Look beyond the famous golden beaches of the Sunshine Coast to discover the charming villages of the hinterland . The scenery is breathtaking, the locals friendly, and the streets quieter.
This winter, allow yourself to be embraced by nature and warm country hospitality by taking the roads less travelled in the Sunshine Coast’s sub-tropical hinterland and visit these three secret hamlets.
And just in case you want more, don’t forget these three not so secret villages of the Sunshine Coast.
The Glass House Mountains are a captivating sight as you drive north to the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane. Stand atop one of the peaks as the sun rises over the emerald landscape and you’ll be in awe of the stunning vistas. Walking around the bases or to the tops of the mountains is a favourite pastime of locals. Rock climbing is also popular here, and there are plenty of picnic tables for a bite to eat afterwards. From up high, you can see why the region has been nicknamed the Sunshine Coast’s food bowl, with verdant farmland stretching below.
Learn about local agriculture by popping into Glasshouse Plantation, an authentic tropical orchard specialising in fruit, nuts and honey (and with a farm shop for tasty souvenirs). Glass House Mountains Scenic Lookout is great for those not keen on hiking, as is QCamel farm (don’t leave without some organic camel milk chocolate). Only 30 minutes from the start of the Sunshine Coast’s stunning beaches, road-tripping south to the mountains is an easy day or weekend trip.
Rest your head at Glass House Mountains Ecolodge, a quirky alternative to the Sunshine Coast’s beachside hotels. Expect a memorable and unique experience sleeping in a restored train carriage or an old timber church. You’ll feel good about staying here, too, with simple environmental practices in place.
2. Woombye & Palmwoods
But there are some other cool attractions, too. Ricks Garage, in Palmwoods, is one, with its American diner vibes and whopping burgers, the largest of which weighs in at an impressive 1.1kg. If you order one, you’ll want to wash it down at Stalwart Brewing Company, in neighbouring Nambour. The company’s beer styles draw on the brewer’s family tree, which can be traced to the UK and USA. If hops isn’t to your liking, but juniper is, head along to CAVU Distilling, next to The Big Pineapple to sample its Sunshine & Sons Original Dry Gin.
Rest your head at Starry Nights Luxury Camping in West Woombye. This family-owned property is off the grid with its own rainwater, solar power and organic food. As for the safari tents? They’re surrounded by eucalypts and there is a clear creek nearby. Ahhh, we’re relaxed already.
Yandina’s biggest claim to fame is The Ginger Factory, home to delicious Buderim Ginger beer, cordial and sweets. But there’s more to the factory – and to Yandina – than many realise. Let’s start with the factory. There’s an historic train you can ride around the nine-hectare property, as well as children’s rides, an ice-creamery, cafe and a live bee show and honey tasting; families love it.
As for the so-called ‘ginger town’ of Yandina, it’s one of the oldest towns on the Sunshine Coast, dating as far back as 1870. It’s because of this that you can expect to see many preserved buildings, including the Yandina Hotel, which was established in 1887.
The rich volcanic soil around Yandina is ripe for growing fruit and sugarcane, so it’s no surprise this is also where celebrated restaurant and cooking school Spirit House can be found. The classes focus on getting a better grasp on Asian cuisine, while the tropical setting transports visitors straight back to the streets of Thailand. That’s reason enough to visit.
Rest your head at Yandina Station, a beautiful country estate that is a popular wedding venue with two-bedroom cottages on-site. Built in 1853, Yandina Station doubles as a working cattle farm and is not far from Coolum Beach.
Piece it together
Individually, these hamlets are ideal stops when road-tripping through the Sunshine Coast, but joining them together makes a great long-weekend (or week-long) itinerary. Woombye, Montville, Mapleton and Yandina make for a manageable circuit.
Maleny, an epicentre for fine produce. From melt-in-your-mouth chocolates to deliciously indulgent cheeses and organic fruit and veg, Maleny is for the conscious epicurean. Be sure to call into Maple Street Co-op, a health-food shop selling everything from fresh tomatoes to handmade shampoo bars. It’s also worth signing up for a tour of Maleny Dairies to learn about a working dairy farm and enjoy a taste test of the most popular products.
Montville, a quaint one-street town that looks as if it’s been lifted out of a children’s storybook. Keep your eyes open for the always alluring handmade fudge shop (Fudgyboombahs), a must in Montville, and be sure to pop into the charming clock shop to peruse the European cuckoo clocks. If you want to bed down for the night, you’re looking at pretty cottages and B&Bs.
Mapleton is one of the hinterland’s prized pockets of nature, with a sub-tropical forest enticing outdoor enthusiasts. Make the 120-metre Mapleton Falls your first stop, before setting out on a rainforest walk through Mapleton Falls National Park. Afterwards, call into one of the hilltop cafes for a cuppa.