Explore the Gold Coast Hinterland

Take time out to explore the magnificent Gold Coast Hinterland with its many beautiful sights and attractions right on Brisbane's doorstep. With World Heritage rainforests, cascading waterfalls, ancient fir trees, jaw-dropping views, country hamlets, vineyards, an abundance of scenic hikes, mountain villages, colourful birdlife and gorgeous retreats, there's so much to discover. Here are some highlights to get you started:

O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat

The perfect place to base yourself when exploring the many wonders of the Gold Coast's beautiful hinterland is this iconic retreat, nestled in the lush ancient rainforests of Lamington National Park's Green Mountains section. The O'Reilly family, who pioneered ecotourism in Australia when they began hosting visitors in Lamington National Park in 1915, are still involved in the operation today. The resort is steeped in a fascinating history, including the discovery of a wrecked Stinson plane and its survivors by Bernard O'Reilly, which was the subject of the classic book 'Green Mountains'. Guests can enjoy some time out in the luxurious villas or take part in the family friendly onsite activities including the flying fox, segway tours and treetop walk. From the villas it's an easy stroll down to the breath-taking Morans Falls, with views over the whole valley, as well as half day walks. 

Hot Air ballooning

Enjoy a bird's-eye view of the stunning landscapes of the Gold Coast Hinterland as you glide over a dreamy patchwork of country farmlands at the break of dawn in a hot air balloon with Hot Air tours. There's nothing quite like watching the sun rise and taking in the changing colours of the sky and countryside below - a perfect start to the day. Just in case those glorious views and soaring through the sky aren’t reward enough for your early start to the day, you can opt for a tour that ends with breakfast. Glide to a halt, touching back down to solid ground and be picked up in the air-conditioned shuttle bus, ready to deliver you to your next stop. There, a delicious champagne breakfast awaits you in the stunning surrounds of O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards. Bask in warm morning sunshine and relive the experience out under the verandah of the historic homestead.

Natural Bridge

One of the Gold Coast Hinterland's must-visits, this stunning rock formation of a cave permeated by a cascading waterfall is located in the Gondwana Rainforest in Springbrook National Park. Starting from the Nerang-Murwillumbah Road car park, it's an easy grade 1km circuit walk that descends through the ancient forest, dotted with hoop pines that are living relics of the Jurassic Age. By day, visitors should keep an eye out for koalas and birds including woompoo fruit-doves, green catbirds and paradise riflebirds as well as endangered species such as the tusked or cascade tree frog, and sooty owl. By night, you can take an enchanting guided tour when the the cave is magically lit up by the resident glow worms and the protected colony of microbats can be seen. Note that closed walking shoes are recommended and swimming is not permitted.

Country Mile Escape

The Gold Coast's best kept secret is this boutique country retreat nestled amongst rolling green hills and wide open fields, just 15 minutes from the Canungra township and with easy access to Binna Burra and Lamington National Park. Located within a 70 acre cattle property, Country Mile Escape consists of 2 brand new contemporary studios with stunning rural views, offering the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Guests are free to wander around the property and take in the farming life or go platypus spotting at Flying Fox Creek, which runs through the property. Start the day with a continental or hearty country breakfast basket delivered to your door and end the day with a BBQ on your front deck (with local gourmet meats and produce provided on request).

Purling Brook Falls

A highlight of any trip to the Gold Coast Hinterland is a visit to these spectacular waterfalls in the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest in Springbrook National Park. To reach the falls, there's a stunning 4km circuit hike that passes through an open eucalypt forest of New England ash before descending into the valley floor to take in jaw-dropping views of the Falls. From here, intrepid hikers may like to take the 2km return Warringa Pool track to explore further. Upon your return, grab a bite to eat at the charming Dancing Waters Cafe, which is conveniently located just outside the Falls carpark. Here you can greet the local rainbow lorikeets which flock to the cafe's balcony searching for crumbs.

Southern Cross 4WD Tours

Let someone else do the driving and visit breath-taking beauty spots the whole family would love, with these small group tours from the Gold Coast Hinterland touring specialists. With daily departures from both the Gold Coast or from Brisbane (with sister company Brisbane Day Tours), you can experience the best of Tamborine Mountain, Lamington National Park and Natural Bridge, (in Springbrook), with stops at some of the key attractions. You’ll see stunning waterfalls, ancient forests and jaw-dropping lookouts. There’s plenty of ways to stretch your legs on the journey – take a canopy treetop walk, wander along winding paths, feed the friendly lorikeets, stop for a spot of wine tasting and more.

Top Things To Do On The Gold Coast This Weekend

Pack some doggy treats in your favourite tote and head to this free dog-centric community market
Sip, Savour & Soirée is a fabulous long brunch event
Witness Alice Cooper, Blondie and more live on stage at this new rock festival
Romeo and Juliet will come to life on stage in this breathtaking ballet
An unforgettable, immersive 'Fire to Table' dining experience
ARC will bring one of the greatest rock albums of all time to life
A magnificent tribute to the King of Rock 'n' Roll
An unmissable concert experience that will transport you back
Elvis: A Musical Revolution coming to HOTA in June!