The best things to do on the Gold Coast Hinterland with Kids

Cedar Creek flowing through Thunderbird Park site

So close to Brisbane and the beaches of the Gold Coast, the Gold Coast Hinterland provides a real escape to nature for families. From interactions with wildlife to gourmet dining, there’s an experience here for every type of family. Whether you are out for the day or planning on a longer stay in the region, these are our favourite things to do in the Gold Coast Hinterland with kids.

Glow Worms

You will find The Glow Worm Caves Tamborine Mountain behind a boutique winery in picturesque Mount Tamborine. Created to simulate the natural environment of the glow worm as it would exist in the surrounding areas, these caves have been man-made. The caves that exist today are part of a plan to grow the colony to a point of self-sufficiency.

The Glow Worm Caves at Tamborine Mountain can only be visited as part of a paid guided tour. The daytime tour starts off with an information session, which is beneficial so that you know what to look for, before going in to see the glow worms lighting up the walls of the inner caves.

LOCATION: Cedar Creek Estate, cnr Long and Hartley Roads (104 – 144 Hartley Road), North Tamborine

Bookings required. Find all the details on the Glow Worm Caves Tamborine Mountain website

Starry sky at night from under trees


We all know that getting away from the city means more stars to see at night, but it is still not always easy to see the stars with trees and other obstructions.

These are our top places for viewing the night sky in the Gold Coast Hinterland –

  • Hang Gliders Lookout, Tamborine Mountain – A stunning location to watch the sun set and the stars appear, be sure to rug up and even pack a picnic dinner for this unique experience.
  • Binna Burra – Head to the very end of Binna Burra Road and set up on the grass or picnic tables near the Binna Burra Tea House for some high-up star gazing. If staying at Binna Burra, you can even join one of their After Dark walks (cost involved). Read our detailed review of Binna Burra and Lamington National Park

LOCATION #1: Hang Gliders Lookout, 294-298 Main Western Road, North Tamborine

LOCATION #2: Binna Burra, 1040 Binna Burra Road, Beechmont

above photo of Cedar Creek Falls in Mount Tamborine

Cedar Creek Falls & Rock Pools

Swimming in a creek or rockpool is an experience not to be missed. Recommended after some decent rain so that the water is flowing and fresh, we would suggest a visit to Cedar Creek Falls in Autumn when the skies are clear and the sun is shining.

The walk to the rockpools is about 1.4km return, so around 30 minutes (plus swimming time). The path includes stairs and declines/inclines and some rock scrambling involved, so the pools are unfortunately not accessible for prams or wheelchairs. The first lookout for the falls is very accessible though and you will find it about 250m along a flat track.

LOCATION: Cedar Creek Falls Trail, Cedar Creek Falls Road, Tamborine Mountain

Find out more in our Cedar Creek Falls Mount Tamborine review.

Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk wheelchair accessible walk

Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk

Suspended high amongst the trees in Mount Tamborine, the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk leads visitors on a stroll through the rainforest canopy via steel bridges and along a dirt walking track out to a lovely series of Cedar Creek cascades. Close to the end of the trail, a 40m cantilever bridge hovers dramatically some 30m above the creek and rainforest below.

The 1.5km circuit takes about 45 minutes to complete at a leisurely pace and is accessible by bigger-wheeled prams (although there are a few stairs along the way you will need to navigate). The first section of Skywalk is wheelchair accessible.

LOCATION: 333 Geissmann Drive, North Tamborine

Find out more on the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk website.

child sitting in dirt holding small thunderegg with pick in background

Thunderegg fossicking

A certified mine on the Thunderbird Park site, Minecraft enthusiasts (and the rest of the family) will love fossicking for their very own thundereggs! Created by bubbles in prehistoric volcanic lava that has solidified into rock form, thundereggs can range from the size of a pea to the size of a boulder. These ‘eggs’, when cracked in half, can display a variety of colours and crystal formations that are completely unique in every egg.

