palm groves around the creek, as well as views down the valley and of Cameron Falls from the lookout. For a short walk to a waterfall, consider Curtis falls, and for pure rainforest and lookouts, then Witches Falls Circuit is nice.

Curtis Falls at Mt Tamborine
Curtis Falls at Mt Tamborine


For a swim, then Cedar Creek Falls has a great swimming hole. Many people walk past the falls to various rock pools further down. The falls has one big claim to fame from when it featured, for about 5 seconds, as a location in Asgard in the movie Thor: Ragnarok, which was filmed on the Gold Coast. Remember, get there early on a warm day before all the parking spots are taken.

Cedar Creek Falls in Mt Tamborine is popular in summer
Cedar Creek Falls in Mt Tamborine is popular in summer


The other nice natural attraction is the Skywalk, where you get to walk on platforms up among the treetops. While maybe a little overrated, it is on a lot of people's bucket lists, and I have to admit it is actually a pleasant experience. My recommendation is that before going, do a search online for discount tickets.

Walking in amongst the treetops at the Mt Tamborine Skywalk
Walking in amongst the treetops at the Mt Tamborine Skywalk


Other Attractions

Before we get to the eating, drinking and shopping, there are a number of other attractions on the mountains. The Glow Worms Caves is an artificial cave where they maintain an artificial cycle so that the glow worms are awake and glowing during the day. A nice enough experience for the kids, and interesting for adults as well.

For anyone looking to play at Mt Tamborine, then Thunderbird Park should be on their list. For both kids and adults, the TreeTop Challenge is the action packed adventure you didn't realise you needed. You pay a flat fee and do as many of the high flying adventures as you feel brave enough to attempt. But there is also Laser Skirmish, a FunFair with go karts and a number of water based activities, and for the little kids, there is searching for dinosaur (thunderbird) eggs, and silver panning.

For one of the best botanic gardens in regional South East Queensland, the Mt Tamborine Botanic Gardens has been created through the extensive help of volunteers along with their professional staff. Not only is it a pleasant garden with a lake, but there are also artworks, fun activities and more.

The great Mt Tamborine Botanic Gardens is the result of the hard work of many volunteers
The great Mt Tamborine Botanic Gardens is the result of the hard work of many volunteers


Eating

Mt Tamborine has a large number of restaurants and cafes, and on weekends and holidays, they are all open, and many staying open into the night. On weekday evenings though your choices are limited.

During the day, the best option is to head to the Gallery Walk area, with restaurants and cafes interspersed between shops, winery outlets, galleries and so on. In the evening, it can be better to head to Mt Tamborine village centre, which is the area around the IGA store. Though on Monday through to Thursday night, pickings will be slim.

The Mt Tamborine Gallery Walk has lots of places to eat, especially during the day
The Mt Tamborine Gallery Walk has lots of places to eat, especially during the day


There are a number of well regarded restaurants dotted around the area and look for lunches and dinners hosted by the wineries for a true food and wine experience. But overall the food tends to be upmarket, international and not really focusing much on local country dining. I think if that is what you want, head to the cafes. I don't want to single out any particular place here, as there are too many to list all of the good places to do them justice.

Of course, it is easy enough to self cater. You don't even need to pack your lunch, as you can grab food from the local IGA or Foodworks. There are several spots for picnics and barbecues. I lean towards The Knoll for barbecues, the Botanic Gardens for picnics, Cedar Creek Falls for a place to barbecue near a swimming hole, and the Hang Glider Launch and Lookout for sunset drinks and nibbles.

A bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, thee and a Mt Tamborine Sunset
A bottle of wine, a loaf of bread, and a Mt Tamborine Sunset


Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries

With multiple wineries, breweries and a distillery, it is not surprising that some people's weekend trip to Tamborine involves getting very drunk. But if you are a responsible drinker, you can still find your tipple of choice.

The first thing to know about wineries on Mt Tamborine is that most wineries, if not all of them, don't use locally grown grapes in their wines, but buy them from other regions, most notably the Granite Belt. But this is increasingly common among wineries because it means that wineries can use a wider variety of grapes grown under a wider range of environments, which can be used in conjunction with different fermentation processes to create a wonderful variety of wines.

The wineries I am familiar with are Witches Falls Winery and Mason Wines. Witches Falls has a nice casual environment with some lovely shady outside tables, while Mason Wines has a more upmarket feel and are famous for its lunches and dinners. You will also find winery outlets along the gallery walk where you can taste or buy wine.

Witches Falls Winery at Mt Tamborine
Witches Falls Winery at Mt Tamborine


For beers, there is the Red Baron Brewery, which pours great beers next to a Bavarian restaurant in a nice setting but serves mediocre food. Go here for a snack and some beers, not for a meal. I do also like the Fortitude Brewing Co. Definitely worth popping in here for a beer board, and while the idea of pairing cheese and beer might not appeal to everyone, getting a cheese board from the Tamborine Cheese Shop at the brewery is also a great Mt Tamborine experience. They also serve food at the Brewery, though the offerings are a fairly small modern Australian pub menu and a bit heavy on the pizzas.

