Queensland's Sunshine Coast offers surf-laced unbroken coastlines and cool high hinterland waterfalls - all only an hour and a half from Brisbane. Plan your visit with our guide to local attractions, top surf spots and where to stay, including Noosa National Park and the LandCruiser Mountain Park.
The surf beaches of the Sunshine Coast offer the full gamut, from the protected northern points of Noosa to the offshore (and sharky) reef around Mudjimba Island and hundreds of kilometres of beach breaks.
Extending from Caloundra in the south to Double Island Point in the north, it is ringed inland by Gympie and the Hinterland towns of Maleny, Montville and Mapleton. Populated mainly by people who couldn’t decide whether they wanted a sea or a tree change, it offers both to the permanent and itinerant visitor.
In the north you can camp on the beach south of Double Island Point around Teewah. An area of about 15km of wilderness is allocated to beach camping, and this is one of the closest places to civilisation in Australia where you can be completely uncivilised. A regular haunt for locals on any weekend, Cooloola beach is a classic for fishermen, surfers or anyone else who just wants to get away from it all. Flanked by giant painted sand dunes, there is plenty of 4WDing around, and you can head up to Rainbow Beach or down to Noosa if you’re craving a night out.
There are a few caravan parks around Noosa, the best one is just north of the river before you get to Cooloola beach, which is right on the water, and the beach is closed to driving so the kids can run around carefree.
Noosa National Park
Noosa National Park, Queensland [eGuide Travel]
No visit to this part of the world is complete without taking in the national park at Noosa. This massive headland juts out into the Pacific, blocking wind and waves from the town and main beach. Walking trails wind around the rocky escarpment and you can spot whales swimming past, or pods of dolphins surfing the waves below. Surfers make the long hike just to get to the outer bays of the head where the surf is bigger and there are less guys willing to commit to the long walk.
From Sunshine Beach, nestled at the southern foot of Noosa Head, the beach runs unbroken all the way to Point Arkwright. Coolum Beach offers caravan park accommodation, restaurants and shopping.
The caravan park at Mooloolaba is right in the heart of town and beachfront, so it is perfect for families who need to keep the kids entertained. The surf club is right next door, Underwater World is across the street and the local fisheries aren’t far away, so you can get your Mooloolaba prawns straight off the boat.
Discover more Sunshine Coast beaches with our Moreton Island and Bribie Island guide.
For some people, the lure of tea houses, beautiful French restaurants and waterfalls cascading into crystal clear pools is a far greater draw than endless beaches. All they have to do is turn inland and the world changes drastically.
Hinterland, Queensland [eGuide Travel]
This tiny little hamlet at the top of the range is just up the road from Nambour. Le Relais Bressans is the French restaurant at Flaxton, on the edge of town. The Beef Burgundy is aged for eight days and cooked for eight hours — it melts in your mouth like a Lindor ball.
Lilyponds Holiday Park is right in the heart of town and is named for the local lilyponds that form a beautiful piece of parkland here.
There are two waterfalls nearby, Mapleton Falls and Kondalilla Falls. The former is a thin cascade of water over a 120m cliff. The latter requires a 1.7km walk to the falls, but there is a great swimming hole full of deep, cool water, fed by a smaller fall.
Montville looks like a provincial English Tudor village transplanted to a mountain rainforest. There are plenty of shops here with some great restaurants. The bakery offers some of the best pies in this part of the country.
Considered by some as the real Hinterland town, the people you meet on the street in Maleny are local farmers, artists and retired folks who all love this country. The restaurants are healthy without being pretentious, and there must be half a dozen used bookstores in town.
Just up the road is Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, a beautiful parkland full of native plants and trees, a café and one of the best views out over the Glasshouse Mountains in the area.
Finally, far inland at Jimna is the legendary LandCruiser Mountain Park. This 4WD park has excellent grassy campsites with hot showers, bush camps and custom-made 4WD tracks to suit every ability and taste. LandCruiser Mountain is the perfect weekend escape for those who like to play as hard as they work.
For accommodation ideas and tips on when to visit, check out our Sunshine Coast guide.
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