A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
Sunshine Coasters head into the great outdoors whenever they can. The region is home to some of Australia’s best coastal strolls, hinterland hikes and mountain climbs, as well as hidden-gem spots that are favourites on weekends.
HINTERLAND GREAT WALK
The 58km Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk is a four-day trek through warm subtropical rainforest, tall open eucalypt forest and majestic waterfalls in secluded areas of the Blackall Range with bush campsites. Day visitors can access short, half-day and full-day walks within the route.
MT NGUNGUN SUMMIT
The Glass House Mountains are a must-visit item and the popular summit walk up Mt Ngungun provides spectacular close-up views of other nearby peaks. The 360-degree views are worth the effort, with plenty of wildlife to see on your way to the top. If you go for sunset, leave plenty of daylight time to get back down.
NOOSA NATIONAL PARK
Idyllic Noosa National Park is among Australia’s most frequently visited national parks and one of the easiest to access by foot. No wonder it’s a favourite with bushwalkers, nature lovers, picnickers and surfers, with a variety of tracks for all fitness levels. Take on the full 10.8km Coastal Track or choose from smaller walks: the 1km Palm Grove Circuit, the 3.4km Noosa Hill Track or 6.9km Tanglewood Track to reach the high bluff known as Hell’s Gates – with spectacular photo opportunities. Keep an eye on the ocean for dolphins, turtles, whales (during migration season) and overhead for osprey as you stroll the rocky coastline with sheltered coves. If you plan on surfing, head to First Point for a long, peeling wave.
A social media favourite, Mt Coolum attracts walkers and fitness fanatics of all ages. Take the 1.5km return walk to the summit for 360-degree views of the coastal area including Point Cartwright to the east, Glass House Mountains to the south, Blackall Range to the west and Noosa Heads to the north.
Kondalilla Falls (an Aboriginal word meaning “rushing waters”) is where Skene Creek drops 90m into a rainforest valley. From the extensive picnic area, take the easy 2.4km Picnic Creek Circuit or the moderate 3.2km Rock Pools Walk. Swimming is safe in the cool and calm rock pools at the top and bottom of the falls. There are great views of the rainforest valley from the natural rock pools at the top. If you continue down to the base of the falls, stop at the bridge and peer into the clear water for a chance to spot eels and other wildlife.
MARY CAIRNCROSS SCENIC RESERVE
Considered a ‘living museum’, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve in Maleny starts with one of the most impressive views of the Glass House Mountains at its entrance. It continues to the Rainforest Discovery Centre and over boardwalks and down paths into 55ha subtropical rainforest. With the howling of a green catbird or the reverberating canopy call of the wompoo fruit dove as a background soundtrack, visitors can marvel at strangler figs and quietly observe red-legged pademelon marsupials.