Oh, the serenity
With over 60 national and conservation parks, it’s no surprise that almost half of Australia’s bird species and over 150 rare and endangered species make their homes in the unspoiled wetlands, rainforests and coastal heath. Known for its rich biodiverse habitat, the Sunshine Coast is the only place in the world where there are two adjoining biosphere reserves recognised by UNESCO: the Noosa Biosphere and the Great Sandy Biosphere. Wander among tall open forests, including Conondale National Park, home to Queensland’s tallest tree, a flooded gum Eucalyptus Grandis, standing 73 metres high. Spot platypus in crystal clear creeks in the Mary Valley, take in the thundering power of Kondalilla Falls, Booloumba Falls, Mapleton Falls, Gardners Falls, and Buderim Falls. Camping is also offered in some of the region’s parks and forests. Remember to book your camp sites well in advance at qld.gov.au/camping.
Kondalilla Falls in the Kondalilla National Park, Montville
Lace up and clip in
Climb Mount Ngungun, a popular and easily accessible 30 minute summit, coastal Mount Coolum, or one of the other permitted peaks to really gauge the extent and beauty of the Sunshine Coast. Tackle part or all of the 58 kilometre Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk or 102 kilometre Cooloola Great Walk. With rest spots and camping grounds along the way, these walks will take you through some of the area’s most scenic locations. Mountain biking is another fun way to explore, and you’ll be spoilt for choice! Popular trails are at Sugarbag Road in Caloundra, Parklands in Bli Bli, Tewantin State Forest and Victory Heights Recreational Trails near Gympie. Join an escorted tour or hire a bike to get you on your way on the trails. For a more leisurely ride, or even a walk or jog, the nine kilometre stretch of the Caloundra Coastal Pathway will reward you with breathtaking views.
Great Beach Drive
Get off the beaten track and head for the Great Sandy National Park to take to the beach in a 4WD. Drive yourself (permits required) or book a tour with Great Beach Drive 4WD or Epic Ocean Adventures and enjoy the ride as you cruise along the shoreline and marvel at the coastal cliffs and coloured sands. Camping is a great option, however there are some places where camping is restricted, so be sure to check and book your spot at qld.gov.au/camping. Please check the tides before you commence your journey.
Glass House Mountains
The magnificent rocky outcrops of the Glass House Mountains are remnants of volcanic activity that occurred about 25-27 million years ago. Today, they are iconic landmarks and a popular location for bushwalkers and hikers to explore. Join a small group tour with experienced guides and really make it an experience to remember.
One of only two everglade systems in the world, the Noosa Everglades are the ultimate in serene tranquillity. Best explored on an eco cruise or in a kayak, see flourishing bird life, as well as banksias, tea trees, melaleucas, reeds and water lilies reflecting gloriously on the banks of the water. It’s no surprise that Noosa River is often referred to as the ‘river of mirrors’.
Pumicestone Passage Marine Park
Consisting of 24 islands, 80 percent of this pristine waterway measures under two metres deep. It is the perfect place to explore on a stand up paddleboard, kayak or escorted jet ski tour. Watch dolphins frolic, see incredible bird life, or spot the fascinating dugong in these placid waters (seasonal).
Great Sandy National Park
Famous for the multicoloured rocks and sand that have been created by iron-rich minerals in the dunes, which have stained the sand into a stunning variety of shades of yellow, red, orange and brown. Worth checking out is the 15 hectare Carlo Sand Blow, with its breathtaking views of Double Island Point, Tin Can Bay, and the coloured sands.