Beginning around 30km inland from the coast’s jangling excesses, the Gold Coast Hinterland is a mountainous, rainforested plateau encompassing a series of beautifully wild national parks, all packed with scenery, animals and birds. The pick of the bunch is Green Mountain at Lamington National Park, with atmospheric hiking trails through beech forest and a stunning density of birdlife. Tamborine Mountain’s less rugged walking tracks and country “villages” also provide a relaxing weekend escape, while waterfalls in Springbrook National Park make for an easy day-trip. Access is by tour bus from Brisbane and the Gold Coast but to explore to any degree you’ll need your own vehicle, which will also work out the cheapest option for a group. If you’re driving, carry a good road map, as signposts are few and far between – all places are reached off the Pacific Highway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Weather ranges from very wet in summer (when there are leeches in abundance and some hiking trails are closed) to fairly cool and dry in winter, though rain is a year-round possibility. If you’re planning to hike, you’ll need good footwear for the slippery paths, although trails are well marked. Accommodation, which is best booked in advance, is in resorts, motels and campsites; if you’re on a tight budget bring a tent. You’ll need a fuel stove if you’re camping, as collecting firewood in national parks is forbidden; barbecues and wood are often supplied on sites, however.