Exploring the Scenic Rim
Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia, has plenty to keep you occupied. Often touted as the “poor cousin” to the more well-known cities of Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane is taking on the challenge. With fabulous weather all year round and a relaxed, casual vibe, Queenslanders, as we are fondly known, love our state and are happy to share it with those who visit. Brisbane is perfect for a quick one or two day trip, but it’s much better if you stick around and get to know it over a week or two.
A longer visit will also mean that you can include some of the many places to visit near Brisbane. Less than an hour’s drive from Brisbane and the Gold Coast is the region known as the Scenic Rim. It’s an area well known for weekend getaways from Brisbane. These days, it’s also raising its profile as a food, wine and produce destination.
Whether you are a first-time visitor to Brisbane, or you’ve lived here for years, a visit to the Scenic Rim is a must. And, even if you’ve been and think you know the Scenic Rim like the back of your hand, think again. Already jam-packed with so many great things to do, there’s always something new happening in the region.
Keep reading to find all the best things to do in the Scenic Rim.
Where is the Scenic Rim?
The Scenic Rim is the name given to a regional council area in Queensland. Broadly speaking, it’s a country area, filled with small country towns where you will find matching country hospitality. It’s little wonder that the area is known for having magical landscapes, given its proximity to the mountains of the Great Dividing Range and world-renowned, heritage-listed national parks.
It’s also an area with fertile plains, lending itself to producing some of the best fresh produce in the state. Matched with wineries, farm gates and wonderful accommodation of all kinds, it’s little wonder that the Scenic Rim is one of the best places to visit in Queensland and makes for a wonderful day trip from Brisbane. Got longer to stay? We recommend staying in the Scenic Rim for at least several days. Weekends are perfect.
In the east, the Scenic Rim extends to the Lamington National Park and Canungra. Mt Barney and the Border Ranges mark its southern end, while the Main Range National Park runs along the west. In the North, towns like Peak Crossing and Tamborine Mountain mark the edge of its territory.
Scenic Rim region destinations
The main towns in the Scenic Rim are as follows.
- Tamborine Mountain / Mt Tamborine
Scenic Rim Itineraries
1-day Scenic Rim itinerary
Here are some sample itineraries for spending one day in the Scenic Rim.
Get to Boonah early and have breakfast at Arthur Clive’s Bakehouse or Flavours Cafe. Spend a little time perusing the stores in the main street including gift store Duck Junction. Several country butchers selling locally produced meat can be found here also.
Head down the road to the Dugandan Pub – always awesome on a weekend – for a country pub lunch.
In the afternoon make your way to the Kooroomba Lavender Farm and Vineyard. Do a wine tasting, wander through the lavender farm, visit the on-site shop and settle back for more drinks and dinner at their restaurant.
Overnight at the Bunyip Retreat. Check here for prices, availability and to book online.
Harrisville – Kalbar – Aratula
Start the day with breakfast at the Summerland Camel Farm. Enjoy camel sausage with fetta made on camel’s milk. You can even have some of the milk added to your coffee. Head to Kalbar to spend your time looking through the delightful town. Buy giftwares from BMK Collective and be sure to check out historical Wiss Emporium.
Next head over to the Scenic Rim Farm Shop and Cafe. Have lunch while you are here.
With a full tummy, head down the road to Aratula and buy some fresh, local produce from the market on the highway.
Stay overnight back in Kalbar at Wiss House. Check here for prices, availability and to book online.
You can spend half a day in Canungra and easily get to and from Brisbane in one day.
The main street of Canungra is fantastic and has so many wonderful shops to explore. Seek out the Weekend Market, a great set of shops including a second-hand store where you are sure to find something from your childhood. Next door there is an excellent boutique shoe store and a little further down the road My Country Escape, a fantastic homewares and gift store.
Head to Cafe Metz for breakfast or morning tea. Everything is made in-house here and it’s a perfect spot to sit and people watch out on the verandah. Over the road is the Canungra Hub Cafe.
Somehow, try to fit in a pie from the Canungra Bakery or the Outpost Cafe.
For lunch, go behind the main street for lunch at the Canungra Hotel.
Best places to visit in the Scenic Rim
Summerland Camel Farm
Who knew the humble camel could be so interesting? I was astounded to learn that a fully functional camel farm and dairy existed so close to the city of Brisbane. Summerland Camels, with a herd of around 860 at present is the third-largest camel dairy in the world. The top two are located in the Middle East, a country often immediately associated with this lumpy animal.
