Ask any visitor to the Queensland Gold Coast what they like about the place and invariably the answer will be “the beaches.” Australia has a huge coastline with many fine beaches but perhaps nowhere else does the carefree lifestyle that centres around sun and surf mix so easily with city convenience as it does on the Gold Coast.

The Gold Coast is strung out for 37 kilometres from Paradise Point in the north to Coolangatta in the south, But looking at the urban area from east to west, the width of development is barely 10 kilometres (leaving aside the communities nestled in the surrounding bush). It is the close proximity of the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range that hems development into this narrow ribbon.

And this is the hidden charm of the Gold Coast – known as the “hinterland” that for many locals provides the real appeal. There are not many places in Australia or elsewhere for that matter that you are so close to so much convenience and so much natural beauty – and, if needed, Brisbane is less than an hour away on one of the best motorways in Australia. Postcards from the Coast will focus on some of these undiscovered hideaways that tourists rarely find unless taken there by someone “in the know,”

So when we have visitors, as we did last week, we make a point of showing them not only the beaches but also the lush green hinterland which after the heavy rains of recent days is looking particularly magnificent. There are many communities nestled in the surrounding hills and valleys and more often than not these villages are host to vibrant artisan communities from potteries to art galleries, folk museums and tea rooms.

One of our favourite “tours” for out-of-towners is to drive the Gold Coast Springbrook Road. To drive the full distance from Mudgeeraba to the Springbrook National Park is a 27 kilometre drive which, through the winding road will take a journey time of around one hour, despite the good road conditions. Usually we don’t drive the entire length of the road opting instead to relax and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the countryside over a meal. Along the way there are a number of places of interest, tea rooms and restaurants at which you can stop and take in the beauty of the Australian bush.

One such place, Polly’s Kitchen, is a particular favourite of ours. It is an older style Queensland house converted into a restaurant and sitting out on its wide wooden verandas overlooking the bush is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon that I can think of. Sadly though, like many restaurants in the area,  it is only open three days a week – from Friday to Sunday so choose your day carefully.

Set on rolling lawns leading down to Little Nerang Creek and with ample parking, Polly’s Country Kitchen (to give it it’s full title) is the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon away from the beaches and the malls. The food is good and reasonably priced. Particular favourites of ours are the Creamy Pumpkin Soup with hot Kibble Loaf ($9.90) which is a meal in itself as well as the Thai Chicken Salad (at $14.90), ideal for weight watchers and extremely tasty.

The country breakfast at $15 gives you the works and is highly recommended if you are making a full day of it and want to stop for an early snack on the way to the Purlingbrook Falls at Springbrook. With a round trip of less than 100 km, finding a better day out away from the beaches would be hard to find.

You will find Polly’s Country Kitchen at 1024 Gold Coast Springbrook Road, just 12 km from Robina Station.