Moving away from the Sunshine Coast, we head South towards Gold Coast, but not before making a short detour into the Hinterlands, the inner section from the coast, where the hilly, mountainous regions and its farms offer its own rural charm. Though we passed many fields and farms in quaint towns and idyllic nature parks, we only had time to stop at once place, Mount Tamborine.
Driving on the iconic Gateway Bridge (Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges)
It is hard to pen in words, just how breathtakingly beautiful Mt Tamborine is. Some say this is “the green behind the gold” and others call it a peaceful sanctuary or a highland retreat. The Mt Tamborine plateau is located only 30kms from the Gold Coast and 70kms from Brisbane.
The Gold Coast Hinterland is located in-land from the coastal Gold Coast strip, and is home to an abundance of national parks, sub tropical rainforest and quaint communities. The hinterland has a quiet, serene atmosphere where life is most obviously carrying on at a slower pace than in the city.
The densely forested and unspoiled mountains of Mt Tamborine feel like the lost world of paradise.
At every turn you will encounter breathtaking scenery and views, and clean mountain air. Also a strong cottage industry including many local arts and crafts, a host of natural and man-made attractions, a natural launchpad for wind sports such as hang-gliding, award winning wineries, beer and cheese factories, country markets, festivals and events. Spread around the hilly terrain as well are a whole host of beautiful boutique accommodation ranging from traditional designs to modern styles.
Tamborine Mountain is the source of an enormous variety of horticultural produce such as avocados, kiwi fruit, rhubarb, vegetables and flowers. On our recent visit to the Hinterlands of Gold Coast, we noticed just how amazingly rich the land was, and how abundant its produce. We later found out the reasons were the large amount of rainfall the mountain receives and its fertile volcanic soil.
As one drives around the long windy roads, some private homes put out stalls to sell excess fruits, vegetables, manure, seedlings and jams for any passer by to browse, choose and then drop the payment in containers. No sales person to harass you. Such is the trust and friendliness you find in these parts.
hang-gliders running off the cliff at a look out point on Mt Tamborine, that’s aptly called – Hang-gliders!
what an incredible sport – loads of people gather on the sloping lawn just to watch these dare-devils take flight
One of the places which we had the pleasure of staying at, that will forever make a long-lasting positive impression in our hearts, would be Skylodge.
It is not that easy to find this place. Skylodge is so new and secluded, that you will actually only find it by driving to the end of Wilson Road. Past that point, your GPS might probably fail you, like it did us. No matter.. look out for lot No.77 on that street, a hidden entrance which leads to an automatic gate, stylishly carved out of matte, galvanised steel, to resemble falling leaves.
Cudgerie tree with a thick crown
Ever wanted to sit on a swing hanging on a bough of a large tree?
Once you drive up the sprawling grounds, a house of grand design greets you. The minimalistic single storey, architect-designed, Queensland homestead is solidly held down by galvanised steel frame that can withstand hurricanes. It is designed with intent to allow for a lot of light to shine in and for its occupants to see the outside, after all the views are simply magnificent and what more, with constantly changing scenery throughout the day. Around the home, there are many glass doors for one to slide open and step out on a veranda to get closer to nature. What a nightmare for one to clean, I thought. On the veranda facing the mountainous vista, an extended deck with a heated infinity pool is all that’s between you, endless mountains and the ocean.
safari style deco – love the opulence, contrast of fabrics, colors and softness of the rugs and furs
Interiors offer solid timber floors, furniture with clean lines, and a collection of furnishings from the owner’s travels, locally and abroad. In the lounge area, a fully equipped kitchen is available for use including a well stocked bar, and a fireplace. Nothing less than luxury is available to guests.
You know that scene from the classic 80s television series, ‘Little House on the Prairie’, where Melissa Gilbert runs across the meadows? Well, it’s hard to suppress the urge to do the same. Really. Such an expanse of green is unfathomable, especially for a condominium inhabitant like myself.
Upon arrival, owner Robert Maas, greeted us and showed us around his amazing property.
Skylodge is the passion of one Robert Maas, whose vast experience in the hospitality industry, has given him the knowledge and determination to transform an avocado orchard and horse ranch to, arguably, one of the best new accommodations on the mountain. When talking to Robert, you will find him a gentle soul with an approachable demeanor and a intuition to know what guests require. This makes him the ideal host for his 2 bedroom luxury lodging. There is no other staff except himself.
Robert offers his guests a quiet, secluded getaway to wine and dine, to rejoice, to restore, to play, and to reignite the flame of love and friendship. While his land is able to cater to large numbers for events, his lodge does not and nor does he want to. He prefers to keep Skylodge cozy to a maximum of 2 couples apart from himself and his family. However, he might consider small groups for daytime events.
Heated outdoor infinity pool
an expansive pavilion-style timber veranda provides a gorgeous platform for you to chill out, and take in the wonderful sights
The cheese platter and sparkling wine that greeted us on our arrival
And the beauty of Skylodge is that, there isn’t anything on this property that Robert would give his guests, that he would not serve to himself or his family. From champagne to single malts, luxury gourmet cheese, to special aromatherapy bath salts and luxurious linen, he hand picks it all himself. He loyally and wholly supports the local cottage industry because he truly believes there is untainted quality in the products and not just the sense of community. The vegetables, milk, egg, cheese and meats we were served throughout our stay tasted so wholesome and natural. We are missing these natural flavors even as we pen these words.
Dining with a majestic view
I see a Koala!
The Serendipity Suite gave us our best night’s sleep in Queensland.. on these super luxurious 1200-thread count sheets and mattress. Felt like a princess.. minus the pea!
