There's definitely something about the Mary Valley. Discover magnificent forests, unspoiled waterways, music, food and cultural festivals and quaint heritage towns.
Only two hours from Brisbane and just under an hour from Sunshine Coast Airport, you’ll discover lush green pastures, placid waterways and an abundance of country hospitality in the Mary Valley. Here are 11 ways you can experience the delights of this picturesque region.
The Mary Valley Scenic Drive is a great introduction to this wonderful region, rewarding drivers with a patchwork landscape of pineapple plantations, grazing cattle, macadamia farms, rainforests and endless rolling hills. Discover the quaint heritage towns of Imbil, Kandanga and Amamoor, and leave plenty of time for a picnic at one of the many scenic outlooks and riverside picnic spots you'll find along the way.
You’ll find the charming Fig Tree walk 6.5 km south of Kenilworth on the Kenilworth–Maleny Road. This easy 1.1 km return wheelchair-friendly walk explores the riverine rainforest near the junction of Little Yabba Creek and the Mary River. A sealed boardwalk track provides wheelchair access and walk highlights include a magnificent Moreton Bay Fig. Walk quietly and you may hear a Wompoo pigeon, see skinks basking in the sunshine, and glimpse birds foraging in the forest’s undergrowth. Bring a picnic, relax and reconnect with nature on the shores of Yabba Creek after your walk. On weekends you can enjoy a cuppa from the Bellbird Café kiosk located conveniently across the road in the camping area.
Take a stroll in the quiet forest of Fig Tree Walk and then cool off with a refreshing dip in the river.
The Dagun Growers Markets are held every Saturday afternoon from 3 pm at the Dagun Heritage Railway Station. Spend some time browsing through the various stalls laden with locally grown and organic produce fresh from the farm gate, freshly baked goodies and handmade creations. There is a broad range of local, fresh-picked and spray-free seasonal fruit and vegetables all sourced from within a 70 km radius, so leave a little room in that picnic basket for some local goodies. From 6 pm enjoy live music under the stars, delicious fare from the pizza oven and plenty of good wine at the Choo Choo Bar.
Locally grown, organic produce.
Amamoor State Forest is known as a birdlover's paradise, with more than 120 bird species calling this forest home. Amamoor Creek Road will take you on an enjoyable journey through the forested valley and give you the chance to stretch your legs on one of the many forest walking trails. The 300 m Platypus Walk is a must-do. Stroll to the viewing platform overlooking Amamoor Creek, and if you're lucky, you may just see one of these elusive monotremes in the pristine waters below. The Rainforest Walk from Cedar Grove camping area is also worth a look. Enjoy a picturesque, 30 minute wander through the sub-tropical rainforest beneath a canopy of large red cedars, figs and piccabeen palm groves. Cool off in the large swimming hole at the end and marvel at the majestic forest oaks lining the banks of this tranquil creek.
Shady walks under tall trees in Amamoor State Forest.
The historic Timber Cutters' Walk in Imbil weaves between age-old jacaranda trees right down to Yabba Creek. Always stunning, it looks particularly spectacular in spring when the trees flower to create a canopy of purple.
Take a jacaranda meander down the Timber Cutter's Walk to the river's edge.
Rich in heritage, the Mary Valley is home to a number of country pubs where you can enjoy a hearty meal and true country hospitality. The Kenilworth Hotel has an abundance of country character and charm, and offers a friendly relaxed atmosphere to enjoy a drink or a meal. All meals are prepared using the freshest produce from local suppliers and there’s a children’s menu for the little ones. Tip: If you’ve worked up an appetite on your wanderings, the Kenilworth Big Bull Stack will hit the spot! Also worth a look is the Railway Hotel in Imbil. Built in 1914, this historic watering hole is a favourite with locals and famous for its roast dinners and very generous serves.
Historic charm and fabulous food at the Kenilworth Hotel.
Mary Valley country offers kayakers everything from gentle paddles to full weekend retreats. There are many tributaries to explore so set a slow pace and enjoy discovering the wildlife that make their home around this scenic waterway. If you’re an early riser, you may see platypus, kangaroos and wallabies and during the day you’ll see the brightly coloured Azure Kingfisher diving into the waters after fish.
Bring your own kayak, or Ride On Mary will take you on a kayak or canoe tour to the most suitable drop-in point and pick you up at the end of your river journey.
Misty, magic mornings on Yabba Creek.
One of the best ways to experience the gastronomic delights of this region's local produce is at Kenilworth Country Foods. This outlet boasts a mouth-watering range of award winning cheeses, including the sharp flavoured Red Malling Vintage - made in the factory using the same recipe since the 1920s. These cheesemakers aren’t afraid to mix up their recipes using locally-sourced produce. Treat yourself to some sweet chilli and coriander cheese, or delicious fetta mixed with sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and natural garlic - your picnic basket will thank you. Make sure you leave room for dessert, the Bavarian chocolate mousse and passionfruit panna cotta will definitely hit your sweet spot!
Condiments full of flavour and award winning cheese, now that's a cheese platter!
Borumba Dam offers over 480 hectares of waterways to explore making it a paradise for those who love swimming, fishing kayaking and waterskiing. Early morning kayakers will be rewarded with an abudance of birdlife with upper reaches of the dam offering many inlets to discover. The dam is host to a number of annual fishing events so fish stocks are full all year round to encourage everyone from families to keen sporting anglers to enjoy the beautiful surrounds as they toss in a line and wait in anticipation for that exciting first bite. If you have a boat, bring it along for waterskiing on the dam's clear water, or just take it easy with a picnic on the shore and the occasional dip.
Swim, waterski or kayak the calm waters of Borumba Dam.
Mary Valley Country is one of the best horse riding locations in south east Queensland, offering horse riders a network of trails and tracks to explore the forests and national parks. BYO steed and ride through vast areas of natural eucalypt, rainforest and plantation pine to mountain tops with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and rich farmland. If you don’t have a horse, there are a number of operators catering for both beginners and experienced riders.
Saddle club adventures in the Mary Valley.
Head to the Kenilworth Cheese, Food and Wine Festival at Easter for a fantastic foodie festival. Stroll the stalls and sample the sublime local cheeses and wines, fresh produce and artisan foods; enjoy gourmet cooking demonstrations from celebrated local chefs, and let the kids go free range on the Easter egg hunt.
The Mary Valley Art Festival is held in the first week of July and showcases quality art from the Mary Valley and south east Queensland. There are a number of workshops and demonstrations as well as food and wine events. Pick up an original from an up-and-coming painter or sculptor, or simply visit the range of galleries to appreciate the breadth of talented artists from this region.
The Gympie Music Muster brings music and mateship together under one big open roof for four days in August. Enjoy the best of country music, outstanding camping facilities and the natural wonders of Amamoor State Forest Park at this iconic music festival.
Escape to the bushland for an adventure-filled weekend of rock, blues and roots music at the Mitchell Creek Rock ‘n’ Blues Fest each September. Enjoy free camping, and two alternating stages offering non-stop music from more than 150 artists. The festival takes place in a mountainous amphitheatre featuring bunya pines, cedar trees and a big starry sky.
If you’re in the Mary Valley during October and early November be sure to check out the Mary Valley Scarecrow Festival. The whole community participates in this unique festival and it’s a wonderful day out for the whole family. Follow the scarecrow map to discover raffish, quirky and creative scarecrows along country roads, cafés and even the local police station!
You could spend days exploring this beautiful part of the Sunshine Coast and there are a number of fantastic accommodation options available. Choose from romantic hilltop cabins with spectacular views, a family farmstay or enjoy a weekend photography workshop and lodge-style country hospitality.