Nestled in amongst 22 acres of magnificent Sunshine Coast rainforest and at the entrance point to the Kondalilla National Park, is where you will discover Kondalilla Eco Resort.
This mountainous hideaway is designed to help you escape the outside world and truly immerse yourself in a little slice of hinterland heaven.
From the moment you arrive you will switch off – literally, the phone and internet reception is ever so wonderfully iffy. So it’s phones down, books out and a chance for tranquillity to wash over you.
Visiting the resort in winter also means indoor fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, and red wine sipped in big bubble baths… at least that’s what it meant for us on our night away.
On arrival, we checked in and drove the steep, yet incredibly scenic, ascent to log cabin 18 where we would settle in for the evening. Our kids joined us on this trip, so the log cabin was the perfect fit with its separate bedroom, balcony and bathroom with huge standalone bathtub for the adults, while the kids each had their own bed and a bathroom off the main lounge. Our room also had a kitchen so we could whip up a simple brekkie in the morning, and two more decks with seating to catch those afternoon rays of sunlight as the birds sang their sweet songs and the fire crackled away inside.
For those seeking a romantic getaway, I would highly recommend the spa haven cabins, which are the newest addition to the property. There are only two of these open-plan suites available (in total there are 23 well-appointed rooms on the property) and they are wonderfully private, perched on the secluded hillside adjacent to Kondalilla National Park. Think warm and cosy, with two levels boasting a spacious living area, wood-burner, barbecue and kitchenette. The upper level has a welcoming king bed, separate bathroom and a large whirlpool spa bath that looks out to the rainforest so you can soak in the tub while soaking in the beauty of nature right outside your window.
For our getaway, we booked into the Kondalilla Restaurant for a sunset dinner on the stunning deck, surrounded by bush and twinkling fairy lights. The restaurant is quite the sight, featuring a large inside dining area, bar and private dining space, candlelit tables and walls adorned with beautiful Indigenous art. Outside is the al fresco area with an uninterrupted view towards the national park, and even a small play area for the kids.
As for the menu…wow. This restaurant certainly brings something different to the hinterland with a focus on fresh, vegetarian cuisine with a seafood and vegan influence. The dishes are bright, colourful, vibrant and with incredible attention to detail and flavour. We enjoyed an absolute smorgasbord of food, devouring every bite of nourishing goodness.
Our entrees included lemongrass confit scallops with a smoked pumpkin and whisky puree, pickled apricots and asparagus salad, basil pesto and finger limes; as well as housemade tuna bresaola with mulberry relish, radish, sourdough crisps, pickled onions and nasturtium butter. We also tried the Kondalilla-style oysters Kilpatrick, and beetroot and goats cheese arancini off the specials menu. An absolute sensory delight.
For the mains, we opted again for some specials such as crispy salmon and red emperor, and then we couldn’t go past the macadamia-crusted barramundi with champ mash, smoked onion puree, asparagus, snow peas and herb oil, which was a standout dish for us.
Well that, and the Thai yellow tofu curry served with lemongrass-scented jasmine rice. We were in culinary heaven at this point. It was all paired with cocktails that had that Kondalilla twist – using fresh, earthy ingredients to produce nothing but mouth-watering flavours. The entire experience was divine. Even the kids ate up every last bite of their healthy meals.
With full tummies and smiling faces we made the short trip back up to our cabin and settled in around the fire to play games before drifting off, nothing but the rainforest lullaby to send us to sleep.
The next morning, we awoke to the chirping of birds, a morning sun shower making that pitter-patter sound on the roof.
The kids had already been playing a game of I spy having found a wallaby nibbling nearby and a kingfisher swooping down towards the lily pad pond not far from the cabin. That was our next adventure – a wander through the trees to the pond and across to the heated pool and sauna.
I have to say, when you hear the words ‘heated pool’, you still consider the chilly mountain air. Thankfully, this pool was as warm and inviting as a hot tub – just much bigger, and surrounded by palm fronds.
My husband opted for a sauna while I laid back on a sun lounge watching the kids splash about in the pool. To warm up after the wintery wind nipped at our skin, we lit the fire pit by the pond and watched nature do its thing. Before long we had to wave goodbye to this secluded wonderland.
I should mention, if sheer relaxation in an absolute haven of nature isn’t quite enough, there are several delights you can add to your stay such as holistic treatments with a range of qualified practitioners, spa treatments, delicious hampers, and specialty packages you can book. There is also a small shop at reception for the essentials (like bubble bath and books) where you can also borrow games and DVDs to complete the wholesome experience at Kondalilla Eco Resort.
Visit kondalilla.com for more information and to book your stay.