If the thought of taking a pilgrimage to a place where the oxygen is so pure you need respiratory assistance on entry and the fruit is as sweet as childhood summer memories, then it’s time to turn off the TV and head to the Gold Coast hinterland to experience the delightful location for Spielberg’s latest hit TV series, Terra Nova.
For dozens of years it’s been touted as the green behind the gold and yet the Gold Coast hinterland always sat like a middle child, shaded by the dazzle of Surfers Paradise just 20 minutes drive away. That is until filmmaker extraordinaire Steven Spielberg passed up Hawaii for the hinterland and the lush world of the Scenic Rim beyond.
Terra Nova is a mythical TV series set in a futuristic time when battered Earth is gasping for its last breath and a colony of pilgrims, including the Shannon Family, travel back to pre-historic times for a shot at a second chance of life. As they battle man-eating dinosaurs and other heart-thumping dangers, the family is overwhelmed by their new environment. At Terra Nova, the sunshine appears “way too bright”, there is “too much colour” and there are “big stars in the sky”.
Anyone who has visited the hinterland recently will know this made-for-TV concoction is not so far from reality.
Well, that is except for the dinosaurs.
So if you are after your own second chance at life and an adventure through a region that is host to no less than six world heritage listed national parks, here are some top tips.
- Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk offers the ideal introduction to Queensland’s ancient Gondwana land. Here, a spectacular elevated walkway takes trekkers into the upper and lower canopies of the rainforest and onto an awesome steel structure that extends out over the valley to provide drool worthy views of the creek and the rainforest below.
- If they had two thumbs, then the slashers (the meat-eating dinosaurs in Terra Nova) would have them raised high after tucking into a lip-smacking Aussie barbecue served with every Southern Cross 4WD tour. Highlights of this rugged drive through world-heritage national parks include hand feeding colourful parrots at O’Reilly’s Guesthouse and a guided Tree Top Canopy Walk through Lamington National Park.
- The 11th pilgrims may have wiz-bang futuristic SUVs to take them OTG (outside the gate), but today’s adventurers have access to something equally racy, an All Terrain Vehicle Quad Bike. Gold Coast Quad Bike Safaris offers two-hour guided tours of the Numinbah Valley through rivers and creeks in Springbrook and Lamington National Parks.
- The Scenic Rim is a beacon for bushwalkers and offers miles of trails of varying difficulties. For starters, try the Bellbird Circuit, an easy two-kilometre walk along the Binna Burra section of Lamington National Park that takes in both rainforest and eucalypt woodland. Or if you prefer cuddly mammals over ill-tempered dinosaurs, the half-day Caves Circuit through a eucalypt forest that sleeps a number of cute Aussie koalas is the pick. On a hot summer’s day, nothing beats the Lower Ballanjui Falls track and the chance to explore creeks and waterfalls before soaking in the dramatic views over south-east Queensland.
- Natural Bridge is the geological wonder and the cooling waterhole featured in the premiere of the series when the teenagers at Terra Nova dared venture outside the settlement. This near-perfect arch-turned-cave and crystal-clear pool of water below is large enough for a number of people to enter. At night it comes alive with thousands of glow-worms.
- Want an action-packed day in the forest like the Shannon family? Don’t battle dinosaurs, take the family, a group of friends or corporate teams to new heights at Mount Tamborine Adventure Parc. With 85 elevated challenges, 1000 towering trees and eleven exhilarating flying foxes, this is high adrenalin and huge fun.
- They don’t call it a cauldron of old volcanos for nothing! The hinterland is home to the world’s largest thunderegg mine where you can dig into volcanic lava and crack open your own pre-historic keepsake; a thunder-egg at Thunderbird Park.
Where to get a forest-filled sleep
There’s no need to travel 85 million years back in time for a second chance at life, when the ultimate life makeover is accessible at one of two renowned health retreats on the Gold Coast hinterland.
Camp Eden is nestled deep in the Currumbin Valley and surrounded by lush mountain walks, running streams and a strict regime of straight-from-the-source organic food that comes with vetos against smoking, drinking or mobile phone use. Here, the alarm gongs at 5.45am to mark the start a full day of activities, that can include tai-chi, stomach-churning trapeze jumps, art experiences and a hilarious high-octane karate class set to the thumping tunes of Enimen – hoodie on, of course.
The other “second-chance” retreat is Gwinganna. Perched high on a ridge overlooking Tallebudgera Valley, Gwinganna merges luxurious forest getaway with body pampering care. It is also rumoured to be Hugh Jackman’s favourite getaway – a man who doesn’t seem to need a second chance at life.
For rainforest accommodation that embraces a sneaky treat or two, check out The Mouses House at Mount Tamborine, the rainforest villas at Songbirds Rainforest Retreat and the eternally popular O’Reilly’s which hugs the rugged wilderness area of the Lamington National Park and greets visitors with lashings of fresh mountain air.
Shelley Winkel on behalf by Tourism Queensland. This story is copyright free and may be reproduced.