Koalas, dozens of wild kangaroos, majestic forests viewed from above and below, an enchanting display of thousands of glow-worms, plus an optional taste of local wines combine in this experience-packed tour.
Leaving Brisbane at 9.00am we first visit the Daisy Hill Koala Centre, with some excellent educational displays and usually a few koalas in a walk-through enclosure. We also sometimes see wild koalas in the surrounding eucalyptus trees or wallabies grazing on the grass before heading off to their usual day-time siesta.
The next destination is Tamborine Mountain (named from an Aboriginal word, not the musical instrument), where we enjoy morning tea at Rainforest Skywalk at the edge of the forest before taking a very safe walk into the rainforest canopy plus a gentle stroll on the forest floor. In the warmer months we’re sometimes treated to the sight of Richmond birding butterflies – the male a brilliant green and black and the female (black and white with some red and yellow) Australia’s second largest butterfly.
This is followed by the magic of the glow-worm caves at Cedar Creek Winery. The very realistic cave here was constructed to take the pressure off the wild populations in local national parks, and by consulting glow-worm experts they have done this very well. Although the limestone cave is artificial, it looks very much like the real thing, with crystal-clear water flowing under the stalactites, and the glow-worms themselves certainly find it convincing, having happily bred from a small founding colony of about 300 to about 20,000. After allowing our eyes to adjust to the darkness of the cave and watching a short video about glow-worms, we don luminescent necklets and saunter down an otherwise dark cavern lit by thousands of these tiny creatures.
After lunch we head down to one of the more natural areas within the Gold Coast, Coombabah, where we walk through eucalyptus forest, usually finding one or two koalas along the way, and a tea-tree wetland, with a delightful ferny understory.
Much of the birdlife is ever changing due to seasonal flowering (e.g. friarbirds and lorikeets) and migration patterns (e.g. dollar bird and channel-billed cuckoo), although regulars such as kookaburras and butcherbirds are always around, and occasionally we have a very welcome surprise such as encountering a shining flycatcher (not often seen so far south) or a Pacific baza (a crested hawk with barred breast which mostly feeds amongst the foliage instead of swooping from above).
We always see dozens of wild kangaroos here, emerging from the forest in the late afternoon to graze on the grass, and more often than not a wild koala or two in the eucalypts.