After a quick information session about safety and what to look for, you are given a bucket which you can fill to the brim (remember, whatever you find you also need to carry down and out of the mine). Sensible, closed-in shoes are a necessity for this activity, as it is a bit of a hike up to the mine from the mine shed and real tools are provided for you to use. Gloves are also highly recommended (BYO).

Once you have filled your buckets, you can head back down to the gem shop where staff will advise you on which rocks to have cut and in which direction the cut should go. Cutting prices are based on size and are listed at the shop. You can choose to take all your finds home, or leave them at the shop if you are just too tired to carry any more. The gem shop also sells a range of cut rocks and gems.

LOCATION: Thunderbird Park, 639 Tamborine Mountain Road, Tamborine Mountain

Bookings essential. Book now on the Thunderbird Park website

Bushwalking in a national park

With three major national parks to explore, the Gold Coast Hinterland is an amazing location to go bushwalking with kids and is totally doable as a day trip!

Lamington National Park is about as wild as it gets. Divided into two main sections of bushwalking trails—Green Mountains (closer to O’Reilly’s) and Binna Burra—there is a lot of natural beauty to wonder at in this park. Whilst a lot of the trails are arduous and lengthy, there are definitely some kid-friendly bush walks to be discovered.

An easy 1 hour’s drive from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, Tamborine National Park offers spectacular views sweeping from the coastline to the Scenic Rim, with lots of other facilities and attractions nearby for families to enjoy. The national park itself is divided into six sections of trails—Cedar Creek, Joalah, MacDonald, Palm Grove, The Knoll and Witches Falls. Of these sections, Cedar Creek, Joalah and MacDonald are most suited to families.

Located around 100km south of Brisbane, Springbrook National Park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. This national park is full of lush sections of rainforest, including centuries-old towering trees and palms, leafy green ferns and plenty of birds and wildlife for you to spot. Access to the walking trails in Springbrook National Park is via three sections—Springbrook Plateau, the Natural Bridge section and the Mount Cougal section.

LOCATION #1: Lamington National Park, Canungra

LOCATION #2: Tamborine National Park, Tamborine Mountain

LOCATION #3: Springbrook National Park, Springbrook

Read our complete guide to all the best kid friendly bush walks on the Gold Coast

Bush tucker - Ficus opposita Australian native plant flora sandpaper fig fruit

Bush tucker walk

For guests staying at Binna Burra Lodge, the one-hour Bush Tucker Walk is a unique experience. Binna Burra’s knowledgeable guide will lead you through Lamington National Park, pointing out and offering a taste of the bush tucker of Yugambeh country. You will also learn about the medicinal properties of the plants you encounter and even how to grow some of these at home.

Layered clothing and hiking shoes are a must on this tour and BYO water bottles.

LOCATION: Binna Burra Lodge, 1040 Binna Burra Road, Beechmont

Find out more and book your place on the Binna Burra website.

O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat Tree Top Walk bridge into tree canopy

IMAGE CREDIT: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat

Tree Top Walk

Consisting of 9 suspension bridges hovering up to 16m above the ground, the Tree Top Walk is a free activity (open all year ‘round) to be enjoyed by families. Amaze at the incredible views from the deck that sits in a fig tree over the walkway, some 30m off the ground.

We highly recommend taking the walk in the early morning or late afternoon to spot the local birds.

LOCATION: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, end of Lamington National Park Road, Canungra

Learn more on the O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat website.

Purling Brook Falls from below

IMAGE CREDIT: Destination Gold Coast


We have already mentioned bushwalking in Springbrook National Park, but what we haven’t told you is just how many waterfalls you could see when you head to this ancient Gondwana rainforest.

