A local’s guide to Mt Tamborine: Gary Poole from The Escarpment Retreat & Day Spa
Gary Poole knows Mt Tamborine better than most. As the owner of The Escarpment Retreat & Day Spa, he loves to help visitors experience the mountain as a local, and here he reveals his top tips.
As a coffee snob, I have to say the best brew on the mountain is at the Spice of Life Café and Deli, serving up an organic blend in the heart of North Tamborine. Locals also love the Mt Tamborine Coffee Plantation, where the organic beans are grown, picked and roasted on the mountain just behind their shop.
Favourite dinner spot
The Old Church is off the tourist track and you’ll sit among locals who return to this restaurant for its sumptuous menu and degustation options. In winter you can sit around a roaring fire, sipping wine, and enjoying winter warmers like slow roasted five spiced duck and sticky date pudding.
For something less formal, Deli Vino (eds note: this cafe has changed ownership and name to drift) is where I’d go. Located at the start of North Tamborine in the commercial centre, it’s the perfect spot for a casual lunch, afternoon tapas over a few vinos or a cosy dinner for two with its European-style menu. Breakfast fiends should note their eggs benedict is sensational too.
Top spots for a tipple
With eight wineries, two breweries and one distillery condensed into eight-kilometres, you’re spoilt for choice on Mt Tamborine. My recommendation is the Witches Falls Winery – where both the red and white are full bodied and fresh but won’t break the bank.
I’d recommend starting your diet after any visit to the mountain. Mt Tamborine is famous for three things: alcohol, cheese and fudge, and no trip is complete without sampling all three.
Depending on your choice of tipple – you can visit the amazing Tamborine Mountain Distillery (eds note: this brewery has changed ownership and name to Fortitude Brewing Company). Owner Michael has a range of 50 different liquors, and has 150 international awards on his mantelpiece – including awards for his Vodka in Russia and his Limoncello in Italy.
Beer drinkers can taste test a range of eight designer beers at Mt Tamborine Brewery, crafted by their own brew master and using ancient recipes dating back hundreds of years.
For cheese, visit the Witches Chase Cheese factory where you can watch expert cheese masters at work. Their signature blend is the Tambembert – a rich, creamy Camembert with a special Mt Tamborine twist.
As for fudge, there’s one true fudge guru on the mountain – Mandy French – and her shop, Granny Macs, serves a variety of sweet treats.
Favourite way to spend a Sunday
Try to coincide your visit with one of Mt Tamborine’s local monthly markets. The Showgrounds Market is on the second Sunday of the month and is full of arts, crafts, music, kids rides and local fudge. The School Market is on the last Sunday of the month and is more about bric-a-brac, antiques, plants, and second-hand books.
Combine this with a wander along one of the many national parks walking trails – my pick is Curtis Falls – and you’ll have a perfect Sunday on your hands.
Best free activity
One of the best things to do on the mountain is to watch the sun set at The Knoll National Park. ‘Knoll Park’ is just a short drive out of town, and the road conveniently passes the IGA so you can stock up on dips and crackers to supply your evening picnic.
Most romantic spot
I’d recommend sitting out on the western edge (where the hang gliders take off during the day) to watch the setting sun over the majestic landscape.
If money is no object…
I’d go for a balloon ride over the mountain to see this wonderland from above. Take it from me, the views are heavenly.