HILLS ARE ALIVE
THE SUNSHINE COAST HINTERLAND IS FULL OF SCENIC WINDING ROADS, BESPOKE BUSINESSES AND NATURAL WATERHOLES, MAKING IT THE IDEAL DESTINATION FOR A GETAWAY. FROM PALMWOODS TO KENILWORTH, HERE IS YOUR GUIDE.
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.