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It seems as if the more technology invades our lives, the more we crave natural experiences. Hiking is probably the best way to slow down, immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the simple life.
Hiking ticks all the boxes because it’s free, healthy and accessible to people of all ages and all fitness levels. We’ll cover a variety of hikes to appeal to everyone from families with young children looking for a short hike to adventure seekers who want to want to sleep under the stars.
If you’re looking for a camping and hiking adventure you can follow the Cooloola Great Walk all the way from Rainbow Beach to Noosa. 102 kilometres of walking tracks will take you through rainforest, tall eucalypt forest, dry coastal woodlands, sand dunes and heath plains with stunning coastal views.
This walk is only suitable for experienced hikers with a topographic map and takes five days to complete.
This is an easier option which takes three to five days to complete and covers 48 kilometres one way, with overnight stays in campsites which need to be booked in advance. The trail starts at Rainbow Beach and finishes at Elanda Point on the shore of Lake Cootharaba with campsites including Wandi Waterhole, where you can swim, and tranquil Harry’s Hut on the Noosa River.
Even amateur birdwatchers can enjoy the variety of birdlife at Tin Can Bay on the Cooloola Coast and, with over 140 species sighted here, experienced birdwatchers will not be disappointed either. The bird walk covers four kilometres along Tin Can Bay's foreshore.
This walk is easily accessible to people in wheelchairs or parents with strollers. If you want to see wading birds, the best time is usually one hour before or after the high tide.
Tin Can Bay is also home to a unique collection of native wildflowers. One of the best times to see the wildflowers is in late winter or spring but there are different flowers in bloom year round. This is another easy walk which is suitable for children, with several designated picnic and seating areas, playground equipment and even a skateboard park.
This stroller and wheelchair friendly walk is about four kilometres south of Kenilworth along the Maleny-Kenilworth Rd. The 1.4-kilometre walk is sealed and includes some sections of boardwalk making it wheelchair friendly. Prepare to feel humbled by the ancient rainforest and giant fig trees.
Two of several rainforest walks in the Amamoor State Forest, the Playtpus and Amama Walks start in the Day Use Area. The 300-metre Playtpus Walk leads to a platypus viewing platform on the banks of Amamoor Creek. You’ll need to be there at dawn or in the very early morning for your best chance to spot a shy platypus. Keep an eye out for Azure Kingfishers too.
The 1.5-kilometre Amama Walk through lush rainforest is a good birding spot. Look out for Eastern Yellow Robin and Grey Fantail in the picnic area and White-browed Scrubwren, Golden Whistler and Varied Triller along the forest edges, or even a Crested Shriketit foraging for insects in the bark on the Eucalypt trees. Listen out for the aptly named Eastern Whipbird and the cooing of Emerald Doves.
Even if you can’t do the Cooloola Great Walk or the Cooloola Wilderness Trail, then you can still sample the scenery and experience by walking to Lake Poona. It’s a short drive from Rainbow Beach and a beautiful four-kilometre walk through lush rainforest. Leave time to swim in the lake if it’s hot and you want to cool off.
Carlo Sand Blow is a unique sand dune close to Rainbow Beach with views over the towering coloured sands of Rainbow Beach and the coast, all the way from Double Island Point to Inskip Peninsula and the southern tip of Fraser Island.
This is an easy 600-metre nature walk from Cooloola Drive and a popular place to watch or photograph the sunset or sunrise.
At the Charlie Moreland camping and day-use area, you can do some birdwatching on the Little Yabba or Piccabeen Circuits or hike up Mount Allan to the firetower for 360° views of the Mary Valley area. This is a tough eight-kilometre hike which takes about four hours so bring plenty of water and food with you.
The Mudlo Gap is a good destination for a scenic drive. There are picnic tables beside Scrubby Creek and a short pretty walk along the Scrubby Creek walking track, through dry rainforest, passing giant figs and babbling creeks.
For amazing views follow the steep Pearsons track. Its hard going up the steps but the view from the lookout at the top makes this hike worth the effort. You get bonus points if you spot one of the resident Whiptail Wallabies or Wonga Pigeons.