Tamborine Mountain was inhabited by Aborigines for tens of thousands of years and, at the time of early European settlement, lay in the territory of the Wangerriburras. The origin of the name Tamborine comes from the Anglicised version of the Aboriginal word ‘Jambreen’ from the Yugambeh language. The spelling also appears on early records as Tchambreem and even Goombireen, which means ‘wild lime’ and refers to the finger lime trees growing on the mountain.
Until it was opened for selection in 1878 it was covered with a diverse range of forest types. In that year the first white settler, John O’Callaghan selected a parcel of land on the mountain. Much clearing for agriculture took place, though efforts were made to protect the natural values of the area, with Witches Falls National Park (now part of the Tamborine National Park) being declared in 1908, the first in Queensland. The Tamborine National Park is made up of 12 separate sections of land, mainly remnant rainforest, on the plateau and surrounding foothills. A tourist road to the mountain was opened in 1924.