As the winter creeps in, the days get shorter and the temperature drops a craving for the mountains sweeps over me with fierce obsession. I can think of nothing else but time by the fire and the cold mountain air against my face making my cheeks turn a delicious rosy hue. Early morning fog that whispers through the valleys and hot chocolate shared with my children in a snug little nook. As a coast dweller I rarely see the telltale signs of the season change but luckily for me just a short drive away is the perfect place to satisfy my cold weather calling, Mount Tamborine in the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Every time I mentioned to friends that the crew and I were spending the weekend at Mount Tamborine, I was met repeatedly with the same comment; ‘Isn’t that just a place for couples?’ After spending some time snuggled by the fire in a rainforest lodge, listening to the sound of Cedar Creek my answer to that is an unequivocal, NO WAY!

Beautiful Mount Tamborine, perched high on the rainforest clad ranges of the Gold Coast hinterland is not exactly the type of place that has been associated with the perfect family break, until now. With its wineries, couples retreats & cute little gift stores Mount Tamborine has in the past been the perfect grownup’s weekend getaway; that was until we discovered Cedar Creek Lodges & the Thunderbird Park. This beautiful 112-hectare property is by no means a new kid on the block in these parts with Thunderbird Park having been part of the landscape here since 1972. With all that history generations of visitors return time and time again and everyone has their own unique memories of this Tamborine Mountain icon. For the past 16 years the current owners and staff have been working towards making it the rainforest adventure experience that it is today and families of all types are flocking here for a bit of outdoor fun. As a mum of teenagers, I have to say that it’s hard to get them excited about doing anything together as a family and it’s even harder to get them out of bed on a weekend morning. However, when they found out what was on offer at the Thunderbird Park they were just as excited, as we were to spend some family time in the great outdoors.

The plan was to pack as much of the place into one day as possible, being the hyperactive family that we are, and then spend our evening by the fire roasting marshmallows and playing board games. First on the list, the Treetop Challenge, a military style high ropes course with varying degrees or difficulty and a variety of different courses dotted throughout the forest. The entire course takes around three and a half hours to complete and is a great way to burn off excess kid energy and get your family exercise hit while working together as a team. This was something we had never done before and really enjoyed the challenge of tunnels, rope bridges and flying foxes all while enjoying a morning in the Australian bush.

Next on the agenda was to re-fuel with a cool drink and delicious wood fired pizza lunch at the Thunderbird Terrace Café. They do great coffee; yummy burgers and wraps, iceblokes plus they are fully licensed. There is also a beautiful restaurant, complete with a full bar, pool table and open fire, serving delicious meals on Friday and Saturday night and full buffet breakfast every morning.

We were all very excited to have a go at the next activity on the list, so armed with picks, buckets and the determination to find some treasure we headed off to the Thunderegg Crystal Mine. The largest of its kind in the world, these one of a kind real life fossils are just waiting to be collected and cut open to reveal their unique beauty. Ranging in size from something like a pea to about 400 kilograms, no two thundereggs are ever the same. Made from minerals that have grown and crystalised over millions of years these balls of rock started out as gas bubbles that became trapped when volcanic lava flows solidified way back in the days of the dinosaurs. On the outside they are as unassuming as your average garden rock but once cut open they are beautifully patterned and a unique memento filled with agate, quartz, amethyst and jasper.

After we realized there was no way we would be able to get the boys to leave the mine, us girls headed off for a guided horse ride through this lush property. What a lovely way to end a very busy day and take in the sights and sounds of the late afternoon rainforest as we meandered through the creeks and eucalypt forests. There really is nothing like experiencing the Queensland rainforest on horseback and we enjoyed chatting to our guides about the different landscapes, trees, waterways and animals as we went.

That’s the great thing about the Thunderbird Park there is just so much to do and so many great outdoor activities to experience with friends and family, I am more than confident that there is something here for everyone. We only scratched the surface in our day spent here but they also offer a giant canyon zip line 4WD experience, laser skirmish and mini golf. It would be the perfect place for a family reunion, a day out with a big group of families or a birthday party. They even do elegant award-winning rainforest weddings to suit every budget.

My highlight was spending the night in one of the Cedar Creek Lodges luxury ‘Creek Lodges’. There certainly is a type of accommodation to suit everyone on the property ranging from campsites, to bunkhouses, hotel rooms, to suites and the rather gorgeous lodges perched on the banks of Cedar Creek. Surrounded by rainforest and perfectly designed with 2 bedrooms, a fireplace, electric blankets, a laundry and kitchenette these lodges are perfect for families who want a rainforest retreat. Never have any of us slept as well as we did drifting off with a full belly of marshmallows by the fire, lulled into slumber by the gentle gurgle of the creek. If winter in the mountains sounds like the perfect weekend away for your family, Cedar Creek Lodges and The Thunderbird Park have all bases covered.

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