The Mountain Ranges of the Gold Coast Hinterland

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: August 24, 2017

Reading time: 6 mins

The Gold Coast is famed for its sprawling white-sand beaches and its plentiful swimming and surfing opportunities. But, head further inland, and you’re greeted by a breath-taking landscape characterised by jutting peaks, dipping valleys and packed full of native animal species and ancient plants.

Gold Coast Hinterland

This area is known as the Gold Coast Hinterland, also named the green behind the gold, and it makes up a large part of southeast Queensland. Here, beaches are replaced by mountain views, and swimming and surfing are taken over by hiking, camping, and other mountain-based adventures. Visitors can explore quaint mountain villages, discover tree-lined streets sporting artisan stores and local galleries, and soak up the stunning natural beauty that characterises this part of the country.

In 1995, the government combined of the city, hinterland and the northern areas together, creating the seventh largest city in Australia and what we know today as the Gold Coast.

Known for its rainforests, mountain resorts, lookouts, and an eclectic selection of flora and fauna, the hinterland provides the perfect backdrop for the vibrant coastal strip.

The region surrounding the Gold Coast is made up of numerous mountain ranges, which we’ve laid out for you here.

  • 1. The Tweed Range

    The Tweed Range sprawls out to the west of the Tweed Volcano caldera rim, which makes up part of the spectacular Scenic Rim and the Great Dividing Range. Here, you can experience one of the region’s finest natural wonders in the caldera, and explore the stunning views from the mountain’s peak.

    The range is covered by a carpet of rainforest, great for a trek through the lush greenery, stopping off at the creeks trickling through the area.  If you are in a driving mood, try out the 64-kilometre-long Tweed Range Scenic Drive. On your way, stop off at picturesque lookouts such as the Pinnacle and Blackbutts lookouts.

  • 2. The Nimmel Range

    This small mountain range is set in the heart of the hinterland, and is characterised by its most prominent peak, Mount Nimmel. Again, hiking is a popular activity in this intimate range, as there are plenty of spectacular views to soak up from the top.  If you are looking to pack up for the night, check out the campgrounds dispersed throughout the range, with either cabins or tent areas available. Make sure to only camp in official camp grounds, as arbitrary spots may need a permit, or the area could be unsafe.

    Back in the 1990s, before construction of Springbrook Road, the goal to access the Springbrook mountain through the coast began. Two Pioneers tried to follow the ridges trail from the east to the west branches of Little Nerang Creek. However, on their journey, they found Nimmel Range, and realise it was smack bang in the way of your route. Later, the road was built to curve around the Mount Nimmel instead of through it. Springbrook Road is a heritage road and remains the only link from the mountain to the rest of Gold Coast.

  • 3. Tamborine Mountain

    Gold Coast from Mount Tamborine Hinterland

    Tamborine Mountain is one of the most popular peaks in the region and promises a whole host of adventurous activities for visitors to get stuck into. Around every twist and turn, there are new views to marvel at, an abundance of native wildlife, and plenty of unique activities that the mountain is renowned for, including arts and crafts, award-winning wineries, country markets, festivals, and upmarket restaurants.

    Spot the native wildlife through the rainforest and into the caves. Inside the darkness, you will see thousands of glowing starts scattering the ceiling. These are not in fact stars, but glow worms! These creatures are only found in Australia and New Zealand and are famous for their natural blue/green light they admit. Join one of the local horse-riding tours, to meet a new furry friend while you marvel at the surrounding bushland. These horses are trained to follow the group, so even if you aren’t the most confident rider, you won’t stray far.

    Mount Tamborine marks the central point of the Hinterland, with walking trails and stunning lookout points sprawling out around it. To really marvel at the incredible wildlife this place has to offer, visit the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk. The path is suspended high above the forest floor, letting you wander amongst the treetops. Linking together the lush canopies of the rainforest, the steel walkway gives visitors the chance to discover the forest and its inhabitants from a different perspective. As you go, learn more about the unique wildlife through a series of educational displays. Only an hour out of your day is well worth the visit!

    See some exotic plant life at Mount Tamborine Botanic Gardens. The area, once a weed infested swamp has transformed into a natural wonderland, filled with colour trees and unique flowers. There are plant themed areas, including a Japanese garden as well as a tropical rainforest.

    Mount Tamborine is renowned for its markets held throughout the year, each with a diverse range of products on offer. With organic veggies or local honey, arts and crafts, or homemade baked goods to soaps, you won’t leave these markets empty handed.

    As well as a collection of traditional wineries, the hinterland is also home to the Tamborine Mountain Distillery for those who aren’t so keen on wine. The award-winning venue is set against a European-style backdrop and offers visitors the chance to try some of the region’s local produce in a a relaxed and pretty setting.

    Tuck into the local food and wine! Dozens of festivals, restaurants, and street food invades the area, so stop off for a relaxing lunch on your day of adventure!

  • 4. The McPherson Range

    The McPherson Range forms a spur of the Great Dividing Range and spans out in an easterly direction from Wallangara to the sparkling expanse of the Pacific Ocean. This huge mountain range is one of the biggest in the region, and promises an eclectic range of landscapes for visitors to enjoy. Like the other peaks in the region, the mountains that make up the McPherson Range are popular hiking destinations peppered with stunning lookout points.

    The range has countless national parks surrounding and within it, including the Lamington National Park, the Border Ranges, Mount Barney National Park as well as world heritage listed Gondwana Rainforest. Plunge into the falls trickling through the area, including Moran Falls or Elabana Falls.

    And then there’s Springbrook National Park, which is perhaps the most popular park in the region. Formed of a number of different landscapes, the park has an amazing supply of natural highlights. At the National Bridge, visitors can spot dragon lizards and weird and wonderful plant life, while the dense forest offers several different walking routes.

The Gold Coast hinterland and its incredible ranges give visitors the perfect introduction to the spectacular beauty that lies just inland from the sprawling beaches and glittering coastline.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.