Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk’s History
Skywalk owners Ian and Jennifer Moore arrived back in Queensland after living for seventeen years in Perth and were looking for a business that offered a new challenge and a different lifestyle for them both. In 1988 they bought a large 130 acre parcel of land with a small house and beautiful gardens. The land was divided in two by Tamborine Mountain Road. Having converted the house to a restaurant they opened Songbirds in the Forest Restaurant in 1989 on the upper side of the property.
This alfresco restaurant overlooking the gardens was an innovative place to dine in South East Queensland and quickly became very popular, attracting visitors from the Gold Coast, interstate and overseas. Later they constructed six accommodation studios to create the Songbirds Rainforest Retreat and divided their large property onto several separate titles.
While Songbirds was being developed, the lower 30 acre section of the property, which had no known access, was left untouched and rarely visited. However one night in 1998 a large colony of glow-worms was discovered beside the creek by the Moores. And the decision was made to include this new site along Cedar Creek in a nightly eco-adventure tour with glow-worm viewing.
Before commencement of the night tours, a road entry and internal access had to be found to the area. By chance it was discovered that entry paths had already been built by the loggers in the early 1900’s who worked the area for Red Cedar, Rose Gum and Crow’s Ash. Only removal of overgrown Lantana was required to convert these old timber-cart trails into roads suitable for mini-buses.
Glow-worm eco tours commenced in 1999 and operated every night until 2004. These night tours became the catalyst for building the Skywalk . Because this beautiful place with its pristine and majestic forest and the deep and mysterious rockpools was only visited at night, the Moores began to think of ways to highlight the stunning rainforest property during the day and the idea of a high bridge and raised walkway with an informative eco-centre in the middle of the rainforest was conceived.
And so, having determined to go down this new path, in 2004 Ian and Jennifer sold the last subdivision, the Songbirds property and began the new project.
The new venture proved to be a very long process and an extremely difficult one. It took nearly five years of planning, research, obtaining state and local council approvals and overcoming various obstacles along the way. Many problems had to be overcome in building a high steel bridge on steep, volcanic soils in the middle of a pristine rainforest without destroying the fragile environment . Two of their sons, Brendan and Nicholas who have extensive experience in marketing and ecotourism also joined them during the construction phase and everyone in the family, with varied areas of interest and expertise had input into the new venture.
For the Skywalk construction, very large 120 ton cranes with booms up to 80 metres long lifted the tower columns and forty-metre walkway and cantilever sections up, over and then carefully down through the canopy into place, high above the forest floor. The centre building was also brought on-site in sections and assembled in this manner. And the Moores are proud to say that not one forest tree was cut down in the process of installing the Skywalk.
The Moores are passionate about preserving the identity of their unique property. There is an extensive and continuing program in place which involves the planting of thousands of native plant species and removing invasive flora. There’s also an important program in place to provide a perfect habitat for the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly which is also under threat and they are cross-breeding their own butterfly colony with other colonies in Australia to keep the species strong and not weakened by inbreeding in one isolated colony alone.
The Skywalk was officially opened in 2009, by the then Federal Minister for Tourism Martin Ferguson. It was a very exciting day for all the Moore family when their dream became a reality and the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk was finally operating.
The Skywalk is managed by Nick and Brendan – so it’s still very much a family affair.