What’s new on Tamborine Mountain

What’s new on Tamborine Mountain

Behind the gold of the Gold Coast’s glistening sands, there’s a mountain of green: Tamborine Mountain. Named Queensland’s Top Tourism Town for 2023 for its “…stunning natural attractions, world-class food and wine, exhilarating adventures, and genuine village-style hospitality into a holiday destination that’s full of surprises…”, the sun was shining on the mountaintop.

Little did we know what was to come. In a barrage of Christmas storms, winds wreaked havoc on the landscape, upending trees, destroying buildings, and leaving the community without a power network.

However, the response to the devastation was heartwarming, with neighbours gathering to help others clean up and re-establish. In February, the word went out: “We’ve cleared the roads, and we’ve poured you a wine…” The mountain was open again, good to go. So, we set off to visit some of its more recent openings and developments (and a few others you may have missed) to share with you.

After a steep ascent up Henry Roberts Drive, our first stop is St Bernard’s Hotel. Built in 1881 and licensed since 1915, St Bernards is situated on the edge of an ancient volcanic escarpment. The hotel’s outside verandah offers stunning views (that many are unaware of) across the hinterland as we enjoy a cup of coffee and morning tea.

Next, we head towards Long Road. The Gallery Walk section of Long Road is popular with tourists because of its concentration of more than sixty shops and galleries along a single stretch of road.

At one end of Gallery Walk is Tamborine Cheese Shop. Opening the shop at the end of 2022 in partnership with Byron Bay Mozzarella Company, Manager Salvatore Costanzo tells us that they produce over forty authentic Italian cheeses using locally sourced buffalo and cow’s milk. Visitors can buy from their range of cheeses, including scamorza, burrata and stracciatella or they can choose a cheese and salumi board to consume on the premises or to take away.

Franquette Bakery, opened just over a year ago. Founder and Head Baker Jérôme Favier was the former Master Baker at Burleigh Baker for eight years before deciding to open his own boulangerie. It’s no coincidence that Franquette reminds us of a French village bakery, the vibe of the village reminding Jerome of his hometown of Bourgogne. Now, it’s an essential stop for crusty bread, French-style sandwiches featuring local ingredients and several different types of croissants.

We leave Gallery Walk to visit Cauldron Estate and Distillery, located two blocks away. The distillery and its undercover verandah overlook a terraced grass slope replete with picnic tables and umbrellas. Opened in mid-2021, this family and pet friendly venue is owned by three local mates who wanted to produce unique Australian craft-style spirits. Local produce and some bush foods feature in their products, the limoncello made from local lemons, the coffee liqueur from Tamborine Mountain Coffee. Cauldron’s True Blue gin, released early in 2024, is made from Australian bush botanicals such as aniseed myrtle, finger lime endemic to Tamborine Mountain, the blue hue gained from the butterfly pea flower.

We decide to have lunch on Main Street at the Picnic Real Food Bar. It’s located at the front of North Stores, a gorgeous architecturally designed clutch of buildings forming a food, art, event and nature precinct. There is a zero-waste goal for the complex, achieved through a closed loop compost system, fresh UV filtered spring water supply, bio-wastewater system and kitchen gardens.

Picnic Real Food, owned by Sonja Drexler and Brenda Fawdon, was the winner of the 2023 Scenic Rim Regional Business Excellence Award, recognising not only its sustainability practices but also its ‘fresh, local, quality produce and ethically raised, sustainable proteins’.

If you can forego the cakes at Picnic Real Food Bar, Tamborine Mountain Gelato Co, in the same street, is a winner for dessert. It’s the home of artisan gelato made from local ingredients. Owners Bec Leitner (ex-Head of Pastries at Burleigh Baker) and partner Alick Kilsby have done their research, the result being exceptional gelato housed in an authentic Italian pozzetti cabinet for freshness, the flavour palette dominated by local produce. Combinations such as mint stracchiatella, nectarine and lime, and lemon myrtle and honey change seasonally and according to availability. There’s nothing quite like these surprising flavours to bring our taste buds alive.

A couple of shopfronts along the street, Butler & Grace is a great stop to stock up your pantry with a few specialty items. From coffee to specialty sauces and curry mixes, soaps and décor pieces, there’s plenty of choice for an interesting gift.

Established in 2003, Witches Falls Winery sources their grapes from Queensland’s Granite Belt and Riverland wine-growing areas. With the winery awarded five stars by James Halliday, they are well known for their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Worth noting too is their range of ‘Wild Ferment’ wines and their lesser known, rarer Mediterranean varietals, such as Fiano, Albariño, and the rediscovered Carménère; wines that spearhead a drive to produce wines that are more suited to cope with the challenges of climate change. Witches Falls Winery also produces alcohol-removed wines to cater for a growing sector of the market who have chosen to go alcohol free.

Fulfilling his dream of owning a brewery, Witches Falls Winery’s co-owner and winemaker, Jon Heslop, is opening Boxer Brewing Co beside the winery. Already you can taste their small batch beers and delicious ‘Eighth Day’ ciders at the winery.

Stay late in the afternoon and watch the sun set at the Hang Glider Launch and Lookout. It’s quite the romantic interlude.

While you could cover these attractions in a day, why not make it a weekend staycation. Dine at Pippin Took 2 or Trattoria Mk II and stay at boutique accommodation on the mountain. Whatever you choose, “the locals would love to welcome you back”. With so many attractions, you won’t be disappointed.

Tamborine Mountain