The Red Baron Brewery has some nice German style beer at Mt Tamborine
The Red Baron Brewery has some nice German style beer at Mt Tamborine


Meanwhile, the Tamborine Mountain Distillery has been distilling since before local boutique distilleries (or even breweries) were common in Australia. With gins, vodkas, rums, schnapps and a range of liquors, there is a lot to sample here, and they also serve cocktails at their bar.

Shopping

The gallery walk is the main shopping area. It is fairly touristy and there are lots of items that are not local. But there are still a number of handicrafts and locals arts around to keep someone who is keen to pick up things like that interested.

Shops on the Gallery Walk at Mt Tamborine
Shops on the Gallery Walk at Mt Tamborine


Probably the main products to pickup up local wines, spirits and beers. While South East Queensland wines are well regarded, buying them in your local bottle shop is impossible because they simply don't produce them in sufficient volume to be stocked by chain stores.

Don't forget to visit the Tamborine Mountain Country Markets on Sundays at the Showgrounds that run throughout the morning and on to around 1:30 pm. The markets feature lots of local products as well as some fresh produce.

You should keep a lookout as you drive around the mountain for various shops as not everything is at the Gallery Walk. Often these other locations are larger with more charm.

Keep a look out as you drive around Mt Tamborine for various shops
Keep a look out as you drive around Mt Tamborine for various shops


Another option is to drive around looking for fruit stalls out the front of farm gates. But I have always found these to be a little disappointing. They are often high priced, and while you might try your luck with some discount avocados when they are in season, often what you find there is not very good quality.

Roadside fruit stall on Mt Tamborine
Roadside fruit stall on Mt Tamborine


Entertainment

The Zamia Theatre is like one of those little country cinemas that generally don't even exist anymore. But here is one on the mountain, with movies, plays and other events. There is usually no wide selection and if there is a play on, movies are cancelled. But if you are staying up there, it can be worth checking out.

On weekends, many of the restaurants, bars and pubs have live music. These are not always on a regularly scheduled basis, so look online for what is on or just follow the sound of sick beats, entrancing guitar riffs or cool jazz stylings to find an interesting place.

Festivals & Events

The most famous event in Mt Tamborine is the Scarecrow Festival in October. This festival features a lot of scarecrows. In springtime, the local gardening club runs a Camelia & Magnolia festival. This is great for lovers of gardens or if you want to pick up some plants for your own garden.

Staying

Stays in Mt Tamborine tend to be of the cabins in the rainforest or mountain edge type. Some highly regarded locations include Songbirds in the rainforest Witches Falls Cottages in a rainforest Garden across the road from a national park rainforest, and The Polish Place with sunset views down the mountain. For large groups, look for short term rentals to find various cottages and homes across the area.

Witches Falls Cottages on Mt Tamborine
Witches Falls Cottages on Mt Tamborine


There are some cheaper options, with Thunderbird Park providing Camping, Glamping and Cabins. But overall, staying at Mt Tamborine tends to be a pricy experience, but often one worth the money.

Overall

It often seems like the people of South East Queensland have forgotten about Mt Tamborine. It may be the push to go upmarket turned off a lot of locals as down to earth country charm has been replaced with fine dining and shops selling high end crafts and international goods. Yet it is still a great escape with more attractions than just those. Whether you are going for day or for several, it is great for families, groups of friends or as a romantic destination.

If you haven't discovered Mt Tamborine, now is the time to do it, and if you have, now is the time to rediscover it. After all, it is the combination of all attractions that makes Mt Tamborine special.
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Why? Mt Tamborine is the perfect tourist destination
Where: Tamborine Mountain Queensland 4272
Cost: From many free attractions to high priced food and wine
Your Comment
Another well-written article Roy and no doubt Mt Tamborine is a great place for tourists with all the area has to offer. Curtis Falls looks idylllic.
by Gayle Beveridge-Marien (score: 4|10397) 32 days ago
Mt Tambourine always delivers with its beautiful hilltop landscape to great food and wine and a creative community. Great story Roy
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|6205) 32 days ago
I have been to Mt Tamborine myself a couple of times it is a nice place my daughter got married up there so stayed up there over night and another time went to visit over a weekend with other people. I came from Victoria many years ago where my parents lived in the Dandenong Ranges not quite like Mt Tamborine. We lived up near the Tv towers it is also a nice place to visitor they have flower shows in the Dandenongs the colours of the trees in spring and later in the year are lovely.Thank for your artical. Linda Edwards
by ledwa (score: 1|20) 29 days ago
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