If this year has left you dreaming about escaping the hustle of everyday life to embrace a simpler existence – even just for a moment – you’re not alone.
Secluded camp spots, wilderness glamping retreats and scenic road trips beckon, and the Sunshine Coast is the perfect place to take a step back and soak it all in.
Discover the nature-based experiences that offer a breath of fresh air, quite literally, on the Sunshine Coast and reclaim your inner peace.
The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is known for its wide-open spaces, picturesque scenery and air so sweet you can taste it. And at Kookaburra Park you’ll find all that, as well as come to expect the unexpected. Located in Cambroon on the banks of the Mary River – where platypus are known to swim at dawn - Kookaburra Park is home to a menagerie of adopted and rescued animals, including a deer sanctuary, pigs, chickens and guinea pigs. Guests are invited to meet and feed the animals, which is one of the activities that makes it so popular for families, with camping, glamping and cabin-style accommodation available. While you’ll feel a world away, the park is located just outside of Kenilworth, home to the famous Kenilworth Bakery and Kenilworth Dairies, making it the perfect escape.
If waking up to the sound of waves gently lapping the shoreline is your idea of paradise, Rainbow Beach Ultimate Camping is for you. Here they offer fully equipped and completely private beach campsites overlooking the Heritage listed Fraser Island from Inskip Point. All you have to do is bring your clothes, with everything you need from your tent to cooking facilities and even a toilet and shower set up for your private use. Located just 10 minutes from Rainbow Beach township, it is the perfect base to explore the coloured sands of Great Beach Drive or journey north on a day trip to Fraser Island.
If you’re looking to reconnect with nature but are not quite ready to give up life’s little luxuries, why not escape with a glamping retreat. Ingenia Holidays Rivershore – located on the tranquil banks of the Maroochy River – offer glamping options you would be forgiven for mistaking for luxury cabins. Think a plush king-sized bed, claw foot bath and private balcony for barbecuing.
Further north, Habitat Noosa Everglades Ecocamp on the banks of Lake Cootharaba has everything you want in a nature-based experience – without skimping on the finer things in life. Here you can spend the days exploring the world-renowned Noosa Everglades – whether by kayak with Kanu Kapers or by boat with Everglades Eco Safaris - before retiring for dinner and a beer at their onsite micro-brewery - CootharaBAR. Their Paperbark Tents offer a true glamping experience, just make sure to sit outside of an evening to watch the kangaroos hop down for a nibble in the grass!
There’s something about reconnecting with nature that is good for the soul, in fact, studies show that people who spend more time embracing the great outdoors are less stressed. Next time you’re in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, get off the beaten track in Conondale National Park. Here, accessible by 4WD, is the blissfully remote - and extremely Insta-worthy - Booloumba Creek whose turquoise waters are perfect for cooling off on those warm sunny days and whose banks are perfect for camping. Venture deeper in the National Park and you’ll find the Strangler Cairn; a granite structure created by renowned artist Andy Goldsworthy.
The Sunshine Coast is home to some of Australia’s best coastal walks and mountain climbs. The Glass House Mountains are must-visit, but lesser known is Mount Ninderry. Located just outside of Yandina, Mount Ninderry offers spectacular views over Mount Coolum and the Maroochy River to the east and the Blackall Range to the west - you are even permitted to bring your dog along!
For other hidden gems, check out the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary which is home to more than 200 different species of birds, crabs and butterflies, Robinson Falls in Nambour or Baxter Falls in Flaxton.
It’s not hard to see why the Blackall Range Tourist Drive has been voted one of the best in Queensland. The journey takes you through the picturesque Sunshine Coast Hinterland villages of Maleny, Montville and Mapleton, offering views of the ancient volcanic peaks of the Glass House Mountains on one side and the sparkling coastline on the other. Along the way, make sure to stop in at Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World, stock up on cheese at Maleny Food Co and meet local artisans in the galleries at Montville.
For an awe-inspiring off-road adventure, you can’t go past the Great Beach Drive. The journey is one of the longest beach drives in the world and takes you along the sand from Noosa North Shore through the Great Sandy Biosphere to the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach. To one side you have the sparkling Pacific Ocean, where you can spot dolphins, turtles, and humpback whales during migration season, with natural Australian bushland to the other. A great way to experience the Great Beach Drive is on a guided tour with Epic Ocean Adventures or Great Beach Drive 4WD Tours, if you go solo, make sure you get a permit in advance either online from npsr.qld.gov.au or check in with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service at the Great Sandy Information Centre (240 Moorindil Street, Tewantin).