A television and WiFi is ready for those needing to get intouch with the outside world
Best views everywhere! (Don’t worry, there are blinds! :P)
The other bedroom, the Faraway Suite
The little vegetable patch where vegetables are left to grow wild and natural
An art installation on the lawn which doubles as a wind direction gauge
Come evening, a fire is lit, and the ambiance is perfect for reading and chilling out by the fire
Robert is an accomplished home chef and his speciality is a 3 course flambe dinner – salad, steak and dessert. Each ingredient is sourced on the mountain or from his garden patch. Everything is made fresh including salad dressing. The gourmet dinner is optional for guests. When requested, Robert provides a live cooking show to his diners, in more formal terms, a silver service.
Our ‘personal butler and chef’ and his mobile stove
sizzling in pure butter.. medium rare please!
Best steak in town cooked the perfect medium rare, and served with potato and broccolini
With a lot of skill, Rob puts the finishing touches on his crepe suzette .. I believe many have never seen this traditional method done before!
Early the next morning we rise at 4am, to drive down to Canungra town to meet a 5am shuttle to our next adventure. A ride in a hot air balloon! This is a great way to see the world, from a high point and in a panorama of Brisbane’s Scenic Rim – a World Heritage listed backyard of lush rainforests, spectacular mountain ranges and ancient landforms. After this breathtaking airborne sight, we would descend down to a farm land and then get shuttled to delicious hot breakfast with sparkling wine at O’Reilly’s Canungra Grand Homestead and Vineyard.
Floating over the Hinterland… at almost 4,000 feet above sea level. Not as high as skydiving, but it is a totally different experience all together of course. One is raging adrenaline and blood pumping through your heart and veins, the other is like an ethereal, calm and more quiet experience. Both equally good.
“Cow marks the Spot”!
The fun part about landing.. you can never be too sure, which plot of land you will land on..
After all, you can’t really steer a hot air balloon. You can only read the winds, and try and catch it, and hope for the best.
Cumi using some brawn to help reign in the balloon
Packing the balloon into a bag is a huge feat in itself.. no wonder we were all looking forward to champagne breakfast after!
Paco, our friendly Spanish Colombian hot-air balloon pilot .. he made it look easy. He is also a whole head taller than me!
Park and pack your balloon.. all in a day’s job
Later that afternoon, we went to do some Bush walking and check out Curtis Falls.
Located beside the Eagle Heights – Tamborine-Beenleigh Road junction, access to this section is via Dapsang Drive carpark. Curtis Falls is a mere 1.5 km return, and since we had a 4pm appointment for some foot reflexology, that’s all the hike we could fit in. Seemed like we were always rushing from point to point. Would love to come back and really explore Mt Tamborine at our leisure.
Hikers pass through rainforest and descend steep stairs to a large pool at the base of Curtis Falls. There is usually an impressive view of the falls and the surrounding columnar basalt rock face but since it had not rained for ages, the fall was no more than a trickle.
Back at the lodge, Cumi and I took turns to have feet reflexology, administered by Estelle, Robert’s daughter and a trained holistic therapist. A wide choice of holistic therapies will soon be introduced at Skylodge so were Estelle’s first patrons.
The foot reflexology was administered for 1 hour with talcum powder. It was a light tapping sort of pressure point reflexology, unlike the deep, painful pressing you find in Asian countries. Foot reflexology has been described as a natural therapy that requires the application of a specific type of pressure on particular areas of the feet. It is based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet which correspond to every part of the human body. Reflexology serves to relax, improve circulation and promote a general feeling of wellness.
We learned from Estelle that this soft method comes from Eunice Ingham, an American physiotherapist, who developed the unusual techniques and a body map of the foot in the early 1930s. The method provides numerous benefits, particularly one of profound relaxation which we felt immediately.
The Gold Coast as seen (zoomed in, of course!) from the Skylodge veranda.. we would be visiting the next day!
sunrise over the gold coast as seen from Skylodge
Our final morning at the Skylodge, and we could not pass up the chance to practice Yoga, against such a magnificent backdrop too..
Talking to Alison J. Pryce of Fig Tree Cottage, fitness instructor and Lifestyle Coach, we found her insights into fitness and health inspiring. She has a very practical outlook on fitness, and totally at ease, and in the zone, be it leading an adrenaline fueled boxing class, or a calm yoga class. I find her a good role model, as I too like a little bit of both.
I am a Warrior!
the sun rises at 6:15am so morning yoga starts at 6am, in time to catch the sunrise! It’s pretty usual to have a 6 am start in the Gold Coast we soon realised.. so that you can make the most out of the daylight hours. It gets dat by 6pm.
A good stretch before breakfast
A beautiful breakfast constructed from the fruits of the Skylodge garden and other fresh, sustainable produce of Mt Tamborine, was all we needed, after that uplifting Yoga session.
One long, last lingering breakfast with Robert and many more interesting stories later, it was time to leave.
We were really sad to go – Skylodge and its terrific hospitality would be hard to top or match. The place comes highly recommended. Do check out their website for more information on the place.
A brunette, pours the Belgian Blonde
One final pit-stop at MT Brewery on Mt. Tamborine, to sample locally brewed beer, before heading down the the Goldie.
Grain, Hops, Yeast, & Water. The only four golden ingredients used in the construction of their beers. Aimed at giving thirsty punters the unique fresh taste of Tamborine Mountains local produce. Brewing only small batches allows the turnover of beer to be higher and for us to only drink fresh beers on matter the time of day. There’s also a section for sampling of the Witches Chase Cheeses thats produced on site.
Hmmm.. Cloudy. With a chance of Kangaroo balls.
We were visiting the Sunshine Coast as part of #room753 & #thisisqueensland campaign, in conjunction with Tourism Queensland.