The most family-friendly waterfalls to reach in Springbrook National Park are –

  • Natural Bridge (around 1km circuit)
  • Twin Falls & Blackfellow Falls (around 4km circuit)
  • Purling Brook Falls (around 4km circuit)

LOCATION: Springbrook National Park, Springbrook

Read our full guide to Chasing Waterfalls in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Thunderbird Park TreeTop Challenge climbing platforms

TreeTop Challenge and TreeTop Challenge – Juniors

For those aged seven years and over (minimum height is 160cm (middle of the palm) with the palms stretched vertically above the head and feet flat on the floor), the TreeTop Challenge at Thunderbird Park is a unique way to experience the natural beauty of Mount Tamborine. Through a series of platforms, flying foxes, rope bridges and more, the challenge could easily provide an entire day’s worth of entertainment for families.

For kids aged 3-7 years, the TreeTop Challenge – Juniors is a fantastic alternative. First building confidence on the two lower-to-the-ground courses (under full supervision from the instructors), smaller kids can try out a ropes course of the very own. The lower courses lead on to two higher courses where kids can challenge themselves one the net bridges, wobbly logs and more. Sessions are limited to two hours in length.

LOCATION: Thunderbird Park, 639 Tamborine Mountain Road, Tamborine Mountain

Bookings essential and limited sessions available. Book online on the TreeTop Challenge website.

Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park, Gold Coast Hinterland

Natural Bridge, Springbrook

A super easy walk for families, the circuit to Natural Bridge is fully sealed. A wonder in itself, the rock arch and waterfall known as Natural Bridge runs all year ‘round.

The cave behind the waterfall is truly magical, featuring glow worms and microbats (best viewed at night!). The area is also home to many animals, including rare and threatened species such as sooty owls and tusked and cascade frogs. On summer evenings, you may also spot fireflies and luminescent fungi.

LOCATION: Nerang Murwillumbah Road and Bakers Road, Springbrook

Find out more in our Natural Bridge review.

Girl with pregnant alpaca on a lead

Mountview Alpaca Farm & O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards

Situated just outside the picturesque country town of Canungra, on the O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards estate, Mountview Alpaca Farm is home to many well-groomed alpacas of all different sizes and colours.

You can choose to either feed or walk the alpacas at the farm, with bags of food available on-site. If you choose to take one (or have the alpaca take you, rather) for a walk through the grassy field adjacent to the creek, or even through the vineyard, it will be an experience never forgotten. They will stop to nibble the grass at every opportunity, but you might be able to distract them into going where you would like with some feed from your paper bag (until it runs out).

Following your alpaca walk, head on over to the O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyard restaurant (located adjacent) and order a pizza to eat on the grass or order ahead for a delicious hamper of local produce to share in the sunshine.

LOCATION: O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards, 852 Lamington National Park Rd, Canungra

Find out more about visiting the alpacas at Mountview Alpaca Farm.

Bush camping grounds at Thunderbird Park

Camping at Thunderbird Park

Memories made camping under the stars at Thunderbird Park will always be treasured. With caravan and tent sites available, you can stay completely surrounded by nature whilst also enjoying a few on-site facilities to make life easier, including a camp kitchen, modern amenities blocks and a camp laundry.

Also available on-site is a restaurant (open certain days only) and a kiosk for ice-creams, coffee and snacks. There is an abundance of activities on offer at Thunderbird Park too, so you could easily check in and not leave the property for your entire stay.

LOCATION: Thunderbird Park, 639 Tamborine Mountain Road, Tamborine Mountain

Plan your next holiday on the Thunderbird Park website.

Interior of English pub in Wongawallan, Queensland

Fox & Hounds Country Inn

Not too far from Tamborine Mountain, Fox & Hounds Country Inn in Wongawallan is worth the drive for lunch or dinner. This genuine English pub features four themed rooms (English, Irish, Tudor and Scottish), is deliciously cosy in winter and is jam-packed with British memorabilia that the kids will love checking out. With a menu including traditional English food such as Beef and Guinness Pie, Toad in the Hole, Yorkshire Puddings and roasts on weekends, this is hearty, soul-warming food. The meals are generous and there’s also a dedicated kids’ menu to cater to the littlies.

LOCATION: 7 Elevation Drive, Wongawallan

Find out more and book your table on the Fox & Hounds website.