The first thing I notice when I arrive at the farm is the absence of any farm-related smell. The paddocks are clean, ably helped by the dung beetles that are part of the farm’s responsible farming practices. Their work in breaking down the camel’s excrement is just part of the process of ensuring that everything done on this land supports the environment and various ecosystems that exist. The surrounding creek is full of platypus and lungfish and koalas can be found in the native trees. There are no chemicals used on the property at all.
I spent some time with one of Summerland’s co-directors who knows more about camels than I ever thought possible. Jeff left his physiotherapy practices in Sydney behind, moving into a world of camels. Here at Summerland, they milk the camels every day, getting anywhere from 2-12 litres per animal. They are currently milking around 200 per day, but have plans in place to milk around 1,000 in the future. It’s the only milk in the world that has no listeria and they have found ways to pasteurise it so that only a small amount of the goodness of milk is lost.
On-site, they also make camel fetta, halloumi, fromage blanc and gelato. Camel milk is also one of the emerging dairy products for people who have health issues. It also doesn’t have the proteins in it that cause issues experienced by people who have a sensitivity to drinking cow’s milk for example.
A range of skincare has also been developed to help skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema.
Scenic Rim Brewery
In the small town of Mt Alford, the Scenic Rim Brewery does a roaring trade. From humble corner store origins, owners Michael and Wendy set about creating a new life path for themselves. Having moved to nearby Lake Moogerah some years before, they fell in love with the area and started thinking about establishing a business. Michael, a builder had “an insatiable thirst” and in 2014, the corner store, built in 1884 was purchased.
With a design brief to keep as much of the original building intact, the Scenic Rim Brewery has become the heart of the town. Starting off slowly, as is the case for most new business startups, 30,000 people a year now make the pilgrimage to try out new and old beers.
They also come for Wendy’s homemade food. Wendy, with her Dutch heritage, creates hearty, warming food that is perfect alongside a cold glass of their finest. I can never go past the Bitterballen with their slow-cooked beef inside a crunchy exterior. It’s lucky there are only five in a serving as I could easily eat double that. Others must agree as Wendy made 6,000 of these delicious balls last year alone.
There are hotdogs, made with Kransky or the enormous Wurst platter featuring bratwurst, frankfurts and cheese Kransky, alongside sauerkraut, fries and pickled vegetables. In a nod to an Australian fried food institution (which I note I have never eaten in my life!), there is a pimped up Chiko Roll, with avocado, shallots, tomato and chilli sauce.
All the beers on tap have quintessential Australian monikers, making the most of our slang and ability to shorten everyone’s name. It’s the perfect location for lunch or a couple of quiet ales on the rear deck. If you are not a beer lover, never fear, Wendy’s scones are a great offering as are many of the locally made and sourced condiments on sale inside.
Kooroomba Vineyards and Lavender Farm
Perched upon a hill, Kooroomba Vineyards and Lavender Farm is a sight to behold, with the stone and timber building that serves as their cellar door and restaurant dominating the landscape. From the rear, you can look out over six hectares of lavender farmland and vineyards. There are a number of wines produced for the Kooroomba label that are waiting to be tasted as I enter the building that is just as beautiful on the inside as it is outside.
The tasting is perfect to have before dining as you can have a sample of the wines before you commit to buying a bottle inside.
If you want to heighten the wine tasting experience you can order a cheese board or a charcuterie platter. It’s all very civilised out here.
Kooroomba is also now a very popular location for weddings, with a floating floor chapel built out on the lavender fields.
Overflow Estate 1895
The Overflow vineyard also has a stunning outlook, overlooking Teviot Brook, part of the Wyaralong Dam. The vineyard has been built from the ground up, with the rootstock for the vineyard being planted in 2012. Australians love wine but there are a few varieties that are known by the everyday drinker. Here at Overflow, they’ve chosen to feature some of the lesser-known varieties like Vermentino, Tempranillo, Fiano and Montepulciano. Their origins are robustly Mediterranean, making this land perfect for growing.
Take advantage of the beautiful outdoor space overlooking the dam to kick back with a glass, or bottle of your favourite Overflow wine. Match it with a cheese platter or one of the tasty options from the grazing menu.
