If swimming in a cool waterhole surrounded by rainforest sounds like your idea of bliss, make tracks for the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
Kondalilla Falls In The Kondalilla National Park, Montville
Here, just a short 40 minutes’ drive from our sandy beaches, you can find some of Queensland’s best waterfalls.
Whether you’re looking to take a hike, cool off with a dip or enjoy a picnic in nature, we’ve rounded up some of the best waterfall walks the Hinterland has to offer.
And with so much amazing local produce in the Hinterland, you’ll want to stop along the way and pick up some cheese from Maleny Food Co, treats from Chocolate Country Montville or baked treats from Sweet and Flour in Mapleton.
So water you waiting for? Pack your togs and grab you hiking boots, it’s time fall in love with the Hinterland!
Distance: 4.7kms return | Time: Allow 2 hours return | Skill level: Intermediate
Resting By Kondalilla Falls In The Kondalilla National Park, Montville
Part of the traditional lands of the Kabi Kabi people, Kondalilla National Park is a natural oasis of towering eucalypt forest, subtropical rainforest and spectacular waterfalls.
The name Kondalilla comes from the Aboriginal word meaning ‘rushing waters’, and that’s just what you’ll find at Kondalilla Falls where the water cascades 90m over Skene Creek.
And the good news is, you can not only hike here, but swim.
Start your journey by following the Picnic Creek Circuit (1.7kms) to emerge at the natural rockpools at the top of the falls.
Surrounded by trees and native flora, this is a beautiful spot for a cool dip, but the true beauty of Kondalilla awaits you via the Kondalilla Falls Circuit.
Descending the escarpment, the circuit track winds its way around chilled gorges and scenic lookouts into a lush valley at the base of the waterfall. The views here are spectacular, so don’t forget to pack a gourmet picnic to sit and enjoy the view when you emerge at the top of the trail!
Distance: 1.3kms return | Time: Allow 1 hour return | Skill level: Easy
Measuring just shy of the average skyscraper, Mapleton Falls is like turning the tap on full a billion times over.
Cascading an incredible 120m from Pencil Creek up into the escarpment far below, you’ll find yourself mesmerised by the sheer force and beauty of mother nature.
Start your journey at the Mapleton Falls Lookout which gives you an incredible bird’s eye view of the falls, and we mean that quite literally, with Peregrine falcons often spotted swooping high above the valley below.
From here you can take on the Wompoo Circuit which is named after the Woompoo Fruit Dove and mostly flat, so take the time to marvel at the towering canopy overhead.
With plenty of picnic areas and tables available, you’ll want to pack a lunch of local produce and stay for a while, soaking in the sounds of frogs calling happily to each other from the pool beside the causeway and tiny birds flittering amongst the undergrowth.
Distance: 2.6kms return | Time: Allow 2 hours return | Skill level: Difficult
There are long walks and there are short walks, and then there’s the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk.
The Gheerulla Falls Walk falls somewhere in between, making up a part of the Great Walk which in its entirety spans an incredible 58.8km.
Tackle this shorter, but no less spectacular, trail through the Mapleton National Park and be rewarded with tranquillity served with a side of glorious views and pristine rainforest.
This winding and undulating trail (yep, that means uphill on the return!) is a little lesser known, so you’ll find yourself disconnecting from your daily grind and instead tuning in with the calls of nature.
If you’re looking to turn your day-trip in to an overnight adventure, Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat offers the ultimate Great Walks package.
Over six nature-filled days you’ll tackle the sections of the Great Walk with a local guide, before retuning to the comfort of your rainforest cabin and a gourmet chef-prepared dinner (bliss!)
Distance: 3kms return | Time: Allow 2 hours return | Skill level: Intermediate
Booloumba Falls, Conondale National Park
All great journeys start with an adventure, and you’ll soon discover that Conondale National Park - with its crystal waters, secluded camp spots and hidden work of art - is almost otherworldly.
Your first stop here is Booloumba Creek, which winds its way through the landscape.
Take a dip in the crystal-clear waters, and make sure to pack your camping gear, because on the creek’s banks are a number of shady camp spots you won’t want to leave.
From there, head further into the rainforest to discover one of the Sunshine Coast’s best kept secrets – The Strangler Cairn.
This sculpture by renowned artist Andy Goldsworthy is shaped like a large egg, a strangler fig planted at the top.
The idea is that over time the fig will grow and its roots will encompass the egg, blending the two as one.
You’ll also find Booloumba Gorge which provides a spectacular outlook over The Breadknife rock formation, and the cascading waters of the stunning waterfalls of Peters and Booloumba Creeks.
If you’re travelling here on four-wheels you’ll need a high-clearance 4WD for the creek crossings, or leave your car at the entrance and take it on foot.
Either way, visiting Conondale National Park is an experience that will stay with you long after you leave.