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Mike O’ Conner, Courier Mail – Hot Stone Massage at the Polish Place, Mt Tamborine

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THE hot stones glide over your oiled flesh like molten silk, the heat seeping deep in your muscles.

Outside, a chill south-westerly wind beats against the glass door panes, the wood fire crackles occasionally, the only other sound an occasional low-pitched sigh.

A hot stone massage is undeniably relaxing.

If I’d lifted my head from the portable massage table that Alison, the owner of visiting massage service Ripple Massage had set up in the chalet, the view would have been westwards across the Canungra Valley and the smoke-blue razorbacks of the Great Dividing Range beyond.

My head, however, remained buried in the massage table. I may or may not have had the strength to lift it.

The Polish Place, in one of the chalets of which I lay oiled, is one of the landmarks on Mt Tamborine. Clinging to the edge of the plateau, its indoor-outdoor restaurant gives stunning views out across the valley, an outlook shared by its A-framed chalets.

Those who enjoy a bed with a view should rejoice in that from the loft bedrooms which look out through the windows cut high into the back wall. Look closely and you can see the cleft of Cunningham’s Gap to the Northwest.

Phil and Ania Sowter have owned and run the Polish Place since its inception, arriving on the mountain in 1983. Ania’s accent leaves no doubt as to the origin of the Polish theme which they chose, a theme which runs from the decor to the food and the vodka which is urged on guests.

Kransky, port hocks, sauerkraut, potatoes, pirogi and duck seasoned with grapes and apple rule. Resolve to eat nothing but steamed vegetables for the next week, reach for the wine list and planting your feet firmly beneath the table, prepare to fortify your body against the winter chill.

As you leave the flatlands and begin the ascent to the 4 km wide and 8 km long plateau that is Tamborine, the spiked outline of the Gold Coast skyline is plainly visible from the south.

The mountain supports three communities – Eagle Heights, North Tamborine and Mt Tamborine – and a permanent population of about 5000 scattered across the plateau.

Despite its proximity to Brisbane and the Gold Coast, it remains a wooded retreat locked in it own time zone where the newsagent shuts at 2 pm on a Saturday – that Lotto ticket I tried to buy probably wouldn’t have won anyway – and a place where could safely presume that everyone knows everyone else’s business or knows someone who does.

It’s cool in summer and considerably cooler in winter when the smell of wood fires drifts along its lane ways, and if the Polish Place’s vodka doesn’t warm you, there is a distillery – a legal one – on the mountain which sells a wide selection of liqueurs and vodkas, among them the best limoncella you will find outside of Italy.

Perched 550 metres above the coast, Mt Tamborine retains an undeniable charm while offering a comforting retreat from the madding crowds.