Most visitors to the Gold Coast come with visions of sandy beaches, major events and crashing waves along 57km of coastline. But just a short drive from the city’s glistening waters and shiny highrises lie some of the most pristine rainforest and hinterland villages you’ll find. And they’re not just serving up world heritage rainforest encounters, they’re also home to a growing number of artists and creatives.
TAMBORINE MOUNTAIN RAINFOREST WALK
The Rainforest Skywalk at Tamborine is a wonderful introduction to the rainforests and cultural heritage of Gold Coast’s surrounding hinterland. With an information centre that includes displays of exotic and Australian butterflies as well as interpretive information on the geology and Indigenous cultural heritage of the region, alongside birds, reptiles, ground-dwellers, marsupials and insects (such as the local glow work), the eco-tourism destination is a wonderful one-stop shop for people who’d like to experience the rainforest from a unique angle.
The skywalk’s cantilever and raised boardwalks give visitors a literal birds-eye view – you’re up above the tree canopy for much of the walk before descending down into the rainforest floor. The centre has a well stocked café and gift shop with local artists featuring heavily. While the walk is only 1.5km in length, you can easily take more than an hour to complete it.
TAMBORINE GALLERY WALK
Once you’ve had your fill of the natural wonders of Tamborine, the Gallery Walk will satisfy your other senses. Capanart and Rivendale Galleries are the artistic highlights of the Gallery Walk with jeweller Matthew West also having a studio on the strip, alongside a tonne of other local artists who have their work featured in a range of shops. The walk, which spans 400m along both sides of Long Road is dotted with quirky cottages, galleries cafes and boutiques. Here you’ll find locally-made fudge as well as Mt Tamborine wine tasting and a cellar door and café. There’s liqueurs and fortified wines grown and manufactured locally, pottery, crystals and lavender products, cuckoo and grandfather clocks and local honey. You can easily spend half a day cruising the Tamborine Gallery Walk before filling your belly with local treats.
Local artisans have come together to form a cooperative that promotes and markets Springbrook art and local produce. Located on the corner of Springbrook Road and Lyrebird Ridge Road in a 65 year old building, the Craft Corner Gallery is run by two local artists but exhibits and sells the work of many more. You’ll find porcelain painting, glass casting and jewellery, visual art, pastels, oils, life drawings and more. The gallery is usually open on Saturdays and Sundays and two other days during the week, but if in doubt, you can call Linda to check hours or make an appointment to drop in.
SPRINGBROOK NATURAL HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS
Springbrook is a smorgasbord for natural heritage lovers. There are walks of varying lengths for people of all abilities, including Best of All Lookout which takes you past ancient Antarctic beech trees to one of the best lookouts on the Gold Coast (hence the name), plus a variety of rustic accommodation options, the infamous waterfalls of Purling Brook and Twin Falls and an observatory (open odd hours, depending on conditions). On top of that, there’s a heap of quirky cafes which sell local handcrafts.
DAVE GROOM GALLERY
Located at Binna Burra and with serious family connections to the Beechmont and Binna Burra areas (his family has lived in the area for four generations and his grandfather Arthur Groom established Binna Burra Lodge), Dave Groom is one of the Hinterland’s best known artists. His work captures the surrounding rainforest and open eucalypt forest landscapes with muted colours and a contemporary, realist style. If you’re familiar with the landscape around the Gold Coast hinterland, you’ll feel a deep connection to Dave’s work. His studio is precariously poised on the edge of Lamington National Park – literally on the edge, with sweeping views of the bushland and valley below and the gallery is open most days or by appointment.
With local art and handcrafts, pre-loved bric-a-brac, home-made treats, plants and local produce, the monthly Beechmont Market is the perfect place to connect with Hinterland artisans while enjoying the fresh country air. Sometimes you’ll find a petting zoo onsite, other times there’ll be hands on craft for kids, local authors and illustrators, handmade candles, hand-turned wood products and of course coffee and market style treats. The Beechmont Markets are on the third Thursday of every month (8.00am – 1.00pm) and you pass through Beechmont on your way to Binna Burra, so you definitely need to make a day of it.
BINNA BURRA LODGE
Nestled amongst ancient rainforest, Binna Burra Lodge is the perfect spot to explore the surrounding world heritage area. Caves, waterfalls, streams, rare birds and a huge diversity of plants and animals have had tourists and locals make a pitstop here for decades. But it’s not just the natural environment that keeps people coming back. Binna Burra Lodge offers a diverse range of natural and cultural activities for people to get stuck into during their stay – films, astronomy, archery, flying fox and abseiling, campfires, spotlight walks and interpretive talks and presentations are all on offer. Binna Burra also offers the perfect mix of accommodation options from DIY camping, safari tents, modest motel style rooms tucked into the forest and decadent sky lodges (I’m talking fireplaces and spa baths with sweeping valley views), so all tastes are catered to.
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