The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is an area of outstanding natural beauty and a haven for the artistic or those wishing to immerse themselves in a blanket of rural historic charm. Home to beautiful and quaint townships and national parks, the hinterland provides a great day out not much more than an hour north of Brisbane. Whether it be shops, galleries, eateries, wine or magnificent vistas, the hinterland has something for everyone. Jessica Jane Sammut offers her top 10 pick of places to visit.
Also check out: Sunshine Coast scenic drives
Perched high above the Sunshine Coast beaches on the Blackall Range sits Maleny, a beautiful hinterland town offering history, culture and quaintness in abundance. Home to many nationally recognised artists and art galleries, the area is a craft paradise. Originally a timber region, with cedar, beech and hoop pine felled for furniture and construction, Maleny hosts the Maleny Wood Expo each year (May 5-6 in 2012).
A charming little town dating back to 1887 when the first white settlers arrived, Montville is a beautiful place to explore, with its cute streets, eclectic boutiques, adorable cafes and divine chocolate shops. It is also home to wineries, cheese factories and galleries, not to mention a great Parisian-styled coffee shop – Poet’s Cafe. The Edge Restaurant is also a great place to unwind with a glorious view over the mountains, while the beautiful eatery Wild Rocket @ Misty’s is situated in one of the oldest buildings in town.
HINTERLAND WINE TRAIL
The hinterland is dotted with excellent wineries and one could spend a whole day coasting from one to another. Ocean View Estates Winery, Flame Hill Vineyard, Maleny Mountain Wines, Settlers Rise Winery, Flaxton Winery, Moonshine Valley Winery, Eumundi Winery and Vineyard, Maroochy Springs Winery, Kenilworth Bluff Wines, Dingo Creek Vineyard are just a few of those worth visiting. So grab a glass and head on over.
On your way to Mapleton discover Flaxton, a village with churches, cottages, inns and historic Queenslanders. Make sure you visit the Flaxton Barn. The barn’s craft shop showcases exclusively Queensland-made goods, collectables, books, old wares and locally-made food products. Flaxton Barn’s Marklin HQ Gauge modern railway display, with its light show and animated action sequences, is also worth viewing. And if you fancy a spot of tea, Flaxton Gardens is the place to go.
HINTERLAND GREAT WALK
For those wishing to really get to know the hinterland, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk is a 58km four-day walk in the Blackall Range, with bush campsites along the way. Areas covered include Baroon Pocket, Kondalilla National Park, Mapleton Falls National Park and Mapleton National Park. With subtropical rainforest, tall eucalypt forest and waterfalls, it offers beautiful scenery and for those wishing for something a little easier, day visitors can access short half-day and full-day walks within the Great Walk route.
Named by James Cook in 1770 during his epic voyage along the east coast, the Glasshouse Mountains are the remains of rhyolite plugs formed by volcanic activity over 20 million years ago, and are a must on the visiting list when tramping the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The volcanic peaks are not only a spectacular sight but also home to koalas, goannas, echidnas, grey kangaroos, and 26 threatened plant species. For bird lovers, you will find kookaburras, lorikeets, rosellas, peregrine falcons and the rare glossy black cockatoo.
A great day out for the family is the Ginger Factory at Yandina, home of Buderim Ginger. Spend the day enjoying the delicious flavours and shops, the train tour, or let the kids find the gingerbread man around the globe on the Overboard ride. Children can also learn about how bees make honey and witness a live bee hive in the Superbee Live Bee Show, plus they can taste test the various types of honey in the store. Open 7 days, 9am to 5pm, free admission (fees apply for tours and rides).
Shop until you drop at the Eumundi Markets, open every Wednesday (8am to 1.30pm) and Saturday (7am to 2pm). Wander through the many markets and shops offering an abundance of clothing, homewares, local arts and crafts. Sample the delicious cuisine and soak up the eclectic atmosphere.
Also check out: How to spend a day in Eumundi
Kenilworth is a country town with sensational fresh produce which can be bought in stores or from farmers direct. It is also the site of Borumba Deer Park, a working deer farm, which offers a unique place for the family to relax with modern amenities, barbecues and friendly hosts. For food lovers, Kenilworth Country Foods is worth a visit, with beautiful cheeses on offer. Also check out the Kenilworth Cheese Wine and Food Festival (April 7, 2012), the Kenliworth Show and Rodeo (September 15, 2012) and Kenilworth Celebrates! Town Festival (September 22-29, 2012).
Newly renovated, the Big Pineapple is a heritage-listed Queensland icon, and if spending the day in the hinterland it must be visited, even if it is just for five minutes to take a quick photo with the family. Visit the growers’ market on Saturdays (6.30am to noon), relax in the cafe or climb the pine. Whatever you do, you can be sure your kids will leave smiling with a story to tell their mates.