Couple walking through Mary Caincross Scenic Reserve, Maleny
When most people think of the Sunshine Coast, they picture white sandy beaches, glistening water, rolling surf waves and national parks that stretch around coastal clifftops. They’re not wrong but the Sunshine Coast is so much more than well, just that.
Behold the Sunshine Coast’s hinterland area, a tranquil collection of rolling hills, quiet villages, local markets, art galleries and vineyards. The best part? These magical hinterland getaways are suitable for all kinds of abilities, so you won’t have to miss out on a thing.
Read on for the best accessible travel in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
Getting back to nature
Glass House Mountains Lookout
Whether you’re keen to soak up the lush vistas or have a picnic, hitting up the Glass House Mountains Lookout is a must for any traveller. Located within Beerburrum West State Forest, this stunning vantage point serves up panoramic views across the Glass House Mountains, all the way to the beautiful Moreton Bay. You can clock-in with disabled parking available at the very top of the parking area, with a level path taking you from here all the way to main lookout. The area also has an accessible toilet.
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
Situated on the Blackall Range, east of Maleny and on Mountain View Road, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve has been dubbed the ‘natural jewel’ of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Made up of 100 acres of subtropical rainforest, there are three main walking loops to take, with the Pademelon Loop suitable for people of all abilities, including wheelchair users and anyone with a pram (yes, it’s step free).
Ewen Maddock Dam
If you’re an avid fisher, draw your attention over to Ewen Maddock Dam. This glorious leafy spot has disabled parking, a playground, accessible toilets and even a concrete path which leads right down to the water and into a designated swimming location. There’s a short overwater boardwalk which provides accessible fishing but just keep in mind you’ll need a fishing permit, which you can access right here.
Quite possibly one of the biggest bucket list attractions in the country, Australia Zoo is home to a team of conservationists who work around the clock to make it one of the very best (might we add—in the world). Housing over 1200 animals from all across the globe, you’re not wrong to think that Australia Zoo is an expansive one at that, now occupying over 700 acres, with 110 of which is accessible to the public. On that note, there’s designated disabled parking with a level walkway leading you up into the main entrance.
You can hire wheelchairs and motorised scooters for the day and all pathways throughout the zoo are asphalt with gentle slopes. There's also an accessible shuttle bus that runs from point ‘Africa’ to the main entry building. The Crocoseum is a must-visit for obvious reasons (we’re talking jumping crocodiles!) and keeps designated wheelchair spots on the upper level with rampant lift access between upper and lower levels. For more info, head here.
The Ginger Factory
Rainforests, ginger ice cream, tastings and a dedicated Ginger Town filled with all the boutique shopping in a heritage-style village—The Ginger Factory is packed-to-the-rafters with activities for everyone. This place is home to Buderim Ginger and is also the world’s largest operating ginger factory, producing a whole range of locally made ginger-inspired eats, drinks, spreads and sweets.
All areas of The Ginger Factory bear sealed concrete and the in-house cafe is open with movable chairs at all tables. Entry to the factory tour is ramped, with a ramp taking you up to the train platform. The last carriage of the train has a wide loading area which is suitable for most types of wheelchairs, prams and mobility aids. There are also two wheelchairs on site which are available to loan for the day.
Every Saturday and Wednesday, the historic town of Eumundi explodes with over 600 local market stalls. The market has a policy of ‘make it, bake it, design it, sew it or grow it’ to ensure the quality of all locally produced goods and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t spent a full day here because of this. Eumundi Markets ticks a whole lot of boxes when it comes to accessibility—there’s disabled parking at Eumundi Square and Memorial Drive, there’s ramped access to the market area from Longeran Ln, there’s accessible toilets located at Memorial Drive, and there’s accessible picnic tables and accessible BBQ facilities there too.
Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World
Perched high on an escarpment with absolutely breathtaking scenes of the hinterland, the Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World is a privately-owned garden perfect for any nature-lover. Filled with kaleidoscopic plantings, rock formations, waterfalls and ponds, bird aviaries and a whole lot more. While the gardens are built on a steep site, the team here have made a bunch of accommodations for anyone with limited mobility. You’ll find accessible toilets and parking spots, wheelchair-friendly cafes and retail (including the aviaries), and you can even hire an electric golf cart to transport you around to some of the most difficult locations.
Places To Eat
The Banana Bender Pub
Easily one of Queensland’s most quirky pubs, you can’t miss the Banana Bender Pub. It’s colourful, adorned in all sorts of bric-a-brac (please refer to the kangaroo surfing statue which is a photo opp for everyone), keeps an outback gas station bar and even a beach chair beer garden. Like with all good pubs, the weekly specials here do go off, you’ll find deals on mini golf daily, Friday raffles, senior lunch specials on Mondays and Tuesdays and a Sunday session offering free pool all day, various food and drink discounts, live music and popcorn buckets for the kids.
There’s disabled parking with ramped access to the pub entrance and inside, you’ll find ample space to set yourself up. The beer garden has varying levels with ramps and a lift is available to the second floor function and dining space too.
The Barrel at Clouds Vineyard
Shaped like a giant wine barrel in the grounds of Clouds Vineyard, The Barrel is the ultimate lunch destination in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Here, you’ll find a slew of handcrafted boutique wines and craft beers with a stellar menu that focuses on regional and locally-sourced produce which can all be enjoyed on The Barrel’s outdoor dining area with hard-surfaced artificial grass.
The Barrel at Clouds Vineyard, Maleny