Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hey Green Tamborine...

So what do garter-belts, wooden clogs, caravan-shaped tea-pots and sub-tropical rhubarb have in common?

Terrific Trev fancied some R&R over the Labour Day long week-end, so off we went to the fabulous Escarpment Retreat, which is next but one to St Bernard's Hotel on "Mount" Tamborine.

"Mount" because it's not really a mountain in the strictest sense, more of a small plateau-hillside settlement. But the vistas are extraordinary due to the plummeting cliffs of the Scenic Rim, and the flora is pure Gondwanise:- massive figs, thick tarzanesque strangler vines, ancient cycads, dappled sunlight, leaf canopy and all...beautiful! About 90 minutes from Brisbane, it's the perfect week-end get-away.

St Bernard's is a scene-stealer itself. This grand old hotel has been a local land-mark since 1898. In it's accommodation-based hay-day in the 20's it boasted a tennis court, a large swimming pool fed by a creek, walks to visit the five local waterfalls, and extensive gardens on the edge of the escarpment - all perched right on the cliffs with a view north-east to the Gold Coast and islands of Moreton Bay.

I remember family day trips up to Tamborine when I was a child, with St Bernard's the destination for lunch: a choice of roasts, with vanilla ice-cream and caramel sauce to follow... such were the heights of culinary sophistication in Queensland in the early 60's. But served up by maids in uniform on fine china, silver cutlery and starched white tablecloths.

Picture of Caravan TeapotThe Gallery Walk on the Long Road is an eclectic mix of dress shops, galleries, craft and nick-nacks, with a variety of eateries, brewery, wine cellar, a cheese factory, and a couple of hum-dinger ethnicentric pit-stops including the (German) Cuckoo Clock Nest and the Dutch Bite Cafe and Clog Place. I love a genuine Black Forrest cuckoo clock and a bit deft china along with the best of them...Tamborine is a bit like that; all oblique if not downright obvious references to a vague Continental heritage. The Tamborine Mountain Teapot Shop features some pretty wild creations imported from England; the Polish Place serves up food, drink and objects d'art in the Polish tradition. When I was a student we used to drive up to savour coffee in a brass kettle and a potato and bacon hash at the long-gone Swedish Cafe, with it's blue and yellow flag painted roof, when IKEA was just a twinkle in someone's flat-packing eye.
Good Times Images

We also shared out retreat in a general rather than specific sense with this year's garter-belt and gasoline convention - a colossal coming together of hot-rods through the ages, most in pristine nick, with rockabillia excelsis thrown in for good measure! Bands, balls, a massive show-ground festival - ladies of all ages done up from top-to-toe in 40's/50's fashions, and greased-back locks and sharp shoes for the blokes. Spectacular! Time for a quick visit to The Shop Time Forgot and Kitty's Vintage Kitsch, the mountain's retro mega mecca.

We wined, dined and did some gentle trekking to make up for it all - the non-leech-infested Sky Walk for one (someone mentioned the 'L' word to TT), and the Curtis Falls track for another, the latter setting off from one of the prettiest picnic grounds in s-e  Queensland.

All in all, a fabulous retreat...and just slightly la-la land enough to be great fun!

Have great weeks!


  1. I didn't realise Tamborine was so happening- I haven't been in years but remember watching the hand-gliders for a long, long time. You've tweaked my curiosity- will have to go and take another look. Lynda

  2. And so lovely as well, really - tend to forget that when it's just on the door-step so to speak!
    Thanks for reading Lynda!