Fudge at Granny Macs, Mt Tamborine

IMAGE CREDIT: Destination Gold Coast

Granny Macs

No trip to Mount Tamborine is complete without a visit to Granny Macs! With dozens of freshly made fudges to choose from, as well as hundreds of other local and imported sweets and ice cream, Granny Macs is the place to stock up on some treats to take home. You can also sample the fudge in store to help you make the super important decision of which flavour to choose. 

LOCATION: Gallery Walk, 139 Long Road, Tamborine Mountain

Research your fudge options before you go (or order online) on the Granny Macs website.

Living room in Creek Lodge at Cedar Creek Lodges

Stay in a cosy cabin at Cedar Creek Lodges

Located on the massive Thunderbird Park property, Cedar Creek Lodges offers a range of accommodation options for families. And, with so many things to do on-site, you could easily park the car and spend a fun-filled weekend (or longer!) in this one location alone!

From self-contained cabins beside Cedar Creek, to lodges and suites within their larger buildings, Cedar Creek Lodges provides a relaxing getaway surrounded by nature. A variety of fireplaces, outdoor fire pits and self-catering facilities are also all included in the self-contained lodges.

LOCATION: Cedar Creek Lodges, Thunderbird Park, 639 Tamborine Mountain Road, Tamborine Mountain

Find out more on the Cedar Creek Lodges website.

Child being led on pony ride

Pony rides

The residents of Thunderbird Park are becoming more diverse, with the recent addition of Fairytale Farmers, located by the lake on the property. Kids can meet the colourful characters (be sure to admire Romeo’s fringe!) or go on a pony ride around the picturesque lake. Fairytale Farmers adds to the full outdoors experience that Thunderbird Park has developed and is such a fantastic escape from city life.

LOCATION: Thunderbird Park, 639 Tamborine Mountain Road, Tamborine Mountain

Fairytale Farmers is open limited times only and bookings are required. Find out more on the Thunderbird Park Fairytale Farmers website.

Town sign for Canungra with hall in background

IMAGE CREDIT: Visit Canungra

Stroll through the town of Canungra

Filled with quaint cafes, gift shops, vineyards and a lovely little bakery (is there anything better than a country town bakery’s vanilla slice?), Canungra makes a delightful place to stop on the way to Binna Burra, or even just a day trip on its own. 

Known as the gateway to Lamington National Park, Canungra has an old-world charm that is not often experienced by families living in the city. It is also a great place to stop to grab supplies if you are heading to Binna Burra to stay or camping in the area. Head to the local FoodWorks supermarket with your esky and stock up.

LOCATION: Canungra Visitor Information Centre, 12-14 Kidston Street, Canungra

Read more about the town of Canungra on the Visit Canungra website.

Glamping tents at Southern Sky Glamping

IMAGE CREDIT: Southern Sky Glamping

Glamping at Southern Sky Glamping

If your family has wanted to try camping, but you do not have all the equipment and like some creature comforts, then glamping might be for you! Just like a cabin, but with a canvas roof, Southern Sky Glamping tents include bathrooms, kitchens and screened doors. Each tent comfortably sleeps a family of four, with options available for extra children.

Enjoy relaxing on your deck and taking it all in or enjoy a splash in the heated pool in the warmer months—it is the great outdoors with a homely feel.

LOCATION: 21 – 27 Wilson Road, Tamborine Mountain

Book your next escape on the Southern Sky Glamping website.

4WD buggy with pedal karts in foreground

4WD buggy rides

The FunFair has arrived at Thunderbird Park and with it comes hours of enjoyment for families. With water bikes and paddle boats to cruise around the lake on, pedal go-karts and a jumping castle, the adrenaline kicks up a notch with FunFair’s 4WD buggy rides.

Families of all ages can enjoy these buggy rides, with different options for the type of experience you are after—fast or slow, hill climbs and water crossings, or just cruising around the property—it is a lot of fun and a great way to see more of Thunderbird Park that you do not always get to see.

