Everybody knows everybody, the local businesses support each other and community ties are strong. Known for attracting quirky and creative residents, the villages that surround the main road weaving around the mountain have a decidely ethereal air. On one mountain you can find the oldest national park in Queensland and the third-oldest in the entire world, four wineries, a brewery, a distillery, a locally-renowned fudgerie which is generous with the taste tests and a fromagerie that I have not been able to get off my mind since coming home. All of this, tucked up in the mountains half way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Mt Tamborine, where have you been all my life?
Or is it Tamborine Mountain?
I’m not really sure.
In fact, no one is sure what the mountain’s proper name is.
Many signs say Tamborine Mountain, but others say Mt Tamborine, after finding it was the more popular Google search term. Many roads have two names, and Google Maps doesn’t quite know where the hell it’s taking you sometimes.
No one can decide which region it falls in – Is it in the Gold Coast’s Hinterland or in Brisbane’s Scenic Rim? The jury is still out, and it falls into the care of the both regional tourism offices. To me, it’s part of the Gold Coast Hinterland, as it is directly inland from the Gold Coast.
Mt Tamborine is shrouded in a haze of confusion that has the Department of Main Roads, Google Maps and local councils scratching their heads. It gets away with it. It’s frustrating and the locals have tried to change it, but Mt Tamborine still thrives despite its official ambiguity.
I spent a gorgeous, cozy and delicious 24 hours on Mt Tamborine and ever since I left, I’ve been scheming ways to get back before I go overseas.
The Old Church
I had a very disappointing meal in the city at an expensive hotel before I left Brisbane, which offered little more than a basic bar menu for lunch. My tastebuds were feeling defeated and I was eager to have a delicious dinner.
We were on the mountain in time for dinner. A local tipped us off to The Old Church, a popular haunt for locals but relatively unknown by tourists. To say it blew me away, is an understatement. The restaurant is behind the old church itself, which hosts weddings. The food was incredible and I was raving ad nauseum about the vanilla bean brulee the next day, I couldn’t shake it from my mind (until I was distracted by Granny Mac’s fudge and Witches Chase Cheese).
I had two entree-sized meals, which I could have ordered as a main but I’m glad I had the variety. Both dishes were beautiful. The first dish was a rich, creamy gnocchi and the second was slow-braised pork belly with haloumi. Every bite was such a pleasure and I am not kidding in saying that I would almost drive up to the mountain just to eat dinner there again. The vanilla bean brûlée, as I mentioned, is forever sealed in my mind as one of the best desserts I have ever had, and I eat a lot of dessert. It was perfect and I remember thinking repeatedly while I was eating ” I never want this to end!”
Our breakfast was a generous breakfast basket from our host at The Escarpment, owner Gary Poole. It was delish! Bacon, eggs, strawberries, mushrooms, cereal, fresh bread and even some local wine and beers. The Edge House, where we stayed is beautiful, but I’ll get to that next – we’re still talking food.
Cedar Creek Estate Wines
For lunch, we ate at Cedar Creek Estate Wines which had a beautiful view from the pagoda, over the lake and gardens. I had the chicken and pasta, which was very yum, but next time I’d get the prosciutto salad which looked amazing.
The winery is home to the Queensland Wine Centre, which brings the best of the state’s wines under one roof.
Mt Brewery & Witches Chase Cheese
My favourite stop was at Mt Brewery, operated by 21 year old master brewer, Callum Osborne. On site is Witches Chase Cheese, where we tried some of the best cheese I’ve had a long time. I loved the Tamembert (Mt T’s version of camembert), the Misty Mountain Blue and the triple cream brie, but my surprising favourite was the Black Max Cheddar which had a beautiful, strong flavour and more of a bite than your average cheddar. I couldn’t take any home with me on the day because I had no way to keep the cheese cold on the drive home, but luckily for me, they take orders over the phone and deliver within Queensland so it won’t be too long before I have some more to enjoy.
The Polish Place
I wish we had another night so we could have eaten at The Polish Place’s adorable restaurant. Colourfully decorated, visiting Polish delegates claimed it is the “most Polish place outside of Poland” that they had ever seen. With over forty types of Polish vodkas, gorgeous food and stunning views over the mountain, I will definitely be making a reservation next time I’m there.
Granny Mac’s Fudgerie
On our way out of town, we made a pit stop at Granny Mac’s fudgerie after listening to locals rave about her the entire time we were there. Slabs of soft, creamy fudge are piled high in her store and she generously offers pretty much as many taste tests as you’d like. I settled on the Pumpkin Pie, which was gone by the time I reached Brisbane – I had intended to bring some home with me, but it was too good to share!