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Self-drive tours

cycling(suitable also for energetic cyclists:
local cyclists might like to join the Scenic Rim Cycling Club: see photo  to right)

There are some wonderful self-drives in our locality, with lush rainforests, great mountain scenery, quiet beaches and other natural features as well as quaint little cafes and galleries, adventure activities, theme parks, wildlife parks and - if you feel the need - large modern shopping centres.

Visiting  the Araucaria property    See below for ideas for incorporating a visit to the Scenic Rim Wild   

                                                          koala Border
                                                          RangesSouth-east Queensland and northern New South Wales together constitute  one of the most scenic and species-rich regions of Australia, and one that is readily accessible from Queensland's capital, Brisbane.  There are so many options for self-drive tours to interesting and beautiful places that you could easily spend many months exploring them all. Accommodation ranges from primitive camping through caravan parks, hostels, guests houses, eco-lodges, farm stays, motels and budget hotels to five-star hotels and resorts.

Scenic Rim - this is a region formed by three ancient and giant shield volcanoes to the west and south of what is now Brisbane and the valleys associated with them

Rainforest Way - a network of roads linking rainforest experiences in south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales

                                                          Border RangesAustralia's Green Cauldron - the area surrounding and including the long-extinct Tweed volcano (one of the three mentioned above, which now retains one of the world's best-preserved calderas

Country Charm - an upmarket tour with much of the preliminary organizing done for you
Longer drives - from north Queensland, Sydney or Adelaide - we can offer advice on interesting routes

There are several useful books to help you choose a route and learn about the natural history and culture of the region: e.g. Wild Guide to the Scenic Rim (available from Information Centres throughout the Scenic Rim), Take a Walk (J and L Daly), Natural History of Lamington National Park (ed. Lesley Hutley).

Visiting the Araucaria property

Our Scenic Rim Wildlife Ecology Centre and associated nature trails are available with prior booking for self-drives, campers at the adjacent Andrew Drynan Reserve or anyone living in or visiting our region. Let us know if you would like us to arrange some activities (the longer the advance notice the better able we will be to prepare something according to you or your group's interests).

We are positioned on one of the loops of the Rainforest Way

See Google map of property

Possibilities for scenic drives including the Scenic Rim Wildlife Ecology Centre:

                        Rim Wildlife Eclogy Centre

Day-trips from Brisbane or Gold Coast:

  • Full day at the Centre . Drive from Brisbane via (more scenic) down the Beaudesert Road or Beenleigh, or from the Gold Coast via Nerang and Canungra (also scenic), through Beaudesert to Rathdowney, turn left at Rathdowney Post Office and continue approximately 17 km to Taaffe Bridge. The forest on your left is the beginning of the Araucaria property (complete with Araucaria trees). After the next bridge, most of the Araucaria property is on your left, but the Centre is through the green gate on your right. Let us know beforehand what you are interested in, so we can prepare appropriate activities (anything from activities for pre-schoolers through primary and secondary level  educational games and other  activities to tertiary ecology, behavioural studies or fauna and flora identification or adult education in birdwatching, rainforest plant identification for beginners, wildlife behaviour, basic ecology, habitat restoration  and other topics. Bring a packed lunch for  a picnic by the creek (or on the verandah if it is raining).  Let us know if you'd like to spend some time relaxing in a small boat or swimming in the creek (there are a couple of great swimming holes) - but no insect repellent before swimming please, as not all the creek's inhabitants will appreciate that. If you'd like to schedule your visit to last into the early evening and prepapred to spend some time sitting quietly, there's a good chance of seeing platypus, especially when they're breeding in the second half of the year (most often emerging from their burrows somewherte between 4.30 and 5.30pm, but they don't always stick to that schedule).
  • If coming from Lismore or other parts of north-eastern NSW, take the road from Kyogle through Wiangeree and turn left at the sign pointing to Brisbane via Lions Road.  This winding mountain road takes you through a narrow section of the Border Ranges National Park (including the Border Loop) before you reach the Qld border.  The Wildlife Ecology Centre property will be on your left after Moran's Bridge and the Andrew Drynan Reserve (picnic and camping ground).
  • waiting fir platypusVisit the Centre for an hour or so during a scenic drive. Drive from Brisbane as above, maybe with a detour to Tamborine Mountain on the way (SkyWalk, Cedar Creek glow worms, Distillery, various sections of the Tamborine Mountain National Park), stop in for lunch at Bearded Dragon (Tamborine) or EveryDay's Cafe or Happy Valley (Chinese) Restaurant in Beaudesert, visit Araucaria and then detour to see kangaroos and wallabies at Kooralbyn on your return journey. Alternately, come straight to Araucaria, visit the Centre, then take a picnic lunch across the border to the Border Loop, where the interstate train makes a complete circle (in aerial view) around the hill, and enjoy a short walk through eucalypt forest and subtropical rainforest. If returning on a Wednesday or weekend afternoon, you might like to drop in at Bearded Dragon and watch their live reptile show.
  • Spend a couple of days or more in the district. This is the best way to see wildlife, most of which are active in the early morning, late afternoon or evening.  The stars also appear far brighter here than in the townships, and the sounds of frogs and running water can provide a welcome relief from traffic noises and neighbours' hifi's. Camp at the Andrew Drynan Reserve adjacent to the property, or stay in the beautiful  Cougal Park B&B a few km south of the border, the Rathdowney Hotel/Motel (17km from Araucaria) or at any of various guests houses, cabins, farm stays and B&B's in the Scenic Rim or below the border. Explore the Rainforest Way both sides of the border (Lamington National Park, Border Ranges NP etc.), perhaps head south-east to Mt Warning and the Tweed Valley and back via the coast, or west to Mount French. St Mary's Falls or Cunningham's Gap and back via Ipswich.
  • Next time you're traveling from Brisbane or Ipswich to Sydney or other NSW destinations and not in too much of a hurry, consider this scenic route through the mountains, via Beaudesert and Kyogle, instead of the coastal highway. Maybe spend a night in the Scenic Rim or Border Ranges on your way through, or schedule a stop at Araucaria on your way through to Lismore, Grafton or beyond for the night.

