THERE’S A FAMILY OF GOLD COAST LOCALS WHOSE CAREER HAS BEEN FOCUSED ON SHARING ONE OF THEIR CITY’S MOST SPECTACULAR NATURAL WONDERS, WHILE ALSO PRESERVING IT.
There’s something magical about Tamborine Mountain that draws my family time after time. When I get the kids to sit down at the start of every school holiday and write me their holiday wish list, a visit to Tamborine tops it most seasons.
While the area is called Tamborine “Mountain”, it isn’t exactly that. In fact, this Gold Coast Hinterland tourist spot is actually a plateau – 8km long, 4km wide, 500m above sea level and boasting 360-degree views.
One of my family’s favourite stops on any mountain adventure is Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk. This tourism gem’s name is as literal as they get. Visitors follow the 1.5km Skywalk trail along the cool rainforest floor before enjoying a bird’s eye view of the canopy of lush rainforest trees from a spectacular elevated walkway – it’s as close to walking through the sky as you’ll get! Think 300m of high-tech steel bridges through the highest points of the upper canopy as well as a 40m cantilever bridge that soars a breathtaking 30m above the creek and rainforest below.
Managed by brothers Nick and Brendan Moore, Skywalk was developed by the boys’ very committed parents, Ian and Jennifer, over a five-year period leading up to its opening in 2009. While the Moores previously owned and operated other well-known Tamborine Mountain businesses (including the innovative Songbirds in the Forest restaurant, six-studio Songbirds Rainforest Retreat and Glow Worm Eco-Tours), Skywalk has been their most difficult, yet rewarding, development. Nick describes his parents as “tenacious” in their approach.
“It took nearly five years of planning, research, obtaining state and local council approvals and overcoming various obstacles along the way,” Nick explains. “Many problems had to be overcome in building a high steel bridge on steep, volcanic soils in the middle of a pristine rainforest without destroying the fragile environment. Most people would have given up.”
Massive 120-tonne cranes with booms up to 80m long lifted the tower columns and 40m walkway and cantilever sections up, over and then carefully down through the canopy into place, high above the forest floor. The main building was also brought on-site in sections and assembled in this manner.
“We are proud to say that not one forest tree was cut down in the process of installing the Skywalk,” Nick says.
While the Skywalk itself is the jewel in this eco adventure’s crown, our family also loves the informative Rainforest Eco Gallery. It showcases local rainforest animals, birds and reptiles and includes dioramas of Australian and exotic insects, butterfly collections and a large aquarium with local water life. There are also interesting info panels sharing stories of local and indigenous Australian history. And when you’ve completed your Skywalk, nothing’s better than a revitalising drink and some lunch in The Birdwing Café.
I’ll admit, I had a few tummy butterflies the first time I ventured out on to the elevated section – it’s high and the walkways are mesh-like so you can see through them to the amazing rainforest floor below. But once you catch your breath, you realise that Skywalk is actually equal parts exhilarating, awe-inspiring and educational. You’ll go home wishing you were a bird who could call the Tamborine Mountain rainforest canopy home.
* Skywalk is set on a magical 30 acres of privately owned rainforest beside the crystal clear rock-pools of Cedar Creek on Mt Tamborine
* It combines forest floor trails, 300m of high-tech steel bridges and a 40m cantilever bridge
* At the highest point, Skywalk is 30m above the creek and rainforest ground level
* The entire walk totals 1.5km
* The walk takes about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace