Tamborine Mountain is a plateau located in Southeast Queensland, Australia, about 45 minutes from Surfers Paradise. We visited the area on a day trip from Surfers. Once we got there, we realized that it was impossible to see all the sights in one day. With limited time, we had to choose our experiences wisely.
So, without further adieu, here are the top 5 experiences I would recommend on Tamborine Mountain:
1. The Rainforest Skywalk
You can hit the Rainforest Skywalk either on your way up to Tamborine Mountain proper, or on the way back down the mountain. The skywalk is a series of pathways, trails and elevated steel boardwalks in a 30-acre section of the rainforest.
Along the path there is also a cantilever bridge, which sits 30 meters above the rainforest floor. This allows for some spectacular views above the treetops:
The skywalk also has numerous interpretive signs describing the flora and fauna in the area. For example, these are strangler figs. Instead of growing from the ground up, their seeds get deposited in the trees by birds. The feeder vines then grow down towards the ground. The host tree eventually dies from lack of sunlight and nutrients.
Some vines get tangled up amongst themselves, creating eye-catching, twisting patterns:
Amazingly, the skywalk isn’t a national or even municipal attraction; it’s privately owned!
2. Curtis Falls
The walk to Curtis Falls was a definite highlight of our visit. It was peaceful and not overrun by tourists. We started by walking along the trail on Route 95 which leads into the center of town. The jacaranda trees were dropping their flowers in the breeze, creating a purple-tinted path:
There was no one around; we only passed maybe a half dozen people along the way.
The trail is well marked, and fairly short, so it’s easy to fit into your visit:
If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some local wildlife. We accidentally spooked this little guy out of his roost in a hollowed-out tree trunk. He really looks unimpressed with us:
The falls are small, but very picturesque the way they’re tucked into the forest:
The pool and its banks are a protected area and are restricted. This is to protect the local glow worm and platypus populations. We hoped to see a platypus in the wild but we didn’t have any luck. We saw a few water dragons, though:
3. The Glow Worm Caves
The Glow Worm Caves can be a little tricky to find, but they’re located on the grounds of Cedar Creek Winery. The caves are actually man-made, but don’t let that deter you from checking them out. This isn’t something you can experience just anywhere!
Glow worms require a very specific environment in order to thrive, and those conditions are created for them in this cave. The cave is actually a set of two chambers, the first of which is used for visitor orientation purposes.
In this chamber, our guide explained the rules. No touching the cave walls, no photography of any kind, even without flash, and no loud noises, which can force the little glow worms to turn off their glow.
Then we watched a short video about the glow worms and the cave. Glow worms are actually a species of fly at the larvae stage which glow through bioluminescence. The specific type of glow worm in these caves are called Arachnocampa flava. They can only be found in Australia and New Zealand.
In the larvae stage they may live for as long as a year. They use their glow to attract small insects into traps they make with silk threads and sticky droplets. But once they mature into flies, they have an incredibly short lifespan – 2 days for females and 6 for males.
After the orientation, our guide handed us necklaces with glow-in-the-dark silicone bracelets on them. We draped them around our necks as instructed, with the glowing necklace facing our backs. This was so that we could see the person in front of us in the cave.
We were slowly led into the second chamber, aptly named Glow Worm Alley. It’s pitch-dark in this long, narrow chamber. Once your eyes adjust to the lack of light, you begin to see them – thousands of tiny, blue, twinkling glow worm bums lining the walls and ceiling. Their glow is caused by a chemical reaction, and they flicker on and off like tiny little stars.
The tour only lasts about a half hour, but it’s really a beautiful thing to behold.
The site has a nice boardwalk lined with interpretive signs explaining some of the other local wildlife you may encounter in the area: Eastern water dragons, brush turkeys, snakes, etc. This is such a pretty area:
They also have a small building housing several different types of native frog species to admire.
And since you’re already at a winery, you may as well take in the next suggestion:
4. Winery tours
There are a few wineries here to explore. These include Cedar Creek Estate (where the Glow Worm Caves are also located), Heritage Wines, Mason Wines, and Mount Tamborine Vineyard and Winery. You can also take a guided coach tour of the wineries, distilleries and breweries in the region.
5. Tamborine Mountain Distillery
I wrote a separate post on Tamborine Mountain Distillery a while ago, but it’s worth mentioning again. They have an amazing range of liqueurs, gin and vodkas, and even their own absinthe. We really enjoyed our tasting experience, and the ambiance was warm and familial.
A tasting doesn’t take a lot of time, but you’ll want to give yourself at least an hour for the tasting and to peruse their delightful, kitschy shop. They can pack bottles for travel too, so don’t let the fragile-looking bottles scare you. We got several home to Canada just fine! You can find my original review of the distillery here.
There are numerous other attractions to see on Tamborine Mountain, but you’ll need more than one day to take it all in. My best recommendation would be to stay here for two or three days to really take advantage of the sights available. But if you only have one day, these are the points of interest I would suggest!