Google map:

View Larger Map

Scenic Rim

                                                          Burra mountain
                                                          sceneryGeographically, the Scenic Rim generally refers to the mountains south and west of Brisbane formed by three ancient and gigantic shield volcanoes.  It is sometimes extended to include mountainous country just south of the New South Wales border, which is after all part of the same geological series of events, just an artificial political boundary separating them. Politically, the Scenic Rim Regional Council includes the southern half of this region, from Binna Burra to Tamborine Mountain and west almost to the Great Dividing Range (west of Boonah), with the New South Wales border as its boundary.

There are many wonderful opportunities for self-drives, for just a day from Brisbane or the Gold Coast or sites within the Scenic Rim itself, or for a weekend or better still, several days.  Accommodation includes
campgrounds with and without facilities, caravan parks, guests houses, romantic cabins, family cabins, eco-lodges by networks of rainforest walking tracks or rugged mountains to climb, farm stays, motels, hotels for all budgets and upmarket resorts. You can use this interactive map to find out how to reach the region from wherever your starting point might be.

For advice on self-drives and chartered outings ( families, individuals, school groups, tertiary groups, scouts and guides, researchers, conference delegates, birders, nature photographers, artists...) that include the Scenic Rim Wildlife Ecology Centre on Lions Road, contact Araucaria Ecotours for suggested itineraries to maximize your experience of the wildlife, forests, mountains and other natural wonders of this region. Closest accommodation to the Wildlife Ecology Centre is camping at Andrew Drynan Reserve (adjacent), the motel at Rathdowney  (17km) or a very beautiful bed-and-breakfast at Cougal Park (14km).

 See also Visit Scenic Rim (Scenic Rim Regional Council: southern end of the Scenic Rim), Scenic Rim Escapes (tourism attractions and accommodation mostly in the eastern part of Scenic Rim shire). Scenic Rim Tourism
(tourism attractions and accommodation mostly in western part of Scenic Rim Regional Council), and country drives from Toowoomba (northwestern section of the Scenic Rim, not within in the SRRC)

rainforest at Binna BurraRainforest Way

This is a series of suggested scenic drives to the various rainforests of the Qld/NSW border regions easily accessible from Brisbane, Gold Coast or Byron Bay. There is a major route and several loops

The Lions Road loop brings you past the Araucaria property with its
Scenic Rim Wildlife Ecology Centre (contact us first) and the adjacent Andrew Drynan Camping Reserve (phone 07 5544 1281). For those who would like more comfort overnight there is the wonderful bed-and-breakfast Cougal Park on Lions Road on the NSW side.
From Brisbane, head through Beaudesert, then to Rathdowney and turn into Running Creek Road at the Post Office. The Araucaria property begins after Taaffe Bridge. After visiting our Wildlife Ecology Centre, you can continue on across the border  to the Border Loop lookout, where the interstate train does a spiral to decrease the slope it needs to climb on its way towards Queensland. From here a short walking track takes you through open forest and rainforest, with many of the trees and other plants named.  Continue on to Simes Road and turn left to visit the eastern section of the Border Ranges NP with walking trails in cool temperate and warm subtropical rainforest and some great views, including the Mt Warning caldera.
If coming from the Gold Coast you could visit Binna Burra, O'Reilly's or Tamborine Mountain on your way to the Araucaria property, and perhaps spend  the night at Andrew Drynan Reserve or  Cougal Park
If coming from NSW, visit the Border Ranges National Park then head up Lions Road, perhaps with a stop at the Border Loop, then on across the border, where after crossing Moran's Bridge you will see the Andrew Drynan Reserve on your right, and the Araucaria property is just around the next corner.

See the Araucaria property on Google maps

Other loops include Mallanganee and Richmond Range, Tamborine Circuit, Main Range, Mount Warning View Circuit, Minyon Falls and the Tweed Range Scenic Drive - you could easily spend a couple of months exploring them all. Pictured above right is rainforest in Lamington National Park near Binna Burra

Mount Warning, centre of Australia's
                          Green CauldronAustralia's Green Cauldron

Australia's Green Cauldron refers to the forest-covered mountains that were once the scene of fiercely hot lava flows from the Tweed Volcano, now one of the best-preserved calderas in the world, with readily-accessible rainforest walks, scenic beaches (the easternmost volcanic rocks extend into the Pacific Ocean) and a variety of accommodation, dining experiences, galleries and other travel adventures.  Mt Warning is the central plug containing the last bit of lava that did not quite make it into an eruption, and is today the first part of Australia to see the sun each morning, being just high enough to catch the first rays before Cape Byron, which is the most easterly part of our coastline. The Rainforest Way is mostly within the Green Cauldron, as is the south-eastern portion of the Scenic Rim.

Click here for further details of the richly diverse region of south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales, including fauna flora, geology and a sample of tourism features. The Rainforest Information Centre at Murwillumbah has some good interpretive displays.

                                                          FarmtayCountry Charm

The upmarket Country Charm Self-drive tour by Travel Associates does most of the organising for you to experience rainforest, wining and dining, farm stay, cooking classes and alpacas, as well as information on wildlife and geology, starting in the south-east but concentrating on the south-western end of the Scenic Rim.

Longer drives - from north Queensland, Sydney or Adelaide

Contact us for suggestions on interesting places to see along the way, especially if you are interested in wildlife and natural areas. When you arrive in the Scenic Rim you can connect with any of the above.