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Sunshine Coast Hinterland National Parks

17 May 2017

With lush green rainforest, watefalls, rock pools to swim in, and national parks full of wildlife, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is a nature lovers’ paradise. 

Forest bathing. It's a thing. The practice originated in Japan where it is called "shinrin-yoku" and is embraced by those seeking to de-stress by connecting with the naturally rejuvinating power of nature. The Sunshine Coast Hinterland has a myriad of places for 'forest bathing' - and the bushland areas are home to a multitude of wildlife with plenty of scenic spots to relax and enjoy a picnic. 

Glass House Mountains National Park

The Glass House Mountains were named by Captain Cook as he mapped the Queensland coast in 1770. The “Glass Houses” are distinctive volcanic plugs that rise abruptly from the surrounding countryside. These 20 million year-old monoliths are part of the Aboriginal ‘songlines’, navigational landmarks once used by Aborigines to find their way, and are a prominent feature of local Aboriginal legend. Let the awe-inspiring landscape wash over you as you take a leisurely drive through the Glass House Mountains National Park, stopping at picturesque lookouts along the way, or get the blood pumping with some hiking, rock climbing or abseiling. Make some time to visit the Glass House Mountains lookout where you'll enjoy panoramic views of the mountains as they tower over a scenic patchwork of national parks, plantations and cultivated farmland.

Glass House Mountains Visitors Centre
Corner Reed St and Bruce Parade, Glasshouse Mountains
Open: 9 am to 4 pm seven days
Closed: Christmas and Good Friday
T: +61 07 5458 8848
F: +61 07 5438 7296 
Free Call: +61 1300 847 481

Mount Ngungun. Glass House Mountains National Park.
Mount Ngungun. Glass House Mountains National Park.

Kondalilla National Park

A refuge for many species of native animals and plants, Kondalilla National Park is a popular place for birdwatchers and nature photographers as well as bushwalkers. With a magnificent waterfall, rock pools and freshwater creeks - is it any wonder the park gets its name from an Aboriginal word meaning 'rushing waters'. Five rare and threatened frog species - as well as the bopple nut, a rare macadamia species - can be found in the park. There is a wonderful day-use area which is ideal for picnics and can be reached on an easy 1.7 kilometre circuit track. For more of a challenge, take on the 4.6 kilometre Kondalilla Falls circuit or a section of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk.

Kondalilla National Park
Kondalilla Falls Road
4 kilometres north of Montville
Montville, 4560
Free Call: +61 13 7468

Kondalilla Falls National Park (image courtesy of NPSR).
Kondalilla Falls National Park (image courtesy of NPSR).

Conondale National Park

Conondale National Park forms the heart of an extensive area of unspoilt mountain scenery in the Conondale Range. With magnificent forests, deep gorges and spectacular views, this park and the adjacent State forest offer scenic drives, picnic areas and a choice of four grassy camp sites near rainforests and mountain streams. Walks range from a short stroll beside crystal clear streams, to challenging hikes including to Mount Allan fire tower or along the four-day 56 kilometre Conondale Range Great Walk. It is a picturesque and ecologically important area, protecting the habitats of many rare and threatened animals, including several species of frogs and the seldom-seen yellow-bellied glider. Access is via gravel roads suitable for conventional vehicles with care. In wet weather, roads may be closed. The scenic drive starting on Booloumba Creek Road has several creek crossings that are only accessible by high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles. Allow at least 90 minutes for the scenic drive and extra time for picnics and bushwalks. Birdwatchers will enjoy Little Yabba Creek, while mountain bike and horse riders can explore the park and forest along vehicle tracks.

Conondale National Park Conondale, 4552
Free Call: +61 13 74 68

Booloumba Falls - Conondale National Park.
Booloumba Falls - Conondale National Park.

Mapleton Falls National Park

Mapleton Falls National Park marks the point just west of Mapleton where Pencil Creek cascades 120 metres over an escarpment. This small, day-use-only park shelters many bird species, including the peregrine falcon, eastern whipbird and wompoo fruit-dove. From the carpark, enjoy a short walk to Mapleton Falls lookout (wheelchair access to toilet and lookout). The panoramic view takes in the waterfall, rainforest valley and Obi Obi Valley. Look for peregrine falcons soaring above - in early spring they roost on the edges of the falls. From the open, grassy picnic area, the Wompoo circuit winds through eucalypts and rainforest. Listen for the fruit-dove’s booming calls, 'wallock-a-woo' and 'book-a-roo'. Near the causeway pool, listen for frogs and look for distinctive hexagonal volcanic rocks.

Mapleton Falls National Park
Mapleton, 4560
T: +61 13 0013 0372
Free Call: +61 13 7468

Mapleton Falls National ParkMapleton Falls National Park

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

The enchanting Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is located a few minutes from Maleny. The Reserve features remnants of the ancient forests that once covered the Blackall Range and is a living natural museum of diverse plant and animal life. For a gold coin donation you can stroll the boardwalk and bush track through the sub-tropical rainforest be delighted with the tranquillity and beauty of this special place. This 55 hectare rainforest overlooks the Glass House Mountains and is home to the mountain crayfish, great barred frog, marbled frogmouth and the red-necked pademelon. TIP: If you'd like to see the Pademelons, head along at dusk as this is when they come out to feed. 

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
41 Mountain View Road Maleny, 4552
T: + 61 07 5429 6122
Opening hours: Open during daylight hours.
The Natural History Education Centre is open every day except Christmas Day.
09:00 to 17:00 September to May.
10:00 to 16:00 June to August. 

Mary Cairncross Scenic Resort and rainforest walk.
Mary Cairncross Scenic Resort and rainforest walk.

Mooloolah River National Park

This park on the banks of the Mooloolah River, protects one of the few remaining coastal rainforest areas in this region. Also known as Jowarra, this is an important home for wildlife, including the wompoo fruit-dove, eastern yellow robin and the vulnerable Richmond birdwing butterfly. The river is home to platypus, which may be seen at dawn and dusk. Two short, easy walks lead from the rest area: the Mooloolah River circuit and the Melaleuca walk. The tracks are not sealed but in dry weather they are wheelchair accessible. Use insect repellent to deter mosquitoes and leeches.

Mooloolah River National Park
Jowarra section Beerwah, 4519
T: +61 13 0013 0372
Free Call: +61 13 7468

Take a guided tour

If you're short on time, don't feel like driving, or you'd like some company on your forest ramblings, consider joining a guided tour. Experientia Sunshine Coast offers a range of tours from the Glass House Mountains to the sun-kissed beaches of the Gympie region. Experientia has a range of experiences including the "three waterfalls in one day" tour that includes a swim in the Kondalilla Park rock pools. Experientia will pick you up at your accommodation and drop you back afterwards.

Tropical Treks Guided Bushwalks and Birdwatching are specialists in small group, personalised guided bush walks and birdwatching and wildlife tours  and offer half-day and full day adventures. Spoil yourself with Tropical Treks and Montville’s Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat three-day Luxe Trekking package that includes a full day guided walk in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, two nights’ accommodation in a rainforest pavilion, gourmet local-produce breakfasts, a dinner in Montville and a BBQ dinner at Narrows.


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