May 10, 2023
5 mins Read
You’d be forgiven for thinking the Sunshine Coast Hinterland began and ended with Maleny and Montville. But there’s a forgotten sibling sharing impressive real estate on the Blackall Range: the town of Mapleton. And its time to shine has arrived.
Petite in size but certainly not in nature, this hinterland hub at the junction of Jinibara and Kabi Kabi Country fosters lesser-known national parks, outstanding sustainable stays and paddock-to-plate dining worth clocking up the kilometres for.
Start your Mapleton exploration on the right foot with this guide.
While Maleny and Montville have their fudge shops, art galleries and crystals, Mapleton is all about putting nature first. You’ll find a pond smothered in lily pads right in the centre of town, and there are short walks throughout Mapleton Falls National Park and Mapleton National Park. Depending on which section you tackle, you’ll be surrounded by piccabeen palm groves, ancient bunya pines and pencil-straight blackbutt forests as you stroll.
For one of the best returns on minimal exertion, head to the wheelchair-accessible Mapleton Falls Lookout to see the 120-metre drop, or follow the short Wompoo Circuit to the soundtrack of the wompoo fruit dove as you wind through rainforest and eucalypt forest.
If it’s not a hike without a rock scramble or 20, tackle the multi-day Gheerulla Full Loop Hike. Outdoor Adventure Australia offers two-day guided walks, which make a great initiator for any Survivor-style goals.
Start your day with coffee at La Botiga, which, if it were on a ’90s sitcom, would be the Central Perk of the Mapleton community. Next door, stock up on sandwiches and pastries for a day of hiking at Sweet and Flour Bakery Cafe.
Jess Huddart and Ben Johnston from Mapleton Public House feel there’s still a big gap in people’s knowledge about the food they’re putting into their bodies, and how it’s grown.
After drawing up plans for a restaurant on their property, The Falls Farm, which supplies some of Noosa and Brisbane’s top restaurants, one day they pointed at their local pub and said, “what about that?” Ex-Spicers chef, Cameron Matthews, was immediately on board, and is now pushing the boundaries of what pub grub can be, inspired by the farm’s produce.
While you can still tuck into a free-range schnitzel or a really good cheeseburger, it’s the more unconventional dishes that have punters flocking to the venue. A recent example? Inspired by the ginger and turmeric grown on the regenerative farm, as well as locally caught spanner crab, Cameron turned out a delicate chawanmushi (Japanese custard), cooked in an old pie warmer. Nab a spot on the deck for the best view in town.
Mapleton is also food stall country, so keep some cash on you and be ready to pull over and load up on farm-fresh avocados, pineapple and honey.
Stock up on local cheese, wine and anything else you think you might crave while sitting in front of a fire before making your way to Round Hill – you won’t want to leave once you’ve plugged in your entry code and stepped inside this sleek sustainable retreat.
A few minutes out of town, the 110-year-old Gracie Cottage sits perched above a working rose farm. It’s been thoughtfully updated and filled with vintage treasures and local artworks, but the best views of all are from the clawfoot outdoor tub overlooking the Obi Obi Valley.
A stay at Mapleton Springs not only comes with an infinity pool, cinema and games room, but also the chance to join a wildlife tour with the owners, who care for injured and orphaned koalas and kangaroos.
Set on a ridge on The Falls Farm, Smith House – the oldest house in town (c. 1908) – plays host to those who come in search of dreamy views of the Obi Obi Valley and the delicious fare of its owners’ pub (Mapleton Public House).
If you’re at least a semi-experienced mountain biker, take to the forgiving forest trails of Mapleton National Park to feel dwarfed by towering blackbutts. A ride to Oaky Creek Lookout is about 18 kilometres and promises views over the Mary Valley, while shared trails will also take you through rainforest, over creek crossings or to see Kureelpa Falls.
To immerse yourself in Kabi Kabi culture, the First Nations-owned Triballink Activity Centre offers private tours for groups (minimum 20 people).
Take a bite out of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk by hiking the Kondalilla Falls Circuit. The 4.7-kilometre loop includes over 300 stairs, but you can reach the rock pools with less exertion on a 2.4-kilometre return track.
Head to Flame Hill Vineyard for a tasting experience that’s anything but stuffy. Then, with your preferred tipple in hand, dine overlooking the vines on this 120-hectare Montville farm, knowing the beef and much of the vegetables come from within eyeshot.
Get wild on a motorcycle tour from Cairns to Cape York with a team of experienced guides. Take in the backcountry during the day, then enjoy your accommodation each night.
See the best of South Australia and the Northern Territory with the experts. This epic tour traverses record-breaking canyons and gorges, national parks and World Heritage Sites. Be inspired by nature writ large.
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