Just as its name sounds, the Sunshine Coast located in South East Queensland flounders in all year-long sunshine, and its subtropical, and mild climate complete with squeaky-clean beaches help in creating it into one of the most popular tourist attractions of the entire state.
You can think of the Sunshine Coast as the quieter alternative to the gorgeous, lush and flashy Gold Coast located farther south. The Sunshine Coast extends north from the famous beaches in Caloundra to the exhaustive sands of the Noosa North Shore. The Noosa North Shore is a wide stretch covered with the dune-backed beach.
When tourists first started to visit the Sunshine Coast, they didn’t believe that there could be much around here apart from the beaches. However, the hinterland, volcanic outcrops, undulating hills and valleys, and sprawling coast make the Sunshine Coast nothing short of spectacular.
There are a lot more scenic standpoints located all around on the coast that only locals know about.
The Charming Mountain Villages of Montville and Maleny
To experience a change in the scene from the Sunshine Coast’s sun-covered beaches, you should take a panoramic drive through the Blackall Range among the scenic hinterland to the pretty mountain villages of Maleny and Montville.
These retro sister towns are located a little over 10 minutes drive far from one another, however, most tourists prefer to visit both of them on a day trip away from the coast, when the temperatures would generally be a bit cooler, due to their high elevations. This drive is all a part of the Blackall Range Tourist Drive that provides dazzling views of the deep valleys below.
In Montville, you can find cozy cafes, boutiques, gift shops and art galleries all huddled together around the tree-lined streets covered with some beautiful European-inspired architecture.
Maleny is likewise an artsy town and has many workshops, studios, and galleries. Its local attractions contain Bird World, Maleny Botanic Gardens, complete with a small aviary, animal enclosure, Maleny Dairies, where you get to pet farm animals, milk a cow, drink Devonshire tea and taste many creamy kinds of cheese and yogurts right after the tour.
Other hinterland tourist attractions on the Sunshine Coast include gorgeous Kondalilla Falls located near Montville, and fruit bats trails in the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve present near Maleny. Wildlife lovers should look for pademelons that can provide captivating sights of the Glass House Mountains.
The Original Eumundi Markets
The Original Eumundi Markets are located about 20 kilometres in the southwest of Noosa. They are an excellent place to absorb some local colour. These markets are open every Saturday and Wednesday morning in Eumundi, the adorable hinterland town. Looking for a Eumundi Markets Bus Transfer? Book here
Toys, natural therapies, artisan foods, skincare, organic produce, jewellery, designer clothes, plants, and home goods, are only some of the things that you can find here on offer. This is a great place to purchase some Sunshine Coast souvenirs or even enjoy lunch at local food stalls that can sell anything from Turkish kebabs to Thai food.
To complement the amazing shopping experience, it also offers fun activities for kids such as camel rides. Travelling performers can keep all the shoppers entertained, while the kids burn off some steam playing at the adjacent playground right there in the market.
Noosa Main Beach and Hastings Street
Glistening surf breaks and squeaky-clean sands can lure both locals and visitors alike to the exquisite stretch of the north-facing coast of the Noosa Main Beach. It gets gentle surf that makes it a famous hangout for beginner surfers and families as it is a charming spot to go for a swim. It offers you stunning views of the Noosa National Park that cloak at the headland right at the eastern part of the beach.
Noosa Main Beach is patrolled by the surf life-saving club every day and is completely safe to go for a swim here all year round. If you have small kids in tow, they can enjoy the sandy bays right along the Noosa River that are just five minutes away from Main Beach. These sandy bars are an excellent place for fishing, a picnic, or even a paddle.
If you are tired from the Australian sun, you can go to Noosa’s main drag, Hastings Street which is only a short walk away and offers you sophisticated art galleries, chic restaurants, and designer shops.
Other famous beaches located on the Sunshine Coast are Coolum Beach, Mooloolaba Beach, Peregian Beach and Sunshine Beach. Kings Beach located in Caloundra is very popular among kids and families as it has a beachfront swimming pool and a fun water fountain. It is the perfect place for a fun-filled picnic.
Noosa North Shore is also the gateway to Fraser Island which is a World Heritage-listed site. It is basically an 80 kilometre stretch of gently rolling dunes and white, powdery sand and is located right beyond the river from Noosaville and Noosa Heads. This seemingly eternal stretch of the beach is particularly popular with anglers, 4WD enthusiasts, and popular beachfront campers, who visit this area for generally uncrowded stretches of beach and sand and the stunning sea vistas.
