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If you thought the Gold Coast region of Australia was all beaches and theme parks, allow me to introduce you to the diversity this region has to offer.
Or, if you’re like us and live on the Gold Coast or in Brisbane, then how about a weekend staycation within World Heritage Listed Lamington National Park for a change of scenery and to get away from it all.
Yes, it’s hard for us to leave beautiful Burleigh Heads, but we do love a mixture of beach life with hinterland getaways and the chance to have space and enjoy the peacefulness.
Departing Burleigh mid-morning, our weekend destination was Binna Burra Mountain Lodge just an hours drive away from Burleigh (90 minutes if you’re leaving from Brisbane). It’s a fantastic Gold Coast accommodation and activity centre in one!
We timed our run for a pit-stop at Laurel Cottage Garden Cafe in lower-Beechmont for lunch and coffee. They have a nice range of meals made from fresh local produce, we all went for the Classic Dog which hit the spot nicely.
Considering it was Friday, we enjoyed the serenity in contrast to the lunch-time mad rush of the cafe scene on the Goldy!
Binna Burra Mountain Lodge – Gold Coast Accommodation
Binna Burra Lodge is in Lamington National Park, and this UNESCO World Heritage listed area comprises Australia’s largest remnant of sub-tropical rainforest and has been welcoming guests since the early 1930s.
We checked into our cabin and the kids excitedly raced upstairs to their loft bedroom, which would become their cozy little sanctuary over the weekend for games and role plays.
The character filled cabins aren’t lacking in modern amenities, but a mountain getaway is exactly that and there are no televisions, clocks and we didn’t have phone service in our cabin which would normally stress us out, but it was a nice change from the constant temptation to be connected to the online world (we could get service on our deck or up at the main reception building).
Caz found her spot immediately out on the deck in the afternoon sunshine with bush and valley views and studied the map choosing which nature trails we were going to hike over the weekend.
This getaway was all about connecting with nature and each other as a family.
Bellbird Lookout Walk
We decided to kick off our stay with one of the organized activities put on by Binna Burra Lodge, the gentle one hour Bellbird Lookout walk hosted by Ranger Dean.
This walk took us through the rainforest and eucalypt woodland and open forest and ending with stunning views over Ship’s Stern, Egg Rock, Turtle Rock and the Numinbah Valley from the lookout.
Normally we would just go on a walk and enjoy the serenity of being in nature, not knowing anything about the trees, plant species and fruits living in the vicinity.
But having Dean lead the way on a guided walk made it far more interesting as he explained the workings of the forest, why the trees grew in the manner that they did, and we tried berries without having to worry about becoming sick.
And he was so good with the kids, keeping them engaged and entertained the whole time. I don’t think I’ve seen them so well behave on a walk ever!
View from Bellbird Lookout. They call it “Egg Rock”. Can you see the resemblance?
If you have young kids and only do one short walk at Binna Burra, this walk is perfect. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Morticia the oldest funnel web spider in Lamington National Park.
Back at the lodge, we headed upstairs of the main residence to the library for afternoon wine and cheese time. The kids occupied themselves reading whilst we enjoyed 20 minutes of downtime and views over the valley.
For dinner on the first night, we grabbed a BBQ pack and cooked it under one of the covered cooking shelters in the campground – if you do this, you just need to bring your own cutlery and plates.
Caz and the kids were happy to sleep in a while, isn’t that what getaways are for, but I was determined to get up early and make the most of the morning light.
There’s nothing like being greeted with a burst of sunshine to wake you up at 5 am and have pretty views out over the valley.
Getting up early is also the best time to spot one of the locals hopping about at Binna Burra, the cute Pademelons.
We did see them on our Bellbird walk hopping amongst the bushes, but early morning they are out in the sunshine in the open grassland and easier to spot.
Yoga classes at the lodge
Caz loves her yoga, it’s how she starts every day, and was excited that they had a pre-breakfast morning yoga session up in the library room.
What was cool though was that the kids were also welcome and joined her for the session. But judging by the sneaky pic I took of Kalyra over on the right I think she was so relaxed she fell back to sleep.
Whilst we all love a sleep in as much as anyone being busy parents, getting up early and making the most of the day is great too.
Then being able to relax and take our time over breakfast makes for a welcome change from our typically mad morning rush like we have on weekdays getting the kids off to school, and that’s what makes weekend family getaways so great.
We enjoyed a hearty buffet breakfast in the Clifftop Dining Room with stunning views over the Coomera Valley.
