Yay! Road trip day today. My sister and I have hired a car for the day and decided to take a drive out to Tamborine Mountain, about 30-45 very windy, hilly minutes away from Surfers Paradise.
As we head into the outskirts of Tamborine, we spy a sign for a mushroom farm. We love mushrooms, so we pull off the road in search of fungi. Not far off the road is Hinterland Fresh Mushrooms and they sell a variety of mushrooms for your cooking pleasure. We buy two bags of mushrooms – probably way too many for what we need, but we were intoxicated by their quality and the thought of all sorts of mushroom recipes swirling around in our heads. $12 later and we were back on the road.
First stop upon arrival in Tamborine Mountain is the Witches Chase Cheese Factory, which shares its premises with the Fortitude Brewing Company and the Cheese Bistro. Alongside the actual factory, is the shop where you can buy (and taste) a fantastic range of cheeses, including my favourite – Tamembert, a mushroomy infused camembert cheese. There’s a really nice cow’s feta, along with flavoured feta’s, yoghurt and ice cream. We find ourselves buying quite a few items and a couple of their little chiller boxes for our dairy wares – and mushrooms. Stepping outside is the brewery where we ordered a fabulous mushroom pizza – mushrooms, feta, thyme and truffle oil. OMG, lovely. And even better washed down with one of their summer light beers. But only one – cause we gotta get back on the road of course.
Next up it’s time to take in some nature with a small walk down to Curtis Falls. It’s a short walk – about 1.5km (although there is a sightly longer detour available) down to the falls – and a fair few steps. There are a lot of birds in the area, including lyre birds and colourful parrots. The falls run all year around, but obviously are more bountiful after rain.
Just around the corner (and around a few bends, over some hills, round some more bends, all very slow) is the Skywalk where you can explore the Queensland rainforest from high above the canopy. It’s actually set in 30 acres of privately owned rainforest, turned into an eco-adventure by a couple who arrived in Queensland after living in my home-town of Perth for 17 years.
It’s probably not for the faint-hearted especially if you aren’t a fan of heights, because the walkway sways quite heavily at some points, but it is a lovely way to see the rainforest. And, if you’re lucky you’ll get to see some wildlife, like the little wallaby that I photographed below hiding in the bushes, and a huge, massive salamander, which I ran away from shrieking.
Have you ever heard of thundereggs? Well, we hadn’t either, so we decided to find out. Turns out they are a geological phenomenon, the formation of which is also a mystery, but likely to be caused during volcanic upheavals. And Thunderbird Park hosts the worlds largest and most impressive collection of thundereggs. After a brief introduction and a safety talk, because the park is on a mining lease, we head off with our tin buckets and picks. ‘Be back by 4pm!’ says the rock shop owner. I look at my phone and the time reads just after 2.30. ‘How long does this take?’ I ask. ‘Oh, about two or three hours’. Wait, what? Oh crap, don’t think we’ll be finding much then!
We set off up a gravelly and steep hill getting a good workout for the third time today. And arrive at this…
How the heck can you work out what is a thunderegg and what is a plain old rock. I’m assuming they are deep under the ground if it takes two to three hours to find one so I’m not holding out much hope.
After 45 minutes we decide we need to get back on the road, so we take our buckets full of rocks back to the shop expecting our haul to be nothing but a bunch of crappy normal rocks. My haul surprisingly though yielded two thundereggs which were cut-able and the shop owner was quite impressed. No laughing then! But we did end up with some little blisters for our effort.
Our final stop for the day was a restaurant/gallery called The Polish Place. We were hoping for pierogi, but seeing as we’d missed the main meal we could only try some cake, which was very lovely. And the birds thought so too because they were surrounding us – on the table, on the chairs, at our feet – and once we had finished, even on our plates! I felt like I was on the set of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds at one point!
We had a thoroughly enjoyable, if tiring and a little dusty, day out on the mountain. And of course I always think it is wonderful to get out of the city to see some nature and a different side of things. It cost us less than $100 for our hire car (including $12 to fill the tank back up afterwards, talk about economical). We spent all day there pretty much and still didn’t get to see everything we had on our list. Definitely recommend this as a side trip from Surfer’s Paradise.