Wildlife is abundant around this camping area, and you may find many exquisite animals such as rainbow lorikeets, goannas, and kangaroos. When there is low tide, you can drive on the shoreline off the beach right past the Colored Sandsand ochre-hued cliffs, till you get to Double Island Point and Rainbow Beach, where you can enjoy a car ferry for the world-renowned Fraser Island.
Noosa National Park
The world-famous Noosa National Park is not just famous on the Sunshine Coast, but it is one of the natural crown jewels of the entire state. The national park encloses more than up to 9,800 acres of heathlands, dunes, rainforest, pristine beaches, and paperbark forests.
The most prevalent section of this national park is called the Noosa Headland. The Noosa Headland is a 15 kilometre stretch of hiking trails. It includes a picturesque coastal track that can offer a wonderful introduction to this national park for first-time tourists. This hike is one of the most peaceful things you can experience and essentially the best thing you can do for free on the Sunshine Coast. Before you head out, you can also stop at the information center present near the park entrance along the end of Park Road and inquire about some recent animal sightings.
Along the track, you will find a spectacular coastal track sea view framed by pandanus, banksia, and spiraling eucalyptus trees. Try to keep looking up every few minutes and you may just be able to see a koala silently snoozing away on a tree. You can also find the glossy black cockatoo around the park if you are careful.
The Dolphin Point, located right after around a kilometer, is an attractive lookout that offers a scenic view of the coast. Many times, you can also catch glimpses of dolphins and whales. Granite Bay or the Tea Tree Bay are both perfect spots for a paddle or a picnic in the rock pools. When you continue even farther, you can find the Hell’s Gates offering you breathtaking views of Alexandria Bay and the pounding surf.
If you are feeling enthusiastic, you can hike back to the main park entrance right from the Noosa Main Beach. This coastal track is also accessible for strollers and wheelchairs all the way back to Dolphin Point. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and sunscreen and witness the breathtaking beauty of nature.
You can also pay a visit to Mt. Tinbeerwah. It is a remarkable spot that offers you a fire tower with an approximately 360-degree view of the entire Sunshine Coast. From the fire tower, you will be able to see Teewah Beach far away in the north, located along the scenic Noosa River, and Mount Coolum in the west and the south complete with all the volcanic outcrops like Mount Cooroora. This view is nothing short of spectacular at the sunrise and you will find the sun rising out of the water and right over the Noosa National Park so try to visit early during the day.
Glass House Mountains National Park
The Glass House Mountains National Park is extremely popular among hikers and nature lovers. It’s remarkable peaks are listed on the Queensland and National Heritage Register. This area is also regarded as one of the most spiritual places located on the Sunshine Coast particularly for the Gubbi Gubbi tribe, who used the place for trading as well as sacred ceremonies.
As per the aboriginal legend, the highest peak of the Glass House Mountains National park, Mount Beerwah is the mother who gave birth to all the smaller encompassing peaks, while Mount Tibrogargan is regarded as the father. Rising as rounded anthills and a giant witch’s hat, the peaks are essentially volcanic plugs and the centre of vanished volcanoes.
Mount Tibrogargan and Mount Ngungun are the only peaks that are open for hiking to the public, and they provide trails that cater to all abilities, from challenging summit hikes to easy base trails and spectacular coastal views.
Rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and abseiling are the various popular things that can be done here, and this park is the home to a great diversity of animal and plant life, including grey kangaroos, echidnas, and koalas.
Before you explore this area, you should stop at the Glass House Mountains Visitor and Interpretive Center. Its popular Lookout Cafe, located just beside the Glass House Mountains lookout, is a beautiful spot where you can start or even end a gentle hike with delightful views and Devonshire tea. You should keep an eye to find kangaroos here under various mango trees.
The Sunshine Coast is packed with destinations that offer you plenty of things to do. For example, you can munch on the freshly-caught seafood at the lively Mooloolaba Beach, shop for all things designer on Noosa’s trendy Hastings Street, pay the snoozy koalas a visit in the national park, surf on some of the best breaks of the country, or hike up to the apex of Mount Coolum.
Families can even find many untapped fun attractions that can keep their kids occupied, such as the renowned Australia Zoo, the Ginger Factory, and the Underwater World.