When you live in the Sunshine State, you sometimes want something different from the ocean. It’s rare for me, but it happens. And the Sunshine Coast Hinterland makes an excellent countryside getaway from Brisbane. If you feel like seeing a different facet of Queensland, I have listed below some stops I like in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland to inspire your next getaway. Food, nature walks, villages and luxury accommodation could be a quick summary of my favourite things to do in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
When I miss the small villages or when I want to escape the heat, I like going to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
It’s refreshing during summer, and it gives a kind of winter taste during the colder days.
The beautiful trip starts once we leave the motorway behind. The Sunshine Coast Hinterland offers one of the most scenic drives in the Brisbane region. It goes along the funny-looking Glasshouse Mountains, a great stop to stretch your legs. As you go up towards Montville, the views of the coast far away and of the surrounding countryside are stunning.
My selection of things to do in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland:
Montville is the main town in the area. As you go down the main road, you can find many interesting shops, art galleries, and antiques.
I’m not a fan of shopping at all, but in Montville, it’s different.
It is a unique mix of things you probably won’t find anywhere else. I think the most surprising and interesting one is the clock shop. Maybe it’s because there’s a chocolate shop just next to it. I also learnt a lot chatting with the passionate sellers at the Opal Cutter shop.
Cafes and restaurants follow the same trend. They’re sprinkled all around the town and offer different atmospheres and experiences. We like the Poets Cafe for its view and old style.
Our pick for dinner is a French restaurant in Flaxton. French restaurants in Australia are always fancy and expensive. As a French expat, I often have the dilemma to spend that much for the food we used to have a lot cheaper at home. The Relais Bressan is an exception. The decor and the service are simple, prices are affordable… And the most important part: the food is authentic, original and well-prepared. Although the restaurant itself doesn’t offer a nice view, you can go across the road to enjoy a panorama of the beautiful countryside.
Taste cheese in Maleny
I am French, so I am hard to please in regards to cheese. This boutique cheese factory appeared like a must-do in the region to try local products. However, I would honestly not recommend travelling there just for it – it’s not that incredible. But I was happy to try their buffalo brie, fetta and quark. They also make delicious yoghurt. And I know I will sound like a French cliche, but I assume my origins! -, they still haven’t convinced me to eat cheddar.
They have products you can try before buying, and also a cafe where to sit and enjoy a break. Unfortunately, despite the look from the outside, the experience is only a shop/cafe and not a factory. I was disappointed not to be able to learn more about cheese making.
Go on a walk in the rainforest to chase waterfalls and swim in rockpools
The Sunshine Coast Hinterland will also seduce nature lovers.
I’ve hiked the Kondalilla Falls Circuit many times, and it’s always a pleasure. It’s an easy hike (5km) – with a lot of stairs – that take you through the forest to some great waterfalls, with an 80m drop! I like starting the hike with a barbeque surrounded by kookaburras.
If you’ve done the Kondallila Falls already and want a longer hike, try the Gheerulla Falls Walk (see map here) in Mapleton National Park. I haven’t done that hike yet. Mapleton Falls will be on your way.
Gardner’s Falls are nearby as well, and very reputed for a dip. They’re known to be one of the best rockpools near Brisbane, so they get crowded during summer. If you want to escape the crowd, my favourite rockpools are further north, in Conondale National Park.
If you’re staying closer to the Sunshine Coast, you will enjoy the short walk to Buderim Falls.
And if you want an easy walk, you will love the rainforest walk at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.
Have fun in the Glasshouse Mountains
The Glasshouse Mountains are a unique sight. It’s a very popular destination in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. There are so many things to do there if you’re into hiking that you could focus your entire day or weekend there. The Glasshouse Mountains activities that I mention below are in orange on my Sunshine Coast Hinterland map at the end of the post.
There are a couple of great lookouts to admire this series of remarkable volcano plugs with their odd shapes. The Wild Horses lookout is my favourite, especially to watch the sunset on the way back to Brisbane. Closer to the mountains, the Glasshouse Mountain Lookout offers beautiful views too with interesting signs about the area. However, you can skip the walk there. There’s a cafe nearby if you want to enjoy the scenery for a bit longer.
