Mt Tamborine, Queensland, Australia – luxury accommodation
Imagine, if you can, laying your head down at night to almost no sound, save for the odd animal rustling outside. No traffic noise to interrupt your slumber. No people noise to irritate you as you try to drop off. Perhaps, you might hear a slight sound generated by the wind in the tree canopy overhead. Mostly, what I remember hearing was absolutely nothing. If peace and tranquillity are what you are seeking or maybe just some well-earned respite away from your normal routine, Pethers Rainforest Retreat must surely be considered.
The perfect hideaway
Despite being located only 1.25 hours from the centre of Brisbane and about an hour from Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, Pethers may as well be in the middle of nowhere. Not far from the main hub of Mt Tamborine and Tamborine Village, Pethers is hidden away at the end of a long road which opens up into five hectares of rainforest.
Pethers, a “combination of the original owner’s names of Peter and Heather”, General Manager Shona Philps advised, prides itself on its attention to the environment and supporting local businesses, especially when sourcing their food.
Privacy is assured
Whilst the physical location is partly responsible for the peacefulness of this retreat, it is also the lack of large numbers of guests that have a significant impact. With only ten treehouses, all nestled in amongst the trees and set apart from each other, there are limited chances of running into other people or hearing their noise.
Similarly, all treehouses face away from each other, secluded by the natural screening that comes from being in a rainforest. In addition, this is an adults-only zone, with the tree houses furnished only with one king size bed.
The first thing I notice when we arrive at reception to check-in is the lack of a huge lobby. A small desk, in front of a discreet back of house door, sets the tone nicely for our entrance. It’s in keeping with the subtle, “always there but never in your face” style of service that we observed during our stay.
Chris, who was to ultimately check us in, had just nipped off to show some guests to their room, leaving us to admire the feature of the main area.
Behind the stunning 1850’s timber doors originating from the Chinese province of Shanxi, was the biggest fireplace I’ve ever seen. Looking almost as though it could be the restaurant’s teppanyaki bar, this wood-burning fireplace has an enormous stainless steel range hood which makes sure you stop and look.
With Asian inspired furnishings everywhere, it’s the only modern looking piece here but somehow it also blends in with the floor to ceiling glass and timber.
The treehouses are quintessentially Australian, with a blue corrugated iron exterior and tin roof. The structures have been specifically designed to lessen the impact on the environment with lightweight construction elevated floors on stumps requiring minimal excavation and disturbance to natural groundwater flow.
Extensive use of floor to ceiling glass and high ceilings allow for the maximum amount of natural light into the rooms, despite being surrounded by a dense canopy.
Whilst airconditioning is also provided, Mt Tamborine is over 500 metres above sea level and wonderful breezes come through the windows and doors when open.
The treehouse is an open plan configuration, with only the bathroom in a separate room. The king size bed takes pride of place on a slightly raised platform. Deep red-toned timber flooring provides warmth throughout the area.
All windows within reach have block-out blinds, however, due to the high ceilings the upper windows do not. If you want to sleep in (remembering that Queensland does not have daylight saving in summer so the sun rises very early), my recommendation would be to use the eye mask that Pethers kindly provide.
Tip: they are located in the cupboard with your waffle weave bathrobe and slippers!
As mentioned earlier, the retreat has an Asian influence, with many of the pieces, including Chinese antiques from the 1800’s, holding special significance.
The treehouses are built with relaxation in mind
With the birds chirping outside, and a few papers to read, I settled into my special leather chair, seemingly built just for me, very quickly. The temperature was about five degrees cooler here than down the mountain so it was wonderful to have a break from the heat being felt elsewhere. I was, once again, conscious of the lack of noise. Not even a footstep could be heard outside.
A (small) bugbear of mine in recent times has been the type of televisions that are provided in hotel rooms. Whilst our tv viewing usually extends to watching the news in the morning before we go out and the same again at night time, I know that many people look forward to relaxing by watching movies.
In today’s world there is an expectation that good quality, large screen TVs are provided. They also need to be easy to use. How many times have we needed a university degree and five manuals just to get the tv to turn on, never mind try to watch a movie?
Thankfully, Pethers get this small thing right, with a large flat screen tv that can be seen from the lounge and the bed. It also gets a tick for being easy to use. DVD’s can be borrowed from reception.
The room is equipped with a small kitchen with the essentials of a bar fridge, tea and coffee making amenities and crockery/cutlery. Due to the location in the rainforest and health and safety regulations, cooking facilities are not provided.
If it wasn’t for the call of Happy Hour back in the main bar, I quite possibly could have stayed soaking in the enormous two person spa all evening. Whilst we always feel bad about the amount of water they use, I don’t think we can be questioned for this indulgence on a special occasion.
Being able to sit back, enjoy a glass or two of sparkling wine, kindly provided by Pethers as a welcome gift and look out on the rainforest is just pure heaven.
Pethers Rainforest Retreat isn’t a resort. It doesn’t have multiple activities to participate in and there is no swimming pool. It’s a place where people come to relax and spend time together. That being said, its location close to the Mt Tamborine National Park and a myriad of hiking trails and walks, there is plenty of activity beckoning you without having to go too far.
