There were several reasons why I felt compelled to visit St Bernards Hotel, Tamborine Mountain’s “largest and most famous hotel on the mountain.” Firstly, I enjoy a good pub and this one, situated on the edge of a volcanic rim in south-east Queensland, reputedly offered magnificent views over the Guanaba Valley. Furthermore, the pub is relatively old (by Australian standards), is home to two Saint Bernards and has a tree scientists believe is over 10,000 years old.
I admit, the thought of having a cold beer while gazing across the mountainous hinterland was also a tad enticing, and upon arrival I wasn’t disappointed. I discovered Guinness on tap (a favourite of mine), the resident Saint Bernard, Mollie, was slouched comfortably near the bar, the views were magnificent, the garden delightful and there was an adventurous peacock delving deep amongst the flowers.
For anyone that isn’t familiar with Tamborine Mountain, the area is also well worth a visit in its own right, offering kilometres of scenic stops, cafes, restaurants, rainforest walks and waterfalls. This was clearly a top spot to have a beer, a rest, do a bit of work, take in the surrounding area and have a bite to eat. An all-in-one stop. St Bernards is also part of a little piece of local history.
Established in 1898, St Bernards Hotel didn’t become a licensed property until 1915. Prior to this, it was a post office receiving centre, while in the 1920s it operated as a “convalescent private hotel”, housing up to 100 guests. Today, St Bernards is a handsome hotel with an arcadian wooden interior and paved courtyard, offering food, drink and one, two and three bedroom cottages – including five-star alpine-style accommodation.
St Bernards also caters for weddings and corporate functions. The good news for both guys and dolls is the place is suited for romantic getaways, yet it’s essentially a pub – although one with character. Upon wandering about the dining room, I spotted a portrait of one late Saint Bernard named Basil, who lived at the hotel from 1999 to 2007. Apart from Mollie, who I had the good fortune to meet, there’s the male Saint Bernard Leo, who also reputedly slouches onsite.
After strolling amongst the gardens, past a peacock, a gaggle of geese and down a pleasant hillside trail, I decided to try the food. Perked up after a couple of Guinnesses, I plucked up the courage to approach Murray, the chef, and ask him for a recommendation. I decided upon the sole special, a whole fish baked in butter and served with capers, chips and salad. The fish was tasty. Be warned though, the portions here are thunderously large.
Of course if you’re a big eater, this is a very fine thing indeed. If you’re not, take home a doggie bag, or share your scraps with Mollie and Leo.
For more information, check out the St Bernards Hotel website.