Caves Circuit Walk
Our morning goal was to take on the 5-kilometre return Caves Circuit Walk and check out the display of volcanic rock built up by the Mt Warning volcano.
This walk is rated as easy and as long as you take enough water and snacks for the kids, it’s a gentle enough gradient down the mountain to the cave, and back up again.
We were on the lookout for koalas as they are sometimes seen in the eucalypt trees in this area, we didn’t get lucky but enjoyed this family friendly walk with conversation and singalongs.
Happy hiker Savannah…she didn’t stop yapping and smiling the whole way which is always great to see. Getting some much-needed exercise and bonding time with our kids is what we’re all about.
The reward for making it halfway was the coolness of the cave, a nice respite on a very humid day on the Goldy!
If you’re visiting in the summer time, you’re pretty much in the shade the whole way but the humidity will be HIGH – dress appropriately and bring extra water!
Lunch at Lamington Teahouse
We rested over lunch at the casual Lamington Tree House Cafe. Grab a seat by the window if you can as the views over the Numinbah Valley go on forever.
After lunch, it was time to bring out our inner Robin Hood and try our hand at archery. Surprisingly this was my first time ever shooting an arrow and I was keen to have some fun learning about this medieval sport.
Ranger Dean put us through our paces, instructing us on the technique of holding the bow and arrow, and Savannah picked it up like a natural. She didn’t get a bullseye but hit the target with help from Dean. And big sister Kalyra hit it all by herself!
Caz proved to be a sharp shooter getting at least one bullseye. Me, I was within a millimetre, and if you know me and my competitive spirit close enough is not good enough, lol.
This activity is usually held outdoors in the open grass area, but we had some temporary rain so took it inside to the games room. Definitely, give this a go on your visit for a fun family activity!
Flying through the treetops
Our kids, and us big kids, love flying through tree tops on 165-metre long flying fox cables, or zip lines as some call them. It was time to up the pace a little and play Tarzan and Jane!
I still have visions of two-year-old Savannah zooming solo through the canopy 30 metres off the ground at nearby O’Reilly’s Rainforest retreat on their flying fox with a mixture of shock and excitement on her face.
This time, we could go tandem so I got harnessed up with Kalyra and Savannah wanted to be attached to mummy. Still, the look on her face was priceless as they went zoooooom….ha ha.
Afternoon drinks and sunset at the Binna Burra Lodge
Back to earth and it was time to put our feet up with a drink and a view and get ready for sunset.
At 4 pm daily there’s afternoon tea in the Clifftop restaurant, the girls enjoyed a hot chocolate and a cookie and chatting about our adventures during the day.
The perfect spot to take in the sunset is just outside the restaurant in the landscaped garden area. There’s room for the kids to play and the adults can kick back on one of the chairs with a cold drink and spectacular sunset views.
Picture yourself here?
We stepped back inside for our buffet dinner before retreating back to our cabin and just chilled on the bed and caught up on some overdue reading time.
Again, it was so good not to be tempted with logging on to Facebook and being distracted with the online world, instead being totally present with our surroundings and sounds of the outside bush.
Another pretty Gold Coast hinterland sunrise
I don’t mind waking up at 4.30am to catch the sunrise, yes the sun pokes its head up early in this neck of the woods, but when you get treated to a sight like this it’s worth the effort.
I took this photo of the pretty pinks and clouds over the valley and the Gold Coast Hinterland from the elevated position back up near the main restaurant.
Apparently, Bellbird Lookout is a top spot for sunrise, but that would mean getting up extra early!
If you’re looking for a quick getaway to the Gold Coast Hinterland and getting off the coast or out of Brisbane, consider Binna Burra Lodge your ticket to serenity and bonding time as a family or as a couple.
Activities – there’s a range of activities to suit parents and kids from bushwalking to abseiling, archery, massages, flying fox, campfire nights, spotlight walks and much more!
We can all do with escaping to nature and unplugging once in a while.
As always our stay was over before we were ready to head back to reality, but being local we’ll definitely be back!
Read more posts to help you plan your Gold Coast family holiday
- Best family accommodation on the Gold Coast
- Best of Burleigh Heads
- 15 free (and cheap) things to do on the Gold Coast
- 4 walks on the Gold Coast
- 28 things to do on the Gold Coast for families
Plan Your Trip to Binna Burra Lodge
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Have you visited Binna Burra or the Gold Coast Hinterland? Share any tips in the comments below.