If you are keen to make more efforts, the Ngungun summit hike is steep but easily accessible, and the view up there is rewarding. Don’t forget your torch if you plan to watch the sunset from the summit. If you’re up for something more adventurous, check out the lesser-known Yul-yan-man track and the Tibberoowuccum summit hike.
The Aboriginal traditional owners (the Jinibara people and the Kabi Kabi people) request that visitors don’t climb Mount Beerwah and Mount Tibrogargan out of respect for the mountains’ sacred values. It’s not forbidden and your decision to respect the wish of the Aboriginal people, like for Mount Warning or, once upon a time, Uluru for example.
Unfortunately, we often hear about rescues happening in the area, and some have tragic endings. Mount Tibrogargan and Mount Beerwah were closed for a long time when I arrived in Queensland to protect people, as the warning signs would not stop them from climbing. If you choose to give it a go, do your homework to prepare for your climb. Be aware that the popular Mount Tibrogargan is very challenging on the way down, and one loose rock can lead to a painful fall. One spot on the hike earned the nickname “Chicken Rock” as many hikers would get scared in front of the steep climb and often turn around. If you’re scared of heights, forget it.
Go to a local market
Visiting a market in the countryside is a great way to taste fresh products and support the local economy. The Sunshine Coast Hinterland map below features a few you can choose from (the markets are in purple). Make sure you check when they are happening in the following list though (click on the links as days may have changed!).
But it’s not only about food. The most famous market in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Eumundi Markets near Noosa, is the biggest art and craft market in Australia. It’s on twice a week, Saturdays and Wednesdays. But be prepared to be with a crowd.
These other markets in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are less popular and will be less crowded:
- Hinterland Harvest Market, every Saturday
- Yandina Market, every Saturday
- Maleny Market, every Sunday
- Crystal Waters Market, 1st Saturday of each month (but the wood-fired sourdough bakery is open every Saturday!)
- Montville Market, 2nd Saturday of each month
- Witta Market, 3rd Saturday of each month
If these aren’t enough, there are many more great markets on the Sunshine Coast that you could visit.
Sunshine Coast Hinterland Accommodation
Our favourite Sunshine Coast Hinterland accommodation is a treehouse at Kondalilla Falls Eco-Resort*. It’s one of the best romantic getaways in Brisbane for nature lovers. I love eco-holidays. It feels good to enjoy luxury in a national park when the resort makes efforts to minimise your negative impacts. It’s the only way I can relax in a spa without feeling too guilty!
If you’re looking for luxury accommodation with great views (and a spa if possible!) but Kondalilla Falls Eco-Resort* isn’t available, here are other options to consider:
- Blue Summit Cottages* in Maleny
- Spicers Tamarind Retreat* in Maleny
- King Ludwigs Cottage* in Maleny
- Lillypilly’s Deluxe Cottage* in Maleny
- Maleny Luxury Cottages*
- Maleny Tropical Retreat*
- Clouds of Montville Eco Resort*
- Altitude On Montville*
- Highwood Park B&B Guest Lodge* in Bald Knob
If you’re travelling on a budget, good news: there are other options than luxury accommodation with a spa in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
And if like us you also like going camping, you won’t even have to pay a cent. For free camping in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, we stay at the Little Yabba Picnic Area. The drive in the countryside to reach the campground was lovely. The campground was calm with plenty of space.
What are your favourite things to do in the Sunshine Coast hinterland? Or your favourite Sunshine Coast Hinterland accommodation? Share your experience in the comments below!
Sunshine Coast Hinterland map
This Sunshine Coast Hinterland map features my selection of Sunshine Coast Hinterland activities mentioned in this article. I also added the Big Pineapple as they are planning great development that could be worth checking out as you organise your trip.
It takes about 1.5 hours to drive to Montville from Brisbane. If you are already on the Sunshine Coast, the Hinterland is about half an hour away from Mooloolaba.
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