LOCATION: Thunderbird Park, 639 Tamborine Mountain Road, Tamborine Mountain

Bookings essential. Find out more on the Thunderbird Park FunFair website.

A day trip to Lamington National Park

Feed the birds

The local birds are a big drawcard for families staying in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

At O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, daily bird feeding is a popular activity. Grab a bag of birdseed from reception and marvel at the Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots that flock to the site daily.

Gorgeous rainbow Lorikeets have taken up residence at Thunderbird Park, with the colourful but cheeky birds often heading inside the restaurant and hanging out on the kiosk deck. At 2pm daily, guests can join in the free bird feeding activity.

LOCATION #1: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, end of Lamington National Park Road, Canungra

Find out more about bird feeding at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

LOCATION #2: Thunderbird Park, 639 Tamborine Mountain Road, Tamborine Mountain

Find out more about bird feeding at Thunderbird Park.

The Polish Place in Mount Tamborine

Taste some authentic Polish food

The Gold Coast Hinterland could be likened to heaven for foodies. With so many restaurants and cafes offering a wide range of cuisines and the possibility of incredible views, it is just lucky there are so many amazing bushwalks to walk off all this delicious food!

If you are looking for a truly different dining experience with a phenomenal view on a day trip or even longer adventure to Mt Tamborine, you have got to head to The Polish Place.

Located up on the ridge, the panoramic views from The Polish Place on a sunny day cannot be beaten. Pair this with authentic Polish dishes served by staff in traditional Polish attire and you have got a must-do for your Gold Coast Hinterland bucket list. The local lorikeets flock here too, so keep an eye out for them on the deck while you are taking in the views of the valleys and mountains beyond.

LOCATION: 333 Main Western Road, Tamborine Mountain

Find out more, including accommodation options available on The Polish Place website.

Learn more about the Stinson plane crash

On 19th February 1937, Stinson airliner VHUHH crashed into the Lamington Ranges in stormy weather. The story that comes next is both harrowing and fascinating.

Whilst the actual crash site is a massive trek and not so accessible for families, a replica Stinson plane is now on display at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Built to be used in a film made about the crash, the plane is a fascinating installation at the resort where you can learn more about the accident and subsequent rescue mission.

LOCATION: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, end of Lamington National Park Road, Canungra

Find out more about this incredible story on the O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat website.

Child playing mini golf outdoors

Adventure Mini Golf

Providing a golfing experience designed for all levels of skill, the Adventure Mini Golf course features three holes per green, each of varying difficulty. New golfers can choose to putt the ‘Beginners’ holes, those with some experience the ‘Intermediate’ holes and the pros can do the ‘Professional’ holes. This means the whole family can enjoy the same course and be challenged at the same time.

The course itself is beautifully landscaped, making the most of the natural setting of Thunderbird Park. Rock traps, bridges, water hazards and more make this a great outdoor experience for families.

LOCATION: Thunderbird Park, 639 Tamborine Mountain Road, Tamborine Mountain

Bookings essential. Book your putting session on the Thunderbird Park Adventure Mini Golf website.

German Cuckoo Clock Nest shop in Tamborine Mountain

IMAGE CREDIT: Destination Gold Coast

The German cuckoo clock shop

The perfect place to buy some hand-crafted items or shop locally produced gourmet goodies, the Gallery Walk in Mount Tamborine comprises a whole street full of cafes, restaurants, galleries, shops, cellar doors AND a genuine German cuckoo clock shop!

The Bavarian-style chalet that is home to the German Cuckoo Clock Nest cannot be missed. The store features extensive displays of cuckoo clocks, grandfather clocks, mantle clocks, watches, authentic souvenirs and more and is a tourist destination in itself.

LOCATION: 143 Long Road, Tamborine Mountain

Find out more on the German Cuckoo Clock Nest website.

With so much to do for families, check out our guide on How to spend a family weekend in Mount Tamborine

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