When I travel south on the Pacific Motorway I’m usually headed to the Gold Coast or to Ikea, but on a recent weekend I finally turned left off the motorway to Logan City and found more to see than I had ever imagined.

Logan City turned out to have so much more than I ever expected.

I had been tempted to Logan City by the Jazz and Shiraz Festival which was cancelled due to a deluge of heavy rain, but since we already had accommodation booked at Springwood Towers Hotel we decided to find other ways to fill our weekend. Although I’ve lived between the Gold Coast and Brisbane over the last three years, it’s almost embarrassing to admit that I’ve never really stopped to consider what was just off the highway in between the two…and a quick poll at the office shows I’m not alone.

My first surprise came just minutes after turning off the motorway when I turned a bend on Underwood Road and the sprawling Chung Tian Buddhist Temple came into view. The temple, built in 1992, is designed in the Chinese palace style of architecture with gargoyles, dragons and statues of other mythical figures featured prominently. While the temple is a popular tourist attraction in Logan City it is also home to a museum, a meditation hall, the Chung Tian Art Gallery and the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order holds regular classes and services open to anyone interested in the Buddhist faith.

In the middle of the temple grounds, the Water Drop Teahouse is a tranquil oasis to relax with a green tea and a choice of light snacks. Just as calming is a walk through the neighbouring Daisy Hill Conservation Parkand a visit to the Daisy Hill Koala Centre which is home to Celeste and Mangiri, who were born in captivity, and Faith who was brought to live at Daisy Hill when she was injured and has been there ever since. Like Chung Tian Temple, Daisy Hill Koala Centre and Conservation Park are free to visit and there’s plenty to explore in 445 hectares of open eucalypt forest where kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, birds and various reptiles roam freely.

Sealed roads and walking trails are clearly marked throughout the park and there are spots to stop for picnics or barbecues. Not far away the Eagleby Wetlands Reserve is teaming with birdlife. Just off Logan Street and adjacent to the Albert River the wetlands sanctuary is a bird lover’s paradise – more than 200 Australian native bird species have been recorded in the area and almost half of the bird species found in Queensland can be seen here. A system of walking tracks weave through the area, which includes melaleuca and brackish swamps, a freshwater lake, woodland, canefields and open grassland, making it easy to explore and bird hides allow visitors to sit in camouflage to watch the wild life in action.

Logan’s cafe, restaurant, hotel and club scene has flourished in recent years. Today in Logan you can experience a diversity of tastes in a range of quality venues. From Mediterranean fare, fresh seafood and contemporary Australian cuisine to the best of Asian, Indian and European delights, we have restaurants to suit all tastes.

Logan City has more than 1,100 environmental and recreational parks, many featuring dog off-leash areas, exercise facilities, play equipment and skate ramps. There are pristine bushland reserves and wetlands, as well as manicured waterfront parks along the Logan River. The natural environment is an important facet to life in Logan, and a popular place to enjoy the bush and its wildlife is the Daisy Hill State Forest and Daisy Hill Koala Centre.

After a day spent close to nature a warm spa bath beckoned back at the Springwood Towers Hotel. We stayed in a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment bigger than the home I live in with its family-size lounge, a balcony, fully-equipped kitchen and laundry. But the kitchen was one feature we did not need to use as there were so many restaurants on the doorstep we had no intention of staying in. We had dinner at Focus by James where owner James Macqueen encourages diners to doodle on the white paper tablecloths between meals. Desserts are a specialty here and we dined out on them all!

Food is also a highlight at the Woodridge Train Station Markets where stall holders cook up specialties from Europe, Africa and Asia.The markets are on every Sunday morning from 6am to 12noon and Croydon Road is closed off and packed with the stalls selling a huge range of fresh fruit and vegetables, many from vendors who have grown their own produce and who are eager to share their cooking tips with customers. Our next stop was at markets of a different kind as we called in to the Logan Recycling Market.

It’s open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday each week from 10am to 5pm and is a treasure trove of bric-a-brac, hardware materials, toys, household furniture, bicycles and building materials donated by the community and local businesses. There’s so much to see it’s impossible to do it in just one visit, so I’ll be back – and they even offer a delivery service. Profits from sales are directed to local charities through the Logan Mayor’s Welfare Committee. Before we headed home we called in to the Beenleigh Historical Village and Museum where 20 heritage buildings have been preserved and still contain original items from the period.

It’s a treat to wander through the Beenleigh Council Chambers, Wilkie’s General Store, the old St George’s Anglican Church which is still used for services and weddings, and to sit in the old Loganholme One Teacher schoolhouse. Even the café is on the veranda of an old train station platform. I learned a lot from my detour off the motorway at Logan and found there’s plenty more to do there than shop for homewares.

To find out more about Logan visit – http://www.logan.qld.gov.au/about-logan/living-in-logan/about-logan-city

Tasty Bites

Christopher’s Fine Foods and Wine, corner Daisy Hill Road and Allamanda Drive, Daisy Hill is fully licensed and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a menu featuring ingredients sourced from their own deli and local markets.
Focus by James, 3442 Pacific Highway, Springwood, serves up dishes like Queensland barramundi and roast duck breast but the dessert menu is the stand-out (we tried one of everything!) Don’t miss the Baked Peanut Butter Tart with whipped chocolate ganache and caramel popcorn.
Luv a Coffee, shop 1/11 Main Street, Beenleigh, is the place to stop for people who like their coffees oversized but also serves milkshakes as well as sweet treats.
The Beenleigh Historical Village and Museum Cafe, 199 Main Street, Beenleigh, serves up home-cooked lunches or coffee and scones for morning or afternoon teas in a period setting.