Sunshine Coast Hinterland visitor guide

29 Oct 2017

If you seek a special kind of holiday, one that connects you deeply with the naturally rejuvenating power of nature, you will find pure calm and complete contentment awaiting you in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Here, in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast, you can choose your own pace, with the time and space you truly desire.  As you stroll the quaint laneways of the shopping village of Montville, browsing fashion boutiques and galleries, or hike through the glowing jade green forests of Maleny to Mapleton and across the Mary Valley to the Conondale Ranges, you will feel your body and soul infused with fresh energy.

Venture across the Blackall Range to arty Maleny, where you can nurture your whole being with every kind of healing therapy, chill out in organic cafés, and hit the arts trail to discover an eclectic variety of art galleries and home studios, before continuing into the open country spaces of Witta or Kenilworth. Visit the mysterious Glass House Mountains and learn about the ancient Aboriginal legend of Mount Beerwah, Mount Tibrogargan and Mount Coonowrin, visit Ewen Maddock Dam recreation area in the Mooloolah Valley or stop into the historic Landsborough Museum and learn about the region’s early pioneers.

Venture off the Range and into Woombye, the Sunshine Coast’s first major settlement near Nambour’s Big Pineapple, now the site of a thriving farmers’ market and annual music festival. Or splash out with a stunning Asian meal at the renowned Spirit House Restaurant, in Yandina. When the urge for serenity and introspection arises, visit the Chenrezig Institute for Buddhist Studies, at Eudlo, a little piece of Tibet tucked away inside the naturally refreshing Sunshine Coast rainforest.

Spirit House, Yandina.
Spirit House, Yandina.

Comfort, character and class are the words that best define the wide variety of Sunshine Coast Hinterland accommodation. You won’t find any high-rise hotels here — just beautifully appointed, cosy B&Bs and boutique hotels, where you can snuggle up in front of an open fire in winter, falling asleep to the sound of silence and waking to birdsong.

Fully immerse yourself in your new environment with a farmstay holiday or pamper body and soul with a nature-based resort stay or health retreat holiday.

Narrows Escape, Montville.
Narrows Escape, Montville.

Things to do

Stretch your limbs with an invigorating early morning forest walk through the remnant rainforest of Maleny’s Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, making sure you visit the nearby lookouts with breathtaking views of the Glass House Mountains. Or, tackle the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk, 58 kilometres of trails traversing Maleny, Kondalilla National Park and Mapleton Falls National Park.

Kondalilla National Park.
Kondalilla National Park.

Sip a cold beer at the Pub at Aussie World and treat the kids to the all-day action of the adjacent Aussie World theme park, marvel at the wildlife wonderland of Australia Zoo, take a spin at the Big Kart Track, visit the famous Ginger Factory and see first-hand where milk comes from at Maleny Dairies. Indulge in a little retail therapy at local markets or step back in time on Nambour's vintage trail and pick up some retro treasures. 

Linger over a leisurely lunch at a mountaintop restaurant with sensational views of the coast, followed by an afternoon art gallery trail or a skin-tingling dip in a crystal clear hinterland waterhole. To really experience this divine landscape, sample fresh organic produce at local farmers’ markets, indulge in a spa treatment or take a leisurely drive around the countryside, stopping for sustenance at the Kenilworth Dairies or Maleny Cheese factories.


The MalenyWood Expo, held in May, brings an earthy collection of woodworkers together to promote sustainable timber production, with the crisp smell of freshly-hewn sustainable timber permeating the air. Green thumbs won’t want to miss the Queensland Garden Expo, held in Nambour in July, attracting around 30,000 garden lovers or you could discover the Ginger Factory in bloom and ginger inspired food in abundance at the Ginger Flower and Food Festival held every January.

The Big Pineapple Music Festival held in May features a stellar lineup of national and international entertainment luminaries. Recent acts have included John Butler Trio, The Jezabels, Birds of Tokyo, Grinspoon and Spiderbait. This event sells out every year so be sure to book your accommodation and tickets as soon as they drop - and don't forget to pack your most outrageous pineapple-themed outfit for the big day. 

The Velothon Sunshine Coast held in July of each year, sees riders take on the epic climbs and challenging descents of the Hinterland's mountainous terrain. Join a three-day or one-day circuit, or simply position yourelf along the route to see the world-class cycling in action. 

If you prefer cheese and wine to chocolate eggs, then the Sunshine Coast is the place to be on Easter Saturday. The region will play host to the Kenilworth Cheese, Wine & Food Fest - a free event which kicks off with a cheese rolling competition, Cheester Egg Hunt for children aged four to seven years and gourmet cooking demonstrations showcasing produce from the Mary Valley.

Ukelele fans should bookmark 19 - 22 April 2018 for the Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival in Kenilworth. This charming village will come to life with the sounds of ukulele playing and workshops on singing, hula dancing and drumming.

Velothon Sunshine Coast.
Velothon Sunshine Coast.

Two of the newer hinterland events that have already built up a dedicated following are the Real Food Festival, at Maleny Showgrounds in September, and the Arts Connect Inc. Open Studios event. The Real Food Festival will lure you with paddock-to-plate local produce transformed into gourmet meals by celebrity chefs, while the Open Studios event will satiate your soul’s appetite for aesthetic beauty as you take a peak into the home studios of the Hinterland’s renowned artists.

Getting around

With no traffic lights or traffic jams, and rainforest fringed roads opening out into undulating country landscapes, driving around the hinterland is a stress-free and relaxing experience. The scenic drive across the Blackall Range from Maleny to Mapleton is one of Australia’s most picturesque. Get your copy of the Maleny Trail map here. Thanks to Trip Tick Tourism for the use of this map.

If you prefer public transport, the train line meanders through some of the lower lying hinterland villages, such as Landsborough, Palmwoods, Woombye and Nambour, and there’s a hinterland bus service for the hilly areas like Maleny, Montville and Mapleton. Brisbane International Airport is just over an hour’s drive, and the Sunshine Coast Airport is only 45 minutes away.

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