There’s also the wonderful arts, crafts, breweries and foodie stops in North Tamborine and along Gallery Walk in the main street of Mt Tamborine.
With the bar and restaurant here on site, we chose not to go too far.
Happy Hour commenced at 4 pm, so we tore ourselves away from our own private house and ventured down to the bar, finding ourselves a comfy armchair near the window. Two glasses of Clare Valley Riesling got us started and was a lovely prelude to the amazing dinner that was to come.
Whilst the prices at Happy Hour are obviously provided at a reduced rate, we noted that the overall prices of the bar and wine list were very well priced. Sometimes it feels as though the art of price gouging is most apparent in wine lists, so it was pleasing to see that it was not the case here.
The restaurant, with its open, airy space and THAT fireplace, is another example of the importance Pethers places on privacy for guests, with a limited number of tables available. Priority for dining is given to guests, with members of the public able to dine here if space permits.
The restaurant is only open for dinner Thursday to Saturday and bookings are essential given the limited availability.
As the daylight dips below the canopy, fairy lights on the outdoor deck bring the magic of Pethers into the dining area, setting up a picturesque dining atmosphere.
Tables are spaced out enough to offer privacy to couples dining, and with the fire twinkling away in the background, the scene is almost complete. The only thing left is to decide what to eat!
Operating in quite a small kitchen, the chef pushes out some incredible food. The menu is kept simple: two courses for AUD$65 or three courses for AUD$85. As always, my heart goes straight to anything that includes dessert.
My decisions are usually ably assisted by having a list of entree items that don’t interest me. Unfortunately, in this instance, I knew it wasn’t going to be the case and I would have to choose. Yes, I could have had three, but I’d had a big lunch and I knew I would pay the price of eating three courses.
Stirling saw the word King Prawns and his decision was made in an instant. Freshly caught off the coast of Mooloolaba on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, these were always going to be hard to beat. Dehydrated grapes, avocados from Pethers, and an unusual calamari cream tied it all together, and the spicy overtones of lightly fried chorizo added another dimension.
I to’d and fro’d between the buffalo mozzarella platter and my final choice but the pancetta wrapped chicken balontine sounded great. With a sweet corn puree (I hate corn but for some reason found this to be delicious!), grapes and peaches, the chicken came alive. Lightly poached, the chicken was moist with the crispy pancetta offsetting it perfectly.
Dinner was a no-brainer for me. There was duck on the menu. Not just any duck, but sous vide duck. It would be a pleasure, I was quite sure. If eating with your eyes is what we do, then this dish won me over. I loved how my meals were served on pottery plates, made by a local artisanal potter, providing additional colour and texture to the meal.
Bright yellow baby beetroot sat aloft the duck. Crispy skin and soft medium duck, poached and covered with a very tasty jus. The traditional beetroots had a hint of being pickled, providing some zing in comparison to the more bland yellow variety.
A sweet potato puree, smooth and tasty worked well with the plum chutney and powdered rye, an unusual but tasty crunch element.
With duck now off the menu, Stirling turned to the remaining choices: a fish of the day, locally caught; lamb rump, risotto and beef fillet. A self-confirmed carnivore, the Grasslands Beef Fillet won him over.
Sitting aloft a bed of lemon thyme semolina gnocchi, wild mushrooms were in abundance, as were tomatoes and a creamy sauce. Black fermented garlic was an interesting accompaniment.
If I did have room for dessert, I would, of course, had the chocolate parfait with chilli cherries and praline, leaving the coconut friand with dill snow, peach compote and saffron cremeaux to my dining partner.
I was taken with the earlier glass of Riesling, so had another of those with dinner whilst Stirling enjoyed a Bon Chien Ale, a product of local brewery Beard and Brau.
With no cooking facilities in the treehouses, and the restaurant only open for dinner, Pethers bring breakfast right to your door. At 8.30am, a discreet knock on your door heralds the arrival of a picnic basket full of breakfast goodies.
Fresh bread, which can be toasted in your kitchen, homemade muesli full of grains, nuts and fruits and yoghurt with a taint of honey get the morning off to a good start.
With such beautiful surroundings on offer, we threw the tablecloth provided over the outdoor table and dined outside. Baked mini quiche, orange juice, tea and coffee rounded out the spread. The only thing left to do was to sit back and read the paper that was also provided.
Things to do nearby
Food, craft breweries, wineries, arts and crafts, nature trails and waterfalls are all part of the beautiful Mt Tamborine area. With so many things to keep you entertained and occupied, it makes sense to stay at Pethers Rainforest Retreat for a few days.
We’ve been to Mt Tamborine quite a bit, so this time we explored a new location. Under the one roof, the Long Road Bistro, Witches Chase Cheese Factory and Fortitude Brewing Company combine to make a venue that’s hard to leave.
We stayed at Pethers Rainforest Retreat midweek, giving us a chance to explore the area, without the usual weekend crowds. If you are looking for a romantic weekend away or just some peace and quiet, we’d highly recommend Pethers as being just the place. If you are planning on visiting the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April 2018, this would also be the perfect spot to stay.
We were delighted to be guests of Pethers Rainforest Retreat. As always, all opinions are our own. A very special thank you to Shona, Chris and Bethany for their thoughtful hospitality.