COMING SOON: Very soon you’ll be able to come to the Overflow Estate and stay the night, making it possible to have a very long lunch, without the hassle of worrying about who will drive home. Five eco, off-the-grid WanderPods are opening soon along Lake Wyaralong, allowing guests to relax and wind down in a beautiful natural setting. Bookings are now open for December 2021 and beyond.
Towri Sheep Cheeses
Milking sheep isn’t an easy task, especially when each one only produces around 1.5 litres of milk per day. That doesn’t stop the owner of the Towri Cheesery, Carolyn Davidson from loving her sheep. Within a few hours of the sheep being milked, it has made its way into the cheese room and been processed into cheese. There are plenty of reasons to love sheep milk and its value-added products of cheese and yoghurt.
Sheep milk doesn’t leave an oily residue for one, but it’s also very good for people who have issues with the proteins and lactose in cow’s milk. It has more solids and is only lightly pasteurised here. Carolyn has owned Towri since 1988 and has been making cheese here since 2004. Annually, she produces around two tonnes of cheese!
Tours of the farm and tastings are conducted at the farm once a week. There’s also a wonderful spot for having a cup of tea and tucking into some of the excellent sheep milk products.
Scenic Rim Farm Shop and Cafe and Elderflower Farm
Kalbar is a small country town in the Scenic Rim known for its beautiful rose farm, great antique shops, and historical buildings like the Wiss Emporium and Wiss House as reminders of its German influence.
After 40 years, the owners of Barton’s Rose Farm have eased into retirement and a wonderful new business has emerged in the same location. The Scenic Rim Farm Shop and Cafe now sits amongst the roses, bringing new life and opportunity into the town. It’s also where you’ll find resident chef and Scenic Rim Regional Food Ambassador Kate Raymont and the Scenic Rim Farm Box, a delivery service offering farm-fresh, seasonal, quality Scenic Rim produce. As if that’s not enough, you can also find Elderflower Farm, a boutique flower farm and florist, set in the grounds of the Farm Shop and Cafe.
Come along to relax at the cafe and eat Annie’s famous Carrot Cake, drink local coffee from Tamborine Mountain or try the rose ice cream. Best of all, you can shop for fresh local produce, wine cheese, olives and other locally made, artisanal products.
Olive View Estate
Olive View Estate is part accommodation, part event location. Close by Kalbar and Boonah, the historic Queenslander is a great place to come and stay, with a fireplace to keep you warm in winter and a private pool for those hot summer days. If you are planning a party, you can also enquire about group bookings.
North Stores North Tamborine
Already popular with locals and visitors alike, the North Stores on Tamborine Mountain just keeps getting better. Owned by locals Brenda Fawdon (co-author of the famous Eat Local Week cookbooks) and Sonja Drexler have expanded their business, a food, art and nature precinct that is environmentally sustainable. At North Stores, you’ll somewhere to eat, and local art studios. Here you can grab a coffee or a bite to eat from Picnic Real Food Bar and browse the art which is available for purchase.
COMING SOON: In late 2021, workshops and events will be run in a new purpose-built space, complete with cooking school facilities.
Where to stay in the Scenic Rim
The Scenic Rim occupies a broad geographical area, which of course means that visitors to the area are blessed with an incredible array of places to stay. These are some of the best Scenic Rim accommodation options.
Baya Eco Retreat at Ketchup’s Bank Glamping
Who doesn’t love a place to stay that is eco-friendly, unique and luxurious all at the same time. At Baya, you get all of these things. Baya is the first tiny house eco-retreat in the Scenic Rim and in the greater South East Queensland area. Never stayed in a tiny house before? Chances are you won’t have stayed in one so luxurious either. Perched atop a ridge 305m above sea level, there are uninterrupted views of the southern Scenic Rim across to NSW. It’s perfectly secluded up here as well, giving you the opportunity to kick back, relax and watch the sun set and rise.
Bookings can be made online here.
Hazelwood Estate – a spectacular world-class luxury country retreat – from September 2021
In Beechmont, a 30-hectare wagyu cattle farm is now the location of a luxurious country retreat. A former dairy has been transformed, with pavilions overlooking the farm and, if you can believe it, a polo field. There are cabins with their own private decks and the owners’ residence is also available for private bookings upon request.
Set amongst the rainforests and hills of the Beechmont Plateau and in the shadow of the Lamington National Park, there’s no option but to succumb to the serenity around you.
Bookings open from September 2021.
