Life & Style Weekend - - BIG READ - WORDS: JEN­NIFER SWAINE

There is a side to the Sun­shine Coast that so many of us love. We are left pinch­ing our­selves that in a short drive, we can leave be­hind the pris­tine beaches and fully im­merse our­selves in the best Mother Na­ture has to of­fer. The Sun­shine Coast hin­ter­land wel­comes vis­i­tors into an­other world where the views and scenery reach as far as the eye can see, gor­geous lit­tle towns of­fer an eclec­tic mix of shops and din­ing choices, and funky, retro bars, brew­eries and pubs cater to all tastes. If you are new to the Sun­shine Coast, a vis­i­tor seek­ing a change of scenery or a lo­cal who hasn’t checked out the hin­ter­land in a while, it’s well worth a visit and I prom­ise you won’t be dis­ap­pointed. De­pend­ing on which way you want to ap­proach it, you can al­ways start or fin­ish your day in Palm­woods at Rick’s Garage and Whisky Bar. Ev­ery­thing on the menu there is de­li­cious and it’s def­i­nitely a cool place to visit. It’s open from 10 am un­til 10pm, so you can en­joy a late break­fast or a late din­ner. Once you are done in Palm­woods, it’s a 12-minute drive up the hill to Montville. Park the car and be pre­pared to spend a good cou­ple of hours check­ing out the great ar­ray of stores. A per­sonal favourite is Fudgy­boom­bahs, which makes some of the most de­li­cious fudges you will taste. Just up the street is Choco­late Coun­try which stocks de­lec­ta­ble hand­made choco­lates. For those want­ing to learn how it’s done, the busi­ness has a choco­late school where par­tic­i­pants can make their own cre­ations. You can stay in town for lunch or, if after some­thing spe­cial, the Long Apron, which is listed in Aus­tralia’s top-100 restau­rants, is two min­utes’ drive away. If you fancy do­ing some­thing more en­er­getic, check out Ba­roon Pocket Dam or the pic­turesque Kon­dalilla Falls. Both are great for a pic­nic. Head across the top of the Black­all Range and on to Maleny. This is a town that has un­der­gone a mas­sive trans­for­ma­tion in re­cent years. It’s a beau­ti­ful, gen­tri­fied coun­try town that has em­braced its roots and gives a taste of the coun­try but with a mod­ernised, hip­ster feel to it. Maleny has Brouhaha Brew­ery, an old­fash­ioned dairy, and an eclec­tic mix of be­spoke stores and cof­fee shops that will draw you in. Be sure to check out the breath­tak­ing views from Mary Cairn­cross Scenic Re­serve and the beauty of Gardners Falls. From Maleny, take the back­roads through to Ke­nil­worth. Although only 40 min­utes from Mooloolaba, you are now very deep in beau­ti­ful coun­try­side that is sim­ply breath­tak­ing. Rolling hills are pep­pered with cows and horses and there are stun­ning views from ev­ery an­gle. Ke­nil­worth has its share of cafes and shops, and the bak­ery has be­come pop­u­lar for its “cof­fee in a dough­nut” and the 1kg dough­nut. For those want­ing to taste the re­gion’s best pro­duce, you can’t go past Ke­nil­worth Coun­try Foods for a great va­ri­ety of cheeses, olives and yo­ghurts. Check out the Fig Tree Walk which is a 1.1km re­turn walk along a sealed board­walk that is wheel­chair-friendly and is a top spot to share a pic­nic. Or, if you are feel­ing more en­er­getic, ex­plore the Amamoor State For­est and take in the Platy­pus Walk where you might even spot its name­sake swim­ming in the crys­tal­clear wa­ters be­low the board­walk. Head 20 min­utes north of Ke­nil­worth to find Kan­danga. The Kan­danga Kitchen is a must for any­one for cof­fee and cake or lunch. The flavours of the lo­cally-sourced and pre­pared items are out of this world – and you are lit­er­ally sit­ting in the coun­try­side, tak­ing it all in. From Kan­danga, start to me­an­der back to the Coast, via the coun­try back­roads, stop­ping in at Eu­mundi or Yan­d­ina for a late-af­ter­noon cof­fee or cleans­ing ale. For those feel­ing a lit­tle braver, re­trace some of your route and take the Obi Obi Road to the top of Maple­ton. But be warned: it’s very steep and not suit­able for any­one tow­ing any­thing. The hin­ter­land is full of stun­ning sur­prises. There’s breath­tak­ing views, quaint lit­tle towns and amaz­ing cafes and restau­rants us­ing lo­cally-sourced pro­duce. It is the most pleas­ant way to spend a lazy Sun­day and, best of all, you are only ever 40 min­utes away from the heart of the Coast.

SOAK IT UP: (Main im­age) The beau­ti­ful Kon­dalilla Falls, Montville;(bot­tom right) Ke­nil­worth Bak­ery; and (top right) Rick’s Garage.

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