By Staff Writer Mozza
Travelling to Maleny from Bribie Island and surrounds takes 50 minutes up Steve Irwin Way to Landsborough then up the mountain cutting. About two kilometres before Maleny is the Obi Rd turnoff to Gardners Falls on your right.
Gardner's Falls are a nice set of cascading waterfalls and waterholes along the Obi Obi Creek. Very easy to access - you park right on the edge of the creek, this is a really popular spot for a swim or just for a bit of sightseeing.
Upon parking at the small carpark, it’s only a couple of minutes’ walk to the cascading falls. Above the falls there are lots of large, exposed rocks that you can wander over and explore – however take care as these can get quite slippery. The water falls into a large-ish waterhole which is great for swimming. It has a rocky base (which again, can be a little slippery) and at the downstream end of the waterhole it is reasonably shallow so the kids can play around in this area. Closer to the actual waterfall, the water is deep and you will see lots of people either jumping off the top of the falls (it’s only a couple of metres) or even swinging out of trees.
After recent rains, extra care needs to be taken here as there have been several drownings at the falls as recently as January 2021, when a 40 year old Nepalese man jumped into the water when it was flowing fast and didn’t resurface. The left side of the falls provides the deepest water and the right side is much shallower with rocks beneath the surface so take care here at any time.
Under normal conditions this is a very safe place to swim and explore and gets quite crowded on hot days. If you find the place over run when you arrive, the locals say that nearby Scott’s Road provides access to more deserted rock pools if you are looking for solitude while swimming.
Gardners Falls is part of the land that was bought by William Gardner around 1910 and he spent the next 16 years clearing the land to create three share farms and the family kept the estate until 1962 and it is now owned by the Sunshine Coast Council.
Along the road to the falls is Spicers Tamarind Retreat a small and exclusive Asian-inspired getaway which was purchased in 2007 by Spicers Retreats founder, Jude Turner. The Tamarind’s prior owner and renowned Australian master of Thai cuisine, Paul Blain, had purchased the property in 1998. It had originally been owned by the Gardner family. On site, there had been a school house to cater for the large family, as well as a cheese factory.
Paul had a vision to transform the property and rehabilitate the landscape. He built five rooms in the style of Asian longhouses to accommodate guests, and set up a restaurant which doubled as a cooking school. The Tamarind opened for business in early 2000. Later that year, it was awarded the Australian Gourmet Traveller Award of Excellence for Australian Gastronomic Travel.
During those early days, over 8500 endemic rainforest trees were planted across the property, creating the lush surrounds that the Spicers Tamarind Retreat enjoys today.
Encircled by a stream, the longhouses and restaurant’s peaceful atmosphere is heightened by the sound of running water and the well-established, sub-tropical landscapes. After Spicers purchased The Tamarind, Paul stayed on as General Manager until 2010. During that period, Spicers also bought the neighbouring seven acre property, and added 6 two-bedroom pavilions, the spa, and a manager’s house. There is also a two-bedroom cabin suitable for people with disabilities.
The renovated building now combines the Tamarind cooking school and conference area which hosts the annual Tamarind Asian Food Festival in February each year.
So whether you are after a swim in a mountain stream, the sound of a thundering waterfall, a world class Asian meal, a stay in a relaxing retreat of all of the above Gardners Falls may be the place for your next trip into Bribie’s hinterland.