Cedar Creek Lodges Glamping
Looking for something a little less formal? Glamping in the Scenic Rim is the perfect way to get closer to the incredible natural landscapes you’ll find yourself surrounded by. The glamping tents at Cedar Creek Lodges are located in the rainforest, with a view of Cedar Creek.
Bookings can be made here.
WanderPods is the new luxury accommodation cabin dotted around Lake Wyaralong. WanderPods are nearby Overflow Estate 1885 (refer to more detail in the review above) and will be open in December 2021.
Booking can be made now for stays in December 2021 and beyond.
Where to stay in Brisbane
Unless you are planning to stay out in the Scenic Rim for a few days, it is best to find somewhere to stay in Brisbane. The Brisbane CBD is one of the best places to stay in Brisbane as it is central and has public transport. You can also hire cars from here and is the perfect starting point for Brisbane day trips.
How to get to Brisbane
Brisbane has both a domestic and an international airport. The domestic airport is the most connected in Australia with over 50 destinations and the international airport to 31 destinations. Almost six million people use the international airport each year. Qantas and Virgin Australia are the two main full-service airlines. Budget Airlines such as Jetstar and Tiger also fly from here. Many of the world’s major airlines fly in and out of the international airport.
The Spirit of Queensland operates from Brisbane to Cairns and the Westlander goes west from Brisbane to Charleville. The Spirit of the Outback runs from Brisbane to Longreach. City train services also connect Brisbane with the suburbs and the Gold and Sunshine Coast.
Various commercial bus lines include Brisbane in their route.
Australia is one of the most popular countries for doing road trips. Major highways connect Brisbane to the eastern seaboard capital cities and other rural and regional locations.
How to get to the Scenic Rim
Unless visitors are on a broader road trip, most people would travel from Brisbane to the Scenic Rim or from the Gold Coast to the Scenic Rim. With the Scenic Rim being so broad, some travellers would only connect with certain areas. For example, travellers from the Gold Coast are more likely to spend a day visiting Tamborine Mountain, Beechmont and Canungra, while those travelling from Toowoomba might be more inclined to visit Kalbar, Peak Crossing and Harrisville.
Travellers doing a day trip from Brisbane can go easily in either direction. Wherever you are coming from, we recommend having a vehicle. There is no public transport in the Scenic Rim region and all towns and locations mentioned in this guide are not next to each other.
You can hire a car to drive around the Scenic Rim here.
There are airports in Brisbane, Gold Coast (Coolangatta) and Toowoomba (Brisbane West – Wellcamp). Hire car companies operate from both airports.
There are many different routes you can take to get into the Scenic Rim. Following are some of the main towns and areas. We recommend using Google Maps or similar mapping apps to make sure you take the most appropriate route based on your starting location.
From Brisbane to Canungra: Follow the Pacific Motorway (M1). Follow the M1 to Stapylton Jacobs Well Rd in Stapylton. Take exit 38 from M1. Take Stanmore Rd to Beaudesert Beenleigh Rd/State Route 92 in Wolffdene. Follow Beaudesert Beenleigh Rd/State Route 92 to State Route 90 in Canungra.
From Brisbane to Mount Tamborine: Follow the Pacific Motorway (M1). Follow the M1 to Stapylton Jacobs Well Rd in Stapylton. Take exit 38 from M1. Take Stanmore Rd to Beaudesert Beenleigh Rd/State Route 92 in Wolffdene. Follow Beaudesert Beenleigh Rd/State Route 92 to State Route 90 in Canungra. Continue on Beaudesert Beenleigh Rd/State Route 92. Take State Route 95 to Alpine Terrace in Tamborine Mountain
From Brisbane to Boonah: Take M5 out of the city (along Milton Road and to Toowong roundabout to get onto the Centenary Freeway), National Highway 15 and State Route 93 to Highbury St in Boonah
From Brisbane to Kalbar: Take the M3 to Boomerang St in Milton. Take Milton Rd/State Route 32 to M5 in Mount Coot-tha. Continue on M5. Take National Highway 15 to Kalbar Connection Rd in Kalbar. Use the right lane to take the M7/Ipswich Motorway exit towards Ipswich/Toowoomba. Merge onto M7. Continue onto M2. Continue onto National Highway 15.
From the Gold Coast: Take the Nerang North exit or the Oxenford exit off the Pacific Highway (M1). Follow the signs to Beaudesert.